What do you need as a car photographer?

I get questions like this from time to time from all over the place, so I thought why not start some sort of Q&A for these questions and put them out there on the interwebs for everyone to see.

Feel free to share these posts with others that you know are interested in car photography. I have been doing this for seven years now and I have learned a lot and I still do. That’s the beauty of photography.

So, what do you need to shoot cars? I will divide this post in several parts, so lets start with the basics.
A very good starting point is in fact that you need a camera, duh! 🙂
Start out with the lens/lenses that you already own. When you start to get serious about your car photography, or photography in general, and get a feeling that you are limited in your way of capturing the kind of frames you want, then there might be time to do some upgrades.

I will write down a list here, lists are always popular, check it out.
– Camera
– Lenses
– A lot of memory cards.

That’s it actually, believe it or not, but there are no secrets hidden between the lines here. 😉 In later posts I will go through other stuff that you might wanna try out that are indeed helpful tools that will help you out in your pursuit of greatness!

The camera, there is actually no camera that is a specific camera for shooting cars. You should use the one that you own, see it as a tool, that´s what I do. Some people prefer tools from a brand called Canon, I prefer tools from Nikon nowadays and others might like tools from Pentax, Sony, Fuji, Hasselblad, Phase One and so on and so forth. The most important thing is that YOU know YOUR camera, so learn your camera well and ignore all the other cameras out there for a while.
There are big and heavy cameras like the Nikon D4 and there are more medium sized cameras like the Nikon D800 and then there is the even smaller and lighter ones like Nikon D7000. The list goes on and on.
Depending on your wallet and other preferences like ergonomics and so on you have to make a choice when it comes to picking a camera that suits your needs. Your needs might change over time, but lets focus on the one you have right now or the one that you are gonna buy.
A D4 for instance is a great choice for some people, the D800 is great for some other people. They are two completely different tools. There are some things to consider depending on your shooting style. Do you photograph a lot of motorsport for instance you might like the super fast D4, if you have more time, or experience, and know when you need to push the shutter and dont need to do it as often you might like the D800 more. It is all up to what you do and what you prefer.
If you are interested in shooting a lot with a rig you should perhaps go for a smaller and lighter camera. The more weight you put at the end of that rig the more stable your rig needs to be. The bigger the camera the heavier the fall. But, i might add, the bigger pro cameras like the D4 can take quite a beating. I know, because i have tried. Over the years i have dropped my cameras several times and yes they have broken a couple of times. But no worries, everything can be repaired, almost. 😉
These are just a few of many things that you need to consider when starting out.

The lenses, if you have a wideangle lens and a telephoto lens you are on your way to car shooting greatness. If you have lets say a 16-35mm or a 24-70mm and a 70-200mm lens your good to go!

– The wideangle lens (from around 16 to 35mm on a fullframe sensor) is excellent for detail shots, static environment shots and moving shots like rigshots or car to car shots. (A ”car to car shot” is when you sit in one car taking pictures of another car on the move)
– The telephoto lens (from around 70mm up to a lot of mm on a fullframe sensor) is excellent for tight detail shots, for tight environment shots where you want to isolate the subject from the background and also for panning shots on the road. (A panning shot is when you stand by the side of the road and the car goes by on the road and you snap away when it passes by)

Take a look below to see some examples of what I am talking about.

First is two wideangle shots taken with the Nikon D800 and the Nikon 16-35F4 so that i could have a lot of free space around the subject, which is the new Aston Martin Rapide S, that i shot in England in the end of april. The first one is a perfect example of a car to car shot, while the second one is a static environment shot.

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The next two is taken with a telephoto lens. The first one is with a Nikon 85mm F1,4 which compresses the image a little bit and focuses on the details and the second one is taken with the Nikon 70-200mm F2,8 @180mm which compresses it all even more.

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OK, that’s it for this time. There will be more info in the next post about what you need as a car photographer.

Take care and remember, sharing is caring! Do share this post if you like it so that more can see it. 🙂

What are you waiting for, get out there and use your tools! Better yet, show me the results!

/Patrik

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