Though I pack a lot of equipment for conventions…

Who is crazy enough to bring absolutely everything with them at all times? Certainly not me! When I’m going to a scheduled, paid shoot then I will suck it up and carry everything I think I’ll need but say I just want to go wandering like a ronin samurai around the convention and hunt for interesting shots on my own? Here are three ranges of options for when I go walking around and why I choose to take those routes.

 

Option 1: DSLR + 1 lens

This is the high quality option. Taking a DSLR gives me the easiest time producing high quality images but it also is the heaviest weight and the most tiring to get around with. This is generally the option I’m going to go with though if I am at a convention where I have a lot of different lighting situations and not a lot of light (indoor / evening / etc).

1.1 – Lens Options

  1. 35mm f/1.8G DX – If I’m later in the evening or in a poorly lit indoor environment, my primary option is likely to be this lens on 1.2x crop mode with the D810. This gives me about a 42mm viewing angle with a 25 megapixel image. 42mm is not too wide such that it’s super distorting, but it gives me a good working distance for being in closer quarters and not having room to step back.
  2. 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5D – If I think I will have enough light to not have to use extremely high ISO, I will go with this lens on the D810. This lens is a jack of all trades but master of none in the true sense. 28-105mm is a great range for walking around and the image quality is good, but unfortunately the bokeh is poor so it doesn’t make the greatest lens for rendering creamy backgrounds.

1.2 – Optional Accessories

  1. On camera flash with Ikea DIY Modifier – Easiest and cheapest modifier for making your on camera flash light source slightly larger and helping diffuse some of the light it gives off. Remove large lens hoods before using this.
  2. Off camera flash with radio trigger or cord (I’d still use a modifier to make the light source larger) – A bit more versatile than on camera flash but without any large modifiers so that it’s still doable with two hands and no assistant. Easiest way to hold it would be a sync cord wrapped around a neck or monopod with a wireless trigger.

 

Option 2: Small sensor mirrorless + 1 lens + small on camera flash

This is actually my lowest technical image quality option but it produces the smallest files and very sharp image potential. The camera I’d use for this is the Nikon 1 V2 equipped with the 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens. This is a very wide lens but it also has stabilization and I’ve been able to take sharp shots with it up to 1/1.6 of a second. The noise performance is decent up to ISO 800 and combined with the ability to shoot with extremely slow shutter speeds, it makes a great all-around piece. I’d generally try to use this at a convention that has good daylight and outdoor photo potential and often in combination with option 3 to extend my range.

2.1 – Optional Accessories

  1. Off camera flash with modifier – Using the small on camera SB-N5 or the built in flash, you can set other flashes in slave mode so that they fire as soon as they detect a flash from another camera. This adds some versatility to the combination but it’s a bit harder to use since slave mode needs you to fire the flash with a manual power setting and you need some experience to set that effectively.

 

Option 3: Premium Pocket Camera

Enter the Sony RX-100 II. The image quality out of this pocket camera actually exceeds the image quality out of my Nikon 1 V2 but at the cost of slower operation and being more menu driven to change settings. The stabilization isn’t as good as the lens I prefer on the V2 but the range is better. This is pretty much the ideal lightweight convention camera given the image quality that comes out of it and the ability to wirelessly connect to smart devices for both control and transfer. This makes uploading to digital media pretty easy. I’m most likely to use this at a con that has good daylight though it’s acceptable for lower light use since I can use it at about 1/15 of a second at it’s widest range with f/1.8. This is definitely the only convention camera that fits in a pocket that I’d consider right now… okay that’s a bit of a lie, I’d definitely consider a Nikon Coolpix A or Ricoh GR but I don’t own those so we’ll go with the Sony!

3.1 – Optional Accessories

  1. Off camera flash with modifier – Like with the V2, using the built in flash, you can set other flashes in slave mode so that they fire as soon as they detect a flash from another camera. This adds some versatility to the combination but it’s a bit harder to use since slave mode needs you to fire the flash with a manual power setting and you need some experience to set that effectively.
  2. On camera flash with modifier – The Sony actually has a standard hotshoe so it will accept larger flashes. Unfortunately, with no real good grip on this camera, it makes it very hard to hold and I’d definitely rather have the flash off the camera in this case.

 

With all of these options…

There is one thing I would bring in my pocket regardless of camera. Using the ColorChecker Passport, it is pretty easy to set white balance and get a standard of color with any of these options during post processing. Having consistent color between bodies is key when you’re shooting with more than one camera and though it may not be 100% accurate true-to-life color that you’re getting from the passport system, it at least sets a standard that you can work with for editing.

Next week I’ll write part 2 to this that explains what I bring to paid shoots to expand creative options.

~rensuchan

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My Convention Gear Part 1: Wandering Photographer Mode | 2014 | Conventions, Photography | Tags: , , , , | Comments (0)

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