The ever-changing list of my go-to gear – Most of the work I do is performed out of my (hand crafted) creative studio, behind the wheel of a heavily modified Land Rover, or through the viewfinder of a Canon. Many of the tools I use are custom fabricated by yours truly, sometimes because what I need doesn’t exist, or more often because I simply enjoy building things with my own hands. I originally posted this on the about-me page at The Layne Studio after being asked “What __________ do you use?” once too often, but since the studio involves more than just me now it’s time this list moved to the blog proper. This post is just an overview, I might write up an in-depth with the how’s and why’s of each category if anyone would find it helpful. Read along for the details or just click here to skip down to the bullet list of links so your inner-consumer can run wild and free. Camera Gear The Big Guns: I shoot with a variety of Canon gear, but my go-to and favorite is the 80D. It’s durable, light weight, and inexpensive enough to take risks when getting the shot. I use three main lenses: a Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 Art (my personal favorite) for most portraits and some travel/vehicle/landscape work, a Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 macro-capable travel zoom, and a Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 wide angle for grabbing wide vistas or interior shots. The Canon 10-22mm wide is due to be replaced…likely with Sigma’s superior constant-aperture variant. Yes, I’m a Sigma fanboy…because, science. Rolling Light: I’m also very fond of Canon’s S line of cameras: they’re small enough to go unnoticed, reasonably sturdy, and produce RAW files that come surprisingly close to the quality of a DSLR. My old S95 sits in the studio for quick snapshots, and I usually have an S100 handy (there’s a reason the long-retired S100 still costs ~$200 used). When I don’t have a “real” camera, the HTC One M9 is always with me, which creates passable RAW files. Computing Gear Hardware: In the studio my workstation is a personally built Intel-powered, liquid cooled, quad-core PC tower. It’s currently clocked at a conservative 4.4GHz, drives multiple color-calibrated monitors (lead photo), and houses a RAID array large enough to eliminate the need for a separate file server. Communication and general office needs are handled by Google for Work, with weekly on-site and monthly off-site backups of all data. In the field I use a custom modified ASUS X202E with enough… Tools of the Trade
Geeking-out with a ground-up build. – As you can see above, I have a pet Dalek that handles all my color calibration needs. Ok, not really, but “CALIBRATE! CALIBRATE!” was the first thing that popped into mind when I set about taking the newly-calibrated workstation for it’s first edit run after an absurdly long, four-monitor calibration process. But, I’m getting ahead of myself… Many of you know I’ve done photo edit for a certain premium magazine for the last few years. Unfortunately, due to some recent eye-health concerns, I need full control over my environment (especially lighting) to get any significant amount of time at a computer—a difficult feat in an office space shared with a half-dozen other employees. I had access to a fairly decent workstation on-site, but it had three fatal flaws: The iMac’s built-in monitor is notoriously difficult to properly calibrate. Note: none of the Apple displays offer wide gamut or accurate color reproduction. The Mac OS, from Lion to Mavericks, is horribly bug-ridden and inefficient (Yosemite isn’t half bad). It wasn’t mine, so I couldn’t exactly move it to a dark cave during edit sessions. My creative consulting business picked up around the same time, and as generously accommodating as the magazine was: working for Client B while on-site at Client A’s facility is just plain awkward. A home studio was the answer, and that new studio naturally needed a new workstation at the center of it. Some of HP’s latest offerings sounded enticing, but a $5,000 investment before approaching the specs I wanted did not…time to go custom. Things haven’t changed much since I last built. Things have change a lot since I last built. The last time I did a chassis-up build AGP was the standard for performance graphics. Other than my custom notebook—which was really just a matter of swapping drives, memory, and wireless cards—my last custom build was over a decade ago. That’s a lot of time for old technologies to die off, and new complexities to be invented. Fortunately, the new hardware is more forgiving of incompatibilities, and there are great sites like PC Part Picker to help minimize such issues before purchase. The best change I’ve noticed? It’s easy to find blacked-out hardware and components. Here’s the PCP Build Sheet, but in a nutshell: Liquid-cooled Intel Core i7 4790K 4.0GHz quad-core processor (running at 4.4GHz) 32GB of DDR3-1600 memory Twin EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti “For The Win” Edition (I couldn’t resist) video cards 250GB M.2 Samsung 850 SSD for boot and apps… Workstation