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Technical

November 2007

The Visa pour l’Image International Festival of Photojournalism is held every September in Perpignan, France, and attracts thousands of photographers from all over the world. CPN caught up with six pros to find out which Canon lenses, or other accessories, they liked most.

Spencer Platt

Spencer Platt
 

Spencer Platt

Spencer Platt joined Getty Images in 2001 as a New York staff photographer. As a member of its news wire service, he has covered stories around the world including Bolivia, Iraq, Congo and Liberia. He won the 2007 World Press Photo of the Year.

Spencer says he is constantly experimenting with new Canon lenses and has recently gravitated to fixed lenses for most of his work. “I have been using an EF24mm f/1.4L USM and the new EF50mm f/1.2L USM recently. These lenses seem to work well for me in reportage environments. They force me to pay closer attention to composition and refuse to let my eye become lazy”.

“I also find that I have to physically move more when working with a fixed lens; I find this often leads to a richer and more complex set of images.” He rarely uses flash with his EOS-1D Mark III cameras so he finds the large maximum aperture of these lenses is imperative. “It’s amazing what one can see with the EF50mm f/1.2L USM lens.” He was recently at the United Nations spending a week covering world leaders at the annual General Assembly conference. True to form, he decided to experiment with a different lens. “I primarily shot this event with the EF500mm f/4L IS USM lens,” says Spencer. “I had never used this lens prior to the event and only picked it up at the suggestion of one of our sports photographers. I was impressed with its sharpness and ease of handling. The lens is remarkably light for its size and makes a great companion to the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens I carry.”

John D McHugh

John D McHugh
 

John D McHugh

John D McHugh is a Getty Images photographer covering all aspects of news, but specialising in war zone photography. In May 2007, he inadvertently became part of the news when he was shot while embedded with US troops in Afghanistan. He survived and is now back working.

John D shoots with an EOS 5D and says the EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens is a favourite. “At 24mm on the EOS 5D, it’s a perfectly wide lens. Many people don’t use the EF16-35mm f/2.8L USM lens properly – it’s too wide. There should be some sort of licensing to stop people being able to buy one until they’ve passed some basic training,” he jokes.
“With the EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens though, those problems disappear.”

Covering wars, he often finds himself in dusty environments and likes the versatility that a zoom lens gives. “Although I appreciate prime lenses, for where I work, it’s just not practical. I can’t chop and change lenses and don’t want to carry more than I have to. The 24mm end is wide enough for most situations, and the 70mm end allows me to get in closer for details or portraits. It covers three prime lenses very well.”

The L-series build quality is also appreciated: “It’s a solid lens. It’s well built and copes with the rough handling of a war zone. It really is a workhorse.” John was keen to tell us about his favourite accessory to – the ST-E2 Speedlite transmitter unit. “It allows me to shoot with wireless flash quickly and easily. Pocket Wizards are good, but they’re expensive. The ST-E2 is small, lightweight and cost effective. And it’s not the end of the world if you break it.”

John Stanmeyer

John Stanmeyer
 

John Stanmeyer

John Stanmeyer is a co-founder of VII Photo agency, a contract photographer with Time magazine and does assignments for National Geographic magazine. Living in Indonesia, he has spent the last 10 years focusing on Asian issues, including the AIDS epidemic affecting that area.

“The workhorse lens is the EF16-35mm f/2.8L USM, but the real gem in the Canon toolbox is the EF35mm f/1.4L USM,” says John. “This lens is my eyeball into the dark side...the dark side being the other 12 hours of our human existence after the sun sets.”

“At these times, the weather cools and people take to the streets in a completely different and illuminated way. The illumination being that of street lights, candles and even near absolute shadow light where humanity still functions.
It's a fascinating half day period far too often altered by flash, yet the EF35mm f/1.4L USM can see so naturally into this space and time it can be as if there are a million miniature suns, colours, lights of every sort appearing from every direction.”

John usually carries just two cameras and two to four lenses, and has little need for accessories. However, he’s recently been experimenting with the TC-80N3 timer remote control for a story he’s been covering for National Geographic. “It involved a lot of low-light and long exposure shots, and I was amazed at what the EOS-1Ds Mark II could deliver,” he says. “I guess that’s the point of the accessories, they make you realise just how good the other kit is.”

Yannis Kontos

Yannis Kontos
 

Yannis Kontos

Yannis Kontos is a freelance photojournalist represented by Polaris Images. He has covered the wars in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq and has won 20 international awards for his images. He recently published a book of his work on North Korea.

For the work he does, Yannis finds the versatility of a zoom lens makes the most sense. “I shoot most often with an EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens attached to my EOS 5D cameras. It gives me a good focal range to work with, is not too heavy and produces great results.” This lens is often the standard choice for travelling photographers, for exactly these reasons. And the inclusion of the image stabiliser lets you keep shooting in low-light as well.


Pep Bonet

Pep Bonet
 

Pep Bonet

Pep Bonet is a photojournalist from Mallorca. He is one of the founder members of the Noor photo agency, launched in September 2007. He has been working on two long-term projects over the last four years – Faith in Chaos about post-war Sierra Leone and Posithiv+ about HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

Pep says he always shoots with prime lenses rather than zooms as he finds the image quality better and they make him move his feet more. “I often shoot in low-light conditions where the speed of a prime lens is really beneficial. It lets in more light and means I can avoid camera shake by getting faster shutter speeds.” His favourite lens is the EF35mm f/1.4L USM lens. “It provides a focal length that allows me to get close to people without getting lots of distortion,” he says. “The large aperture gives me control over depth of field and the results are very sharp.” When working on location, Pep likes to use flash in his portraits. For this reason, he picked the ST-E2 Speedlite transmitter as his favourite accessory. “I will often use two or three flashguns for portraits in the field. The ST-E2 gives me that ability, even in the middle of Africa. It is lightweight and easy to use and gives me an extra tool to use.”

Heather McClintock

Heather McClintock
 

Heather McClintock

Heather McClintock is a freelance photojournalist from Vermont, USA. She has spent a large amount of time covering the effects on the Acholi people of the 20-year civil war in Uganda. She has received international recognition for her work and is sponsored by the Blue Earth Alliance to continue work on her Uganda project ‘The Innocent’.

Working in Uganda can be dirty, dusty and arduous, so the simpler and more robust the equipment, the better. Keeping the weight down also helps Heather to travel more easily and frees her from the burden of lots of kit. Her favourite lens is the EF28-70mm f/2.8L USM lens. This is the predecessor to the EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM and has all the same characteristics. “This lens is great for me as it allows me to shoot intimate portraits at the long end, or zoom out to give space to the subject and capture a wider view. It can be a very personal lens to use as it keeps you close to your subject.”