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09-16-2008, 04:05 AM   #1
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what makes a pro camera

since getting the k20d + grip been thinking more and more that this camera is doing everything I want it to do. So being photokina time and new announcement time I think what new features do I want to see released and for me I'm struggling to say (I fully respect some people need more fps, but personally I dont, please dont make this a thread just about that). I also intend for the thread to be a littlehearted and hopefully noone will get worked up

anyway replacement k20d thread in news and rumors has got to the point of discussing pro camera and categories of camera. so we have the 'entry levels' then the d80 / 40d / k20d / d300 mid ones (which some people break into 2 groups) and then the d3 / 1ds / MF etc 'pro cameras'. But what defines a "pro" camera?

personally some of my best selling images are taken with a *ist ds and one of two $25 lenses from the 2nd hand store. I am selling / licencing images taken with *ist ds / k100d / k10d and k20d. Ben / Mark Dima and others use k10d / k20d so it is not the ability to produce a 'professional' or saleable image.

nikon d2x and d3 are 12mp and pro, d300 is not, canon 5d usually is but not always, fuji have a pro 6mp, nikon had a pro 4mp, blad h3d is pro (duh), sony 24mp is a probably, really megapixels are all over the place so not mp.

noise - d2x although old is still pro and it is a noise master so not noise, it is also apsc and olympus e3 usually is pro but has smaller than apsc sensor so not sensor size

1dsmkII is 4fps, less than later entry level cameras but still pro. Most MF max out 1FPS, so not fps (except maybe in specialist "pro sport" cameras)

plenty can take a grip, so it is not a battery grip. k200d has weather sealing so not that.

50d has 1/8000 shutter but adv amatuer / semi pro, metering methods, number of af points all vary.

1dsmkii (again discontinued but still considered pro) has max iso1600, many mf is 400 etc

By many reports (and I haven't used them or taken much notice) canon's 1dsmkiii and the 10fps camera (I can remember whats it called ) have had lots of af problems, so not af system?

so about all I can find in common for 'pro' cameras is that they use compactflash (rather than sd), there big and heavy, they are expensive and the companies marketing department says they are 'pro' cameras

so if pentax puts a k20d in a bigger body with compactflash slot and charges say $5000 for it and finally says it is a pro camera. would it be a 'pro' camera?

Anyway with the above in mind (ie its not sensor size, its not fps, its not mp, etc) what would pentax need to put in a camera that would define it as pro? is there something dumb and obvious that I am missing?

Phil

09-16-2008, 04:28 AM   #2
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To be quite honest (IMO) it's the person behind the camera body which make it "pro"

D
09-16-2008, 04:36 AM   #3
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you have left out the actual processor in each camera - thats where you will find the biggest differences, in my opinion, between the "pro" cameras and the rest.


just a thought.
09-16-2008, 05:40 AM   #4
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My first thought was also that it's the photographer that's a pro, not the camera. However, let's be honest, if a professional is making money from photography they're going to lean towards the most highly-specced camera they can afford which can do the job they want. So by default it would be the highest-specced camera in each companies' range.

My second thought was that it could be the LENS that makes the professional, not so much the camera. Especially if you have a broad product range. For Nikon, you might use the 300D, 700D, or 3D or any of their direct predecessors and any of those would be professional, especially if they had (say) a 70-200mm f2.8 ratcheted onto the front.

Marketing also plays a part, because when companies make their cameras they must give some thought as to who the likely users are and what they would use those cameras for, to try to work on the facets most important. Sports? Frames per second and ISO. Fashion? Detail and low noise. To an extent, this allows you to take a look at the people using the cameras professionally and tally the users and the cameras they've chosen.

So… what does this mean from a Pentax perspective? Pentaxes can be used professionally (there is an example on this site) and this is more likely to come in fields where high-ISO and framerate are not as important. I think one downside for Pentax is that these are simply not as 'visible' as the larger group of people you see at sporting events and press galleries with the C & N logos.

09-16-2008, 06:03 AM   #5
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^ this is why I want Pentax to pursue the fashion and other industries where fps and 600mm 2.8 lenses aren't needed. they have the partner (samsung) to help develop the best sensors available. (one can already see the fruits of this partnership with the K20D's sensor) and they have the experience in building lightweight, compact camera bodieas and lenses. and they have always had the MF game. an LX type camera with interchangable finders developed for this type of industry I think could skyrocket Pentax to the 'pro' level. they dont need sports (not that one cant do sports with a Pentax) and I think they could be seen as #1. they need to recapture what they had with the 6x7 back in the day. and they need to promote these type of photographers who use their equipment, like they did with Sam Haskins in the 60's and 70's.
09-16-2008, 06:53 AM   #6
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I have a 4x5 which i've used for portraiture, but i'm no pro by any means

It has none of the features mentioned above either.

fps depends on how fast i can change the holders, i've never timed myself LOL
09-16-2008, 08:37 AM   #7
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Enough talking. Let's see your photos! :-)
09-16-2008, 08:39 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by dylansalt Quote
To be quite honest (IMO) it's the person behind the camera body which make it "pro"

D
Not trying to be rude, but this statement is very overused. Certainly the skill and knowledge of the "person behind the camera" is crucial. Give a novice or unskilled person the best camera and they can not duplicate what a Pro does. However, even the best pro's, in all professions, use the best tools they can get.

A good carpenter can hack together a job with minimal and inferior tools, better than I could, but give him quality pro grade tools and the fit and finish will be much superior.

So lets not underestimate the importance of the camera specs ...although not all specs are required for all disciplines, a landscaper photographer doesn't need 8 fps but a sports photographer might. Conversely, the sports photographer may not need as high a resolution as the landscaper photographer. But, to some degree manufacturers try to be all things to all people but certainly seem to target the PJ more with the high frame rates etc. but everyone can use better focusing, IQ and a build quality that can take day in and day out use.

09-16-2008, 08:49 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by MikePerham Quote
Not trying to be rude, but this statement is very overused. Certainly the skill and knowledge of the "person behind the camera" is crucial. Give a novice or unskilled person the best camera and they can not duplicate what a Pro does. However, even the best pro's, in all professions, use the best tools they can get.

A good carpenter can hack together a job with minimal and inferior tools, better than I could, but give him quality pro grade tools and the fit and finish will be much superior.

So lets not underestimate the importance of the camera specs ...although not all specs are required for all disciplines, a landscaper photographer doesn't need 8 fps but a sports photographer might. Conversely, the sports photographer may not need as high a resolution as the landscaper photographer. But, to some degree manufacturers try to be all things to all people but certainly seem to target the PJ more with the high frame rates etc. but everyone can use better focusing, IQ and a build quality that can take day in and day out use.
Deja Vu!!! The professional uses the best equipment because they can, not because they necessarily need to.

Carpentry needs high quality finish because thats what people look for. When you sell to a magazine they will reduce it to 6mp anyway, and all your CA and noise dont mean anything to an editor (apart from the really smart ones)

in intense situations such as sport, band photography and a few types of wildlife photography there is pressure on high speed cameras (including the lens!), but apart from that you can get away with using any equipment.


I think the important thing is not the photographer, not the camera, but the subject. Its all about finding opportunities, and the photographer is fundamentally relying on the beauty of the world, and finding that beauty. If you dont have an interesting subject to photograph, you dont have anything.

I heard a quote recently, which i might not entirely agree with, but its interesting nonetheless

Amateurs worry about sharpness
Professionals worry about bills and getting paid
Photographers worry about light
09-16-2008, 09:33 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by dylansalt Quote
To be quite honest (IMO) it's the person behind the camera body which make it "pro"

D
You took the words right out of my mouth.

I've seen amazing, photos published in national magazines that were taken by "professional" photographers using cheap plastic 35mm film cameras.

A "pro camera" is whatever camera the "pro" happens to be using. Same thing goes for the lens or any other part of the photographer's kit.
09-16-2008, 09:39 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by JJJPhoto Quote
You took the words right out of my mouth.

I've seen amazing, photos published in national magazines that were taken by "professional" photographers using cheap plastic 35mm film cameras.

A "pro camera" is whatever camera the "pro" happens to be using. Same thing goes for the lens or any other part of the photographer's kit.
links please.
09-16-2008, 09:43 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by JJJPhoto Quote
A "pro camera" is whatever camera the "pro" happens to be using. Same thing goes for the lens or any other part of the photographer's kit.
But then what makes a "pro" a pro, and not an amateur or hobbyist?

(no need to answer this btw, there's plenty of threads already)
09-16-2008, 10:37 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by pop4 Quote
But then what makes a "pro" a pro, and not an amateur or hobbyist?

(no need to answer this btw, there's plenty of threads already)
Thank you... that dead horse has been beat to death and resurrected countless times just to be beaten to death again...
09-16-2008, 10:49 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by MikePerham Quote
Not trying to be rude, but this statement is very overused. Certainly the skill and knowledge of the "person behind the camera" is crucial. Give a novice or unskilled person the best camera and they can not duplicate what a Pro does. However, even the best pro's, in all professions, use the best tools they can get.

A good carpenter can hack together a job with minimal and inferior tools, better than I could, but give him quality pro grade tools and the fit and finish will be much superior.

So lets not underestimate the importance of the camera specs ...although not all specs are required for all disciplines, a landscaper photographer doesn't need 8 fps but a sports photographer might. Conversely, the sports photographer may not need as high a resolution as the landscaper photographer. But, to some degree manufacturers try to be all things to all people but certainly seem to target the PJ more with the high frame rates etc. but everyone can use better focusing, IQ and a build quality that can take day in and day out use.
Well, if a sports photographer wanted the fastest camera, the 12 fps full frame film models would get more shots. Many sports photographers were reluctant to shift to digital because of: 1) Noise (digital is far more obvious than film dye) and , 2) Slower fps.

Yet the industry has moved decisively towards digital not because it is the "best" in terms of IQ or speed, but in terms of cost per image and versatility. There is also a trend given the much higher MP cameras to use wider angles with an emphasis on cropping and not super-expensive, fast lenses.

True high-end "pro" landscape photographers use larger formats; and most still use film. I watched National Geographic photographers do a set in Guatemala using 20 year-old large and medium format film cameras because digital is still not there yet for the depth and IQ. They used digital cameras to frame and spec the shots, but they used budget, lower end models for the set-up. The "real" pictures were taken with something far beyond what this forum discusses (usually). Larger format digital backs are still too expensive and the adoption rate is slower in that field, but gaining critical traction.

It is not always the most specced out digital camera that creates the better shot for the pro. Many of the top pros master older equipment and fine tune it rather than jumping on newer, flashier models.
09-16-2008, 11:22 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gooshin Quote
links please.
A Holga photograph of Al Gore taken by photographer David Burnett during Gore's presidential campaign earned the top prize in 2001 at the White House News Photographers' Association.

Photographer Nancy Rexroth shot most (if not all) of her famous images from her "IOWA" series using a plastic "Diana" toy camera ... and Rexroth claimed to have taken many of the photos with her eyes CLOSED.

Eric Lindbloom has a ton of published, award-winning work with Diana plastic toy cameras. His book "Angels at the Arno" was photographed exclusively with the horrible plastic cameras.

Amazon.com: Angels at the Arno (Imago Mundi Book): Eric Lindbloom: Books

If you do a search online you'll also find many, MANY fine-art galleries that have exhibitions with photos from photographers who used Holga or Diana plastic cameras. Some of those fine art photographers made more money from one exhibition selling prints from worthless plastic cameras than I made after six months of hard work last year.

On a somewhat related note, check out the work by Alex Majoli. Majoli is one of the Magnum Photo Agency's best young photographers and has won many of the most prestigious awards in photojournalism ... using cheap point-and-shoot digital cameras. Many of Majoli's award-winning photos were taken with the Olympus C-5050 point-and-shoot digital camera.

Now, having said all that, as a working photographer I am perfectly aware that sometimes we find ourselves in specific situations where we need a specific feature in a camera or lens in order to create an image in a specific way. However, my experience is that most of the time equipment doesn't matter as much as the photographer.

Most of the motor sports photographers I know use multiple cameras that are capable of continuous bursts of more than 5fps, but they use cameras like that only to give them a "safety net." If you have two or three cameras firing at 5+fps then you have a higher likelihood of getting the shot you "need" for the front page of the newspaper. Still, that doesn't mean it's impossible to get "the money shot" with a single camera that only shoots at 1fps.
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