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01-16-2007, 07:43 AM   #1
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O.K... so what EXACTLY is a "PRO' DSLR?

I read some reviews of different cameras and checked out the specs etc.
Besides the price, what make a camera a "pro" camera?
I do know that some of the pro cameras have faster frame rates per second.... but beyond this, what is the real differences?
At one time I used to think weather resistance was one of them, but the K10 broke that mold.
I thought bigger sensor.... but Nikon doesn't have full frame sensors.
Mega pixels.... well we all know the story that more doesn't mean better.

any thoughts?

could be room for a good debate here...

cheers

randy

01-16-2007, 07:55 AM   #2
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There are lots of possible (some spurious) answers: right make, degree of support... I have a story though that, while very out of date, might put some cats among pigeons...

A few years ago I was talking to a professional photographer. At the time all I was trying to do was to persuade him to hold some handouts in his studio about our camera club in case any of his clients showed an interest in taking photographs. We got talking and he was very interested to know about digital cameras (this was probably 6 or 7 years ago).

I had a fairly advanced compact digital for the time, so I gave him some tips, and suggested some high-end models he might like to consider. He said he wasn't ready to "go digital" and scanning backs for medium format weren't on the cards because of price. He was interested in something he could use as a subsidiary camera, maybe taking trial shots or additional shots that he might not have got with his film camera.

I don't remember exactly what was available at the time, but I suggested a high resolution compact - something like those IXOS derived Canons. It would fit in his pocket, he could pull it out when the need arose and take some pretty good quality shots.

It turned out that this didn't interest him. He had seen a previous generation Sony, low resolution even for then, marked down in some shop or other. Obviously price was a factor, but why was he interested in it? Because it was large, and would look serious (to non-photographers). In the end he was just as interested in neck jewellery and image as the most vain of us amateurs!

Simon

Last edited by Simon; 01-16-2007 at 08:09 AM. Reason: correct typos
01-16-2007, 08:10 AM   #3
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A pro camera is a camera that's used by someone who makes all or part of their living making photographs.

Pros have gone around using some pretty unlikely equipment, sometimes for special effects or sometimes because they like them.

Pentax LX, Nikon F series, and the expensive Canons are marketed as "pro" cameras. But lots of pros use whatever is handy and will do the job.

Most professionals require a reliable camera that produces consistent results. I make a good part of my living off Pentax equipment. Not the medium format stuff (I use Mamaiya) but MX's and the K10D. My friend in New York switched from an RZ67 to the Mamaiya 645, for the digital back.

I shot weddings in the 1970's with a Hasselblad 500C, I hated the camera, I hate Hasselblads, and won't use them if I can get hold of something else. This is heresy to most people, but there you go!
01-16-2007, 08:22 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by slipchuck Quote
I read some reviews of different cameras and checked out the specs etc.
Besides the price, what make a camera a "pro" camera?
I do know that some of the pro cameras have faster frame rates per second.... but beyond this, what is the real differences?
At one time I used to think weather resistance was one of them, but the K10 broke that mold.
I thought bigger sensor.... but Nikon doesn't have full frame sensors.
Mega pixels.... well we all know the story that more doesn't mean better.

any thoughts?

could be room for a good debate here...

cheers

randy
First of all I am not a pro and possibly I am not the right person to judge that…
I think though, that it’s all about a pro system and not just about a pro body.
And I suspect that actually it is not the system’s features, which make it pro but the pros preferences… Who could claim that K10D or even *ist DS are not pro bodies if many pros would chose them for their work?
Recently, I had a conversation with a pro that he wanted to get a new body for his work. He was looking for something better that the ones he currently owned. He preferred a 10MP sensor but he didn’t want to spend the large amount of money required for such canon body… So he started to try other brands including Sony. The reason! The lenses he owns from Minolta system… Of course he got really disappointed with A100 quality and after that he started looking for a Nikon body and some second hand lenses… When I asked him why he is not considering Pentax K10D for his choice he answered he owned no lenses/flashes for that system, that it is very hard to get good ones at second hand and his choices for new ones wouldn’t do or would exceed the budget he had in mind… I don’t blame him. He is a very busy guy and he need to get the work as fast as it can get without any additional worries or obstacles to what he is doing for a living…

01-16-2007, 09:44 AM   #5
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First, I want to say that I think somebody with a good eye can get great results out of just about anything; a K110D would be just as effective at capturing a shot as a Nikon D200.

But, from what it appears to me (and I'm no pro; I'm barely an amateur), the pro level cameras have many more controls on the body. Where on my K100D I have to go into menus to access some options, a "pro" camera might have those controls at the press of a button. You're more likely, once you know the system well, to capture a moment at the right settings. A war photographer has to be able to grab an image in a split second.

I would also assume pro cameras to have faster or more accurate AF (again, grabbing that image NOW). Larger memory buffers (continuous shooting) and sturdier construction would also be important for somebody who runs around in substandard conditions, catching shots as they can.

For most non-pros, paying the extra for those things is just a waste of money. Having buttons and dials all over the camera body might be convenient, but it is also confusing for somebody who doesn't use the camera every day (low wife acceptance factor). Fast AF is nice, but paying $300 for the privilege might not be as attractive as a telephoto zoom lens. Large memory buffers aren't remotely an issue for vacation or family photos; 3 or 4 shots in succession is generally plenty. Full shock resistance can be nice (lest the kids knock it off the table), but do you want to haul a 2.5lb (1kg) camera (not counting lenses, spare batteries, etc.) around Disney World for a few days? I doubt it.

When it comes down to it, for my own purposes, the K100D is just plenty, and while a K10D might be nice, it is definitely overkill. Sure, there's always the "impress the neighbors" factor, but even a Nikon D2Xs is worthless if it is so expensive you can't afford it, so heavy you don't take it, or so complicated you can't use it.

I saw a wedding photographer a week ago using a Sony Alpha. If the happy couple doesn't get some good stuff out of that, it wasn't because of the camera the photographer was using. My own wedding photographer used a Canon EOS 20D (IIRC; might have been a 10D). Our photos were unbelievably great.
01-16-2007, 11:12 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by slipchuck Quote
Besides the price, what make a camera a "pro" camera?
An interesting question and I, too, would be grateful to hear answers from people who actually know what they're talking about, unlike me. :-)

I do know that a pro friend of mine some years ago abandoned his film system completely in favor of a Nikon digital camera whose model I can't recall. It was not a digital SLR, I know that. So in one sense, a pro camera is a camera used by a pro. I've spent a lot of money on my K100D and lenses, and I'm only just beginning to figure out how to take pictures as good as (on rare occasions, better than) those I took with my "prosumer" Canon S3 IS.

Anyway, it's interesting to compare the specs of these two cameras: the Pentax K100D and the Nikon 2DX, which costs about ten times as much as the K100D. My impression is that both cameras offer similar, in many cases nearly identical, core functionality. Shooting outdoors with good light, a cooperative subject, lenses whose quality is comparable, and equally competent photographers, I feel pretty certain that photos taken by the two cameras would be virtually indistinguishable. Indeed, in those conditions, I think you could throw in a good non-DSLR camera like the Canon S3 IS and embarrass the pros.

BUT - and for pros, I'm sure it's a big, um, well, never mind - the pro camera is designed to provide for situations that are not ideal or easy shooting, and to support a more varied range of uses. In other words, you would move from a hobbyist DSLR like the K100D to a "pro" DSLR for the same reasons that you (well, I) moved from a serious hobbyist fixed-lens camera to the DSLR - not to make the easy shots easier or better (which doesn't happen) but to give you more options for the hard or challenging shots. I should add that my emphasis on the shots is not quite fair, as the Nikon 2DX has other features (GPS, superior metadata support, support for more output file-formats) that are not strictly part of the capture of the original image. And I'm sure those things matter to the pros, as well.

I also strongly suspect that the profit margin on the high-end cameras is MUCH greater than the profit-margin on the low-end DSLRs. So, you might pay ten times as much to get a camera that is only five times better (if you can imagine measuring such things neatly).

Will
01-16-2007, 12:15 PM   #7
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There's always the Law of Diminishing Returns at work. Past a certain point, the amount of extra features/capability/etc. stops keeping pace with added cash infusion. For some, the added cash spent is worth it. Not so for most, but for some. Also, I believe you are very correct that the profit margin on the higher end is significantly larger than on the lower end.

And looking over that D2x review, it seems to support what I have read- that "pro" level camera bodies have more controls and settings available at the press of a button. While those of us with the "pedestrian" K100D can adjust the white balance and ISO settings, we have to delve into menus to get that done; the D2x does it at the press of a button (and many more settings right at your fingers). The price of that means the camera gets into the "honking huge" size class. The D2x looks like something that, if you go from being a photographer to a participant, you could use to beat an attacking animal to death out on safari.

Most people using a camera to record memories and a few artsy shots just can't justify spending the extra money for those features, and don't want to take the time learning to use them. That isn't a bad thing, it isn't a good thing- it is just a description of reality.
01-16-2007, 02:39 PM   #8
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There are two ways to distinguish a "pro" camera.

First is marketing. If it is marketed as a pro camera then it is a pro camera. Because of this reason the K10D is not a pro camera, but the Samsung GX-10 is.

Second is price. Pro cameras cost more than other cameras. This is done so that when a pro shows up to a job you can tell him apart from the other photogs, those with limited budgets or more common sense. A pro will always scoff at non-pro cameras. This is actually a self defense mechanism because after looking at some of the cameras the hobbyists brought and seeing the images they got he just realized he spent too much money and now must justify this to his accountant.

On a serious note: I don't think any camera is professional. People are professionals, cameras are tools.

01-16-2007, 04:47 PM   #9
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the top tier nikon and canon, labeled as pro camera's are called such mostly in part to the abuse that their intended users will give it. they use it 100x over than we use ours. they get dropped, banged around, etc, etc.....

they are also faster in all aspects, cuz their users require them to be....
cant be covering sports w/ 1 fps now can you.....

not so much as the power of these things...i mean you cant be a pro if you buy pro gear...still have to know how to use it.

also, they mostly dont buy their equipment (at least the ones that work for papers)....

there are more sides to pro gear. most do use that stuff, but model and studio work, mostly see medium to large format....

i've seen "pro's" use all sorts of cameras...they know how to use them..thats why they are pros...only real reason pro's stick w/ the big 2..(canon eos 1, and nikon d2) is because they were engineered around for what they need these camera's to be....

think of it as race cars vs their production counterparts....

at least thats how i see pro gear as...
01-16-2007, 05:30 PM   #10
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"O.K... so what EXACTLY is a "PRO' DSLR?"

A popular myth----if you gotta ask then you ain't got one
or can't afford it
or both.

See final line of post by "davemdsn".
01-16-2007, 06:37 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by slipchuck Quote
any thoughts?

could be room for a good debate here...

cheers

randy
For sports, frame rate is immensly important. Much more so then megapixels. The images in the paper are just a few megs when shot with a Nikon D1H or D2Hs the later which is state of the art and only 4MP but fast.

Now the Canon 1Ds m2n is fast @ 8fps and thats at full resolution but unless you are using a $7000 camera without a $5000 lens there is no need for all those pixels even for a 2 page magazine bleed.

Pro's need a durable body. metal is typically considered more durable. I kinda agree based on the durability of my program series pentax. I beat the crap out of that little camera and other then a few dents it looks great.

Pro's don't use a flash (on camera) not because it's not useful but because it's a point of weakness to the camera.

lots of manual control. film or digital being able to overide everything is important.

many other things i'm thinking of off hand but most importantly, it's the system. the complete system.

Canon made a decision a long time ago to go after the professional photojournalist. if you look at it's system it's designed for professional photo journalist, rather then hobbyist and lens quality freaks.

the L series lenses are nice. they are mechanically incredible for AF lenses. but optically not many are better then Pentax, Minolta, Olympus, or Nikons offerings. The difference is they are fast aperture, fast AF, silent, zooms. And that is what professional journalist need.

to compliment the readily available high end lenses, Nikon and Canon and are on sight at most professional sporting events. The result is if your Canon camera or Nikon breaks they will be able to loan you a body or lens ASAP.

The flash systems are equally good and variable.

While I'd love to see Pentax make a run towards the prosumer with higher end bodies and longer fast lenses, I don't want pentax to lose it's place. To me pentax is high end enough to use professionally, but it's niche is sort of like Leicas. people shoot it for fun, and look for different things, like high quality primes, pancakes, and small bodies.

The PZ-1P, ist D, and K10D definitely can be (and I have used) for professional work but having a better lens selection at the long end, and a better AF system (when the SSM lenses arrive this should be fixed) would be helpful for sports and faster action journalism.
01-16-2007, 06:38 PM   #12
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A pro camera has a black body. It is too heavy, has too many buttons, and is too expensive. It also takes way better pictures, but I think I'm just going to skimp and buy this here $99 dollar special (it'll take good pictures too, right?!), and if I get into this whole photography thing I might get something better. Besides, the lens on that camera comes off, and I would just break it anyway.

I'll see you in a few years, and demand that you sell me Smart Media or 16mb CF cards that I know you're just hiding from me. Can't I get a discount? It's raining.

...I love retail. I love retail. I love retail.


I've got a story for y'all.

I once had a customer, who couldn't tell me the model number or make of camera he had, guess that he had a canon sd400 and wanted me to show him accessories for it. Okay, okay. We didn't carry the sd400--the oldest and cheapest Elph we had was the sd600, and I tell the customer that we don't carry any proprietary accessories for most p&s cameras. My store has batteries (AA's at least) and memory cards (SD, Sony MS, PRO& DUO, xD, CF), and that's about it. There are some things we can order, but I developed a list of online suppliers for the cooler things that I gave to customers who came in looking for that stuff.

This particular customer got silent for a second, snorted, and then demanded to know where we kept our filters. Sensing that I had trouble on my hands, I showed him the UVs and circular polarizers, and left him to it, wondering for a second how he could possibly attach even a small SLR filter to a p&s. He could wander up and down the aisles until he found what he was looking for or figured out how to describe it. I don't mess with people who are already a bit ticked.

I was helping other folks while this guy came back and sought out my coworker. Dan is a bit more patient than I am sometimes, but he was actually able to suss out exactly which camera the guy had. This guy thanks Dan, and waits for me, so he can stick his nose in the air and tell me that he "bought a new pro camera," and "its okay--I understand that girls don't know much about them."

Dan looks down again at the camera, and then says to the customer, "actually sir, this girl has been published, and she used an analog version of this type of camera to take the shots. However, as the manufacturer of the camera you purchased lists it as an entry-level DSLR, it should be PERFECT for a beginner like you."


I didn't really mean to hijack this thread, but I generally maintain that any camera in the hands of a photographer with enough attitude to call themselves a pro (with the caveat that someone will believe it) is a pro camera. Top shelf Canons and Nikons are frequently referenced as pro cams, because they are generally the ones in the hands of working professionals. However, also consider that both companies have enough of the market to give away full setups to the photographers, or more commonly, the outfits the professionals shoot for. It's pretty cheap marketing if you can get enough cameras out there to make a sea of ubiquitous white lenses on the sidelines of sporting events, have lengthy lists of outlets using your equipment, etc.

Last edited by bdavis; 01-16-2007 at 06:48 PM.
01-16-2007, 07:13 PM   #13
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The word "pro" should be referred to the photographer rather than the camera gear.

With my work exposure to a lot of photography lecturers and photographers, it is not the gear that makes anyone professional. It is what they do that makes them pro . At the same time, being a pro does not mean every picture being captured would be artistic and delightful. It depends what kind of pro they are!

I knew an entomology professor in Melbourne Australia and his major interest is only in Mantig. He spent his last 35 years travelling and photographying mantigs - he knows the habitates, how to capture them in photos, what mantigs eat, most of all, he got a HUGE image photo collections of all kinds of mantigs.

So you want a booked published about mantig or you want to host a show regarding wonder of mantig. Where do you go and find images of rare mantig and consult service from? Of course he is the man. The first 20 years of his mantig photographs are done by point and shoot cameras. But he is still a PRO.

Another example is about a photography journalist. Of course, there are different kinds of photojournalist out there with various intent to make their own living. Some only need to be there at the right time, getting the headshot in time for next day morning newspaper to be published for news etc. As long as the headshot is in focus and clear, the pro is a pro because he has the ways of getting the shot: connections, tips, inside news, priviledge etc, This is called a pro as well because he can get the shots at right time at a right place.

A lot of pros told me that serious amateurs are actually more likely to produce interesting beautiful creative images than pros. Pros had to make a living by taking photographs to satisfy their own clients - not necessarily artistic or beautiful. Their intent is to satisfy their clients to make a living, renewing contracts etc.

Lucky I do not have to make a living in photography and thank God for that. Pro cameras or Pro lenses are market jargons. I know an old neighbour being a pro for social documetary purpose still using old pentax film SLR. His images are still amazing even he already retired decades ago!

James

Last edited by roentarre; 01-16-2007 at 11:38 PM.
01-16-2007, 07:19 PM   #14
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Very True

What you said above (bdavis) is very true.

The people employed by papers usually don't buy the equipment they use for the stuff in the paper or magazine.

part of that (i think with digital especially) are the rights to the photo. if the photo is taken on company equipment the company owns it. with negatives it was simply our film our photo.

anyway, you're right. when you see many pros shooting at a major event the camera they are using is probably the company camera.

stringers, freelancers, wedding photogs, and indepents typically buy there own stuff.

however, there are many many many working pros that are essentially freelancers. they are part of NPS and CPS (nikon and canon professional services) and that gets them priority on repairs, replacements and on site loaners.

the people that amaze me are the people that can't shoot worth a !@#$ but think they are hot stuff because of the model of jewerly they are wearing around there neck.

the best camera is the one that is capable of getting the shot. Many times that might be a D2xs or a 1Ds but there are many times I'd prefer not to have to carry 10lbs of camera where 5lbs will do just fine. the K10D is significantly heavier then most of pentax recent offerings, and just a little smaller without grip then my favorite camera the PZ-1P but it's still svelt compared to a D200 or a 1D, or D1/2X.

the other people that pee me off are the editors that discriminate against a brand. people have said to me "it's not that you shoot pentax, it's just that most pros use canon or nikon" thats the most retarded logic.
01-16-2007, 07:19 PM   #15
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I agree with the comments that "Pro" applies to the photographer not the camera.. Therefore a Pro DSLR is a DSLR used by a "Pro", whatever DSLR that may be...
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