Why fast lenses on small cameras are different from long lenses on big cameras.

No digital trickery in the depth of field in this shot.  Just the normal fall off that occurs when you use a 150-180mm f4 lens on a six centimeter by six centimeter square camera at its closest focusing distance. Look at the eyes and then look at the ears. Sharp versus smooth and effortless unsharpness.  And acres of imaging area for detail and high definition.  Is it any wonder that people still buy and use bigger cameras?  Some times "good enough" isn't good enough.

All the different formats have different looks and some of it is predicated on two major considerations:  1. Can you make the focus fall off in a beautiful way while keeping what you want sharp very sharp?  And, is there enough finesse to the high value curve (shoulder) to give you a rich tonality all the way up into the highlights while keeping the shadow detail?

I've shot with a bunch of digital MF cameras and the DR is very, very good.  Now we need to get the manufacturers to work on the curves.  I still think black and white film is a very viable alternative to the "everything digital" mindset.  Not for everything but especially for  portraits of beautiful young woman.  Every time I see this print I want to go to the pool.  That's where I first met Jennifer.

What's in my bag today? And which bag is it?

I'm getting ready to walk out the door and spend the day shooting some roadway projects. Doesn't sound exciting but it's good, clean fun and it's alway a fun challenge to make something we see all the time look interesting and cool.  I'll be shooting bridges, flyovers, pedestrian overpasses, some buildings and a lot of big interchanges. My goal (as always) is to come back with more good stuff than the client can use.  If I don't get everything at the right times today I can go back tomorrow, after swim practice and get the straggler photos.

When I was starting out in the business I always wondered what the other photographers were taking out in their bags with them on assignment. Sometimes I'd meet another photographer who had more time in the trenches and I'd ask them.  I thought I'd share what I'm heading out with and why.

I'm taking two camera bodies.  They are identical Sony a77's.  I always take two cameras.  I'd hate to be 50 miles from the studio and have a camera fail and have to drive back to the office for another one.  In tight scheduling situations, those with models and clients and location permits it would be a incredibly stupid to go out without a back up camera.  Today it would be just a major annoyance.  You don't need two identical bodies but when you are out in the sun all day it's one less thing to think about when both the bodies work in exactly the same way and with the same menus.

I like the a77s for this kind of work because the files are huge and detailed, the ISO 50 is gorgeous and I might even have a use for mild, in-camera HDR (yes Andy, HDR....).  The EVF is convenient for chimping or pre-chimping in full sun and I might find something out there that lends itself to video.

I'm taking three lenses (four if you count the 50mm 1.4 "lenscap" I keep on one of the cameras).  The one I anticipate getting the most use out of is the 16-50mm 2.8 Sony DT lens which is my current "most favorite lens in the world."  It's very sharp, auto corrects geometrical distortion in Lightroom and is the most useful set of focal lengths for stuff like this.

I'm taking along a Sigma 10-20mm 4-5.6 lens for those times when I want drama in the flyover spans and lots of puffy clouds.  It's not the lens with the best geometrical correction I've ever seen but it's great if you aren't shooting brick walls and charts.  Even wide open the center 2/3rds of the frame is sharp, sharp, sharp.  Finally, I'm packing the 70-200 2.8 G Sony lens.  Not because I think I'll use it alot but because if I don't pack it I'll keep stumbling across shots that would look incredible with a bit of compression and I'll kick myself for not having the right tool at hand.

Each camera is packing 16 gigabytes of SD memory with about 200 gigs in the little card pouch.
The bag also contains a Sony flash, off camera cable, extra set of double "A" batteries for the flash and two extra camera batteries.  We may go long....

The final addition to the camera bag is a handful of circular polarizing filters to make the sky get all dark and dramatic and make the clouds pop out.  We're shooting advertising here, folks.  We need as much pop as we can get.

Not shown are water bottles, sunscreen and a nice hat.  YBMV (your bag may vary).

The bag is a Domke F2 bag in distressed black.  Honestly distressed as it's seen at least a decade and a half of this kind of work.  Hope you're having a fun and productive day.

Edit:  Follow Up.  The shoot was fun and kind of like a scavenger hunt. The most used lens was the 16-50mm, followed by the longer zoom. It was hot and humid and several shots required hiking in 95(f) with long pants and "no-snake" boots to get to railroad tracks, etc.  But I'm not complaining, it may partially be the discomfort and physicality that keeps the cube dwellers and soccer parents from switching careers.  Or maybe it's the tenuous twists and turns of the business....At any rate, the Sony a77 was just what the creative director ordered. Big and sharp.