Photographers, Gear, Software, Vision

I recently started to poll photographers to get a feeling, for myself, what my peers think of themselves, what gear they like to use, and how they use it.

  • A word on the survey.  The sample size so far is small 52.  I asked for volunteers from photographic groups I’m part of on Facebook.  Some film, some wet plate, some digital, etc.  So I admit right now this survey is a biased cross-section of groups I participate in.  I hope I can expand this in the next few months to come.

I have omitted some questions as they didn’t have a statistical deviation from the original question asked.  The questions if money were no object were also omitted.  These answer reflected a common idea of “what is good”.  Example:  What Digital Camera?  Mamiya Leaf, Hasselblad Digital back, Canon 1D*, Nikon D series, etc.  As well as glass: Canon L series, Zeiss, etc.

I’m not drawing any conclusion with this, as I told people when I asked them to fill it out I just want to know the common attitude and I’ll let you draw your own conclusions, and feel free to leave comments!

One area that fast became more interest for myself were the open ended questions: Using an adjective to describe your work, strength/weakness, what sets you apart, etc.

If you want to take this survey for yourself check it out here!

On to the survey results.  Enjoy.

What platform do you use?

  •  Digital 58%
  •  Film 41%

Which system do you prefer?

  •  Film 51%
  •  Digital 49%

If Digital, which system[s] do you use?

  •  Canon 42%
  •  Nikon 23%
  •  Other Option 8%
  •  Sony 8%
  •  Leica 7%
  •  Olympus 4%
  •  Mamiya 4%
  •  Hasselblad 1%
  •  Fuji 1%

If shooting film, which system[s] do you use?

  •  Mamiya 22%
  •  Canon 16%
  •  Nikon 11%
  •  Pentax 8%
  •  Hasselblad 8%
  •  Other Option 8%
  •  Rolleiflex 6%
  •  Contax 4%
  •  Leica 4%
  •  Olympus 3%
  •  Polaroid 3%
  •  Holga 2%
  •  Fuji 2%
  •  Toyo 1%
  •  Cambo 1%
  •  Kodak 1%

Which format size do you prefer? [Digital or Film]

  •  Medium Format 120/220 [645, 6x6, 6x7, 6x8, 6x9] 57%
  •  35mm/Full Frame Sensor [Digital/Film] 35%
  •  Large Format 4×5 4%
  •  APS-C Cropped Sensor 2%

Of digital lenses which manufacturers do you use/own?

  •  Canon 32%
  •  Nikon 16%
  •  Sigma 15%
  •  Other Option 10%
  •  Zeiss 7%
  •  Tamron 6%
  •  Leica 5%
  •  Olympus 2%
  •  Lensbaby 2%
  •  Mamiya 2%
  •  Fuji 1%
  •  Hasselblad 1%

Of film lenses, which manufacturers do you use/own?

  •  Mamiya 17%
  •  Canon 15%
  •  Nikon 10%
  •  Zeiss 8%
  •  Ashi/Pentax 8%
  •  Tamron 5%
  •  Other Option 5%
  •  Schneider Kreuznach 4%
  •  Leica 4%
  •  Olympus 4%
  •  Fuji/Fujifilm/Fujinon 4%
  •  Rodenstock 3%
  •  Sigma 3%
  •  Tokina 3%
  •  Kodak 2%
  •  Rollei 2%
  •  Holga 2%
  •  Linhof 2%
  •  Lomo 1%

What’s in your “bag” other than camera bodies/lenses?

  •  Tripod 19%
  •  Camera Flashes 18%
  •  Light Meter 18%
  •  Lens Filters 14%
  •  Reflectors/Scrim/Shades 12%
  •  Studio Strobes 8%
  •  Gels 7%

If you could only have 1 accessory what would it be?

  •  Light Meter 31%
  •  Tripod 29%
  •  Camera Flashes 23%
  •  Reflectors/Scrim/Shades 10%
  •  Studio Strobes 6%
  •  Lens Filters 2%
  •  Gels 0%

If money were no object, what 1 accessory item would you purchase?

  • Filters 3%
  • Light meter 16%
  • Studio Strobes/Flash 47%
  • Tripod 22%
  • Random 13%
    • An assistant
    • Digital Back for Mamiya RZ67
    • Remote radio release
    • Virtual Rig

Which film manufacturer do you purchase

  •  Kodak 33%
  •  Fuji 23%
  •  Illford 20%
  •  Polaroid 7%
  •  Foma 4%
  •  Agfa 4%
  •  Other Option 3%
  •  Rollei 3%
  •  Impossible 2%
  •  Lomo 1%

Digital & Film Post Production – Software. Which software products do you own?

  •  Adobe Lightroom 36%
  •  Adobe Photoshop 35%
  •  Gimp 6%
  •  Aperture 6%
  •  Adobe Elements 5%
  •  Pixelmator 3%
  •  DxO Optics 2%
  •  Capture One 2%
  •  Pixlr Editor 2%
  •  Paintshop Pro 2%
  •  ACD 1%
  •  Phocus 1%

Do you use plug-ins, filters, scripts, actions, 3rd party editing for any of the above editing systems?

  •  yes 57%
  •  no 43%

Which third party plug-in is your favorite?

  • B&w styler
  • ColorPerfect
  • Kirk Mastin’s Portra 400 for Lightroom
  • Mastin Studios
  • my own
  • Nik Software Suite
  • noiseninja
  • OnOne
  • Photomatix
  • SilverFX Pro
  • Topaz
  • VSCO

Film Photographers – Do digitize your images? [Scan]

  •  yes 91%
  •  no 9%

Film Photographers – Do you edit your images, or have a 3rd party company do it [e.g. Indie Film Lab, etc]

  •  Self 76%
  •  Third-Party 24%

Film Photographers – If you scan, do you use editing software?

  •  yes 86%
  •  no 14%

Using one word [adjective] describe your style

  • amateur
  • artistic
  • artistic
  • atmospheric
  • Bright
  • Capturing
  • Classic
  • Classical
  • clean
  • Clean
  • Clean
  • Conceptual
  • creative
  • detailed
  • documentarist
  • Eclectic
  • Eclectic
  • Filmscape
  • Free
  • Fun
  • Interesting
  • Landscape
  • landscapes
  • Lifestyle
  • Lifestyle
  • loose
  • Love b/w
  • mhe
  • Minimal
  • Modern, but classically influenced
  • Natural
  • Natural
  • Oldschool
  • Open
  • Photojournalist
  • Portrait
  • Positive
  • quiet
  • Real
  • Realistic
  • simple
  • timeless
  • Timeless
  • Unique

What sets you apart from other photographers?

  • By being me
  • I am the only me
  • look for shots no one else sees
  • I consider myself a beginner, so right now I try to find my edge
  • The way I see things
  • I express contemplation of Lonely places that yield an inward epiphany of oneness requiring outward imagery spanning years or continued study and site re visitation yielding unique weather and compositions appealing to viewers that are sensitive to strongly emotional imagery. It has nothing to do with getting paid to take photos of people, places or things. I am in it for the impact alone at this point..
  • lighting, blending ambient with strobe, subject matter
  • I photograph only pets
  • Vision
  • Strict adherence to a simple 4-point manifesto.
  • Finding the right moment, instead of any moment.
  • I try for a different perspective.
  • I dont know
  • eager to try new styles or ways, proven ground is boring
  • A camera is still just a box.
  • pov
  • introspective, storytelling or very blunt and direct.
  • Style
  • simplicity
  • Knowledge
  • Finding beauty in the mundane.
  • Use of off camera lighting on location for couple portraits.
  • the experience
  • Nothing yet, still int the development phase
  • I am not other photographers!
  • always looking for unique & interesting ways to shoot things
  • Style, clarity, light control, fun
  • Minimalist
  • I’m old
  • Watching out for reaction shots
  • I am not the person who can say this :-)
  • nothing
  • Comfortable atmosphere I create with my clients while shooting.
  • My ability to shoot in all types of light.
  • not much,
  • An endless desire to progress.
  • Age
  • Me.
  • I do
  • Image quality (lighting, posing, overall quality)
  • Lighting and color

What is your strength?

  • compassion
  • My mind
  • architectural close-up
  • Experimentation
  • Good lighting skills, creative, imaginative
  • Patience and persistence
  • portraiture
  • Vision
  • Willingness to get my hands dirty in making and modifying my own camera and lab gear
  • Many years experience and are qurious
  • Manual focus.
  • Good ability to select interesting view/crop.
  • enthusiasm
  • fast learning and putting something new into being
  • Know the basics
  • pov
  • keeping it simple.
  • Ideas
  • nature
  • Lighting and postproduction
  • Still life
  • Knowledge and understanding of technology
  • boudoir
  • I understand the basics
  • able to recognize small detail- perfectionist
  • my view
  • I make people feel comfortable.
  • Observation
  • I’m old and I don’t care if anyone likes my work besides me
  • Being observant & catching candid shots
  • Compostition, exposition, simplicity
  • perseverence
  • Keeping things flowing.
  • Shooting in all types of light and having a working knowledge of light manipulation.
  • perseverance. I have to keep shooting, even though the results arent were i’d like them to be.
  • When shooting, probably my triceps.
  • Easygoing
  • Understanding light.
  • seeing different angles
  • Lighting
  • Lighting

What is your weakness?

  • impatience
  • My mind
  • weddings
  • Consistency
  • anti social
  • Time
  • large groups of people
  • Distractions
  • Bad marketing acumen
  • Colorblind
  • Manual focus.
  • People, composition. Don’t ask me to pose a still life.
  • a bit of time
  • can be sloppy when not focused enough
  • I don’t take enough risks.
  • Time
  • directing models in posing
  • Women
  • weddings
  • Sales
  • Family portraits
  • Posing
  • on camera flash
  • Using a strobe
  • posing
  • indecisiveness =slow to process in post
  • my hang ups
  • Organization
  • Cash
  • I’m old and I don’t care if anyone likes my work besides me
  • Post processing
  • laziness
  • lazzines
  • Forgetting shots I wanted to get.
  • Client relations
  • Overly negative sometimes.
  • My legs… I need to do more squats for those lower shots ;)
  • Messy
  • Willingness to take surveys like this.
  • keeping my mind on the technical stuff
  • Children
  • Shooting in natural light

Closing remarks – let it flow.

  • Film, digital, large, small, future, past, good, bad….. It’s all relative.
  • Realized my weakness was keeping me from being happy as a commercial photographer so I focused on my strength which is art. In the 1st year of doing just art, I was awarded a grant and offered a solo show. We’ll see how it goes…
  • Finding my Image voice to the point where it someday feels as if I am expressing lyric light and shadow is the biggest challenge for a former wordsmith and poet..my goal is to write epiphany with light and shade in every image that makes it to a hand made wet print.
  • Like experimenting with old photographic technics using my own old equipment.
  • If only I could afford a Contax 645…but let’s be realistic here.
  • I feel a passion when taking and even editing pictures. Though this came to me late – I wish I had done more, earlier. Such I could make it my work. Don’t know how to bridge from where I am now in my career to doing photography professionally.
  • Interesting idea with this survey, would be nice if you could publish the results!
  • Thanks, keep your feet on the ground and keep clicking towards the sky !
  • I hate people who claim film is something superior…. False statement…. How do I know? 34 years experience
  • You shouldn’t take pictures for money… You should be creating an experience and a memory that will flatter your client forever!
  • I discover the world around me through photography. It gives me a reason to look longer, to observe more keenly, and to recognize all that is around me. It helps me to live in the moment as I am able to capture each moment and store it in my little black box.
  • Post Process: I use Photo Mechanic for all of my culling > LR for all basic edits > Photoshop is only used when the photos are going into an album or being printed.
  • I currently use 5 speedlights during wedding receptions. (4 off camera as key lights. 1 on camera for fill light). Will be adding a 6th on a different channel for a dramatic effect when I’m on that channel. All speedlights are gelled to tungsten to match ambient.
  • For portraits: I use a reflector often for portraits. When it is darker outside or when we are in an indoor location I will supplement with 2-3 speedlights. Keylight is usually a lastolite ezybox 30″ w/ a speedlight on a monopod held by an assistant. 1-2 other flashes are clamped or on light stands using manfrotto justin spring clamp. 1 is usually a rim/hair light. if needed I will add another to illuminate the background.
  • I’m good now, but I’m not a master yet.
  • Thanks
  • If you don’t feel the love, don’t push the button. There’s enough junk out there already. If you work for a week and have one image you love you’re the next Ansel Adams.
  • Put your heart into it and if you have chops they will shine through and if not you went down swinging, simple as that.
  • And finally there isn’t a major life lesson that can’t be learned by listening to Mose Allison.
  • I think film is awesome and I think digital has its place, too. That said, I’m 20 years old and have been shooting film SLR cameras for 7 years. This isn’t just a fad for me. It’s about so much more than gear. This shouldn’t be about gear for photographers or “value shopping” for clients, rather, it should be about the emotional transaction that was once inherent between photographer and client, between camera and photographer, too.
  • Still learning, but film is what keeps me shooting. Otherwise my depressive personality tends to get in the way. But I just cant keep away from my film cams without going mad, so that keeps me going.