Large Format Sports Photographer Seen at Olympic Gymnastics

If you were given the task of shooting gymnastics at the Olympics, what camera would you use? The Canon EOS-1D X for its 14fps capabilities?

At least one Olympic sports photographer chose something much slower, much larger, and much older.

Eagle-eyed PopPhoto editor Stan Horaczek was watching a women’s gymnastics event on TV last week, when one of the photographers in the background caught his eye. Instead of the standard pro-bodied DSLR with a massive telephoto lens, the man was shooting with what Horaczek guessed was “an old school press camera”.

After posting a screenshot (or a shot of his screen, to be precise) to PopPhoto, the magazine’s readers quickly identified the photographer as David Burnett. Burnett is a legendary large-format photographer who has covered seven Olympic games with his old school film cameras.

In a recent interview with the New York Times, he was asked about his camera of choice for the London Olympics. He responded,

I’m not sure, but I’ll bring the 4×5. One of the difficulties of a 4×5 is always remembering to do everything in the right order. You’ve got to focus, close the shutter, cock the shutter, put the film in, pull the dark slide and hope that you haven’t actually shot that film before. Then put the dark slide back in, you flip it so the black edge is out that says, “I’ve been shot, don’t shoot me again.”

It looks like he did indeed bring his 4×5. We can’t wait to see the resulting photographs!

(via PopPhoto)

  • Thomas Armstrong

    That’s Dr. Emmett Brown!!!!

  • Dougal

    I’m just happy to know that a legend like David still has that same worry about having shot on that sheet before. As a proud owner of the combo named after him, he is really a master. Check out his election photos using that rig.

  • Sum_it

    the camera is probably as old as he is! haha.
    If a man goes to the olympic with a 4×5, he’s either crazy or amazing at his craft!

  • GraflexGuy

    I remember seeing someone at President Obama’s inaugaration with a 4×5. It was in a gigapan image that is on their site. The photographer was on the balcony above the president (to the left of hte frame) as he is giving his speech. Not sure if it was the same photographer or not.

  • Mansgame


  • Mute

    It’s the latter.

  • simon

    like an absolute boss
    and why not! this just proves there are still photographers out there and not just monkeys with machine guns

  • Victor

    It’s been a pretty good gimmick for him.

  • marty

    Time Travelling Photographer

  • Șȁɯ Ⱥʋ

    stop photoshop the picture

  • gonzo

    Much more than a gimmick. He’s a respected journalist of the first order. Gimmicks are what the unskilled use to bend the spotlight away from those who deserve it.

  • kyoshinikon

    I like not being the only press photog to use a speed graphlex :D

  • Victor

    OK, he’s a skilled and respected journalist using a gimmick to “bend the spotlight” away from others.

  • RandomDesign

    I thought it looked like an Aero Ektar/Speed Graphic combo, I just didn’t realize it was David Burnett himself. :P

  • Pepito

    Yep, pretty much this. Also he looks like he is having the fun of his life shooting like that. Good for him.