Inside the bag of the X-Photographer -Max De Martino

Photo by Max De Martino, X100T
Photo by Max De Martino, X100T

When they asked me to prepare an article for the international Fujifilm blog and to talk about what I kept in my camera bag, I had two contrasting emotions. The first said, “Ah cool! I’m a lucky guy!”. The second, more concrete, said “Yes, great.. but I use completely different equipment according to what I must photograph. And concerning bags and backpacks, I have at least five…”

Weighing them up with my interviewer, I asked him if I could tell you about an event which I always like to hold: an off-camera flash management workshop in partnership with one of the most important photography shops in Milan; New Old Camera. My proposal was accepted immediately. Thus, here I am talking to you about what I carry around if I have to shoot in a situation where I have to recreate the light that interests me mixing it with the ambient light. 

First of all, I have not mentioned everything which is complementary and absolutely necessary for a fashion or lifestyle shoot outside of a traditional photography studio; the stands, tripods and light modifiers that, alone, occupy a big cart and much of of the trunk in the car.

Instead, I will concentrate on the equipment on a purely technological side: cameras, lenses, flashes and triggers.

ThinkTank Airport Essentials

Let’s start with backpack no.1:
Firstly, the bag: one of the best purchases in recent years, a ThinkTank Airport Essentials. The only one which you can always carry on board in an airplane even when there is no more space in the overhead. Its dimensions are small enough to allow it to be placed under the seat in front of you. And the capacity is extraordinary ... look what it can hold...

  • 1 Fujifilm X-Pro2
  • 1 Fujifim X100T
  • 1 XF50- 140 f2.8 (a lens which I love and which is very suitable when shooting in not static situations)
  • 1 XC55-230  f4.5-6.3 (an underestimated lens but, with the right light, can give a lot of satisfaction - brought just to show its quality)
  • 1 WCL100 and TCL100 (two inseparable companions of the extraordinary X100T)
  • 1 XF 35 f2 (one of my preferred lenses over the past few years)
  • 1 Multiplier 1,4x (helpful if I need lens compression)
  • 1 XF56 f1.2 (a lens which every lover of portraits needs to have)
  • 1 XF10-24 (useful for wide field pictures)
  • 1 Flash Fujifilm EF-42 TTL
  • 1 TTL Cable (short and long)
  • 1 Cactus V6 Trigger (3 pieces to control two flashes managing the power remotely in manual mode)
  • 1 Wein Sync Link IR Trigger (perfect to control each flash that works in "slave" mode even on very short shutter speed)
  • 1 Sb-700 and a Sb-910 flashes (only survivors of my Nikon kit from years ago)
  • Three SanDisk UHS-II 64Gb SD-Card (the most reliable I've ever used), plus three spare memory cards
  • Various batteries for the cameras
  • 12 additional rechargeable AA batteries 
  • 1 Rogue FlashBender flash reflector (great for spreading the light of the speedlights)
  • 2 belt hooks (since I tried them, I cannot stop)
  • 1 flash bracket which allows the trigger and flash to be mounted to the stand
  • 1 Color Checker Passport (perfect to balance the white in mixed light)
  • CTO gels for the speedlights
  • accessories for the cleaning and various materials

The second backpack was dedicated to the most powerful strobe, able to overpower of the sun - recreating the most suitable light from scratch.

This backpack consisted of:

  • 2 Profoto B1 (500w)
  • 4 Li-On Batteries
  • 1 AC adapter
  • 1 Car charger
  • 1 AirRemote Trigger to manage the power and shoot remotely
  • 1 OCF ring to mount accessories such as softboxes or portable beauty dishes
  • 1 OCF grids kit
  • 1 Kit of colored gels
  • 1 barndoor kit
  • 1 Collapsible 24" Beauty Dish
  • 1 Power adapter for foreign countries (I never take it off the bag because I don’t want to be without it when I need it)

A portion of the material contained in these two backpacks is not even used, but it is always better to have a few more pieces present at the time of the shooting.

The workshop was developed in two sessions of twenty people in the morning and the same number in the afternoon. We initially shot with the X-Pro2 and the EF-42 using TTL assisted by the cables for synchronization.

Then we went on to use the Profoto B1 managing the power manually combined with the Fuji X100T that can sync up to 1/2000 in this configuration by starting the shot with IR trigger.

With regards to HighSpeedSync - I am waiting in anticipation for the arrival of the new EF-X500 flash scheduled to be released soon. This will finally allow me to shoot up to 1/8000 on the X-Pro2!

After the X100T, was the return of the X-Pro2 combined with the old Nikon flashes to achieve a portrait with a fake sunset behind the model. 

The day was very fruitful with a lot of positive feedback from the participants. The flash light is a creature that one needs to know how to tame to be able to make it natural and bend it to our needs... When you can pull it off, the outcome is extraordinary! 

Thank you for your patience if you have been reading until this point and I hope to return to be the new host of Fujifilm's blog!

Photo by Max De Martino: X-Pro2 and XC50-230mmF4.5-6.7 OIS
Photo by Max De Martino: X-Pro2 and XC50-230mmF4.5-6.7 OIS
Photo by Max De Martino: X-Pro2 and XC50-230mmF4.5-6.7 OIS
Photo by Max De Martino: X-Pro2 and XC50-230mmF4.5-6.7 OIS

Max De Martino

About the author

Max De Martino professionally deals with images since 1990, as live image director for the projection on maxi-screen during the European tour of the italian singer Eros Ramazzotti.
He was cameraman during interviews with Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed and afterwards he dealt with video direction during the tours of Pino Daniele, Antonello Venditti and Vasco Rossi.
As web pioneer he followed in 1996 the internet column of the Apple review "Applicando". For almost ten years he coordinated a company with 120 shops as Sales Manager.
He has been photographing for 26 years. He worked for press campaigns such as Fastweb and Pininfarina and shot several portraits of italian and foreign authors. His photos have been chosen to illustrate several reviews and books of important writers such as Wilbur Smith. He is a member of the Association for Professional Photographers "Tau Visual" and shares its code of conduct and behavioural mood. He works in and outside Italy dealing with private and foreign clients interacting with them with a fluent English.
He created and has been coordinating for 14 years the website devoted to Tiziano Terzani and in 2006 edited the book "Dentro di noi, parlano i lettori di Tiziano Terzani" published by Tea, Longanesi Group. He collaborates with several NGOs like Bambini Nel Deserto and L'Albero Della Vita and holds base and advanced photography courses. One of the projects that satisfied him more, was a course held for old people between 75 and 94 years of age. Thanks to this work he received the patronage from Regione Lombardia, from the Provincia di Milano and from all the interested districts and six exhibitions have been set up.
As soon as he can he catches a train or an airplane, takes his bicycle, his car or his old motorcycle BMW GS and travels. He visited 27 countries and in June 2008 he was the first western photographer having a solo exhibition in Iraq, Kurdistan Region. Later on the exhibition "No Ears" has been given to the University of Erbil (Iraqi Kurdistan Capital), where it is still exposed.

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