Jack Schatzberg...photographs and talks about horses

Questions and Answers


I was very pleased to see your website and decided to take advantage of your hospitality and ask a few questions. 1: I have just started photographing horses indoors and have found that the only flash capable of keeping up with my demands is the Metz ct 60. I presently rent the beast as needed but would like to own my own flash. The problem is the cost. Although it does exactly what I want, the $1100 CDN price tag is a little hard to swalllow. I have used the top Vivitar, but found it's recycling time to be too slow and it required exact distances for correct exposure where the Metz is more kind to my foibles. My question is; Is there a suitable alternative at a more competetive price? 2: My camera is quite old (20+ years) and for outdoor work poses no problems. Since I have had some demand for indoor action shots, my older manual camera and my brain are hopelessly incompatible. Halter is no problem but my action and indoor shots are missing one of the three keys needed for a good shot. (exposure, focus and presentation) I have decided that a second camera would probably be a good investment but am somewhat perplexed at what to buy. Are the high-end-models nessesary for the indoor component and is the auto focus reliable on performance horses? I find that most salesmen know the functions of their equipment but do not seem to accurately answer my questions in relation to horse photography. At present I am leaning toward the Nikon brand but I would appreciate your input.

I hope you can answer my questions. I enjoy the whole aspect of horse photography and do not mind the challenges it offers, I would however like to avoid mistakes whenever possible, especially those involving large quantities of quickly dwindling cash.

I look forward to your response, Thank you,

Crystal Fullerton, Fullerton Farms


Dear Crystal,

The very best strobes are the NORMAN series of portable units. The current retail price for the 200-C is about $750 I believe, but there are some used 200-B units around at great prices, mostly from $300 to $500. These have 50,100 or 200 watt/second output. I have used Norman units for more than 20 years I use the 100 W/S output at about 35 feet at f5.6 indoors. I use FUJI NHG 400 film and am able to get 12 to 14 120mm rolls exposed on a single battery charge.

Now as to a camera, to my knowledge, there are no horse show photographers that use 35mm cameras at horse shows. 120mm cameras have all of the properties that we need. 1. A shutter within the lens. This allows us to use flash at any shutter speed, indoors or out-of-doors. 2. A negative size that allows us to make readable proof sheets. 3: A negative size that allows us to make enlargements of ANY size.

For your use, I recommend the Mamaya C-330. It takes a little getting used to, but many good photograhers have used them for years. They are comparatively inexpensive, have great optics and are truly workhorses. They too are available as used units in good condition, and are inexpensive to repair.

The auto-focus feature is of no value in shooting performance horses. The time lag between the time that you push the button and the lag within the auto focus feature of the camera makes it impossible to govern where the legs of the horse will be in the finished photo. You need to pre-focus the camera,(at for example 30 feet) stand at that pre-focused distance and shoot the horse as it approaches, keeping in mind that the animal should occupy at least 60% of the negative.

I believe that I have explained the above in more detail in other question-of-the- month-replies, please check them out. If you have problems finding good used equipment in your area, there is a publication called THE SHUTTERBUG, and there are photo groups on the Internet that have thousands of photo items for sale.

Subject heading: What equipment to use
Posted: Feb 1998
Return to previous page

 © Copyright 1997, 1998, Jack Schatzberg Inc.
   All rights reserved