Revisiting the Hasselblad X1D after putting it to the test on real commercial assignments.Read More
I’m a huge fan of Wotancraft camera bags, well made and I just love how sexy they are. Here is a quick introduction and review of the Wotancraft Easy Rider Sling Bag coupled with their camera insert. I love this bag for street photographer, it’s practical and extremely stylish. Watch my review here.
To quote Kevin "Color Me Gone is a photobook with a circular narrative about a developing Vietnam. I spent 10 years photographing the country where I began to see it as a bit of a dark fairytale or a film noir where I romanticized the nostalgia I never knew."Read More
Full disclosure, Canon is the sponsor of the TV show I’m on and I do a lot of work with them. However, they have never asked me to write any reviews of their products and I was a Canon user long before my TV show every happened.
I’m not a very technical guy so I don’t discuss much on technical specs nor will you find any charts, Bunsen burners, or lab coats in my reviews. I go off of feel, intuition and real assignment experience.
A little bit about me, I work independently as a photojournalist (most notably for The New York Times), I own a destination wedding photography business, and a commercial photography and video production studio. You can see all my work HERE.
Enough about me, lets dive into this camera.
Why I Bought It?
I purchased the 5DS R solely for my commercial business. We shoot a lot of luxury resorts all over Asia and beyond and I was looking for a high-resolution camera for these shoots. The 5DS R packs 50mp on a full frame sensor so you can see the appeal. I wanted a camera with great files because I’m always looking for more details and beautiful colors and when my clients need to print the images huge, I want those images to look stunning.
The best thing about this camera is the delicious files it produces. You still need to take nice pictures with your eye and brain but if you do get a nice shot you will be wildly impressed with the file, wow, just wow. The details and colors are like no camera I’ve ever used before, simply amazing.
For resorts I shoot a lot of inside out, meaning balancing light in a gorgeous room with the rooms view of the beach. You could always light the room and expose for the outside but I’m all about natural light and I try to avoid artificial lighting at all costs to maintain a sense of reality.
The camera has a built in HDR mode, like a lot of new cameras, but I still prefer to get one middle ground exposure and then move the file in post production to get a more natural feel. The files on this camera can move a ton in post-production without compromising quality.
Here is a sample of a room shot we did for Intercontinental Pattaya, no artificial lighting at all we just ran the image through processing twice in Lightroom. This is all from one file, this isn’t a multiple exposure.
Some images I shot last week for the luxurious 5 star Intercontinental Sun Peninsula Danang resort.
For cropping, you can crop in so close and the files still look amazing, see below. This comes in handy more than you think.
It’s not as fast at processing as the Canon 5D Mark 3 or obviously the 1D series but I don’t need it to be. If you are firing off shots quickly the camera lags a little bit and takes that extra second to buffer. Put it up against medium format cameras and I’m sure it crushes them. If you are use to a performance action camera like the above mentioned the one extra second it takes will annoy you a little bit at the beginning but you’ll get over it.
The other thing is this camera is not a beast in low light. You can’t crank it up to 4K or 8K ISO like the 1D and expect the files to be crisp. It’s not horrible in low light but obviously it doesn’t compare to the Canon 5DM3 or the 1DX series.
This camera eats memory because the files are gigantic. It’s not a huge deal but get used to big files.
Ok this isn’t really the camera’s fault but I shoot predominantly with primes so I use a two two-body camera system. This camera destroys others with the files and I couldn’t match it up with others so went back to shooting with one camera at a time.
Buy the fastest cards you can get, I am a huge fan of SanDisk cards. Pay the extra money for the fastest cards, time is money.
I don’t recommend this camera as a one camera for wedding photography because the files are so huge and unnecessary but if you dial down the file size to Camera RAW medium then it becomes a fantastic number 2 camera, I use it all the time.
Who Needs This Camera
Obviously anyone working in commercial photography will love this camera, but it’s not just for professionals. Anyone interested in fashion, portraiture, pre-wedding, landscape, fine-art, food photography, basically anyone that loves color and fine details at any level will adore this camera.
I’d buy this camera again and again. Even when I shoot commercially I’m rolling around in the sand, dirt, trees, etc. so I’ve put this camera through the stress test and after over 100,000 shots and it still performs flawlessly. It’s a medium format camera packed into a DSLR body and not at a budget breaking medium format price. If you love gorgeous colors, printing your images, and fine details you will be hooked on this camera the second you load the files into your computer.
I use to hate when people say to me, wow those are nice images you must have a great camera. I have to admit that still annoys me but with the 5DS R I do have to give credit where credit is due.
To see more images shot with the 5DS R please visit HERE.
5DS R Specs:
· 50.6MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
· Dual DIGIC 6 Image Processors
· Low-Pass Filter Effect Cancellation
· 3.2" 1.04m-Dot ClearView II LCD Monitor
· Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 30 fps
· 61-Point High Density Reticular AF
· ISO 100-6400; 5 fps Continuous Shooting
· 150,000-Pixel RGB+IR Metering Sensor
· User-Selectable Shutter Release Time Lag
· Anti-Flicker Compensation
Purchase Online HERE.
I recently did a shot kit layout for Shotkit.com and since I was asked while I was on a shoot for The Datai Langkawi I decided to feature my kit for resort photography. One key missing feature is a collapsable reflector We depend so much on natural light that we can’t do a shoot without this. We use the gold disc to give everything that sunny holiday look.
Our clients are looking to break from the norm with their images, wanting more of a story and more realistic images so I decided to showcase my all-natural resort photography kit J For these shoots we do everything for our clients from architectural shots, food shots, and lifestyle shots, we are there to build them a well rounded image library they can use for years to come.
To start with since I’m at a luxury resort I need to fit in and be stylish so I love my Wotancraft camera bag. I have a whole arsenal of them for all different occasions. Their bags are handmade and super stylish, a nice break from all the nerdy bags out there for photographers.
I use the 17mm Tilt Shift for room interiors and resort hero shots, the lens is a beast but at times it scares me because of the bulbous glass.
For the lifestyle part of the shoot I love using the 24mm 1.4, the colors and the pop you get from that lens are unrivaled by any others. It’s lightweight and allows me to get close to my subjects and to shoot them in a documentary style approach.
I have to admit my favorite lens is the 45mm Tilt Shift. I don’t use it for the miniature effect, instead I use it with a slight tilt for that creamy and dreamy look and it fits perfect for luxury resorts.
I use the 100mm macro for detail shots and for food shots, it’s razor sharp. I try to use as much natural light as possible so when we need to keep the ambience I break out my Canon 50mm 1.2, this lens rocks on low light.
I shoot a ton, trying to get as many natural moments as possible when we have models on the shoots so for storage I back everything up with the WD My Passport Pro because it’s got a built in 2 times RAID system and it’s thunderbolt so it’s super fast.
We use the Canon Legria Mini X for behind the scenes footage, I love the audio on this and the option to not be super-wide for interviews is great. I like this over the GoPro because you can film yourself and it has a built in stand and audio jacks if you want to use an external mic.
With resort shoots comes plenty of sand so having a blower is a must, my whole kit has sand everywhere so at the end of the day everything needs to be cleaned.
For the beach shots I need my sunblock, trusty Paul Smith Scarf so people know I’m a photographer, and Espadrilles because y ou are constantly taking off your footwear and these are the fastest.
I need to be on time so my Bell & Ross watch never comes off.
Last but not least I can’t ever go on a resort shoot without my Digipac underwater bag. This thing isn’t the easiest to use but it’s super cheap compared to the custom kits and it allows you to get amazing shots in the pool, ocean, waterfalls, etc.
Justin Mott is the resident photographer and face of History Channel’s Photo Face-Off, the hit reality TV show airing throughout Asia.
Since 2007, he has been working as a contributing photographer for the New York Times for which he shot more than 100 assignments. Mott is also the founder of Mott Visuals, a boutique commercial photography and video production studio serving Asia and beyond.
I’m a bag for every occasion photographer and my assignments are extremely diverse so that adds up to a lot of different bags. I was given a pre-release version of the Commander backpack and was asked to field-test it by Wotancraft. I love getting my hands on their new products because they are always making improvements and all their bags are just so damn sexy.
I was commissioned by Asian Development Bank for a weeklong documentary project in the northern mountains of Vietnam. We would be traveling through treacherous terrain and rainy weather photographing some of their projects benefiting remote ethnic minority communities. We would be doing some hiking so a backpack is ideal for comfort on the long days, this would be a perfect test for the Commander.
I’ll start with the pure beauty of this bag, as with all their bags it has that signature stylish look with the vegetable tanned leather and their new lightweight water repellant canvas. Most bags take years to have that cool broken in look but Wotancraft bags come with that look already. It feels like cheating but whatever, the bottom line is they look great. The bag doesn’t scream camera bag filled with expensive equipment, which is a blessing. It just looks like a rugged stylish backpack but of course it is much more than that. I packed the bag with the following; Canon 5D Mark 3, Canon 6D, Canon 24mm 1.4, 50mm 1.2, 16-35mm 2.8, and a 200mm 2.8 and plenty of memory cards and extra batteries. That’s a lot of gear and I was nervous it would feel heavy but it felt great on my back and shoulders throughout the trip.
The inserts are quite interesting and unique in their set up. It has a top loading option and two side compartments. The side loading pockets took some getting use to but once I adapted I really loved the option to get my extra lenses from the side pocket. It has a natural feel when you take the backpack off to rest it on your knee and then bam, your side pocket is right there.
We tested the bag in the heavy rain and the only time my equipment got wet was when I couldn’t resist shooting in the rain, when my gear was in the bag it stayed dry and protected from the elements.
If I had to add an improvement for the next generation of this bag I’d say it would be nice to have a little padding on the body contact points on the shoulder harness but overall I love this bag. It’s great to see Wotancraft come out with its first backpack and now the more adventurous photographer can travel in comfort and in style.
Here are some specs on the bag from Wotancraft along with pictures from the assignment.
-City Explorer “Commander” camera backpack x1
-lightweight shock-resistant insert for camera & lenses x1
-microfiber dividers (no cap) x1
-microfiber dividers (with cap) x2
-T-shaped divider x1
-cotton dustproof bag with WOTANCRAFT Chinese insignia x1
-“REMOVE BEFORE ADVENTURE” military ordnance tag keychain x1
-vegetable tanned cowhide leather
-waterproof W.A.L canvas
-high-strength metal hardware
-bronze YKK Zippers (with rustproof coating)
-high-density foam padding (shock-resistant insert)
I typically travel 3 weeks out of the month for work, mostly all around SE Asia. My business has grown quickly in the last 5 years from just 2 of us working out of a cafe to 3 offices and 10 employees. I have an archive of images that spans almost 10 years of working in the region and that adds up to a ridiculous amount of memory.
We shoot video and still photography so you can imagine how quickly we burn through hard drives.
The great thing about photography, especially editorial photography is that after your pictures are published you as the photographer still own the copyright to your images (unless you’ve sold your soul to the devil). Why is this important? Well, editorial clients don’t often pay a lot but you can offset the low payment with reselling your images through your own archive or through a stock agency. I do a little bit of both.
Often after I shoot for the New York Times I get calls from other publications shortly after inquiring about buying my images directly from me. In other cases a magazine will contact me for more options of images I sent months ago or perhaps they can’t find the images I sent. It’s rarely the case that you send your images to the client and all is done. This is the nature of our business but when I travel constantly this presents a problem because I don’t travel with my giant archive, it’s impossible. Or at least it was impossible until now.
Last month we received the WD MyCloud DL4100 Business Series 4 drive bay system with customizable RAID options at our office in Hanoi. We’ve got 24TB on this bad boy. This piece of technology is a game changer. This drive gives me access to my archive wherever I am. Not only that, I can grant my staff access to it as well from multiple offices. This is a powerful piece of hardware with some sexy software to go along with it. I can share files directly with clients and I can even access my archive on my phone with their mobile app.
I have an office admin that handles my archive no one knows my images like I do because I was there on the shoot. I first got to use and appreciate the system last month while I was shooting a wedding in France and a client wanted to purchase a specific image I shot form 3 years ago on an editorial assignment. Instead of going back and forth with my admin with 10 emails trying to locate the specific image I could just log into my archive remotely and find the images instantly and the sale was made and the client was impressed.
For our wedding photography we get clients that lose their photos or that want an extra picture so now I can just log in and find that image instantly.
In today’s day and age clients expect speedy service and if you can’t give them what they want instantly they will find someone who can. Now I can respond instantly, no matter where in the world I am.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of posting an image on social media platforms related to what’s going on the world. When Vietnam had the anniversary of the fall of Saigon I wanted to dig up old images I had related to this story for my Instagram account but unfortunately I was in Singapore on an assignment so I had to wait until I returned back to Vietnam and by then it was too late to be relative.
The MyCloud DL4100 is easy to use with their own software making my life easier and my business more streamlined. I love that I can grant access to clients and my team, customizing my archive and securing it at the same time. An archive needs to be secure and reliable and this product checks both boxes while also adding the best feature of them all, global accessibility in a speedy manner. I highly recommend this product to any professional photographer no matter what they shoot, it will change your business.
Click here for all the tech specs and pricing…
I’m not gear head or tech guy so if you’re looking for histograms, calibration thingabobs, pie charts, Bunsen burners, or any scientific type tests read no further. I may seem rather complex from my scarfed and bearded profile pictures but once you boil me down I’m a rather simple man.
Here is a list some gear and stuff that I use and a couple reasons why I use it. This isn’t a comparison blog so if you have a better alternative please add it to the comment section and explain why you like that particular gear better.
I use Canon exclusively, my two favorites are the reportage classic 35mm L-Series 1.4 and the 24mm L-Series 1.4 They have such an interesting look to them. Primes lenses make you move more and think more and of course they are amazing in low light. My former editor at the NY Times told me, be careful of over-doing shooting at 1.4. I was so in love with the look at 1.4 that I was ruining some of my images with giant out of focus blobs in my foreground that just didn’t work. Figure out how you like to use them, they are worth the hefty price tag.
Disclaimer, yes I am sponsored by them. But I chose to work with Wotancraft for a good reason though. First it started as being a pure fan of their stylish leather/waxed canvas hand made camera bags. Now it’s more than that: they are a cool company and they listen to photographers and each version of their bags improves on that last one.
WD hard drives
We use WD for everything from our internal drives to our portable on assignment drives. For our office archiving system we use the WD MyCloud DL4100 Business Series 4. This system is a beast and it enables me to be able to access my archive wherever I am in the world, they even have their own app. I’ve got a full archiving blog here.
Lightroom is the most underrated photography tool out there. Learn how to use this program inside and out and your workflow will improve saving you endless hours to actually go shoot.
I love the VSCO collection of filters and so do my clients. I don’t use them for editorial assignments because it takes away from pure photojournalism but for my personal work and for my wedding work I love them. The best way to use them is to find your favorites and then tweak them to suit your taste.
They cost $2 at most markets in Cambodia and they have unlimited uses. In extreme circumstances you can mold them into a tripod. For my thinning hair and pale skin they work wonders for sun protection. Hypothetically speaking, if you find yourself dating a Khmer woman and you happen to end up in her tiny home village taking an outdoor shower and half the village shows up to watch a foreign man wash himself they provide excellent cover. Riding a motorbike in a dust storm or you end up behind a sand truck, which happens to me way more than one might think, you’ve got a mouth cover. Works as a protective camera wrap as well. If you are ever in a situation where you want people to know you are a photographer just wrap it around your neck and without saying a word people know. Photo-MacGyver would love the Krama and so do I.
Love love love them. They had a lull for about two years not making many updates but someone lit a fire under their ass and they ran. You now get three sites for the price of one. Shooting weddings, commercial, and editorial I like to separate my work and now I can afford to do so. Add to that they are now SEO friendly and you can link to direct pages. I’m shooting more video these days and you can now show video content on the site. Their navigation system is so damn easy, just drag and drop. They also have excellent customer service. Some photographers might complain that their template is too generic and now everyone has a Neonsky site but while I love other photographers my goal isn’t to please them – they aren’t hiring me. These sites look sleek and professional and they’re really easy to navigate.
Back in the day I was a Digital Railroad member, choo choo, but once they left the station there was only once choice. Since those days Photoshelter has blossomed into more than just a place to host your photos online. They are always coming up with innovative ways to keep up with the changing times staying up to date with social networking tools, and offering up fantastic blogs and forums about our business. I use PS various ways definitely getting my money’s worth. I use it on assignments as a safety net to store my favorite photos. I set up downloadable galleries for my wedding clients so they can share and download their photos easily and it also works for me to draw more traffic and potential new clients to my brand. I use it as a back up when clients have a server problem, setting up a gallery for them to download high res files. I’m about to use them for all my printing needs. Finally they are a great resource, I learned everything I need to know about SEO by reading their SEO cookbook and it’s worked like a charm.
Dude is smart and understands our business. His site is beneficial to all genres of professional photographers. Not only is he in tune with what’s going on in photography he knows loads of people who are as well and does very candid interviews with them. Bookmark this site and check it every day.