Tom Lindboe is a US-based Danish advertising photographer, who has worked through many genres of photography, from fashion, beauty, architecture, interior, lifestyle, to industrial photography. His clean, graphic Scandinavian style is the signature of his work. Like most photographers, his camera bag contains more than one camera. We sat down with Tom and asked him what’s behind his camera choices.
What drives you and your photography?
“I think what drives me is a curiosity for photography and its impact, as well as the constant evolution of technology and self-development that lies in that craft. Trying to discover new areas of photography and getting out of my comfort zone is also extremely interesting to me.
I have many clients that give me jobs I would not normally do, but they understand my image language and appreciate it, often wanting to have something different than they usually get.
I have been shooting on Nikon, Canon, Mamiya, Sinar, Fuji, Leica, Hasselblad and Sony cameras, but it was only with the XF Camera System that I experienced upgrades that provide a lot of new cool features, and even mechanical upgrades are offered. It is definitely a good investment.”
Digging into Tom Lindboe’s camera bag
At the moment, I only use two setups:
- Nikon D850
- Phase One IQ3 100MP with XF Body and Alpa 12 TC
But my full list of equipment also includes:
- Nikon D810
- Sinar emotion 54 on Mamiya 645 AFD II and Sinar P2
- Leica MP
- Sony a7ii
When do you use DSLR and when do you use medium format?
“When I am shooting people, who are not used to having their pictures taken, I try to use my Nikon or Leica, as medium format cameras can be slightly intimidating. This way, I get a much more natural reaction with DSLR.
That being said, when I shoot portraits in a studio or on a location where we have the time to do it, I like to shoot on medium format, because it brings the speed down and it is much more about the interaction between me and the person I am taking the picture of. Again, here I use much more time on directing the person I am shooting, and I definitely get another expression from those images.
So, the amount of time available plays a role in my choice of camera in any given situation.”
“Another consideration for me is weight. I am traveling a lot, and always have my camera gear with me. Since the weight restriction on carry-on luggage is becoming lower and lower, it has always been a question of whether I should take the medium format with me.”
“This question was answered after I bought the Alpa kit with the three Rodenstock/Alpa lenses. Now I always have it with me. The quality of this setup is just amazing. It is light, small and the lenses are incredible, I have never seen anything this sharp. I thought I was only going to use this setup for landscapes, but because the wide angles are so good and the quality reflects amazingly, I am also using it for product photography on location or at the studio.”
You’ve explained your preferences for different cameras in certain situations, but what about the difference in results between DSLR and medium format?
“I definitely love the quality of the medium format files. Shooting in a studio or on location in a controlled environment, and specifically still life, I am much more comfortable shooting on a medium format. I think it gives me a much calmer way of shooting, as I never shoot a lot of exposures; I spend much more time on refining the image, working with the light etc., than actually taking the picture itself.
“Even when I shoot catalogue work with a lot of products which are only for online use, I always shoot on medium format because the workflow is much easier.”
What makes the workflow easier?
“It is just a simpler workflow with medium format, especially when I am doing a large volume product photography shoot. Medium format files need much less editing afterwards, as it basically just requires small adjustments and downsizing, which makes medium format my camera of choice when I am working in the studio or location in a controlled environment.”
“One final aspect is software. I would say that Capture One is the most advanced camera software in the market (and I am probably only using 10 percent of its capabilities), and a big plus is that they support your DSLR as well. You have the same software for processing your files, which means a better and quicker workflow.”
Can you explain the difference – for you as a photographer – between shooting medium format and DSLR?
“When I use medium format, I slow down. I think much more about the image I have to take, the framing, the composition, light etc.. I plan the shoot much more before I actually take the picture and it is another kind of image I take. I often use DSLR when it is more like a reportage shoot, for example when I have to get up in a wind turbine, or out on an oil rig shooting, where I do not have a lot of time, and the subjects are moving around, forcing me to catch the situation rather than planning it.
Is it image quality or is it about being as mobile as possible? Often, I am using both systems on assignments, and apply them where it makes sense for me. When we have to be a bit more graphic and controlled, maybe using flash strobes etc., I use medium format; when it has to be more “rock n’ roll” I’ll use the DSLR.”
“When I use medium format, I slow down. I think much more about the image I have to take, the framing, the composition, light etc.. I plan the shoot much more before I actually take the picture and it is another kind of image I take.”
Why did you choose Phase One medium format?
“I have been shooting on Nikon, Canon, Mamiya, Sinar, Fuji, Leica, Hasselblad and Sony cameras, but it was only with the XF Camera System that I experienced upgrades that provide a lot of new cool features, and even mechanical upgrades are offered. It is definitely a good investment.
“I know I will get more money out of my Phase One that I would get from some of the competitors. Shooting with a Phase One also sends a better signal when working on big productions. It looks better if you are not shooting on the same camera as one of the clients’ interns has!”
The life cycle of Phase One medium format is much longer than on the DSLR, five years or more compared to max. two. And when you are spending this much money on a camera, the second-hand price of the equipment is important down the road when it’s time to upgrade.”