Friday, January 4, 2013

Inside a Photographer's Camera Bag

Today we welcome back guest contributor, Joseph Prezioso.  His images, stories and expertise as a professional photographer inform and inspire all those interested in the realm of photography, from amateur to advanced.  

I have several cameras in my camera bag, but my favorite is the Hasselblad X-Pan.  The Hasselblad XPan is a 35mm panoramic rangefinder camera with three interchangeable lenses (a 30mm, 45mm and 90mm).  The camera system is light, built tough and incredibly easy to use.  

The Hasselblad XPan creates images that take the place of two normal 35mm frames.  For example, it produces 18 frames on a normal 36 exposure roll of film (although I usually get 19 to 20 per roll).   The film is auto loading, and the camera offers aperture priority or manual mode.  The lenses are all manual, and have both focus and aperture controls.  The shutter speed is set via a dial on the top of the camera, and the ISO can be set to either manual or auto DX. 
Image courtesy of Joseph Prezioso

In my experience, the camera offers smooth focusing, and the viewfinder is bright and accurate.  When looking through the viewfinder of the camera, you see a plus, minus and a solid dot.  This is the exposure control linked to the camera’s center weighted meter.  It lets you know if your exposure is over, under or spot on.  

My lens of choice for the Hasselblad XPan is the 45mm f4.  Since the camera does not use a mirror to focus, I can obtain really sharp focus shots at slow speeds at 1/15th or 1/30th of a second.  The camera also has the ability to switch back to normal 35mm frames with the flick of a switch, so you have the option of shooting both panoramic and normal 35mm frames without having to changes cameras.

Image courtesy of Joseph Prezioso
Using the Hasselblad XPan is a great method to experience photography in a new way.  Thinking and shooting in panoramic is very cinematic for me.  Looking through the viewfinder echoes a similar experience to seeing an epic movie in widescreen.  The landscape and its surroundings are no longer my subjects, but characters in my shot.  Shooting with a panoramic camera gives you a lot to work with, so I try to make my shots full.  I bring the Hasselblad XPan on all my trips and to the weddings I shoot, so you will always find it in my camera bag.

Image courtesy of Joseph Prezioso

When it comes to lenses for my other camera systems, the 85mm has to be my most used lens of choice.  When I’m not using a wide angle lens like the 28mm or 35mm, the 85mm is always on one of my camera bodies.  I like to have it within reach because it’s fast, sharp and creates beautiful images. 

Image courtesy of Joseph Prezioso
In addition to other projects, I generally shoot 30 or more weddings a year, so I never know what kind of lighting conditions I will be up against. Therefore, I need the speed and the ability of the 85mm lens to take great portraits.  I also need to be able to get close up shots of the action happening around me without being on top of my subjects. 

My specific lens of choice is the Nikon 85mm f1.4 D lens.  Some ask why the D lens, and not the newer G lens?   I personally like the metal construction of the D lens versus the plastic construction of the G lens. Also, more importantly, the D lens has an aperture ring and will work on both my manual focus F3 and my auto focus F5 bodies.  

Image courtesy of Joseph Prezioso
I usually end up shooting at an f1.4 aperture for two reasons.  One, I like a small depth of field and an out-of-focus foreground and background.  Two, most weddings I shoot take place after the sun sets and I need every ounce of light I can get.  The Nikon 85mm f1.4 D lens is ultra-fast, and even when in full manual mode it’s easy and smooth to focus. 

Image courtesy of Joseph Prezioso
There are other versions of the Nikon 85mm lens, like the f1.8 and f2, but I prefer the f1.4 D.  I believe the optics are the same, and they are fast to focus, but since I shoot in low light the difference between f-stops is pretty huge.  Outside in the sun they are the same, but inside in the dark the f1.4 wins for me every time.  Therefore, you will always find the Nikon 85mm f1.4 D lens in my camera bag.    

Contributor Bio:  Joseph Prezioso is a professional photographer who has been shooting for over twelve years.  He went from shooting film, to 100% digital, and then back to film again. He says, "By trade I am a wedding photographer, I shoot over 30 weddings a year and this year they were all on film. My career started as a newspaper photographer though. I was 16 and like Jimmy Olsen. I learned on the streets shooting next to veteran photographers for the AP and Boston Globe (I worked for some weeklies, but I got to cover a lot of cool events that the big news guys covered too!). Film is something I have fallen in love with, it's the medium I learned on. Film will always be something special to me. It feels more versatile and creative in my hands than when I am using digital."  


  1. THANKS for the piece. SO glad someone else also prefers AFD lenses. It's annoying that on the one hand, FMs and F4s need non-G lenses. BUT the v1 needs AFS lenses.

    AND there are so few AFS lenses that are non G. The 17-35 2.8, the 80-200 and the 300 f4.

    The newer and faster Nikon AFS are all G. What's with that?

  2. They're frequently made in lower cost countries than Japan and frankly seem to have a lot more plastic components. Nikon does not care. It's apparently about money. They have lost their way from once being the pro's choice. Canon has taken that mantle and run with it. Just look at the available pro-centric gear.
    And what's with the dirty chips on the newest Nikon pro-sumer body and the focus issues with the Nikon D3 series and now the D800s?