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Thread: Is pro kit necessary?

  1. #1
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Is pro kit necessary?

    I received a PM and as the reply was going to take a while, it seemed better to share than keep to oneself, I have deliberately not revealed who sent it, but I don't mind if they want to reply, anonomously or otherwise.

    Hi Dave
    I'm going to ask you a question that could sound impolite.
    But being impolite isn't for sure my intention.

    I saw in some of your shots that you use a consumer grade camera and lenses.
    I'm quite surprised of that, because usually skilled and long experienced photographers use only (at least mainly) equipment of the highest level.

    For sure, often the equipment is too professional for the use that the photographer can do with, I'm an example.

    Do you think that consumer-grade camera and lenses are most of the time equivalent to the pro-grade ones? Could there be a condition where the pro-grade equipment is necessary? (and the consumer-grade one not adequate to that condition?)

    I hope my question is quite clear, and I'm sorry if it could hurt you in any way, please feel free to do not answer if you think so.

    Many thanks for all the times you have helped me directly and indirectly with your posts.

    Have a nice day
    Not to worry, no offence taken and I do understand the question.

    Firstly, for the camera body, I don't believe there is any significant difference between pro and consumer level equipment in respect of image quality of similar sensor spec taking 'normal' pictures. The differences are mainly ergonomic, build quality/weather proofing and high iso/noise performance - and the last isn't often needed.

    So yes, in extremes, the body can allow you to continue shooting when, with a consumer body, you'll have to give up because the camera may fail (wet/humid) or because it is too dark for the poor high iso performance to produce 'good enough to sell' images.

    The last part is what separates me from the professional - I'm not trying to pay the family invoices by photography - I'm not hoping my work is so good that a customer won't complain. That's a pressure I can do without.

    Do you think that consumer-grade camera and lenses are most of the time equivalent to the pro-grade ones? Could there be a condition where the pro-grade equipment is necessary? (and the consumer-grade one not adequate to that condition?)
    It is odd, I was considering that only this morning - there was a photo opportunity I saw while driving to work, but it would mean shooting into the sun to capture the hazy atmosphere around some trees. I decided that it was probably pointless trying to capture such a shot with my zoom lenses (flare, etc.) - but maybe I should try harder It wasn't an option today anyway, no camera and due at work.

    It is definitely the lenses that will show the most difference between pro and consumer grade kit. For example, a really cheap, third party, 18 - 200mm lens costing say 150 is going to be fairly compromised in so many areas, I went for one a level better than that, it was 4 times the price, a Nikon one, and although not measurably 4 times better, I'm happy with it. Given my finances and not having a need to spend more, why would I? As you have seen, I do alright with what I have.

    Plus the next level up means spending 1,200 - 2,000 on a lens, that's almost doubling my total kit value.

    Although I might accept 'somewhat' skilled and (certainly) long, but not that widely, experienced, I too don't use all the kit I have at my disposal to anywhere near its full potential either, as you say, 'too pro for me' We have several CiC members that do, but I'm not one of them

    I have a few days off, starting tomorrow, when I hope to get out more with the camera and lenses and actually use them.

    Please nag me into showing the results, or they'll hide on my HDD like so many others.

    Cheers,

  2. #2
    jiro's Avatar
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    Re: Is pro kit necessary?

    Gear is good... Vision is better. This was a quote from David Duchemin. I agree with this one. I also agree with Dave that coupling a decent DSLR with a good lens will give you better images than the reverse. The reason we tend to salivate with the higher models is because of the added versatility that they can offer like clean images even at high ISO settings, faster burst rate, better weather sealing, and body robustness. Still, even if you have the latest model and the fastest lenses, without a clear understanding on how to use them properly and with good vision or concept in taking good pictures, then... it's just a mismatch. Oh, btw, I am guilty of salivating for a Nikon D700 for myself and a prime 85mm f1.4 lens.
    Last edited by jiro; 21st April 2011 at 12:39 AM.

  3. #3

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    Re: Is pro kit necessary?

    As one with all the nice pro gear ...

    It's always an interesting discussion ... it's often said that "it's the photographer, not the equipment" that makes good photos - but in reality, as I see it, it's a team effort. When someone first gets into photography then naturally they (and not the equipment) will be the weak link in the chain -- but as their skill level increases -- it's possible that they will start to hit various limitations of the equipment. I did some work that I was very proud of with my 20D -- but I can now do better work with my 1Ds3.

    To put that another way ... Michael Schumacher is the most successful Formula 1 driver of all time - but put him in a mini and he's going to lose against EVERY other driver in the race who is driving an F1 car. Put me in a F1 car and Michael in a mini and I'm sure he'd beat me because an F1 car is VERY difficult to drive. Put Michael in an F1 car and you'll get the best result of all.

    Does everyone need pro equipment - of course not - and that's why other ranges are available. If a newbie wants to buy pro equipment and grow into it is there any problem with that? Answer, no, I don't think so -- sure they'll get the usual "more money than brains" taunts, but at the end of the day if someone wants to learn to drive in a Ferrari then that's their decision which I respect (through the envy!).

    So what's different about Pro gear? In my opinion, lots of little things. In terms of lenses, they're typically faster - offer better performance - and are usually built like tanks - and weather sealed. Kinda like a high-performance 4 wheel drive that you can push harder. With regards to the bodies - again - little things; My 1Ds3 has dual media so that during a studio shoot I can capture the highest possible resolution RAW image to 1 card, but only a low-resolution JPEG to the other -- and it's the low-res JPEG that's displayed on the 40" TV for tethered shooting. Why do I do it this way? Because a RAW shot takes about 7 seconds to transfer during a shoot, and the JPEG only about 2 seconds -- so the flow of the shoot isn't interrupted by having to wait much longer for the image to appear. The weather sealing means that I can (and have) continued shooting in the rain -- so I can complete the paid assignment. Advanced firmware options mean that I can customise the camera to better adapt to the environment I'm shooting in -- options that are simply unavailable on many lesser models.

    So probably true to say that the image quality - on the face of it - isn't very different to lower models, when that image can be captured correctly -- but the more advanced features make it easier and increase the chances of capturing those images properly in the first place.

    Hope this helps

  4. #4
    Black Pearl's Avatar
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    Re: Is pro kit necessary?

    Pro cameras and and pro lenses do not produce better photographs than consumer models.


    A modern pro body and even more so a pro lens will allow a photographer to take a photograph in a wider range of conditions and still get a shot. It is very likely to to sharper, better exposed and have less distortions than a photograph taken with consumer kit but that does not in any way make it a bettwr photograph. Photographers today (I include myself, professionals and hobbyist in general) are far to caught up with a. examining pictures at pointless magnifications to see how sharp they are and whether there is any visible grain and b. What features a piece of equipment has and not what they can do with them.

    For hundreds of years all photographers managed to take photographs with a limited iso range, manual focus (often with appalling means of achieving it) manual exposure (often with very limited apertures and shutter speed ranges) yet the results are some of the greatest and most iconic images we've ever seen. Look through the work of say early Magnum photographers and tell me if the shots that make you stare in awe, make you rethink your opinions on a subject, make you smile and even make you cry would have been any better if they had been taken with the latest DSLR/Pro lens combo - I'll bet my left testicle they wouldn't.


    I'm not saying Pro kit is a waste of money, if you are a professional earning a living then any advantage you can get to keep making that money will be worth considering. If you are an amateur then photography is just a hobby and really you don't need the best kit.....but......as a society we always want more. Many have the means to afford better kit and as it is a hobby we all tend to indulge ourselves when we can. Why not. I work hard to keep my family in a nice home, give the kids the best start in life I can manage, go on holiday a few times a year and if there is money left then I'm damn sure I'm going to indulge myself from time to time in my passion for photography and buy myself something new and usually expensive.

    Does that kit make my photographs any better? I don't honestly know. I do know there are things my D300s can do that other cameras I've owned couldn't and I've used them to get a photograph that I've been over the moon with. Could I have got that same photograph with a cheaper camera - probably - though I'd have had to work harder to get it.

  5. #5
    Nass's Avatar
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    Re: Is pro kit necessary?

    Very good assessments I think.

    Your gear is just a choice you make because of your budget. I know full well that I don't have the best possible equipment but on the other hand I can also still afford to eat =). For me it doesn't matter if I have that best equipment because I just do this for fun, without any money pressure at all. So if I can get 90% of the results for 20% of the outlay that makes me very happy =) Hence my choice of Pentax, which gives me access to all their lenses ever made for a fraction of the cost of new lenses.

  6. #6
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Is pro kit necessary?

    What a wonderful, mature, well thought-out and sensible set of responses this question has stirred.

    I wonder how many people have been driven away from pursuing their interest in photography because they've been made to feel inadequate because they can't acquire the latest, biggest, fastest, etc, etc.

    I can do no more than remind us of just one of Pops' so, so wise statements that has appeared on this forum in the past: "The camera is a box in which you store photographs. The picture is behind your eyeballs."

    As people have suggested, the more expensive the box, the higher are your chances of being able to make the picture that's behind your eyeballs. But, two things:

    • You still need to be able to 'see' the picture behind your eyeballs. And no amount of equipment is going to help you do that.
    • There are many thousands and thousands of pictures out there waiting to be made by you with the equipment you have or are able to afford.

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    Re: Is pro kit necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by black pearl View Post
    Look through the work of say early Magnum photographers and tell me if the shots that make you stare in awe, make you rethink your opinions on a subject, make you smile and even make you cry would have been any better if they had been taken with the latest DSLR/Pro lens combo
    I produce photographs that make me cry all the time - usually it goes something like this ...

    "Doh doh doh - how oh how did I manage to take 300 shots of a sunset scene, all with the aperture set to F2.8 - doh doh DOH!"

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    Re: Is pro kit necessary?

    When I was contemplating buying my first 35mm SLR, about 55 years ago, I was lucky enough to be able to talk to the chief photographer at a major newspaper.

    His advice, which I have never forgotten, was to go for a good, slightly above entry level, Canon. His reasoning was that it might mean missing one shot in a thousand or even one in five hundred, but to the amateur that wasn’t the end of the world. However to him that one shot might be the one that made his reputation, which is why he used a Leica.

    I have always lusted after a Leica and for quite some time now I have been in the fortunate position of being able to afford one, but I’ve always remembered his words and resisted buying a piece of kit that I don’t really need and would never use in the conditions it is designed for.

    Which doesn’t stop me lusting after a Leica! Despite which Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s camera!http://cdn.cambridgeincolour.com/for...ies2/smile.png

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    Re: Is pro kit necessary?

    I have seen as many bad shots from a good Leica as I have seen good shots from a bad Nikon. It is not the gear which makes the successful shot; it is and always shall be the eye that sees the shot, the practiced and experienced brain that makes the right caluclations, and the spirit of the soul who has the patience to wait until exactly the right moment...Click!

  10. #10
    djg05478's Avatar
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    Re: Is pro kit necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by jiro View Post
    Oh, btw, I am guilty of salivating for a Nikon D700 for myself and a prime 85mm f1.4 lens.
    Ditto on that prime 85mm f1.4, that would be sweet

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    Re: Is pro kit necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by djg05478 View Post
    Ditto on that prime 85mm f1.4, that would be sweet
    I've got the Canon 85mm F1.2L II

  12. #12
    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Is pro kit necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by MiniChris View Post
    I have seen as many bad shots from a good Leica as I have seen good shots from a bad Nikon.
    Chris,

    You mean like these ones here?

    Not sure if this has gone around CiC yet or not, but it still makes me chuckle every time I watch it.

    - Bill

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Is pro kit necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by ktuli View Post
    You mean like these ones here?

    Not sure if this has gone around CiC yet or not, but it still makes me chuckle every time I watch it.
    Bill - Haven't seen that one before. Gorgeous.

  14. #14
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    Re: Is pro kit necessary?

    many interesting thoughts have been spent in this discussion, the matter isn't so easy. I think, from my point of view, that the old latin sentence "in medio stat virtus" (virtue stands in the middle) is once again valid. I'm quite proud to have purchased a medium grade kit, with which I try to grow up, and CiC helps me for sure. the growth will tell me if I've wasted my money!
    Firstly many thanks to Dave, and also many thanks to all of you for the answers to my question.
    Nicola

  15. #15
    Nass's Avatar
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    Re: Is pro kit necessary?

    That clip is PRICELESS =)

  16. #16

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    Re: Is pro kit necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nass View Post
    That clip is PRICELESS =)
    Slightly off topic, but some of the newer members may not have seen this Nikon classic:

    (warning, strong subtitles, but funny as heck!)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRzcC...eature=related

  17. #17
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Is pro kit necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Slightly off topic, but some of the newer members may not have seen this Nikon classic:
    That's definitely a 'tears-rolling-down-the-face' job.

  18. #18
    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Is pro kit necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Slightly off topic, but some of the newer members may not have seen this Nikon classic:

    (warning, strong subtitles, but funny as heck!)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRzcC...eature=related
    'He won't - those are for children.'

    Classic.

  19. #19
    rob marshall

    Re: Is pro kit necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by ktuli View Post
    Chris,

    You mean like these ones here?

    Not sure if this has gone around CiC yet or not, but it still makes me chuckle every time I watch it.

    - Bill
    Funny, but his shorts are even funnier.

  20. #20

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    Re: Is pro kit necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    That's definitely a 'tears-rolling-down-the-face' job.
    I know what you mean - I think that's one of the best jobs I've ever seen!

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