People ask me often what equipment I use when on a cosplay photoshoot or running around a con, enough to warrant this page. For the curious or confused, I present The Rig ™, a comprehensive listing of all gear I keep hung around my neck for three or four days straight.
Canon EOS 30D Body – This is the heart and brain of the operation, the 8.2 Megapixel Canon 30D or what I affectionately call Big Earl (Yes… I name all my stuff…sad, I know). This is to date the best body I have shot with probably because it’s the only body I have shot with. It is my first dSLR camera. Before this point all my cameras have been Point-n-Pray cameras. Are there better bodies? Yes, but for what I do, I cannot justify the insane price tag.
For those interested in the technical specs or are interested in all the 30D has to offer in performance you can read this excellent and informative review here: www.dpreview.com/news/0602/06022114canoneos30d.asp
I spent the better part of six months reviewing and testing many cameras. It was like Goldie Locks and the Three Bears; the bears being Sony, Nikon and Canon. This one is too small. This one is too heavy. This one is JUST right. Buying a camera should be taken with the same zeal as buying a new car. Until you test drive it don’t slap down a wad of cash.
Canon EF-S 17-85mm 4.0-5.6 IS Lens – This standard zoom lens is a great all purpose lens I shoot with when the lighting is not going to be an issue. With the built-in Image Stabilizer I can get some wonderful pictures if the light is good. When the sun goes down and all I have left is tungsten lighting things start to get tricky. The 17mm end of the lens is invaluable for shooting those 400 Bleach and Naruto cosplayers together all at once. XD
Canon EF 24-70mm 2.8L Lens – One of Canon’s standard zoom luxury lenses. I started shooting with this lens at Atsuicon and the results were fantastic. With a fixed aperture of 2.8 lighting is only an issue in the dimmest of situations. The flexibility of this lens was a big turn on and it performed exactly how I expected it would. It was a bit heavy and by day three of the convention I was ready to die from exhaustion though (But that is partly because they didn’t believe in air conditioning at the hotel).
Canon Speedlite 430EX Flashgun – The lifesaver of The Rig, the flash. The powerful 430EX has just the right amount of power to reach my subjects. With its ETTL technology it is able to fully communicate with the camera to provide the best exposure setting for any given situation. It gave me a lot of trouble at A-kon 18 though. I had to toss out nearly every photo from the Friday photo shooting because it gave everyone blue skin but I have mastered it for the most part. There is a more powerful 580EX flash but I don’t need to signal the space shuttle from orbit. For shooting people at close range the 430EX is the way to go.
LumiQuest ProMax System – I had several people at Atsuicon ask me what the assembly around the 430EX flash was. Now I shall reveal my dirty little secret. It is the LumiQuest ProMax 80/20 Flash system. Basically it makes the light exiting my flash bigger. The bigger your light source the softer your shadows. Softer shadows equals better picture! This was my first time using this system and it was awesome! It did its job exactly as advertised, providing me with a ‘ceiling’ to bounce my light off of over a wider area. LumiQuest sells many flash accessories for most flashguns. You can see all their products at their main site: http://www.lumiquest.com
StroboFrame Camera Flip Bracket – The skeleton of The Rig ™. The camera body and 430EX flash all attach to this baby to allow me several advantages over just slapping a flash on the body and running with it. First off, the bracket places the flash off the camera and puts it above in its own flash shoe. Generally, the higher your flash is above your lens the better your light spread will be. With the LumiQuest ProMax attached I had to move the flash off the camera into a stable position over the lens. I tend to shoot most of my photography up-ended, that is I put the camera vertical. Without the flash bracket my flash would stick way out to the side and produce unsightly shadows on my subjects. With the StroboFrame bracket I am able to flip the camera on its side while the flash remains directly above the lens. No ugly shadows! You can learn more about the StroboFrame at Tiffen’s information site: http://www.tiffen.com/Header_page_Stroboframe.html