I started taking kendo pics back around 2003-4 with a small point and shoot camera and, after a few iterations of pretty low-end cameras, have settled on reasonably cost effective setup that allows me to take pics in a variety of situations, both for pleasure and images for use on this website. Since I get a lot more likes on pictures than articles on facebook, and because a lot of people ask me about the equipment I use, I thought I’d share my current setup as well as some sample images over the last 10 years using a variety of (mostly very) cheap cameras. Putting this post together has also allowed me to look to see how my technique has (or has not) matured over this time.
Basically, my current setup is as follows –
Digital: Sony Nex 5n (kit lenses 16mm/2.8 and 18-55/3.5-5.6; also use a nikon lens adapter)
Film: Nikon FM2n (primarily Nikkor 50mm/1.8; still experimenting with films; negatives self-scanned)
Mobile: iPhone 5 (instagram and/or KitCam for processing)
Nothing special nor professional, and nothing too expensive!
Please note that all photos are copyright yours truly. Downloading for use as desktop wallpaper is cool, but no unauthorised commercial use please. Cheers!
2003-7 Casio ExSlim-z40
2007-8 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30
2008-11 Nikon D40
2011+ Sony Nex5n
2012+ Nikon FM2n
2012 Point-and-shoot test with a Nikon Coolpix P310 (i.e. can I pull some decent images from a point and shoot?)
In my experience…
For me, personally, a good kendo picture is about timing and location rather than the sharpness or quality of the image produced.
As you might have noticed in the above selection, all the kenshi are in kamae or are watching/waiting rather than actually striking. With the nex5, I can easily put the shooting mode on continuous and take a burst of 10 shots/second.. in fact, I had great fun doing exactly that when I got the camera at first. Wading through the hundreds of images I would produce per fight, I could easily find 1 or 2 of clear strikes. However, the whole thing became old and rather boring quickly. Not to mention the hassle involved. Looking at the pictures I produced I also realised that I preferred to see my pictures showing ‘semeai’ or to catch the kenshi in a moment of reflection (catching facial features can be hard). Of course, I do like to take the odd ‘exact strike’ shot, but when I am doing that I stand in kamae with my camera, and take the shot as if it is a debana-men… !
Location, also, I think is vitally important. For me, kendo has to be done in a dojo. There nothing worse (for me) than seeing kendo photography done on a colour-lined basketball court or something similar. I realise that this isn’t always possible to avoid (I take pics like this as well, though I don’t like to), especially for kenshi247 readers abroad without a ‘real’ dojo. My access to a variety of dojo is probably my only advantage over other camera-loving kendo friends abroad. A way to get around this of course, is to bokeh the background out.
There are a few other things I could chat about here, but nothing extraordinary – my kendo-photography philosophy is pretty simple… just like my kendo style!
Other pics from yours truly can be seen on:
Also check out the flickr ART OF KENDO group for brilliant kendo pics from around the world.