This is how to shoot a $2,500,000 car with a $50,000 camera

Jul 31, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

This is how to shoot a $2,500,000 car with a $50,000 camera

Jul 31, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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There’s only a hundred Pagani Huayra BC in the world, and each one costs a cool $2.5mil. The “BC” in its designation stands for Benny Caiola, the first person to ever buy a Pagani automobile. With a Mercedes AMG designed V12 bi-turbo engine built exclusively for Pagani and pulling more than 750bhp, it’s a beast of a car.

When it comes time to photograph it, one also needs a beast of a camera. So, LA based automotive photographer Richard Thompson chose the Phase One XF 100MP for this Huayra BC advertising shoot. They also shot a behind the scenes video, so we can see what goes into a shoot like this.

YouTube video

It’s a shoot beyond the budgets of most of us reading this. It’s unlikely that many of us will need to shut down streets and have a police presence. But it does offer some interesting insights into the thought process. One particular revelation coming very early on into the video.

When talking about the equipment he uses, Thompson’s justification was that he basically hadn’t seen it done before. Which was a good enough reason for him, and a reason many of us should start using more often. No matter what we shoot.

I’ve never used this setup with a car, and I’ve never heard of it used with a car. So, I thought it would be a good opportunity to really make this thing look as serious as I could.

Thompson used the Phase One XF 100MP along with the Schneider 240mm LS prime lens with a 2x converter. This lens has the equivalent field of view to a 320mm lens on a “full frame” DSLR or mirrorless. It’s not exactly the short sort of focal length one typically associates with car photography.

The reason we’re using medium format for this shoot today is because this is, simply speaking, the most advanced, highest resolution, sharpest camera system you could lay your hands on. You know, it’s an advertising shoot, those are all merits that are very important.

It’s one of the fastest, highest performance, most advanced cars in the world. So, I think it’s suitable to use one of the fastest, highest performance, most advanced cameras in the world.

Natural light was the primary light source for the shoot, although they also made use of a set of Profoto B1 strobes. Communicating via radio, you can hear Thompson instructing his assistant in the video on how he wants the flash set up. Essentially, mimicking the angle of the sun to appear natural. As if it’s just part of the light already in the environment.

Being so far back with such a long focal length adds quite an interesting look to the shots. Thompson describes it as being quite a small car, and this perspective gives it some weight and size.

Thompson does later switch over to a Schneider 55mm f/2.8 LS lens for some close up, hand held wide angle shots. Also later in the video, one of the team talk about securing the location.

We needed to find [a location] that was in a quiet and safe place that we could easily work all day with full control. It didn’t take me long to find, as being a New Yorker I know these locations really well.

What did take time was getting the permissions to be underneath the Long Island Rail Road, and also to get permissions from the Department of Transportation that we could work down there. This neighbourhood is not a great neighbourhood. Not the safest neighbourhood, for sure. They required that we had police here.

It’s something that not many of us consider for most of our shoots, but vital on a commercial advertising shoot such as this. There’s some great insights in this video, and a few things that could make us think a little more about our own shoots. Even if they’re not cars.

You can see some of the photos from this session on the Phase One website.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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34 responses to “This is how to shoot a $2,500,000 car with a $50,000 camera”

  1. Jimmi Tofthøj Avatar
    Jimmi Tofthøj

    Allan Nielsen

    1. Jimmi Tofthøj Avatar
      Jimmi Tofthøj

      Allan Nielsen same-same

  2. Chris Lapointe Avatar
    Chris Lapointe

    I don’t have a $50,000 camera either. ???

  3. Michael Johnson Avatar
    Michael Johnson

    …with a few dents…

  4. Henrik Heigl Avatar
    Henrik Heigl

    I want to see how to shoot a 1,000 car with a 1,000 camera and THAT should look like a 2,550,000 shot ! THAT would be a headline, not THIS here ;-) Enjoy!

  5. Paul Richards Avatar
    Paul Richards

    no reason to use that camera at all, other than the fact that he could

  6. Duncan Knifton Avatar
    Duncan Knifton

    Nice!!

  7. Adam Santino Avatar
    Adam Santino

    Shorter: “I shot this multimillion dollar car that people only buy for status with a 50,000 dollar camera that I use just for status.”

    1. Marc Stokes Avatar
      Marc Stokes

      not everyone is that shallow, lots of car enthusiasts out there

    2. Leah Diaz Avatar
      Leah Diaz

      Pretty shallow

  8. Stefan Avatar
    Stefan

    damn nice!

  9. Kent Newton Avatar
    Kent Newton

    I’ll just stick with my Sonya711 :)

  10. Joshua Prieto Avatar
    Joshua Prieto

    I can’t get past how bland a lot of commercial work really is

  11. Roy Bridgewood Avatar
    Roy Bridgewood

    The choice of equipment used is often the photographers. However we sometimes are not told if the equipment is a pre requisite to the shoot

    Profoto have recently comissioned photographer Oskar Bakke to shoot a Keonegsberge automobile. He chose he Sony A7r mk2

  12. Stephen Masiello Avatar
    Stephen Masiello

    I’ve shot a Ferrari that sold at auction for over 21 million. The price of the car or camera doesn’t change the basic techniques required.

  13. Jade Holing Avatar
    Jade Holing

    Robert Lloyd Malpage

  14. Jason Rodier Avatar
    Jason Rodier

    I can shoot it for half price I guess and a good job ?

  15. Tod Heckert Avatar
    Tod Heckert

    waste of money.. for both..

  16. Mike Randall Avatar
    Mike Randall

    The camera has a seismograph. It determines when the vibrations are at their lowest to take the sharpest shot.
    Amazeballs.

  17. Tod Heckert Avatar
    Tod Heckert

    anyone could get better shots with a disposable camera than the 50k one.

  18. Alexander L. Harris Avatar
    Alexander L. Harris

    Carefully.

  19. Nick Dunlap Avatar
    Nick Dunlap

    It’s not hard.

  20. John Rutkowski Avatar
    John Rutkowski

    Fool, is the one with the 50k camera.

  21. Vanitas Foto Avatar
    Vanitas Foto

    For all the bitter and jealous people here is a template:

    “I havent taken the time to see the shots Pffffft I could have shot this with a (input DSLR or mirrorless) of my favorite brand which is (input your brand here) because eff what he is doing, I would get the same results”

  22. John Wylie Jr Avatar
    John Wylie Jr

    Then the car owner posted the image on Instagram….. using every filter available ;)

  23. Christopher Tamayo Avatar
    Christopher Tamayo

    They look more like those prescription glasses that shade in the sun.

  24. Stereo Reverb Avatar
    Stereo Reverb

    The lighting matters way more than any camera used, $50k or $200, though i do understand an attention grabbing headline is needed in order to encourage people to read an article sometimes. (Btw, if you told me that someone shot this with a canon Rebel, i would have believed it. I’d also believe it if you told me this was from a Phase One. But i’d def believe it if you said any kind of camera took this.) Blow it up to a billboard size, or accidentally underexpose it by several stops, and then we have a whole different story.

  25. Raphael Bruckner Avatar
    Raphael Bruckner

    An advertisement shoot for 2 1/2 million dollar car that has already been sold…..

  26. Dominique Hermsdorff Avatar
    Dominique Hermsdorff

    With $50,000 you can buy 5 decent used cars…

  27. Patric Tille Avatar
    Patric Tille

    I would shoot it with my IPhone.

    1. Dave Robinson Avatar
      Dave Robinson

      Surely you’re not comparing shots??

  28. catlett Avatar
    catlett

    So the same way one would shoot it with any camera minus the clickbait headline. The camera or cost of the camera don’t change the characteristics of the light and how you would get the shot.

  29. Jay Avatar
    Jay

    Got it… end of day light looks best IMHO so what was the filter choice in front of that lens?