Iâ€™ve recently sold most of my Canon gear to go lower profile and a lot less weight. Now all I simply own is one Canon system, the EOS 1D Mark IV, and three lenses that run the gamut of focal lenghts, a 16-35/2.8, a 70-200/2.8 IS and a 300/2.8 IS. Additionally I carry a 580 EXII Speedlite. With this kit, I can do just most everything including sports, but this kit is still quite heavy in my opinion.
Now my typical bag consists predominantly of Leica gear, sharp and light. I use two M9 systems and a wide range of ultra light, super sharp glass. My 35/2 Summicron hardly ever leaves the body. It is the perfect lens for a variety of applications from events, environmental portraits, group shots and landscapes. If I need to do a tight headshot, I use a Leica 75/1.4 Summilux. Those two lenses serve probably 75% of my needs. If not, I also have a Leica 28/2 Summicron and a 50/2 Summicron. That entire kit weighs less than my Canon Mark IV and 70-200/2.8. Everything the Canon kit can do, my Leica kit can do with the exception of sports.
In addition to the weight, I shoot a Leica rangefinder for a number of other reasons:
- It forces the photographer to learn their camera. Most of the controls including focus is manually adjusted. You canâ€™t really shoot fast with it but are forced to concentrate on the basics of composition (subject, focus, simplify).
- The lenses are no less than spectacular. The bokeh on the 75/1.4 Summilux beats the Canon 400/2.8 any day.
- The color rendition out of the camera is beautiful.
- The black and white is even more so. In fact, I leave my M9 in Color Raw + B&W JPG virtually all the time and I almost always go with the Leica B&W as opposed to converting the RAW.
- My subjects do not find my M9 intimidating. I can get up close to my subjects for a more intimate portrait.
For lighting and formal portraits when shooting weddings, I will be using a pair of Uni400s from Dynalite. Iâ€™ll be shooting the portraits with a 80mm/2.8 Lens attached to a Mamiya 645 AFD-III or a 110mm/2.8 attached to a Mamiya RZ67 Pro IID body. In both medium format cameras I use a Leaf Aptus DM33 digital back. There are significant advantages to shooting medium format including:
- The sensor is five times bigger than a 35mm.
- Image quality. Despite what the 35mm guys tell you, they all wish they could have a medium format camera.
- Dynamic range: A 35mm sensor typically has a 3-stop dynamic range while medium format has a range of 12-stops so you get a more natural looking transition between highlight and shadow areas.
- I’m forced to slow down and focus on my composition instead of jumping around and shooting like a monkey.
- Combined with a lens using a leaf shutter, I can synch my lights to the highest shutter speed available on the camera.
- The Look. You need a focal length twice the size of a 35mm camera system so you get a more 3D look with more bokeh. For example, a normal lens is 35mm in a 35mm camera but when shooting medium format 80mm is considered a normal lens.
- You can shoot film with the same camera! Many of us still love to shoot film on occasion. Both my medium format cameras accept film backs so I typically carry a few rolls of 120mm as back up on important shoots.
- The digital back is interchangeable. I have a 33 megapixel back but on a big job that pays big bucks, I can rent a 60 or even an 80 megapixel back.
- Professional Look. With so many prosumer cameras available to the masses, it is hard to distinguish the “Parent With a Camera” and the “Professional.” When you walk in with a Medium format camera, everyone knows you take your trade seriously.
- Dynalite Uni400s