9.27.2012

Big conference starts Sunday. What am I packing? What am I taking?



Every Fall, about this time, I get hired to provide photographic coverage of a very cool conference. People come from all over the world to spend three days discussing the state of the real estate economy on a global scale and how all the myriad details of growing and falling economies will punish and reward the markets. The conference is fairly small, as conferences go. A total of less than 400 guests but the most of the guests and all of the panelists and speakers are what we in the USA would call, heavy hitters. Billionaire investors, hedge fund managers, government officials and representatives from some of the big banks in in North America and Europe. I attend every minute and document everything that looks interesting.

This will be my fourth or fifth year to photograph the conference and each year I've used a different camera system. Last year was Canon's year. The year before was Olympus and the two years before that were Nikon.  This time it's Sony's turn.

A lot of the coverage is in a darkened auditorium and most of the rest is available light work in cocktail receptions, lunches and break out rooms. Since we're always working with low light situations at this show I was hoping that Sony would have an a99 in my hands by now but it was a vain hope. So I've tested everything I currently own and I'm going in light.  And cheap.

I want to use long glass and fast glass and that means I need to be choosing from the SLTs and not the Nex 7 category. The low light capability of the camera is critical so after my low light tests I've decided to go with the a57.  I have one and Ben has one but he won't need his right now because he's at the Pre Nationals Cross Country Invitation in Portland, Ore. till sunday night and then he's swamped for the next few school days----catching up.  He gave me the thumbs up to use his a57 body and a couple extra batteries.

While the a57 shoots a 16 megapixel RAW file it's more than big enough for my client's needs and the smaller (than the a77 ) file will help keep me from loading up lots and lots of SD cards.
I am perfectly satisfied with the camera's noise performance right up to and including ISO 3200 and very comfortable going to 6400 in a pinch.  The camera (according to the testing druids at DP Review and DXOmark) also has class leading dynamic range chops which will help with the contrasty stage light.

I'm going mostly with zoom lenses on this job since I don't want to move around in front of the stage very much.  I'll mostly have the very stellar 16-50mm f2.8 Sony lens on one body and the very good 70-200mm 2.8 G lens on the other body.  I'll bring along my 50mm 1.4 if I want to use something faster or smaller.  Three batteries per camera and a pouch full of 16 gigabyte SD cards for overkill.

I'm going way outside the zone on this show and I'm going to do most of my supplemental lighting with a Fotodiox 312 AS LED panel.  I'll bring along the big Sony flash just in case I get cold feet...  Finally, I'll bring along my old Tiltall tripod just for those overall room shots and long shots from the back of the auditorium.  Not a lot of gear but that's a fun way to work.  I'll spend the real budget on the suits and ties that are mandatory wardrobe. When you hang with the bankers and policy makers it's expected that you'll dress like they do.  I hope my ties haven't gone totally out of fashion.


With a little bit of luck I'll be totally over my combination illness/structural dramatics and ready to make some really fun images of people being smart and saying smart things. Do you think anyone will notice that I'm not using professional cameras? 


22 comments:

Bruce Rubenstein said...

I don't think the people that you'll be shooting will pay any attention to you, let alone your camera.

Mostly, I hope you feel well. It could make for long miserable days if you don't.

Kirk Tuck said...

Thanks Bruce. My back is 70% better. My flu-ish thing has gone from sore throat and fever down to fatigued and a cough. I actually think that all of the nice responses I got to yesterday's post helped me feel better. And to all who recommended the icepacks and the Advil I am now conferring honorary MD certificates...

And you are correct, waiters, photographers and security guys all seem to go under the radar. Hope my new magenta hair dye isn't too disruptive. (kidding).

Michael said...

Just curious - will you be using this conference to network with attendees? Or is that not kosher at all?

Dave Jenkins said...

Not that you're in that system any longer, but the only thing M4/3s lacks for this kind of work is a long, fast zoom.

Frank Grygier said...

All the pain will fall away once you start the work. You may have to be carried out when the job is done. Sore back lightweight kit smart photographer.

arg said...

You're a professional, and you are using those cameras on a shoot, so that makes them, by definition, ..............

Kirk Tuck said...

Not even remotely kosher. And none of them are low enough on the org chart to have anything to do with advertising.

Kirk Tuck said...

Didn't Panasonic just announce a long, fast zoom? I think it's a 35-100 2.8 or something like that. The zooms will come. But in fact that 70mm 1.8 would be just right...

Kirk Tuck said...

Logic works for me. Thanks.

Kirk Tuck said...

Absolutely right. I was more worried about my back than the throat and congestion but everything seems to be resolving quickly.

Anonymous said...

Gee, Kirk,
those are the smart people who plunged the world into the never-ending crisis by not knowing how to put together two and two - how could they tell apart professional from non-professional photographic equipment?
Cheers and get well soon
Kalman

Kirk Tuck said...

Kalman, it's important to remember that lots of people made enormous amounts of money when everything collapsed. Many with deep pockets sat on the side line with cash and waited for everything to drop to unreal valuations before jumping back in and buying what other scared and uninformed people were selling in a panic. Ford stock for $1.97? Apple stock for $60? Whole shopping centers in viable towns for $60,000. I'll leave who's smart to the other judges.

jason gold said...

No matter how often one has saddled up for the ride on a pro assignment, there are always butterflies..Go well, go safe, go get 'em Tiger!
Suggest each nite after shoot, a hot bath soak for back..
The dress part often way more important than the boxes and glass.
i always wore striking ties, bold, not crude!

tomt said...

I think what looks haute bush league is those vendor-provided straps that say Canon etc. in huge letters. You see guys wearing suits with $10K worth of gear hanging from those straps, even in the background in the White House.

Maybe it's just me . . .

theaterculture said...

Someday you should write about the sartorial and behavioral conventions of various types of gigs and clients. It's always interesting to hear what goes into playing the role of a particular profession in different situations.

Kirk Tuck said...

Sony, Nikon or Canon would have to pay me for advertising placement if I were to use those godawful straps with the big logos. The only think that looks more amateurish are those black rapid bandolier straps. Looks like someone couldn't decide whether they wanted to be a revolutionary machine gun soldier or a poorly outfitted urban photographer. Friends don't let friends destroy their cameras with BR straps.... (Three stories from friends involving over $10 of camera destruction....and counting).

Phil Stiles said...

Your conference reminds me of this article I read in the Atlantic a few years ago.
It's a little long for a guy as busy as you, but "The Rise of the New Global Elite" describes these conferences and the people who attend them. http://tinyurl.com/9rurnop
I've been following your lead into SonyLand, and part of my motivation is simply to lighten my load. As an aging sideline sports shooter, the Canon cannons have become a burdon. (The White Lens Burdon?) My initial results with Sony suggest that I can get better results at half the price. (At least for the bodies, good lenses are expensive in any system.)

Anonymous said...

Unless one of the attendees is a photography enthusiast and asks about your "kit", no one will look at anything other than the results of your work.

Don't quit the Advil & etc too soon just because you start to feel better.

Patrick Dodds said...

Hope it all goes well tomorrow Kirk.

Steve said...

Hello Kirk, Any suggestions you have for good, comfortable DSLR straps would be greatly appreciated!

Low Budget Dave said...

We look forward to hearing your opinions of the A57. I assume you are using it because it has better high ISO than the flagship. If you have the chance to post some pictures, we would also like to see how you handle the lighting.

Kirk Tuck said...

Dave, That's exactly why I used the a57. And I also used it on the Esther's Follies shoot just following the conference. I can't post the conference photos but I can post of the Esther's Photos so stay tuned.