WWW.KMA438.COM | My Gear Bag

Police photography, done from a police car in the real world, has it's challenges.

The light is often poor, locations cramped, action fast, and the subject matter challenging.

It also works best when no one pays too much attention to you.

Plus, it's dangerous.

To that end, here's a breakdown of my camera equipment and my approach to photography under unique and challenging circumstances.

To give you some history I was a Canon film, and then digital, photographer, going all the way back 30 years to the introduction of the Canon EOS System. 

Until late 2014 I was a two camera, prime lens, Canon 5D MK III shooter.

The Canon full frame cameras produce spectacular results, in a robust package, with outstanding autofocus.

I can think of no finer DSLR system.

There was only one drawback, and that was the systems weight, size, and "presence".

I frequently found the large size and weight of the system was drawing unwanted attention to my presence, creating conflict on the streets.

The large DSLR system was both physically fatiguing and an unwieldy for my style of photography.

The camera was getting in the way.

In 2015, owing to the sheer size and weight of my system,  I sold my all my Canon gear and have been shooting exclusively with Fuji ever since.

I'm thrilled!

Although I post to the web, my true passion and final product is the fine art black and white print, printed at 10" x 15", to be historically achieved at the San Francisco Library for the enjoyment of future generations.

To me it's "all about the print"...

To that end the Fuji system delivers as well as my Canon 5D's...

My Gear:

One Fuji X-T2 with the 23 f1.4 (with 16mm f1.4 in vest pocket**)

One Fuji X-T2 with the 56 f1.2 (with 90 f2 in vest pocket**)

Spare batteries (lots) and the above two lenses in photo vest pocket**

Domke F-803 Bag containing: 55-140 f2.8 Zoom, 18-55 f2.8-4.0 Zoom*, 1.4x Converter, 35 f1.4, 18mm f2. More batteries. 

The Domke bag stays in the car, close enough and handy enough if I need it.

This selection of lenses on my person covers the 35 mm equivalent of a 24 f1.4, 35 1.4, 90 f 1.2, and 135 f2. 

Try stuffing THAT in your pockets with a Canon 5D !

Other Gear:

Kevlar (bulletproof) vest, handgun, police ID, raid jacket, police radio, and a flashlight.

I bring those items up because this personal protection gear is heavy and bulky, and significantly influences how much gear I'm capable and willing to carry, and was a deciding factor when I switched from a full frame DSLR to the Fuji X series cameras.  

If this all sounds like a lot, it really isn't if you do it right.

The Kevlar vest is under my photo vest, and my photo vest is covered by a light jacket.

The photo vest holds my lenses and batteries, plus pen, paper, cell phone, glasses, etc. This arrangement leaves my hands free and cameras accessible, and keeps the essential equipment such as batteries, lenses, and self protection gear secure and  on my person where I need it, rather than in the trunk of a car (or back at home).

The photo vest carries all my "go-to" gear. In stressful or fast action situations I'm confident that if I grab the vest and the two camera bodies I'm prepared for pretty much any shooting situation, especially low light, with a full selection of fast low light primes.

Lastly, I shoot RAW (RAF) with jpeg as backup and for those rare cases where I need an image fast and don't have the time to post process in Lightroom.


*The 18-55 Zoom is occasionally my daytime "walk around good light" lens. When I switch to the zoom I remove the prime lens and drop it in my pocket. I always keep at least one wide fast prime on my person for interior low light work.

**This vest is made for concealed firearm carry, but does even better as a photographers vest.