Category :: Equipment

GoPro Hero2

By | Equipment | Comments

My GoPro Hero2 finally made it through the Christmas post today. I went for the Outdoor kit as it came with a more useful variety of mounts. I also added an optional LCD screen to the package.

I’ll be putting the Hero2 through its paces in a couple of weeks when I visit Val Thorens, and will try and post some footage and a quick review when I’m back. So far I’m impressed with its low light capabilities (its dark here now, so can’t properly try it in the light until tomorrow :-()

Canon Powershot S100

By | Equipment | Comments

I have a new toy! It arrived express delivery from Hong Kong!

So for the past few years my choice of compact camera has been the Canon Powershot G10, an amazing camera that takes beautiful photos, has manual control, shoots RAW and is build like a brick. Unfortunately its a little large to carry around in a pocket, so I found myself using my iPhone camera much more than the G10. I admit I sacrificed quality for convenience, which is great, but I found myself wanting more in some circumstances.

Being Christmas and all, I thought I deserved a present, so please welcome the Canon Powershot S100! (The S100 joins my very large camera family)

The S100 is a beautifully crafted camera, shooting 12MP of RAW image (essential to me!), with the added manual control that the G10 offers, but around half the depth of the G10 and a little smaller all over. The selling point for me is the added GPS, which tags each image with my location information (such a lifesaver when it comes to cataloging my images). The build quality and feel are outstanding for such a small light compact camera bursting with technology (better not forget to add that it shoots full 1080p HD video), Canon have done an amazing job on this camera.

(shot on the iPhone 4S)

The S100 is packed with technology and the new DIGIC 5 chip, I’m loving the lens control ring, and the massive 3″ LCD. There are so many new features in this camera, and some clever AF magic, I’ll be playing with these over the next few weeks and will report back on anything that I’m impressed by.

Initially I am extremely impressed with this camera, I’ll give it a full work out over the next few weeks as I visit family and friends over Christmas.

P.S I’ve had a gadget filled week, I also upgraded my iPhone to the 4S 64GB, as with all the apple products I own I am extremely impressed with the phone! The winner for me here is the upgraded camera and ability to shoot HD video.

P.P.S I also have a GoPro Hero2 on the way (come on DPD (ordered the same time as the S100 from the UK, The S100 travelled from Hong Kong to London so far a day quicker than the GoPro from Birmingham to London), should be here today!), I’ll post a review of this when I get a moment, but it will be getting a through test in my forthcoming Ski trip in January!

The Importance of Backup Equipment

By | Equipment, Hints & Tips | Comments

Firstly, I’d like to apologise as I am slightly behind on my blogging. I’ll be posting Emily & Simon’s wedding from a couple of weeks ago soon (photos already available in the gallery), and then Beckie & Chris from yesterday.

I would however like to again highlight the importance of backup equipment, and yesterday’s wedding at Northcote house was no exception to this. I’m always asked why I bring so much equipment to weddings, and this is the exact reason. We provided a photobooth last night too, and again had equipment failures.

So here’s my run down of what broke or failed on me yesterday!

16 AA Rechargeable batteries although charged, dead when trying to use >>>>>> Used alternative batteries (I bring at least 48 AA batteries)
2 x Pocket Wizard Flex TT’s, 1 x Pocket Wizard Mini TT would not trigger Canon 580 EX II’s >>>>>> Resulted to using Pocket Wizard Plus II’s (with no ETTL)
2 x Canon 1D Mk II – Wouldn’t download photos when tethered (for display on plasma) >>>>>> Switched to Canon 1D MK IV (after trying both Mark II’s)
1 x Elinchrom D-Lite 4 – Sync Port broke >>>>>> Resulted to using Photocell sensor
1 x Elinchrom D-Lite 4 – Stand mount snapped >>>>>> Temporarily fixed with lots of Duct Tape! (preventing use of Octobox, resulting in using umbrella
1 x Manfrotto Light Stand – Jammed >>>>>> Switched Light Stand

I think my equipment is looking forward to the end of year as much as I am now!

I’ll catch up with my blog posts shortly, promise!

Corporate Headshots with the Lastolite Hi-Lite

By | Equipment, Hints & Tips | Comments

I’ve found myself using the Lastolite Highlite more and more for corporate headshots as of late. Its ideal for the standard headshot, or groups of upto 5 people.

I’ve also used it as one huge softbox, miming a large window. Combined with a Elinchrom Octobox the light is incredibly soft and ideal for portrait work.

Here are a few setup shots of this setup in action, The hi-lite is 7ft wide, by 6ft high, I’ve raised it up on a background stand to allow me to use it in its wider orientation to fit more people into the group shots (gives me 1ft more width wise, over height). I find this setup works great too for a photo booth setup.

Lighting Config :: Background f11, Octobox f8 – Canon 1D MK IV – Canon 70-200mm L @ 1/200, f8

And what do the results look like?

Your Wedding Photobooth

By | Equipment, Hints & Tips, Photobooth | Comments

I thought it was about time I shared a little more information about our Wedding Photobooth, well I say Wedding, but our photobooth is available for any occasion, just ask for a quote.

A Photo Booth can be a great addition to your wedding day photography. Rather than an small automated booth, our setup is more like a mini studio with a real photographer. Thats right, not an uninspiring automated machine, but a real personable and fun photographer.

Our photobooth can be set up just feet from the bar, so that for a few hours your guests will have the opportunity to have some fun with some props and create some great memories. We bring the backdrop and a treasure trove of fun props, all you need to do is bring the guests.

The backdrop is 7ft wide, so plenty of room for a large group of guests, we use a Lastolite HiLite which is lit from the inside, therefore requiring a very small footprint, fitting into even the smallest of spots. I have a variety of backgrounds in a number of colours, get in touch if you want to try something different to white.

We shoot tethered and also provide a large screen so that your guests can view the photos straight away!

All images will be professional retouched and posted along side your days images for all to see and share, or why not turn them into a unique coffee table book, or magazine style album.

We can also print on site in a variety of sizes if required for an additional charge.

So a few photos of the setup, please excuse the garish wallpaper in the background, I’ll get some new photos next time, but in the meantime here are a few images from Michelle & Rob’s Wedding last week.

In addition to a wealth of props and dressing up accessories, there are whiteboards so that your guests can leave you a special message in their photo.

And what do the finished results look like?

Want to see more? Check out the photobooth gallery from Michelle & Rob’s wedding last week.

Available at your wedding from only an additional £295

(will be discounted if included as part of a package, get in touch for information)

Memory Card Management

By | Equipment, Hints & Tips | Comments

Carrying over 168GB of memory cards, the last thing I want to be thinking about during a wedding is which cards are used/empty, which cards are paired with which, and are they securely stored!

So here’s how I look manage my memory on the day…

Firstly I shoot exclusively with Canon 1D’s which are setup to shoot to both a Compact Flash & Secure Digital card simultaneously (this gives me a little resiliency incase one card should fail) , therefore each Compact Flash card is paired up with a Secure Digital card.

I use exclusively SanDisk Compact Flash cards and a variety of SD cards. I use 8GB cards in the 1D IV and 4GB cards in the 1D II’s, these sizes work for me and I get around 300-400 images per pair. I prefer these sizes over larger capacity cards as I’m not “putting all my eggs in the same basket”. Although sometimes when I’m downloading all the cards I wish I could just get a 12 card CF card reader, loads all the cards in and press go!

Each card is labelled with both my contact details (incase I drop/lose a card) and also a unique number which identifies the pair. The first two characters denote the type of card, the first digit the capacity and the remaining digits the pair number.

They are then safely stowed in pairs in a LowePro sliplock memory card case which has 12 little compartments allowing me to hold 12 pairs (24 cards). All cards are stored front facing (dark label showing – denoting empty cards)

When a card pair is used, it goes back into the case with the rear label showing (reversed), this allows me to quickly identify which cards are empty and which have already been used.

On the day this case remains clipped to my LowePro S&F utility belt and doesnt leave my sight, until all cards have been fully downloaded and backed up. My first backup of the day is during the wedding breakfast (whilst im preparing the evening slideshow), and involves downloading all cards to both my macbook and 2 external WD 750GB hard drives (one of these then stays on me during the evening) (see custom case post for more info).

All in all I think I have a pretty robust workflow here, its been tried and tested during many weddings and works pretty well.

Peli Laptop Case – MacBook Mobile Workstation

By | Equipment, Hints & Tips | Comments

To try and speed up my downloading and processing primarily at Weddings when i have a very tight timeframe to put together enough images for the evening slideshow, but also just when im working on a mobile shoot I decided to modify a Peli 1495 case to provide me with a mobile workstation setup.

Also keeps my nice new macbook (which is amazingly quick….but more on that later) nice and safe.

I started with a Peli 1495 case with foam insert, and cut out the correct sizes to fit:
Macbook Pro 15″
2x WD 2.5″ 750GB USB Drives
SanDisk Card Reader
Mini USB Hub
Apple Magic Mouse
Macbook Power Cables
Wacom Tablet (in the case roof)

So this had its first outing this weekend at Zoe & Pauls Wedding, within seconds of opening it, not only was the MacBook powered up and ready to go, but I had two external drives, a Card Reader, mouse and power connected. The combination of moving to a Macbook and this setup must have saved me at least 10 minutes to get everything setup and ready to start downloading the images.

Talking about downloading images, by the time I do my first download of the day during the wedding breakfast to allow me to process images for inclusion in the evening slideshow I normally have between 45-50GB to download. At my last wedding in February when i was solely Windows based this download took 1hr 15m using a combination of DownloaderPro & Lightroom to just download and import the images, cutting heavily into the 1.5hr timeslot I have to download approx 1700 images and process 200. This time using Aperture on the mac this whole download took just 25 minutes, and this included re-downloading the first 8GB card because I noticed my naming convention was set wrong.

So Aperture, I took the hit when moving to the Mac to give Aperture a try, and wow….not sure if its the mac or the software, or a combination of both, but soooo unbelievably quick, in just 45 minutes I viewed 1700 images, and processed 311 of them. No lag, no “Loading…..” screens, just the images in all their high resolution glory (16MP). I love the ability to download to an 2nd external drive at import as a backup, I love the customisable keyboard commands (still learning them!!) and just the speed to navigate between the images. The biggest hit I took was losing all my Lightroom presets, (I have the loaded into Lightroom on the mac, but I’m seriously liking Aperture atm), so its back to basics to re-create them. Maybe not a bad thing, maybe its time for a slightly new processing style.

So I’m totally sold on the Macbook Pro, I think the 8GB RAM upgrade was an extremely good move, now I just need to get used to using it! Having been a Windows kid for as long as I can remember its taking a little getting used to, but saying that it is so intuitive to use, its just the advanced features that are bugging me right now.

Macbook Pro

By | Equipment | Comments

So i’ve finally taken the plunge and ordered a macbook pro. Its a custom spec (8GB RAM, 7200rpm HHD, High Res Screen), so should arrive sometime next week. I’ve always been loyal to Windows, but my I’ve finally succumb to the realisation that a macbook might just meet my photographic needs a little closer. Hopefully no more sitting watching any more “Not Responding” windows whilst trying to process large images. Fingers crossed.

I’ll keep you updated on my experience.

Oh, and I also added a nice 10mm Fisheye to my collection, I’ll post some images when I’ve had chance to take some.

New Clothing for 2011

By | Equipment | Comments

Deciding that my current branded clothing was looking a little worn (and may have shrunk slightly), I decided to order a new set for 2011.

They finally turned up today, I went for a mixture of Shirt, Polo and Soft Shell Jacket this time around, and I have to say I’m really impressed with the quality.

All of the items have my logo embroidered on the front left breast, and URL on the back.

Wedding Gear

By | Equipment | Comments

One question I’m asked frequently by both couples and other photographers is about the gear I use to shoot a wedding. I thought I’d put a quick post together detailing my primary gear that I bring with me to your wedding. I’ve only included my primary gear here, I will provide another post with my supplementary and studio gear soon.

Chris Powell Photography Wedding Gear

So what’s in the picture:

2x Canon 1D mk IV
2x Canon 1D mk II

Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L IS
Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L
Canon 17-40mm f4 L
Canon 100mm Macro f2.8
Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 L IS
Canon 50mm 1.8

Canon 580 EX II
Canon 580 EX II
Canon 580 EX I
Sigma EF500 Super
Quantum Turbo 2×2
Lastolite EzyBox SpeedLite Softbox
Soften Omnibounce
Lumiquest Softbox
Gary Fong Light Sphere

Sekonic L358 Lightmeter
Lastolite Trigrip Reflector/Diffuser
3 x Pocket Wizard Plus II

Pocket Rocket
Black Rapid DR-2 Double Camera Strap

Gorilla Pod SLR Tripod
Optera 230 Mini Tripod
Manfrotto 055XPO0B Tripod
Manfrotto 322RC2 Grip Head
Custom Bracket Digital Pro-M + Canon Off Camera Shoe Cord 2
Various Light Stands + Umbrella/Swivel heads
Various Clamps and grips

10 Batteries for the 1Ds
Over 60GB of Compact Flash Sand Disk Extreme Memory Cards
Over 60GB of SDHC Cards
Bungee Ball Cords
Duck Tape
Various Cables

What’s not in the picture:

Peli 1650 Case
Lowepro Stealth Reporter D550 AW Bag
Lowepro Street & Field Deluxe Belt
Various lens and gear pouches

2x Laptops
Several Portable Western Digital 500GB Portable Hard Drives
Sandisk Memory Card Readers

Chargers and plenty of other cables
More Batteries
Flash Gels

2 x Canon 20D Backup/Remote cameras

More Lightstands and Tripods (at least one 4m stand to allow for Aeriel photos)
Manfrotto Monopod

I hope that gives you a better picture of the gear I use to shoot a Wedding. This kit makes up my core gear that accompanies me on most weddings, however there is a whole host of other gear which sometimes joins me if required.

Although Id like to point out that an expensive camera definately doesn’t make the person holding it a photographer, it’s very important that the professional photographing your wedding is using only the best of equipment to capture your day.

I have invested heavily over the past few years to ensure that I have nothing but the best gear to capture your special day,my set-up is fully redundant just in case I’m unfortunate enough for one piece of kit to fail on the day.

I will be posting more information on my portable studio kit shortly which is sometimes used during a wedding, or a pre-wedding shoot.