Quick Tip: Shoot With Two Cameras

Two camera bodies really are better than one. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

Two camera bodies really are better than one. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

Maybe you have a few lenses in your collection now and you’re happy. Maybe you shoot nothing but landscapes or still life photos and don’t see the need. Maybe you just don’t see what you’d do with a second camera body, except to have it as a backup.

I’m here to tell you that, except maybe for studio work, without a second camera body, you’re missing pictures.

Here’s what happens: you’re shooting, moving around, and suddenly you see the composition in a totally new light. You change lenses to accomodate your new vision…and while changing the lens, the shot changes and is no longer there. You miss it.

Typically, for any situation with lots of movement, changing situations, etc. you should have two cameras around your neck and shoulder: the one you’re using around your neck, the one you’re not shooting on your shoulder. This works for news, sports, wildlife, portraits, even nature/landscapes sometimes.

Two examples:

  • You’re shooting a wide shot at a big house fire, using a wide angle lens or zoom on one of your bodies. Suddenly a firefighter bursts out of a second-story window onto a porch roof, needing a new air tank. You grab the 80-200mm on your shoulder and get the photo.


    Without two cameras, you'll miss those rare, unexpected photographs. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd, The Times-Picayune)

  • You’re shooting  a basketball game, sitting courtside to the left of one basket. As the players work the court near you, you shoot with your 80-200mm lens. When the play goes to the other end, you grab the 300mm f2.8 lens  on a short monopod at your side.  When a sudden loose ball results in a mad scramble, you’re ready with the longer lens.

    Basketball photo

    Loose balls make some of the best basketball action photos, but you have to be ready with the proper lens to catch them. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd, The Times-Picayune)

The second lens/body setup gives you options. It allows you to respond to changes in your shooting situation. It allows you to be more successful as a photographer.  And that is what we all want, isn’t it?

self portraitHi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog

Posted in: How To

About the Author:

Photographer, videographer and photo editor. Host and creator of The Discerning Photographer web site. Currently a Canon shooter.

5 Comments on "Quick Tip: Shoot With Two Cameras"

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  1. @Bosque_Bill says:

    Do use a special harness or strap system to hold the two cameras (without having them bang into one another?) You said one around your neck, the other over your shoulder, but I can’t quite picture the exchange. Thanks.

  2. Usually, I’ve got a camera bag over my left shoulder, camera around my neck and the second camera (not being used) on my right shoulder, with the lens pointed in towards my torso (safer for the glass).

  3. Showkat says:

    I am an enthusiast photographer.I have a canon 7d body,a 17-40mm EF lens and a 70-200mm 4L lens. I actually got two lenses because i am planning to buy another low priced body as i don’t want to change lenses too often(i hate dust getting into my camera while changing lenses).Now i am confused about which lens to use on which body (the second body would be probably canon 1000d)….Thanks

  4. It would depend upon the shooting situation. I would want the 7D on the lens that I thought the majority of the important shots would be made with for that given situation. If you’re shooting a portrait outdoors, the 70-200 might be your ‘main’ lens, so I’d use the 7D for that…and so forth.

  5. Will Dochertaigh says:

    Ive been a two camera shooter for years. Being a fire department photographer conditions are often the worst and the immediate availability of two different lenses is not a luxury, but a necessity.
    I took that two camera habit into my leisure photography as well as my current work related construction/architecture photography.
    Once you’ve gotten comfortable with it it is a great wat to shoot.
    Two different lenses, Two unique settings – I’m spoiled…


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