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Event Equipment Checklist

HowieHowie Member
edited August 2014 in home
A past client contacted me recently; he's in need of a photographer for a party he's throwing. 100+ guests in an old church that's been converted and multi-purposed for hosting events like this.

This is not my thing, so I'm a little anxious about my equipment choices.

I have only seen photos of the venue, but it at least appears to have light colored walls and ceilings (but some of those ceilings are high). At least it's not dark as a dungeon though I have no clue what sort of lighting they have and this event is at night.

My short list of gear looks like this:
Nikon D700
Nikon D300
Nikon 18-35G f3.5-4.5
Nikon 17-55 f2.8
Tamron 28-75 f2.8
2 sb-80dx strobes with manual radio triggers (no remote control of power settings)
2 Pixel battery packs for the above
2 super clamps and safety cables for the strobes
1 sb-800 for on-camera
Maybe a black foamy thing :)

That's about it. I may alter the list after I scout the scene on Friday, but for now I just wanted more sets of eyeballs to look this over and see if I have made any glaring omissions. I'll be working solo because everyone I know who might be able to assist or be a second shooter is booked.



  • Those lenses are pretty wide. I'd rent a 70-200 or an 85.

    Flash diffusers if you cannot bounce.
  • HowieHowie Member
    edited August 2014
    I know I'm focused on wides but I expect them to see a lot of use (dance floor, groups seated at tables, overall environment, group photo of all attendees). Plus there's the backup factor...

    Anyway, I have an 85 f1.8. Wouldn't a 70-200 be a little long and awkward in a crowd? I expect this to be similar to a wedding reception environment— which admittedly is not my thing either. I'm also going to try to work this using the Think Tank Belly Dancer which will limit the number of lenses I can carry. I might be able to fit a 180 af-d into the mix if a long lens is really needed.

    Diffusers. Check.

  • TrevTrev Moderator

    The 70-200mm lens would be a lot more versatile than you might think, I definitely would give serious consideration to it like Skip says.

  • What kind of photos would be taken? Are these 'party picture' kind of photos where you walk up to a group of 4 people who are chatting, and you get them to look at the camera smiling for a second and you get the shot?

    If so, if it were me, I would go with the D700 with 28-75 f/2.8 with SB-800 and call it a day. Have the D300 and 17-55 ready to go if something goes wrong with the D700. Set the ISO up as high as needed so the flash isn't doing too much of the lighting work.
  • HowieHowie Member
    edited August 2014
    What kind of photos would be taken?

    Mostly as you describe with the exceptions being the entrance/balloon drop, the cake cutting and some group shots — including one large group of all attendees. I'm trying to arrange for video of those two first two moments but so far everyone I've talked to has prior commitments.
  • Honestly, I'd never go anywhere without my 70-200. You can't get a good candid with a wide angle. Or a good portrait. You need two bodies going for this event, one with a wider lens and one with a 70-200 or at least a good 85mm. If you only want one body going I'd buy or rent the 24-120. You need something longer than what you've got.
  • So far, what Howie has described of the event still sounds like his 28-75 f/2.8 will cover it well. He doesn't have a 70-200 or an 85. If he owned them, sure, have them in the bag ready to use if needed. But I see no need to take the additional trouble and expense to rent them (again, from what we've heard so far). I'm also speculating the 70-200 will simply be way too long 98.5% of the time at the event.

    Again, if it were me, D700 with the 28-75 f/2.8, SB-800 in the shoe. I would also forget about the other stuff (SB-80, clamps, light stands, etc.). But that's just me: I like to keep it simple!

    Scoping out the space will help immensely.
  • Scoping out the space will help immensely.

    I agree. I'll know more tomorrow after I check it out and talk to a couple of the planners. The extra strobes may be needed for the big group shot though, but I hope to use the clamps and leave the light stands at home.
  • HowieHowie Member
    edited August 2014
    Well it's more dungeon than lightbox. The main room's ceiling is white-ish but it's 30ft. tall. The walls have some kind of antiqued plaster done up in camel/rusty orange/exposed brick thing going on. The ambient lighting will not be a help unless they crank it up several notches. I will test a few bounces at high ISO before things get started, but I think a bounce diffuser is probably going to have to do.

    Interestingly, the guy in charge yesterday was a former photog who said he'd shot lots of events in the facility. I asked him if he found a 70-200 to be too long in that room and he said most of the time he used a 50, presumably for the extra stop. I think I'd hate to be tied to a prime for the duration, I just have to hope that 2.8 gets the job done. Good thing I just picked up a couple of external battery packs for my flashes.
  • HowieHowie Member
    edited August 2014
    Epilogue: My decision not to rent a 70-200 turned out to be the correct one. I took my 180 and it stayed in the bag. I ran with my 17-55 on the D300 and the 85 on the D700, with the D300 seeing most of the work (~400 out of ~500 frames). I would have preferred to have used the 28-75 on the D700 for the bulk of the shots, but the 17-55 was giving me better focus in the dismal light. It was so dark in some parts of the venue that I couldn't clearly see the expressions on my subject's faces. I am so glad I picked up a couple of Pixel external battery packs for my sb800s because bouncing off the ridiculously tall ceiling gave the best overall result.

    With regard to focusing, I didn't find until the evening was half over that I had left both of my camera's focus selector switches in C mode, which locks out the focus assist of the flash. Too much happening too quickly for me to notice I guess. I still got a fairly amazing number of keepers from the first half, regardless.
  • Glad it worked out for you!
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