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What's in your camera bag? Cosplay photographer Carlos Adama reveals all

Cosxpo 2022 interview with cosplay photographer
Atreus from God of War franchise - Cosplayer @Opal.ink.cosplay (Image credit: Carlos Adama)

Carlos is somewhat of an expert when it comes to cosplay photography, with almost a decade of experience shooting with cosplayers from all over the UK. Based in London, Carlos has had fantastic opportunities to collaborate with cosplayers from all areas and franchises, shooting anime to gaming characters and superheroes!

Like many of us, Carlos has a day job aside from working as a cosplay photographer, though his work has granted him exciting opportunities to work at international conventions and cosplay photoshoots abroad in Sydney and New York. 

Capture cosplay with the best lenses for portraits (opens in new tab)

We managed to catch a moment with Carlos at this Year's CosXPo (opens in new tab), a weekend event designed solely around the basis of sharing Cosplay knowledge and Photography skill, through a series of panels, tutorials and workshops. One of these panels was held by Carlos himself, 'Photography for Beginners' where he gave an hour long talk through the basics of the exposure triangle to framing your subject and getting that perfect outdoor lighting. 

Carlos during his panel at CosXPo (Image credit: Beth Nicholls / DCW)
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"I started taking pictures of cosplayers around late 2012-2013 after having had a taste for it while working as a volunteer at a short-lived small comic convention called Kapow...I've been very lucky to participate in some cosplay photoshoots in places like Sydney and New York, which is a completely different experience than what I am used to back home."

Wonder Woman (Image credit: Carlos Adama)
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Carlos' kit bag includes an assortment of Sony lenses (opens in new tab), we asked what his go-to lens is for taking cosplay portraits, and he believes:

"If we're talking location shoots and some conventions, I think you can't go wrong with a simple 50mm lens. When I want to focus on the subject more, I'll switch to the 85mm if I have enough space.

"My current camera is a Sony A7 III (opens in new tab). I have been upgrading to different alphas every few years and I've had the Mark 3 since early 2020 after my Mark 2 was stolen. It was worth the upgrade even if for increased battery life alone.

"My current E-mount lenses I carry with me are pretty simple, two Sony lenses, FE 50mm f1.8 and FE 85mm f/1.8 (opens in new tab), and a Samyang 35mm f/2.8 lens. Pretty much all very basic and affordable kit. I supplement these with a Moment Cinebloom diffusion filter (opens in new tab) for the 35mm and 50mm on occasion.

"For lights I am currently using two Godox AD200 and a Godox V860II, all fired by the Godox X1 trigger. I am a huge fan of the AD200 and I've had it for a while now, HSS was a game changer for me. For conventions I usually have the key light on a Pixapro  65cm 16-Sided Easy-Open Ricebowl and then use smaller modifiers for rim light and gels on the other lights. 

"I try to adapt my set up for portability and mobility in conventions. For other location shoots I can go bigger with lights like the AD600 but it can be fairly clunky and exhausting to carry long hours at a convention. Moving forward I will be using the Godox AD B2 to combine the two 200s if I want more output.

Metroid (Image credit: Carlos Adama)
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Ellie from The Last of Us game franchise - Cosplayer @Opal.ink.cosplay (opens in new tab) (Image credit: Carlos Adama)
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"Aside from that I carry some gels, tools to clean lenses (opens in new tab) and the sensor, a power bank (opens in new tab) to charge the camera or phone if necessary, spare batteries for the trigger and even a broken cd and a ruler I sometimes use for prism style effects.

"The bag I use is also a Neewer 2-in-1 Convertible Wheeled Camera Backpack."

01. Sony A7 III (opens in new tab)

Sony A7 III (Body only) (Image credit: Sony/Park Cameras)
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"I've been shooting Sony from the beginning but it's definitely when I started using a translucid mirror one with EVF that I truly upped my game, as the live view function helped me understand manual shooting much much better and I definitely learned faster."

02. Sony FE 50mm F1.8

Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 (Image credit: Sony)
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"You get the right amount of bokeh to not fully lose the location, you can shoot with smaller groups, and for my taste, the 50mm feels natural and cinematic."

03. Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 (opens in new tab)

Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 (opens in new tab) (Image credit: Sony)
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This lens helps Carlos to get a closer focus on his subjects and creamy bokeh backgrounds. 

04. Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE

Samyang 35mm f/2.8 (Image credit: B&H)
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This Samyang lens (opens in new tab) is part of Carlos' essentials that he carries in his kit bag.

05.  Moment CineBloom diffusion filter (opens in new tab)

Moment Cinebloom diffusion filter (Image credit: Moment)
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Carlos supplements his 35mm and 50mm lenses with this diffuser on occasion.

As many photographers, Carlos uses Adobe Lightroom (opens in new tab) and Photoshop CC software to add the final touches to his images, before sending to the model and sharing them on his social media channels. Using post-process to add additional creative elements to cosplay photos can be one of the most exciting parts of the process.

We asked Carlos if he had any final words of advice for those looking to pursue cosplay photography: 

"I'd say find collaborators that are passionate about the same subjects as you and try to tell a story with your pictures. Also bear in mind that it's a massively collaborative field."

Check out Carlos' fantastic work at his Facebook page (opens in new tab) and Instagram (opens in new tab) pages.

• Read more: 

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Best lenses for Sony A7iii (opens in new tab)
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Beth Nicholls
Beth Nicholls

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.