The tools of the trade: Five of the cameras used by seven famous photographers


posted Friday, July 29, 2016 at 1:00 PM EST


If you're a photographer reading our site, it's likely that you greatly enjoy reading about the latest and greatest photography gear. However, sometimes it's nice to take a look back instead. Casual Photophile has done just that, with an article about five classic cameras that were used by famous photographers.

It's not unusual to see images by notable photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Diane Arbus, but it is less common to see a discussion about equipment that they used. Take Cartier-Bresson, for example: Many of his famous photographs were captured using a 50mm lens. But why this focal length? Jeremiah Rogers set out to find the answer to this question, and what he discovered is quite interesting.

In an interview with the New York Times, Cartier-Bresson revealed that the 50mm lens was the widest lens that allowed him to capture images without the distortion he disliked when using 35mm lenses. The 50mm focal length allowed him to capture his particular vision without what he termed "shouting." As Rogers points out, Cartier-Bresson was a painter both before and after his career as a photographer, and paintings very rarely display distortion.

And to what camera did Henri attach his preferred 50mm lenses? For many of his famous images, his chosen optics were affixed to Leica M3 and earlier Leica rangefinders.

On the other hand, portrait photographer Diane Arbus opted for larger cameras, often a Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex. Street photographer Vivian Maier also used a TLR. If you're interested in getting involved in TLR photography, check out this great piece for B&H by Dan Wagner.

Image of Rolleiflex camera by Sputniktilt and used under CC SA 3.0.

To read more about different cameras used by famous photographers, head on over to the full article at Casual Photophile.

(Seen via Reddit. Index image by Rama used under CC SA 2.0.