a (fashion) shooter

the “upgrade”

by on Apr.09, 2009, under cameras

Some thoughts in response to whether or not to upgrade from the Canon system to medium format digital. The Medium format systems typically cost $25K and up when camera, back, and lenses are included. One could easily spend $60K or more on a new system. The below is in response to a conversation on LL where some photographers were comparing  (at 100% zooms in photoshop) the various pros and cons of the systems…

“I think it’s humorous reading about these differences and comparisons between cameras. Of course I don’t shoot huge landscapes for a living, but I do wonder just how many people in the world are in fact making a good living at it. I can think of not one of my hundreds of favorite images over the years which would have improved from more “micro-detail.” I am talking about my own work, prints I see in galleries, magazines, museums, etc., etc. 

I believe there are micro-differences, but I believe that these have little to do with the goodness of an image. I mean seriously, go over to your bookshelf, flip through the pages of some of your coffee table tomes, and tell me what you see. How many would have much greater impact with 20% more detail?

And as has been said many times, do what your business requires. Have your clients ever asked for more micro-detail? Do they even see it? Do they care? I use a variely of camera formats from 4×5 to polaroid to 5D2s. Just the 5D Mark I cameras have earned me 6 figures per year for the past several years, without any complaints from clients. One client had their best sales day ever during the economic meltdown just this past November – with sales exceeding $1.1 million on the Monday following Thanksgiving. The ads were all shot with the lowly 5D, with no complaints about micro detail or anything else. (and no moire either ;-))

I know that in terms of investing in my business, spending on plane tickets makes a lot more sense and will better my portfoilios to a MUCH greater degree than spending huge amounts on cameras.

I think about it this way: given my portfolios as they are today – if I were to have shot everything inside with a 40 or 60mp back, they would essentially look the same. Now if I had spent that same $30K or so on traveling, hiring talented stylists, locations, models, there would be a huge difference in my portfolios. $30K sends me on a lot of trips, and could potentially transform my portfolios. In my experience, what you put in front of your camera is 95% of the battle. The camera itself: 5%.”

6 comments for this entry:
  1. Topics about Magazines » the “upgrade”

    […] a fashion shooter added an interesting post today on the â […]

  2. stiksandstones

    I sent a link to a commercial shooter I work for often, the link was a from calumet for a free 2 day demo of a $45k MF digital camera. Thought he might want to try it…
    He replied “I don’t have time to test that thing out, I am busy making 10grand a day shooting this job on my 1ds3, thanks though!”

  3. willc

    This is the nature of the beast when it comes to public forums. For every one respected contributor there are 9 more who will give their opinions without any first hand knowledge. you just got to filter out that 90% that doesn’t apply (I call it nonsense) and enjoy the posts from people like you.

  4. BillTheCat

    I’m a big fan of Medium format. The clients typically won’t care though. But I think you have your prices too high. Leaf has some lower prices now: http://www.leaf-photography.com/usa/ If you add a Mamiya and a few lenses you won’t be spending too much. You could have a used Aptus 22 and Mamiya for a similar price of a 1Ds3 setup. Personally I don’t care that much about the number of pixels, medium format tends to have better color and a nicer feeling from the larger sensor. But MF is slow and troublesome compared to a Canon.

  5. AFS

    Hi Bill, thanks for your comments. The reason I said $30K is that I have tried the Mamiya, and like many people, I don’t really like it. The Hasselblad kits now start at $15K, and with a few lenses (at $2000-3000 each) some accessories and tax, you are around $30K. And that is the entry level back. They only go up from there. Of course, one can go on ebay any buy used for cheaper…

  6. Canon 5d Mark II | John Robert Pennington Photography

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