What Camera Equipment Does Jose Villa Use?

by Buffalo Bob on September 6, 2011

Photographer: Jose Villa

Specialty: Film Wedding Photography

Favored Camera/Lens Brand: Canon, Contax

Other Products Used: Fuji Film, Holga and Polaroid Cameras

Short Bio: Jose Villa is a California-based wedding photographer that was voted by PDN to be one of the top 10 wedding photographers in the world. He is known for his classic, beautiful imagery that is shot entirely on film. Digital? Jose says no! Jose is also the author of the critically-acclaimed Fine Art Wedding Photography.

Here’s a short video interview featuring Jose:

So what’s in Jose’s bag?

Jose’s gear is split into three categories.

For posed portraits, Jose uses a Contax 645 medium-format camera with the 80mm f/2 lens.

For anything fast-moving, like receptions, Jose uses Canon EOS 1V bodies with a variety of lenses. Jose’s stated favorite is Canon’s 50mm f/1.2.

Editor’s Note – these Contax and Canon cameras are out of production.

Jose also uses Holga and Polaroid film cameras to add a little alternative flavor to his wedding work.

For film stocks, Jose favors Fuji Pro 400H color films, which is available in 35mm and 120mm sizes.

However, be aware that this particular film can be hard to find. Jose doesn’t have any problems because he’s sponsored by Fuji, but I’ve noticed that it’s out of stock quite often at major retail websites like Amazon and B&H. A fantastic (and superior in my opinion) alternative is Kodak’s Portra 400, which is available in 35mm and 120mm.

So do you want to shoot film?

The good part is that film camera bodies are cheap. You can easily find formerly top-of-the-line Canon and Nikon film bodies for less than $200 on Craig’s List, and they’ll work fine with your new lenses. However, you should note that the Contax 645 Jose favors is extremely pricey – over $2,000 with the 80mm lens. A cheaper alternative would be the Mamiya 645, though be sure to get the powerdrive grip to make it easier to handhold. That would set you back maybe $400, including an 80mm f/2.8 lens.

Alternately, if you’re looking for that rich, dreamy, contrasty film look on a budget, you can emulate it in software. I highly recommend Nik Software’s Complete Collection for Lightroom and Aperture. (Note: you must own Lightroom or Aperture)

Its Color Efex Pro and Silver Efex Pro plugins allow you to get the look of classic color and black and white film stocks from Kodak, Fuji, and Ilford, They also include high-quality effects to emulate Holga and Polaroid cameras.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: