Gearing Up for London

A sports photographer seldom needs any excuse to get a new piece of equipment. Somehow in the back of most sports photographers’ minds is the lingering thought, if I only had that lens, if I only had a faster frame rate, if I only had the newer (insert current item of lust here); think of the shots that I could get!

Part of this of course is the curse of being able to visualize the effect of the new piece of equipment can do, particularly when dealing with a new lens!

I admit it; I have some great equipment. I have been lucky and been able to upgrade along the way, while still making use of my prior gear. Although many have asked for my hand-me-downs, they are most often residing in Chicago with my son Jonathan, although my original Canon 1D is now solely a museum piece.

I am just like the rest, I love the new gear, I rationalize it by saying it’s not really me, but my clients demand the highest quality images! There is that and also shooting endurance sports you have a tendency to beat the crap out of your equipment, not even thinking about when mine got bounced off the hood of an SUV and on to the pavement (yup, with me still attached to it all).

Here is my current excuse for new gear! Next week I leave for the 2012 London Olympics. I will be working for USA Triathlon both the shoot the Men’s and Women’s races but also to work with the team on a behind the scenes basis, to tell the story and to allow people to get to know these five amazing individuals that will be racing for the US.

When the new Canon flagship 1Dx was announced, I called my local dealer, National Camera Exchange to get on the list! Trust me, I called as soon as they were open and I was already number three on the list.

With the vagaries of delivery by Canon, in June I purchased the new Canon 5D Mark III.

It is an amazing upgrade compared to the 5D Mk II, which I thought was pretty fabulous. I have only been using it for a couple of weeks, but of the many things I love about it are:

  • 61 point focusing;
  • 6 fps frame rate; and
  • Shooting multiple images in stealth mode.

And of course, there is the amazing image quality.

Naturally a week after receiving the 5D MK III, I got a call from my friend Julie at National Camera and WOW, the 1Dx had arrived! I picked it up on July 5th.

I thought about including images of the camera bodies & lens, but you can see those on the web with better lighting than I am willing to set up today. Instead, here are 3 images shot with the 1Dx and the 300, and a final image shot with the 5D Mark III and a 24 to 70mm.

I have been shooting as much as I can with both bodies and they are indeed all they I was lead to believe. I am still trying to understand the intricacies of the new (and amazing) auto focus system (there is a 48 page manual on the auto focus alone, as well as about a dozen short videos). The results have been fabulous.

It is also so cool to be shooting full frame again!

As a long-time soccer photographer, I have a 400mm f/2.8 lens. It is the go to lens on the field of play. Particularly great if you get to sit down to use it and shoot from a fixed position, which during a triathlon I do not! I have opted for the new 300mm f2.8 IS II. Fabulous glass, great images, fast and by my standards a lightweight.

Just one more new lens for the trip – I have borrowed the 8 to 15mm f/4.0 zoom from Canon a couple of times and found it to be a fabulous artistic tool.  I am particularly excited about using this lens at some of the new Olympic structures in London.

Rounding out my kit will be:

  • Canon 1D Mark IV;
  • Canon 1D Mark III;
  • Canon Powershot G1x;
  • Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS II
  • Canon 16-35 f2.8;
  • Canon 24-70 f2.8;
  • Canon 24-105 f4.0;
  • 2 Canon 580 EXII flash;
  • Tripod;
  • Monopod;
  • 280 gig of Cards;
  • 4 Pocket Wizards & cables; and
  • Mounting brackets for remotes.

There are cameras and lens that I will be leaving at home as well. There is absolutely no need to bring everything I own, it is really a matter for determining what you are going to need, how you are going to deploy it and how much can you carry and handle on race day.

Remember just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should.

The next blog will be how I am packing all of the gear in my Think Tank Photo bags for the travel to London and what I am going to use to carry it around while I am there.

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