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05-17-2010, 07:28 AM   #1
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What do you say as a working photog to people who say its the photog, not the gear?

For me, i tell them to shoot hockey.

Chances are the next time i see them, they be carrying even bigger and faster lenses then i do.

A Pro knows the limits of the gear at hand and knows when to switch/upgrade as and when necessary because if dont get the shots, dont get the dough to pay the bills.

Telling people to shoot hockey is more effective imo compared to saying things people do not want to hear.

05-17-2010, 08:15 AM   #2
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The gear exists to meet the requirements.

This is why the system SLR is valuable: it is the closest thing we have to an all purpose, all situation camera. For most specialized needs, one can buy the specific pieces to make shooting practical or even possible.

Most other types of camera have their performance envelopes, where they excel, and they suck or don't work outside these envelopes.

But one of the results of the swiss-army-knife SLR is that people develop equipment fixations. We all know how that works: poring over specifications, convincing self that this additional expenditure will get me this feature or improvement... and before we know it, our budgets are bust. The world is full of amateurs with over-specified equipment that's overly costly and complex, for the very few times they'd actually need to push the envelope. Sort of like SUV's that never see off road, or even dirt road, or snow.

So you get your status-jockeys with expensive equipment. Many could be or develop into good photographers who understand and can use their stuff well. Many are not nor will develop - the lure of the next purchase is too much, the idea that equipment makes one a better photographer is constantly marketed...

Now, ice hockey. Give someone experienced with a good technique a camera that's less than ideal, and chances are they will make excellent photos with the limited gear. Give a tyro the fastest longest zoom and it will be 3 steps removed from a bunch of monkeys hitting shutter buttons... Give the experienced photog the better gear and you probably will get a greater variety of good photos... but the photos with the lesser gear won't necessarily be worse.


The working photog can also write off the nicer lens, or expense the rental of one. The amateur will have to deal with the wife at home
---

But I'm not a working photog, so take what I say accordingly.
05-17-2010, 08:32 AM   #3
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I never saw a Deuce Coup mechanic working with off brand pipe wrench is what I'd tell them. Those guys argue the virtues of Snap-on, Mac, Mat-co, and Cornwell and snicker how Crapsman is for serious amateur shade tree guys.
05-17-2010, 08:35 AM   #4
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I don't talk to idiots.....

05-17-2010, 09:39 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
I never saw a Deuce Coup mechanic working with off brand pipe wrench is what I'd tell them. Those guys argue the virtues of Snap-on, Mac, Mat-co, and Cornwell and snicker how Crapsman is for serious amateur shade tree guys.
Heehee. I have a friend like that. Though I can't say I don't know well that nice tools really do affect one's experience. (sniffing and hoping my antique chisels are happy somewhere. Gave them away when I thought the arthritis would never get better.)

As for photo things, I always say 'Professional gear is what you can make money on.' (And I despised shooting hockey. )

I had to learn pretty early on that serious/expensive gear is something that people who make lots of money at other things may well like and enjoy. (Sometimes without even being a jerk about it. )

Sometimes they will end up strutting around with over-specced gear that really isn't the best for what they're doing, but, hey, I also consider it a 'professional' attribute to know what you *don't* need.

It's kind of like. Hey, I was a 'professional cyclist.' Rode a stripped-down basic Fuji with a few parts upgrades. Passed suits in elevators who'd talk about wonderful three or four thousand dollar bikes they didn't get to ride. Lovely things, but sometimes less is more.

We have a lot of these discussions, here, but there's always been stuff like that. When I was younger, a lot of working pros would look down their noses at anyone with the temerity to shoot Canon or anything non-Nikon. Real badge-of-station sort of thing. People with no idea what they were doing would emulate this. 'Pro this pro that.' Like there's a real body of standards. But to some consumers, it's the nice thing they bought, kind of. Almost kind of flattering, in a way.

I guess this sort of thing has always been there.

Really, I'm sort of curious at the OP's phrasing. Has it actually turned around so that people figure having high-spec gear must actually mean you've got to be a poser? Interesting.

Maybe a good thing to say is, 'Yeah, and the photog needs to know what they need, and what they don't.'

Last edited by Ratmagiclady; 05-17-2010 at 09:47 AM.
05-17-2010, 10:01 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Reportage Quote
What do you say as a working photog to people who say its the photog, not the gear?
I'd smile and say "That's profound discernment."
05-17-2010, 12:27 PM   #7
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I just looked through a bunch of Pulitzer prize-winning photographs past and present. IMHO, it wasn't the ultimate lens or ultimate camera body that made the shot get the award. Subject, mood and composition dominated.
05-17-2010, 03:13 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
I just looked through a bunch of Pulitzer prize-winning photographs past and present. IMHO, it wasn't the ultimate lens or ultimate camera body that made the shot get the award. Subject, mood and composition dominated.
People don't live by 'award-winning' shots, though. If you're trying to live by it, you need as much to work at the right time as possible.

05-17-2010, 05:24 PM   #9
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Depends on who I'm talking to. I try to put it in terms that they understand.

"Yes, but Lance Armstrong couldn't win the Tour de France on a tricycle."

"Yes, but Valentino Rossi couldn't win a MotoGP race on a Harley."

"Yes, but Roger Federer couldn't win Wimbeldon with a racket he bought at Walmart."

etc...
05-17-2010, 05:30 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by johnmflores Quote
Depends on who I'm talking to. I try to put it in terms that they understand.

"Yes, but Lance Armstrong couldn't win the Tour de France on a tricycle."

"Yes, but Valentino Rossi couldn't win a MotoGP race on a Harley."

"Yes, but Roger Federer couldn't win Wimbeldon with a racket he bought at Walmart."

etc...

But if I used Roger Federer's non-Walmart racket, I still couldn't win at Wimbeldon. Both are important.
05-18-2010, 01:08 AM   #11
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Its when realize that walmart racket cant cut it for some of the moves that got you into wimbeldon and the only shot at the title is to have a racket suited for the player style of play.

It takes a good player to get into wimbledon, it takes a better player to know when its the gear thats the limiting factor.
05-18-2010, 02:38 AM   #12
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Some thoughs about equipment ...

QuoteOriginally posted by Ratmagiclady Quote
People don't live by 'award-winning' shots, though. If you're trying to live by it, you need as much to work at the right time as possible.
A tyro can take perfect photos occasionally - mostly due to luck, the semi-pro do it more often, and the pro have to come up with at least a few customer-acceptable shots every time! The chance is greater if you have equipment you know backwards and forward, equipment that gives similar results again and again - flaky AF, or AE, is not loved by anyone, so the pro normally wants manual over-rides!

My experience tells me that with almost anything you use, having a lot of skill goes a long, long way. And the pro needs equipment that works day after day, year round, no matter if it is outdoor equipment, wood working tools, cameras & lenses, or like me, an ex-thechnical illustrator, buses. Sadly, my employer can't afford the best buses on the market, nor pay the best money for their maintenance staff, or cleaners, so they get what they pay for.

Same is with my camera gear: It is now Pentax K-x, because it was what I could afford just then, when I moved up to DSLR. I combined the K-x with a Metz 58 AF-1 flash, and two Tamron zoom lenses. I don't consider any of it pro, except perhaps the flash.

Still, some of the best photos I've taken have been taken with my Konica KD-500, due to its rich colours (especially if set to EV -0.5, or so). It has a good macro, but it would never survive professional use (barely survived a few years of vacation use!).

I mainly photograph while outdoors, often on paddling expeditions/travels abroad, and with age I have assembled a lot of gear that works over and over - that which doesn't, I've scrapped (love MSR equipment, Kleppers, and Hilleberg). The K-x is just too new for me assess, but no complains as yet - excellent low light ability, that's for sure!

When I went to art school (in the mid 70s), we had a year when we were taught most there was to know about conventional photography, in studio and outdoors, by a few old pros, and that's when I learned that quality is important - cameras that wasn't top mechanical quality didn't survive the use by us teenagers, year after year.

They had had most models, of most makes, but the few that survived were kind of interesting: Hasselblads (including the SWC), Sinars, Leica M3s, (some 645 type - probably Pentax); plus the odd Canon, and Nikons. Other makes just didn't make it, period. The Nikons were very old, from the days they were all called Nikkormats; they never died - early 60s model, I guess, and a few Canon Pellix, which you probably never have heard of.

The weak spot in Canons in those days were the mirror mechanisms, that wore out fast, so Canon introduced, as a stop-gap measure, the Pellix, which had a fixed one-way mirror, just lightly coated with silver, so most of the light passed straight through to film, and just a little of it was reflected up into the penta-prism viewfinder.

You lost a step, or two, and the viewfinder was slightly darker than those in the Nikkormats, or that of my own 50's vintage Edixa - otherwise no problem.

I also happened to befriend a camera wizard, around then, who had a big camera repair shop, and did a lot of special adaptions of lenses of one make to fit on another - I had a tiny Olympus macro that fitted my Edixa and my Mamiya (M42 thread both).

In those days there was a lot of problems with the new Pentaxes, that tried to be as small and light as the Olympus OMs, but the gears inside the Olympuses were as hefty as ever. Sadly, that generation of Pentaxes used smaller gears than the earlier models, so just slightly stubborn film cassettes and a pair of powerful hands could easily ruin the gears - which lead to pros abandoning Pentaxes, as you never want a camera failure while on the job, do you?! So my friend had a lot of Pentax customers, but, sensibly, changed brand to Olympus himself!

I've met pros with a single faithful compact, I've met amateurs with a car full of camera equipment - who'm am I to say who takes the best pictures?!

I myself switched to DSLR mainly due to dust problems with my compacts - no way you can clean their innards yourself, is there!

And I'll stay away from Fujis (well, they do manufacture all modern Hasselblads - I could accept one of those)!

Hope there will be a K-8, or K-9, soon :-)! K-nine, sounds good :-)! Woof!
05-18-2010, 05:36 AM   #13
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It goes both ways. I've seen quite a few mediocre shots taken by folks using medium grade gear and I've seen many decent shots taken with truly pedestrian gear. It always comes back to balance. The trap here is a person can fall into the belief that, either way, past results are indicative of future expectations.

I've found that when I tell people that the well known photographers over the years used gear that would easily cost $10k today they're often stunned.
05-18-2010, 05:55 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
I never saw a Deuce Coup mechanic working with off brand pipe wrench is what I'd tell them. Those guys argue the virtues of Snap-on, Mac, Mat-co, and Cornwell and snicker how Crapsman is for serious amateur shade tree guys.
Yeah, but having rebuilt more than one engine in my youth, I can say that if all you need is a half-inch socket, and you don't pull an engine every day, the Sears version works just fine. The problem comes when you start showing off the shop, rather than the work.

I'm no working pro, either, but I do get that to shoot a hockey game or an executive portrait on site, you need proper and specialized equipment. As a working pro, you need a level of reliability that is far and above the use by an amateur. However, most tyros like me do need to fight the urge to get hung up on getting equipment to do those special jobs when we mostly take the kind of photos for which cameras have been made for a century, and instead concentrate on trying to bring something that remotely approximates skill or creativity to the subject. When I hear the level at which some folks turn up their nose at a lens, I do hope that the work that their results really justify the scrutiny.
05-18-2010, 09:23 AM   #15
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Oh, I remember the Pellix. Actually the half-silvered mirror and all gave certain advantages for other things, as well: no need for MLU with tripod work, for instance, which made it very good for a lot of technical/scientific applications. (The FT was really popular for this kind of thing, too, thanks to a nice MLU: you could get a meter booster for either.)

You'd also get zero mirror-induced shake, which wasn't bad.
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