The Most Popular Cameras and Settings for Reuters’ 2012 Photos of the Year

Reuters has published its list of the best photographs taken in 2012, a massive collection of 95 powerful images showing different events that have occurred around the globe over the past year. In addition to large photos, descriptions by the photographers, and the official captions, each image is also accompanied by information about the equipment and settings that were used to capture it.

Photography enthusiast and Reddit user hallbuzz decided to copy, paste, sort, and tally all 95 EXIF data entries, and published a list with the ranking of cameras, lenses, and settings used.

Another user named mathiasa then took that list and turned the data into a series of charts. They offer an interesting glimpse at how some of the most powerful photographs recently captured by photojournalists were snapped:


Prime Lenses

Zoom Lenses

Shutter Speed



A single photograph captured using the most popular equipment and settings (for Reuters’ top 95 photos of 2012) would be shot using a Canon 1D Mark IV with a 16-35mm lens attached, set at 1/320s, f/2.8, and ISO 200.

(via Reuters via Reddit)

Update: mathiasa has released an updated series of charts here. We’ve updated the charts in this post with the new versions.

Image credits: Photographs by Reuters, charts by mathiasa

  • Daryl L. Hunter

    Hmmm ~ I’m surprise it was the 16-35. The only time I use mine is for special landscapes so big I can’t diminish it by shooting so wide.

  • Jake

    I’d have expected a lot more 50mm lenses, considering how many dozens of times I’ve read a photographer calling it their “favorite lens.”

  • Kyle

    It was tied for the most popular prime lens FL along with the 24.

  • Robert Leland

    dont see pentax why

  • mike

    I saw a cover of Time shot with instagram, not that I am happy about Times choice. Hurricane Sandy anyone???

  • Andreas Avdoulos

    What a mess. Judging by the comments, people are smarter than this stupid post.

  • Joshua Morin

    OMG, this is crazy for people who are colour blind!

  • umeshrw

    Shrodinger’s cat. (You wouldn’t know if it is dead or alive unless you open the box it is in.

  • umeshrw

    The way I see it is…. include more and image adds other interesting ambient elements. If not you can go closer still or crop later( if they do). Shallower apertures wouldn’t be a problem for wides.

  • fiberevolution

    Thanks for clarifying that. I couldn’t understand the dominance of Canon. So this really tells us nothing!!!

  • Lio

    I am curious to know which one has been taken with a … sony dsc H5
    which costs almost 10€ on the second hand market

  • Chris S

    You’ve left out all the best photographs. They were shot on film.

  • Waha

    Those “Best” photos failed to impress imo. And you are telling me they are taken mostly by Canon? OK, I got the link.

  • Attila Volgyi

    Stringers use their own cameras and quite a rarge number of stringers work for Rueters worldwide – especially in crisis areas where there is a greater chance for a stringer to take exclusive shots that gets into such a collection. This can be the answer to why there are not just Canons…

  • Attila Volgyi

    Reuters is a Canon only company, just like Getty Images is. And AFP is a Nikon only company. The only exceptions are the stringers who sell images but don’t permanently work for the company – so they don’t get company gear, expenses, insurance, etc. just the price for their pics.

  • Attila Volgyi

    Exactly. Most of these guys carry only 16-35 and 70-200 with them. Anything shorter (fisheye) or longer (400-600-800) only for special stuff.
    Mid range only for those who shoot a lot of protocol or red carpet not for field reportage.

  • Attila Volgyi

    I haven’t even seen my 24-70 for about a year now. Actually I lent it for a friend of a Reuters photographer who needed it. Neither of us uses it for anything.

  • Lanie

    Interesting info but it’s not the equipment that got the settings right, positioning, depth of field, subject content, timing, etc…right. It’s the photographer and their abilities to capture the image. This seems to reinforce the, ” what a great picture, you must have a really good camera” statement.

  • Attila Volgyi

    Simplicity and economics too. It is much easier to manage logistics of the gear if everyone uses the same brand. It also makes it easier to get good prices from a manufacturer if you order a large amount enough to supply a worldwide network of photographers with the same brand instead of having them buy one by one at local photo shops.

  • chphotovideo

    looks like they did list them in order. most to least.

  • Marc Tobolski

    I found it helpful as a reality check in knowing what glass is used and whether or not I have the bases covered in my amateur gear set-up. I never considered the need for a 24mm but will now look at what they shot with that and see if it fits me. I saw this as a way to get inside the heads of each of the photographers and what their choices were at the moment.

  • shashinka

    Actually, that image was taken with Hipstamatic and posted via Instragram.

  • shashinka

    No, but I’ve seen an image taken with an android phone win a Pulitzer.

  • shashinka

    As a Rueters contractor, I’m somewhat amazed by the Canon strong numbers like that, seeing how us Stringers now make up about 80% of the work coming in to the service now.

  • shashinka

    Most every other stringer I work with is equipped 24-70 and 70-200. While most of us have the 16-35 range, we don’t use them half as often of one might think. I’m a bit miffed by the numbers, considering all the guys I work with here in DC have done nothing by grumblke about their results with the 16-35 lens.

  • mike

    ahhhh yes you are correct sir. didnt know the particulars but yes

  • Albi Kl

    Haha, you’re right. I guess I didn’t notice because of the number of colours they had in each.

  • 7D

    Most of you are complaining here because you are brand loyal and you sadly don’t see your camera or your lens here in the list. If you happened to own something in the list that made it to the top you guys would not make such a fuss. Data is data. People who know how to use it will make the most of it. Others who can’t will make fun of its color. Please try to breathe a little and relax. Enough aggression in this world.

  • John

    Definitely a FWIW article…

  • tels

    this is new to me …. thanks

  • tels

    better to look for other info/article where nikon cameras were used in a topnotch images.

  • Focus Dave

    I’d love to see how furious the comments would be if one of the cameras listed was “iPhone 4S.”

  • Jake

    Ah, I see now. I couldn’t tell with the original charts.

  • Mark

    Analysis: Irrespective of the brand, there is some very useful info here. About half of all shots were probably shot at max aperture. The pros are using fast lenses and shooting them wide open. The lenses are mostly on the wide end, half the shots were between 16 and 50mm. The slowest shutter speed in half the shots was 1/125s, with around 45% 1/250s or faster. These guys are trying hard to eliminate motion blur, and shooting mostly wide angles at pretty fast shutter speeds. To accomplish this they are using relatively high ISO’s, over 1/3 between 400 and 1600.

    Conclusion: Get three fast lenses: a wide zoom, a telephoto zoom and a 50mm. Always shoot wide open or 1 stop down. Always keep your shutter speed much faster than 1 / focal length. Adjust ISO as required. After that if your shots suck, attend some seminars.

  • jwwPhotos

    OOOooo ..and settings? Talk about an article going from bad to worse…

  • bill75075

    I haven’t read all the comments, but it seems to me a VERY important thing to do would be to normalize the focal length to 35mm equivalent, if you want to learn something from those numbers. The Canon 1D MkIV has a crop factor of 1.3, so that 16-35 ends up being a 21-46 on a full frame camera, and on a Canon 1.6 you’d need a 13-28. Quite a difference!

  • Dan Sulla

    So now we know the camera and settings to use to take awesome photos. Glue down the knobs boys and girls.

  • xjxjxj

    So funny, nobody complained about this….

  • Fredbare

    This information could be made worthwhile if it was presented better.

    First one can’t equate lens usage withought knowing the camera type. So split the cameras into FF and APS-C to start and associate the lenses with the cameras.

    With lenses there is no indication of the ratio of fixed to zoom. So the lenses should be grouped together (fixed + zoom).

    Likewise Fstops need to be associated with lens and camera etc.

    Use grouping (as someone else said) – such as ‘ultra wide’, wide’, ‘normal’ etc lenses rather than individual F/Ls.

    Ditto Iso – ‘Base’, ‘base – 800′, 800 – 1600, > 3200

    And use bar graphs. Pie are so ‘not scientific’ and only used by financial institutions to decide what size slice they intened to take (a little joke on my part).

  • Lynn Carter

    Well said, Chris. The data is a gold mine for the Canon PR people!

  • Lynn Carter

    Can anyone just simply appreciate the concerted effort made by the two authors? We’ve so much hypercritical-negativity circling our globe nowadays.. The two guys simply did some data mining and too many of these comments aren’t constructive. If 80% of Reuters contributors are stringers and use Canon; it’s “interesting” but whether the pie chart uses the right colors is definitely not.

  • matt

    Looks to me like some one has WAY too much time on their hands. Please get a life.

  • g

    why you giving out. Do it yourself. It is easy to comment do it yourself

  • Cadablo Zgamo

    Eat some carrot

  • William Zhang

    So if a post doesn’t list your camera/lens/settings as the most used one, you will find it useless huh? That tells something about your little pathetic ego. Their images are being used in good places, unlike your images, which is useless to anyone.

  • Jerome

    There is no 16mm prime for canon, therefore all photographs sorted under “16mm prime” were actually taken with the 16-35 zoom. It seems that the same is true for other focal lengths, the data in the captions is ambiguous and does not always make it clear when a prime is used and when a zoom is used at the same focal length. The only pictures for which we can be sure is when aperture is larger than f/2.8.

    I am surprised that nobody noticed that.

  • R.Yiu

    Besides being a free ad for Canon, what is the purpose of this?

  • Pickanamenayname

    What? The D800 and D4 are relatively new…this looks very one sided to me.

  • Sean Derrick

    At minimum 4 of the 9 shots could have been taken with an entry level DSLR and kit lenses. Maybe even 5. And you can shoot sports (in the daytime) with the F-stop generally set about 7.1-11. In fact, that is preferable for action shots where the action is coming towards or going away from the photog. Is it perfect? No, but a good photographer can make it work. That is my whole point. You can have the most expensive equipment, but if the person behind the lens doesn’t have an eye for it then it won’t matter what they have at all. I have seen great pics by photographers having to use equipment that is not ideal. Likewise, I have seen horrible photos by “photographers” using top of the line gear. I never said the photographer alone takes great pics, but just pointing out that the camera does not line up the shot, compose the image and push the trigger at that right moment. I do not have entry level gear but I am so sick of people coming up to me saying “Wow, nice camera. IT must take great pics.” Yeah, like the camera does all the work. And, what does the comments below tell you about YOUR last comment?

  • Francisco

    I wonder about the 16mm prime lens. As far as I know there is no such lens (as least not for the Canon EF system, and according to the Reuters site the 16mm guys are using Canon). So may I assume that in fact the 16-35mm ist used at 16mm?