I don’t tend to spend a lot of time talking about equipment as I feel the image is what’s really important. I’ve seen amazing photos made with so-so equipment and I’ve seen some pretty awful work made with the best cameras and lenses. It’s the image that really matters, not what it’s captured with*.
That said, there are times when equipment can make a real difference to the end result. Case in point, my new Olympus OM-D EM-5. It’s one of the new breed of small, mirrorless cameras. Frankly, I think of it as my amazing stealth camera.
So, what makes it special for wedding work over my big, snazzy-looking Nikons with my big, snazzy-looking lenses? Exactly that it’s not big and snazzy-looking! It’s small. Really small. So small that it’s easy to not even notice.
Frankly, my big cameras and lenses are more than a little intimidating when someone sees it pointed at them. People notice the big boys, and they behave differently. Whether someone smiles, or looks away, or ducks and hides, it causes most people to behave differently than they would without a camera aimed their way.
But not my little EM-5. Not only does it just disappear, but because the live view is so good with its swivel screen, I don’t even need to raise the camera to my eye. I keep it low, at waist level, and the same people who would instantly see the big Nikon don’t even realize they are having their photo taken. They continue to talk, or laugh, or dance, or hug. Anyone who does see me just thinks I’m checking my photos, not taking a photo at that moment, so they quickly ignore me once again.
I love it!
It allows me to capture the kind of candids that would be more difficult otherwise. Before I would have to shoot fast before my subjects would see the big camera pointed at them. But now I can take my time and wait for the right moment, the perfect smile, laugh or interaction.
So, while I generally feel that the equipment doesn’t matter that much* there are times when it can make all the difference in the world. Since so many pros are completely mired in the Canon/Nikon philosophy, almost no other wedding photographers that I am aware of have added this amazing new capability to their toolset.
*Caveat: some equipment is simply not up to the task of wedding work. While even an entry level camera body could be adequately pressed into service, the rigors of wedding photography is simply outside the capability of the typical slow “kit lens” that many DSLRs come bundled with. Tons of cheap photographers use these lenses, but they simply can’t gather enough light in dark wedding conditions, so the shooter has to blast away with the flash in a (mostly unsuccessful) attempt to compensate. The result is ugly. That’s one reason cheap $500 shooters are no bargain in the end.