Lights, Camera, Action!


Breaking the MMA Lens: Candid Cameras

I love photography equipment and always been kind of a tech nut. Last year, for the fun of it, I taught myself how to do computer animation on a 3D animation program called Maya.

I know… that’s fun?

One of the technical questions I get asked the most is: What kind of cameras do you use?

I use two very different cameras so I can get different looks.

The first is the Canon 7D DSLR (digital single lens reflex) and a Fujifilm X-E2,  which is mirror-less.

This is not a “techie” column and I don’t want to talk techno-babble about the cameras.

I would like to tell and show you the differences in the way the pictures look from each of the cameras. A lot of photography also depends on the lenses, which we will go into another time.

The Canon 7D is big, heavy and looks like a (deep announcer’s voice) “Professional Camera.” It is perfect for sports and shoots at up to eight frames per second. So if I press down the shutter button and hold it, it will take eight shots in a second. I can hold down the shutter pretty much as long as I want and get many, many shots in a row. So for something like MMA it is perfect for fight sequences. The pictures come out very sharp and clear.

Courtesy Canon.
Courtesy Canon.

They have a digital look to them. I always think of digital as pointier, glassier, sharper. In fact most digital cameras have a digital look to them, they’re digital. It is easy to make these photos look gritty or grungy in the editing process after the fact, which is good for some MMA shots. I always have this camera set for color. I can change to black and white later when I’m editing if I want to.

The Fuji X-E2, on the other hand, is smaller and lighter. It has no mirror inside flipping up and down. It has a retro look to it. It looks like the camera Indiana Jones used with the silver trim and leather case. It is also digital but the photographs look like they’re film. People actually stop me and ask if it’s an old film camera. No, it is brand new and state of the art, with WIFI.

Courtesy Fujifilm.
Courtesy Fujifilm.

The look of the photos is much smoother and rounder, like film. They’re still sharp, but not too sharp. I originally got it for street photography, which I love to do. It is nice and small, so people don’t get intimidated by a big camera in their face. They just think I’m a tourist or something.

I wanted a second camera for shooting the fights, in case I had a problem with the Canon during a fight. It turns out though that I love this Fuji camera. It totally changed the way I shoot. The shots have that classic fight look to them. This camera is set to black and white most of the time because the black and white looks great right out of the camera and I get can’t that look later in the edit.

So, at a fight, I have one camera on my left shoulder and the other on my right. I switch back and forth between them, sometimes many times during each round. Also, I have a different size lens on each camera to make them look even more different.

Take a look at these fight photos.

Patrick Punch_Watermark

Both were taken at New York Fight Exchange fights: Same lighting, venue, distance from the ring (right up against it), same everything but the camera and lens. When you look close you can see how different they look, not just color or black and white.

Fight 11A 2

The Canon 7D was used for the color photo. It is sharp, digital and grungy. The Fuji X-E2 was used on the black and white photo. Smooth, clear and more of that classic film look.

Having said all this about my equipment, one thing I learned through my artistic life is – Don’t get caught up in the equipment. You can love the stuff, want it, read about it, covet your neighbors’ but don’t think you can’t take photos without it. Sure, there are other cameras I want. I’m always fantasizing about it. But the reality is: Use what you have and get the very best out of it that you possibly can. Learn the framing, the composition, the lighting, the look. If you are getting good shots it won’t matter what you’re using. The great artists like van Gogh and Picasso could have painted with mud and it would still have looked good.


Joe LoBianco
Joe LoBianco
Joe LoBianco writes the photography column Breaking the MMA Lens for MMA Crossfire. New columns on the 1st and 15th of each month.

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