Sunday, 28 December 2008

An interview with Messy

A couple of weeks ago, I promised an article on my camera gear....and then I promptly forgot about it! Well.... better late than never I guess:

Famous Interviewer (FI): So, Messy, what type of Camera do you shoot with?

Messy: Up until April this year, I was using what my Dad would call a "point, shoot and pray", a 3.1 megapixel Fuji point and shoot. After much begging, pleading, cajoling and bargaining, I got my secondhand Nikon D200 DSLR which I now use exclusively.

FI: Are you a Mac or a PC girl?

Messy: I am (most unfashionably) a PC gal! However, on all the shoots I have assisted on where the photographer is shooting tethered, the Mac definitely reigns supreme. Maybe when my PC finally blows up (it constantly feels like it is about to erupt) I will change to an AppleMac....

FI:What lenses are in your kit bag?

Messy:When I first got my camera, and after ridiculous amounts of research, I knew that I didn't want to go down the "zoom kit lens" route. Instead, I went with a 50mm 1.8 lens which (coincidentally!) happened to be the cheapest prime lens (the focal length is fixed) available. This lens is often referred to as the "nifty fifty" and is a fabulous lens for the money. It is fairly sharp, great in low light and weighs very little- which I have discovered is kind of important when you are travelling and schlepping around a camera for 12 hours a day. The 50mm definitely created a Prime Lens Obsession (PLO) such that I am constantly scheming and daydreaming about adding to my Prime family :)

And so to my current favourite lens- the Nikon 85mm 1.4. This lens cost more than my camera body and is worth every penny (err make that hundreds of pounds!). It is just beautiful and produces consistently sharp images and amazing, buttery bokeh when shooting wide open. It is also exceptional in low light and FAST which is great for photographing children, particularly toddlers who can move incredibly quickly. The only downside to this lens is that it is kind of BIG and attracts a lot of attention so it isn't the best lens to use if you want to remain inconspicuous and blend in with the crowd. Other than that I LOVE this lens!

FI:What else is in your kit bag?

Messy: A number of Lexar Professional CompactFlash cards (you need a lot of these little blighters when you shoot RAW), lens cleaning fluid and tissues, air blower and a collapsible reversible reflector. I need to add a few filters to my kit in the New Year. I keep all this in my Kata 3N1 Sling/BackPack.

FI:What about Post-Processing?

Messy: I use Lightroom and CS3 to process all my photos. Lightroom first (to catalog, organise, tweak exposure etc) and then CS3 to "finish". I back up my photos on a Western Digital 2TB MyBook Mirror Edition external hard drive (which my hairdresser- who knows about all things techie and well as all things hair- said was large enough to run a medium sized office!) as well as a couple of other portable Western Digital hard drives. My computer screen is colour calibrated with a Eye-One system to ensure what I am seeing "on screen" is the same as what will be printed.

FI:Anything you wish was currently in your shopping basket?

Messy: Most definitely the Nikon D3, or the D3X (pending its release, further reviews and a cool £5, 500 sitting in my bank account!) Both these cameras are FX (full frame sensor) cameras with the D3X sporting an impressive 24.5 megapixels (which would be marvellous for shooting stock and would presumably relieve me from having to upsize images...). One of the photographers I assisted this year uses a D3 for all her work (magazine editorial and advertising) and it is outstanding camera which delivers a lot for a reasonable (compared to the D3X!) amount of money.

Other than a new body, some more Prime lenses would be great! Oh, and I would love some continuous lighting (I love the look continuous lighting gives even though they get so damn hot)...a Manfrotto carbon fibre tripod with a Really Right Stuff Head and quick release clamp, jobo portable image storage device....not much really ;-)

FI: Wow, thanks Messy for your time. I am sure that someone, somewhere, will really enjoying reading your insights!

p.s. took these photos yesterday on an outing to Primrose Hill, London. Shot on 50mm 1.8.


  1. Ha, funny girl! I've been trying to buy the Nikon 85mm 1.4 for the past month in London and neither love or money has led to me being able to find one. Very popular lens. The new Nikon 50mm 1.4g didn't materialize in December either. All of this means one thing... a very expensive January! The b/w shot on primrose hill - nice shot Messy.

  2. Thanks very much Anon!!
    I got my 85mm from Warehouse Express and was very happy with service and fast delivery. I did a fair amount of research re best prices etc and while I could get it elsewhere for slightly cheaper, I think they were "grey" imports. For such an expensive lens I just wasn't prepared to take the risk of anything going horribly wrong.
    Embarrasingly, because I have never had a lens other than the 50mm, I got a bit stuck getting the 85mm on- I couldn't find the "groove"! I had to take a trip to Grays of Westminster (where I purchased the camera)and get the lovely man there to show me how to get it on:)
    Have to say that it is a beautiful lens and once you get your hands on it you will be broke but deliciously happy!!