As I’ve made the complete transition to mirrorless cameras within the final yr–having offered off my Nikon D850 and just about all of my DSLR lenses a yr in the past–I began interested by the cameras that I’ve used and people which were important to my success over time. And seeing that there was a serious hole in weblog posts not too long ago I believed this is likely to be a enjoyable one to submit.
That is in chronological order–each after I had them and labored with them–and once they had been in the marketplace. Since I began out in pictures (as a young person) method again within the mid Eighties half of those cameras are from the movie period and the remainder are from the digital age. Amazingly, you’ll discover some gaps at first of the digital age since I discovered most digital cameras from that first decade missing fairly a bit in comparison with their movie counterparts. It took some time for the trade (and for us photographers) to get every part discovered.
In fact, I’ve not used or owned all of the cameras ever made. So, clearly this listing is biased to these cameras I used and owned. There have been quite a lot of nice cameras in the marketplace within the final forty years, however these are those that I selected to make use of and buy after intensive analysis–and those that basically helped me take the craft to the next stage. In that vein, I’m together with photos created with every of those cameras in addition to commentary on why they made it onto the listing.
Of observe, there are some very fashionable cameras that I’ve owned and used that didn’t make it onto this listing such because the Nikon D300, D700, D2x, D3, and the D5 in addition to the a lot older Nikon N90, N90s, and the F5. It’s is just not that these our bodies had been unhealthy, they only didn’t resonate with me as a lot as these listed right here. As you may see by the listing above, I’ve principally labored with Nikon 35mm movie cameras and Nikon DSLRs with a number of medium format cameras sprinkled in. It is just not too long ago that I began working with the unbelievable FUJIFILM GFX cameras–which I’ve to say have one of the best picture high quality of any digital camera I’ve ever labored with (movie or digital).
So, with out additional ado, let’s bounce in.
Nikon FM2 / Nikon FE2
I began out as a 13-year previous with an Olympic OM-1 that my father lent me to check out pictures however the first digital camera I bought with my very own cash was the Nikon FE2 and later an FM2. I additionally used a Nikon FM that my father had for some time as effectively earlier than I acquired the FE2. That FM was what clued me into the Nikon system–and the Aperture Precedence possibility on the FE2 appeared like an excellent concept after utilizing that absolutely handbook Nikon FM for some time.
The FE2, together with a number of lenses I acquired in my teenagers, was what I began my profession with again in 1995. I shortly bought a Nikon N90s in 1996 to realize entry to the brand new autofocus know-how, however the FE2 went on a ton of mountaineering journeys in extraordinarily chilly situations–like -40 Fahrenheit temperatures on Aconcagua as proven above. On this morning the winds had been gusting over 80 miles per hour and the temps had been depraved chilly, effectively beneath -40 F with the windchill. The FE2 did extremely effectively in these loopy chilly temperatures.
After these mountaineering journeys, sooner or later I labored with the FM2 as effectively for some time. After which earlier than autofocus got here alongside I additionally acquired the Nikon F3HP (mentioned beneath). The FM2 was a workhorse all-mechanical digital camera that solely required a battery to energy the publicity meter–every part else was mechanical so there was little or no to go mistaken. Whatever the legendary standing of the Nikon FM2, I at all times most popular the FE2 and the F3HP.
To today, the Nikon F3HP continues to be one of many high two or three favourite cameras I’ve ever owned. If I had to make use of it once more now, I’m positive it will really feel historic and gradual, however the ergonomics had been among the greatest ever on any digital camera. I gave away my F3 to a needy photographer in Russia–and I’m glad I did as he wanted it badly and put it to good use at a time after I wasn’t utilizing it. Certainly one of lately I’ll choose up a used one simply to have–and perhaps even run a number of rolls of movie by it each from time to time. Above are two photos of the F3 HP, one with out the motor drive hooked up (left) and one other with it hooked up (proper).
The Nikon MD-4 motor drive for the F3HP was giant but it surely allowed for as much as 6 frames per second taking pictures, which on the time was blazing quick. Keep in mind, there have been solely 36 photos on a roll of movie so at 6 fps that lasted solely six seconds earlier than you needed to change movie. The motor drive, as did most motor drives in these days, even additional improved the ergonomics of the digital camera. As a handbook focus digital camera, it was definitely slower to make use of than modern-day fully-automated cameras however on the time it felt like a pace machine. The one automation on the digital camera was Aperture precedence publicity (just like the FE2). Despite the fact that I solely labored with the F3 HP for a yr or two, I beloved it nonetheless.
The Mamiya 7II is a 6×7 medium format movie digital camera. It was an try by Mamiya to create a rangefinder model of their venerable RZ67, which was a humongous studio digital camera utilized by nearly all portrait photographers within the 80s and into the early 90s. The 7II was tremendous gentle for medium format–particularly given its giant 6×7 movie measurement. There have been solely 4 or 5 lenses ever made for the system–all primes–however they had been among the sharpest lenses I’ve ever used.
Sadly, I by no means owned the 7II. I borrowed it for one in every of my massive assignments early on in my profession from my shut pal and mentor Marc Romanelli. He was sort sufficient to mortgage it to me for a number of weeks and I took it to Mallorca, Spain for an task with Males’s Journal documenting the then model new sport often known as Psicobloc (a.okay.a. Deep Water Soloing). This was earlier than every other photographers that I do know ever went there to doc the game. The picture editor at Males’s Journal indicated that she considerably despised 35mm movie photos so I took the 6×7 digital camera alongside to placate her tastes. You possibly can see the opening unfold from that article (from method again in 2004) beneath.
The Mamiya 7II was comparatively simple to work with. It was massively simplified in comparison with bigger, extra cumbersome medium format movie cameras of the time. It was tremendous simple to load movie into it–a lot simpler than with a Hasselblad (as proven beneath). The rangefinder autofocus was the tough bit with this digital camera. These which can be used to Leica rangefinder cameras would possibly discover it simple to make use of, however in low gentle (i.e. any state of affairs with out direct solar) it was very troublesome to get correct focus–particularly if the topic was shifting. This was partly because of the 6×7 movie measurement, which provided up tremendous shallow depth of subject. Regardless, the picture high quality this digital camera created was among the greatest I had ever seen and I really feel they’ve solely not too long ago been surpassed by fashionable medium format digital cameras.
The Hasselblad 503CW was the primary medium format movie digital camera that I bought–and it’s to today maybe the one which I remorse promoting essentially the most. In a gathering with Rob Haggart early on in my profession, who on the time was the Picture Editor at Exterior journal, he advised me that we journey photographers “couldn’t gentle our method out of a paper bag.” And he was proper. Again within the movie days, at the least for myself, utilizing synthetic lighting was scary. His recommendation was to get a medium format digital camera and a few lighting gear and begin studying the right way to craft an honest portrait so I bought this Hasselblad setup and a few strobes and set to work.
After I purchased the Hasselblad, I wasn’t actually excited by the sq. format however I grew to like it in time. If pressed, I would even say sq. is my favourite side ratio. It positively makes you compose the picture otherwise than every other format. As could be seen on the high of this part, I additionally bought a winder grip and an angled viewfinder for the 503CW. That made the digital camera heavier however far more ergonomic. I stinking beloved this digital camera, however since I acquired it in 2004 and with the approaching digital transition simply beginning to occur I didn’t love scanning movie. As I moved over to digital absolutely in 2006, I simply didn’t choose up this digital camera as usually and ultimately offered it to fund one other costly pro-level digital digital camera physique.
The 503CW was gradual to make use of, gradual to focus, and loading movie was painful. With solely 12 photographs per roll, you ended up loading and unloading movie usually. I had a second movie again so I may have two loaded on the similar time however even then it felt such as you had been continually loading movie. It was a uncommon shoot the place I went by a dozen rolls of movie–particularly since I nearly at all times had a 35mm movie digital camera or a DSLR with me for the task. Regardless, this goes down as one in every of my all time favourite movie cameras–up there with the Nikon F3HP.
The Nikon D4 was a workhorse skilled digital camera. This was my essential digital camera physique for something motion oriented for greater than seven years. I bought the D4 and the Nikon D800 on the similar time and offered off each of my D700 our bodies shortly after getting this pair. The D800 was revolutionary however probably not a top-end motion digital camera. Therefore, buying each the D4 and the D800.
Trying by my picture catalog a few of my greatest and most well-known photos had been created with this digital camera. The D4 was a extra refined model of the Nikon D3, which modified the digital camera trade because of its stellar low-light efficiency. Any of the bigger Nikon professional our bodies had been all tanks that would just about take care of something. The D4 went deep into the center of the Amazon and braved temperatures as excessive as 118 F (48 C) and in addition went on fairly a number of frigid assignments the place the temps fell effectively beneath 0 F (-18 C). The digital camera by no means appeared phased by any situations–rain, snow, sleet or temperature extremes.
Despite the fact that it was solely a 16 MP digital camera, on the time it was blazing quick for that decision. It additionally did exceptionally effectively in low-light and had super-fast autofocus. The D4 was such an excellent digital camera that I by no means upgraded to the Nikon D5–regardless that the D5 was an unbelievable digital camera as effectively.
In direction of the tip of its life in my digital camera bag, the lowly 16 MP appeared missing, particularly in comparison with the Nikon D810 and D850 mentioned beneath. Even so, in my workplace and residential I’ve fairly a number of 20×30 and bigger effective artwork prints from this digital camera plastered on my partitions–they usually look unbelievable.
The Nikon D810–in addition to the earlier model the D800–had been an enormous enchancment in picture high quality for DSLRs. The D800 collection cameras normally for a full decade had been my essential cameras and the D810 particularly was the digital camera I labored with on a few of my most iconic and well-known assignments. A few of the greatest photos I’ve ever created had been captured with the D810 (as proven beneath). The D810 was a a lot refined model of the D800 with the identical unbelievable picture high quality.
The one purpose I ditched the D810 was that Nikon additional refined it with the D850 listed beneath. The D810 had its flaws however on the time nothing within the 35mm house may contact it when it comes to picture high quality. And it rivaled or matched among the decrease decision medium format cameras as effectively.
The Nikon D850 will seemingly go down as one of the best DSLR ever created. There are a complete host of parents who’ve expressed that very same sentiment so this isn’t simply me saying that. The D850 was an extra refined D810, and with the identical autofocus because the Nikon D5, it was so good and so forward of its time that it was at all times troublesome to get and Nikon couldn’t make sufficient of them for years. In reality, the D850 was so good that Nikon actually had a tough time beating it once they launched their mirrorless cameras in 2018. I’d say that they’ve solely not too long ago matched or exceeded the D850 once they launched the pro-orientated Nikon Z 9.
At 46 megapixels, the D850 additionally pushed the top-end Nikkor lenses fairly laborious as effectively. The digital camera out resolved a lot of the F-mount lenses and pointed to the truth that for higher picture high quality the necessity for superior lenses was paramount. I had a pair of D850 digital camera our bodies they usually may just about do all of it. Sports activities, portraiture, landscapes, and so on. You title it, the D850 was as much as the problem. The one factor it didn’t have was an excellent quick body charge however with the battery grip it may stand up to 9 frames per second which wasn’t unhealthy in any respect. That was definitely quick sufficient for the journey sports activities I used to be documenting.
Certainly one of my first picture shoots with the D850 was at Peahi, also called JAWS, on the north shore of Maui. I shot practically 9,000 photos in at some point because the waves had been large. A few of my greatest ever browsing photos are from that at some point. The D850’s autofocus blew me away as effectively. It was in a position to observe the comparatively small surfers on these large waves even once they dropped into the huge tubes and bowls and even when ocean spray popped up between myself and the surfer. The D850 was and nonetheless is arms down one of the best DSLR I ever labored with.
Hasselblad H5D 50c WiFi
In an effort to create high-end portraits, again in 2014 I began taking a look at medium format digital cameras. For many photographers at the moment, buying a medium format digital digital camera was lunacy. The expense was ridiculous to make certain as they price wherever from $30,000 to upwards of $50,000 only for the digital camera physique. Beforehand, I had labored with an early Section One digital camera and completely hated it. I attempted out Section One first as that they had a brand new system, however I wasn’t blown away sufficient to spend $60,000 for a digital camera and two lenses. Shortly after that Hasselblad despatched me a digital camera for every week to check out and on the similar time that they had a large sale on the H5D 50c WiFI which lower the value by 40%. The Hasselblad was a way more usable digital camera and I discovered the picture high quality was equal or in some situations bested the Section One XF IQ350 that I attempted out. I took the plunge and spent extra on this Hasselblad than any automotive I’ve ever owned. And it paid off as you will notice beneath and within the subsequent few cameras.
Above is a photograph of the Hasselblad H5D 50c WiFi digital camera system with the Hasselblad 24mm, 100mm, 150mm and 50-110mm lenses. The H5D autofocus was gradual. It was glacially gradual, but it surely was extraordinarily correct. The digital camera was large and weighed a ton. I just about wanted to have it on a tripod always save for after I was utilizing its high shutter pace of 1/800th second. It compelled you to decelerate, which was a part of why I favored it. It was primarily a way more refined model of the 503CW I had a decade earlier.
I’ve to say, the colour straight out of the digital camera was completely astounding. I’ve by no means seen extra correct and pleasing shade from any digital camera earlier than or since (together with my Fujifilm cameras). Hasselblad has one of the best shade I’ve seen from any digital digital camera arms down. The Fujifilm GFX cameras are a detailed second (among the many cameras I’ve tried).
I created all kinds of fantastic photos with the Hasselblad. It was a ache to lug a full digital Hasselblad equipment and a 35mm Nikon DSLR equipment world wide however I did it for 4 or 5 years. When every part began heading in the direction of mirrorless cameras, just about each producer despatched me cameras to check out. Sony, Olympus, and Fujifilm all tried to woo me to their programs. I resisted for essentially the most half as none of them had been as mature or as far alongside because the Nikon or Canon DSLRs had been on the time I attempted out these different programs. However I’ll say that the Fujifilm GFX system caught my eye and I used to be very impressed by the small measurement and insane picture high quality it provided–and I had heard rumors of a good higher monster medium format digital camera that was going to alter that style endlessly. So I stayed in contact with them and…
FUJIFILM GFX 100
By way of an unbelievable coincidence, I used to be one in every of a handful of fortunate skilled photographers that created photos for the launch of the FUJIFILM GFX 100. The prototype digital camera was hand delivered to me by Justin Stailey from Fujifilm USA who flew all the way down to Santa Fe and spent 5 days going by it and dealing by some bugs to ensure it will work for the upcoming ten day task photographing mountaineering and downhill mountain biking (as seen within the photos beneath). Earlier than and through the task, Justin was in contact with the Fujifilm engineers in Japan every day to tweak the digital camera firmware so it will work higher for the pictures we had been capturing. We up to date the firmware nearly on a regular basis of the task and the autofocus continued to enhance on daily basis.
I knew concerning the GFX 100 5 months prematurely of the launch. Studying the specs, I knew it was going to be good. And it will have autofocus that will really have the ability to work for a few of my journey sports activities pictures–which was not the case with every other medium format digital camera ever earlier than. The picture high quality is unbelievable. When you see the picture high quality from this 102 MP sensor you can not unsee it’s how I put it to my friends. So, be forewarned, it can spoil you for every other digital camera system. And it’s not simply the unbelievable sensor that creates this picture high quality. Additionally it is the outstanding lenses Fujifilm has crafted for the GFX system. I’ve not labored with every other lenses–on any system–which can be as sharp because the GFX lenses. And I’m not simply saying that as a result of I’ve labored fairly a bit with Fujifilm these previous three years, I’m saying that given all of my expertise as an expert photographer during the last 27 years. My Nikkor lenses, even the brand new Z lenses–that are glorious–aren’t pretty much as good because the GFX lenses.
What additionally separates the GFX 100 (and the GFX 100S beneath) from all different medium format cameras is that it has sensor stabilization built-in as effectively, which permits this digital camera for use in a a lot wider number of conditions than every other digital camera with this decision or these which can be even larger decision. The Section One IQ 150 (a 150 MP digital camera) has I’m positive wonderful picture high quality however with out stabilization it is vitally restricted in how one can work with it. The stabilization within the GFX 100 (and 100S) permits for reliably tack sharp handheld photographs all the way down to 1/twentieth second with an excellent portion of the GFX lenses. That’s totally astounding–particularly having used the Hasselblad H5D 50c WiFi listed above the place I couldn’t get a pointy handheld picture beneath 1/five hundredth second with that digital camera–and it was solely 50 MP (i.e. half the decision). Evidently, as soon as I labored with the GFX 100 I offered my Hasselblad because it was simply redundant.
FUJIFILM GFX 100S
As with the GFX 100 launch, I used to be privileged to create photos for the GFX 100S launch as effectively. With the identical picture high quality because the GFX 100 however in a smaller, lighter package deal, the GFX 100S has turn out to be my go to digital camera after I need 102 MP medium format high quality and must go gentle and quick. The 100S has ever so barely higher picture stabilization than the GFX 100 however all in all it’s just about a smaller, lighter physique and in addition $4,000 cheaper. With this digital camera, Fujifilm has introduced unbelievable medium format picture high quality to the plenty–or at the least the effectively healed plenty.
For the launch we created photos of downhill skateboarding in in Malibu, California. The picture beneath was utilized in Fujifilm’s promoting all around the world. I’ve since taken the GFX 100S on just about all of my assignments since I acquired it early final yr. Notably, I used it for a New Mexico Tourism task with a spacesuit, which turned out spectacularly effectively.
With each the GFX 100 and 100S in my bag, in addition to a big assortment of GFX lenses, this equipment is my go to digital camera of selection–and it’s my most up-to-date favourite digital camera. For these assignments with loopy quick motion that require quicker body charges I take my Nikon Z 9 and Nikkor Z equipment. However for the foreseeable future, and that could be the subsequent 5 years or extra, the GFX 100 and 100S will greater than adequately serve my wants when it comes to picture high quality for nonetheless pictures.
In fact, there are a number of different cameras that I really like, and have owned that didn’t fairly make this listing. These embrace the FUJIFILM X-Professional 3, the Olympus OM-1 (the digital camera I began on method again when) and probably the brand new Nikon Z 9. I haven’t had the Z 9 for lengthy sufficient so as to add it to this listing. The FUJIFILM X-Professional 3 is certainly a stellar digital camera as effectively however was simply edged out of the highest ten.
Should you made it this far, congrats. Let me know what a few of your favourite cameras have been within the feedback. I’ve by no means labored with Leica, Canon or Pentax cameras. They’ve all made some legendary cameras to make certain. However as with every listing like this it’s utterly biased based on my very own experiences–and quite a lot of enjoyable to contemplate.