Photography jobs

What cameras and lenses should I use for professional photography?

As a professional photographer, I use many different pieces of equipment to shoot my photos, from cameras to lenses, docking stations, SSDs and lights. In this series of articles, I’ll tell you exactly what gear I use and why, starting with cameras and lenses.

The camera and lens combo you use will definitely impact how your images look. Essentially, it’s the centerpiece of photo taking. Without an image capture device, you cannot work.

camera body

Canon 5D Mark IV

The latest in Canon’s 5D series, this DSLR was released in 2016. It takes 30.1 megapixel images which is enough to capture the details. The camera’s low-light performance is also quite impressive, even in 2022. In my opinion, you can push the camera to ISO 12,800 and still get acceptable images. If you go beyond that, you’re probably shooting in the dark. I went all the way to ISO 6400 for large print, and no one batted an eyelid. The 5D Mark IV is a full-frame camera, which means it produces images with better color depth and accuracy. Personally, I prefer shooting with a full-frame sensor, as it sits in the middle between expensive medium-format sensors and crop sensors.

The 5D Mark IV is a camera I use mostly for work that won’t benefit from extreme detail. It could be a magazine shoot or a social media shoot for an influencer. If I know that the image will not be cropped significantly, I also reach the 5D Mark IV. Another use for the 5D Mark IV is casual photography. While this is by no means a camera I bring every day, it is the body that comes on trips and other personal occasions.

The 5D Mark IV is also the camera I use for video work. Although it’s easily beaten by anything Canon has released after, especially the EOS R5 or even the R6, it’s still acceptable for shooting talking heads, workshops, or anything that doesn’t require no high frame rates. It’s a great B camera, especially with C-Log installed. Because the video work I would normally shoot on the 5D Mark IV wouldn’t necessarily need crazy color grading, I didn’t bother installing it. Simply put, projects that don’t have the budget to rent a video rig are done with the 5D Mark IV. These customers aren’t looking for award-winning cinematic quality from a colorist. They are looking for a video.

If I know I’m doing professional work and can only bring one camera body for some reason, the 5D Mark IV is the body I take. It combines both decent video specs that I can shoot a small-scale commercial on, as well as good all-around photo specs that will do most, if not all, of the work.

Canon 5DS

When the job is more demanding in terms of image quality or I know I’m going to do a fine art print of the image, I tend to switch to the Canon 5DS. This camera has its own quirks, it’s much more specialized in terms of application and the conditions have to be perfect. I consider using the Canon 5DS like using a Hasselblad: for the best job, in the best conditions.

Because the camera is so high resolution, it’s understandably not great in low light. There’s a reason it’s called the 5DS: to be used in the studio. The most usable ISO on this camera is 800, although my images are often enhanced with grain, I don’t mind pushing the camera beyond that. Another important thing to know about a camera that works at such a high resolution is that it captures incredible detail, including slightly off focus, blur, chromatic aberration, sensor dust, and others. imperfections. The best technical images I’ve gotten with the 5DS were taken entirely with high-end studio flash.

It is a camera, although it is capable of shooting videos. This may be the last camera you want to use to record video. Choose the much older but cheaper 5D Mark II for shooting video, or invest in something that isn’t a video potato, like the EOS R5.

Lenses

I bought into the “holy trinity” hype of lentils, as you can very well see from my list. It’s a good collection of lenses, but if I had to buy my lenses again, I would do it differently. Stay tuned for this article. It will be out soon. But let’s talk about lenses.

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 II

This is the least used lens in my arsenal. I tend to pull it out when taking full body shots and want to go a little weird with the angle. Usually this lens is used for 4K video on the 5D Mark IV, as the camera crops the video output. Below you can see some images I took with the 16-35mm f/2.8, mostly at the wider end of the zoom range.

I can’t say much about this lens, as it’s not widely used. To be honest, I would probably sell this lens if it weren’t for the select moments when the wide-angle distortion is exactly what I need. Today I would take the 11-24mm f/4 or even the EF 8-15mm Fisheye f/4, because I like the aesthetics.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8

This lens deserves a separate article, as it has photographed pretty much all of my portfolio and commercial photos. To be honest, when I bought it I was quite disappointed, as I saw a boring lens that didn’t give an exciting wide angle or smooth bokeh at the telephoto end. The zoom range wasn’t that impressive either compared to a 24-105 f/4 IS.

I use this lens mainly in the 45-55mm range. It is not an intentional choice, but rather an unconscious choice. Of course, I use the lens at other focal lengths, but it’s much less frequent. This lens is quite old, but not the oldest in my arsenal. While it’s good for both video and stills, it’s by no means the sharpest or sharpest. If you want ultimate performance, look away from Canon and towards Zeiss. They are renowned for their performance. Again, try to justify this upgrade, as Canon’s trusty zoom from the last decade will do most of the work. That said, I will upgrade my 24-70mm when my current one completely fails. So far it has dents all over its body, it’s been through a lot of physical abuse and I can’t really zoom to 70mm on it anymore. Still, aperture works, zoom range mostly works, and weather sealing, well, let’s not test that. I had it in the snow in Finland and it worked well. He also shot in the pouring rain and scorching heat. The reliability of this lens, even though I bought it used, is beyond question.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS

This is the second most used lens in my setup. Usually I use it when I need to go deeper with video or relatively close for beauty work. I rarely use it for portraits or full body, though. This lens is great for giving you the ability to shoot from afar, but I always consider it carefully before taking it out for beauty work. The reason for this is simply because I like everything in focus, and the 70-200mm doesn’t always give me that capability, especially beyond 150mm, even at f/11. If you’re shooting a nice macro, I’d recommend skipping the 70-200mm and switching to a 100mm macro or a 24-70mm. Although it seems counterintuitive, a shorter focal length gives you more depth of field, so more of your image is in focus. I’m talking about all the millions of beauty pictures where the tip of the nose is far from in focus. Overall, it’s a lens that I also use quite rarely, mostly outdoors and when I can’t get close enough to my subject, which is also rare.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, if I could only have one body and one lens to shoot all my work, I would go for the Canon 5D Mark IV and a 24-70mm f/2.8. If you’re reading this article looking for advice on what gear to buy and you’re absolutely determined to buy something new, buy the Canon EOS R5 and an RF 24-70mm f/2.8 and never look back. As annoying as this combo is, it’s the most useful.