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"Pro"

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by cucco, Feb 17, 2011.

  1. cucco

    cucco Mu-43 Regular

    129
    Dec 28, 2010
    I'm always interested to read this word used in context.

    The word itself connotes the use of an item for the fulfillment of a profession. On this forum, I see folks suggesting they wish either Oly or Pan would release a "Pro" m4/3 body or "Pro" m4/3 lenses. On other photo related sites, I see folks refer to one camera body as "pro," yet another camera body (often decremented by 1 model number) as "not pro," or "consumer," or "amateur." In photo magazines such as Pop Photo, I see a slider scale that rates a camera on a level between amateur and pro.

    I have to other professions in addition to my day job. I'm an active freelance classical musician (horn player) and own a recording facility. In both of these communities, the term "pro" is used (and abused) repeatedly as well.

    In recording gear, folks are constantly asking which microphones or audio interfaces or software or cables or blah, blah, blah are "pro." My answer to most of them is - I can get the job done and sell the final product using any of that gear. So....to me, it counts as pro.

    In the horn playing world, students and amateurs constantly seek a "professional" instrument. Yet musicians that are truly "pros" do not seek an instrument for its "pro" status or rating. Rather, they pick the instrument that allows them to freely express themselves with as few compromises as possible. Sure, they tend to be "more expensive," but not always. (In fact, numerous orchestras throughout the US have entire sections made up of the ubiquitous "Conn 8D French horn" - a $2500 horn. Despite the proliferation of $15,000-$20,000 custom horns currently available.)

    I submit that both Olympus and Panasonic HAVE created pro bodies. In fact, I've seen results on this site alone that indicate to me that the pictures coming out of these cameras are of the highest quality worthy of marketing and sale - thus feeding a profession - thus "pro."

    Yes - I would LOVE to see a (equiv) 70-200mm 2.8 lens for m4/3. Certainly the build, size and price would scream "PRO!" However, most people (myself included) really wouldn't care for the size of that lens! However, the 20mm 1.7 and the Pan 45-200 that I've purchased as add-ons to my two "amateur" bodies provide stunning results. I wouldn't hesitate to take my m4/3s bodies and lenses on a wedding or portrait shoot. In fact, I'd relish the thought of not having 3 big heavy camera bodies and 3 big heavy lenses dragging down on my neck for 8+ hours.

    Sorry...I know it's a weird rant. In fact, I'm not 'ranting' at anyone here. It's more like complaining to a group of like-minded individuals.

    Cheers all!

    Jeremy
     
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  2. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    782
    Feb 2, 2010
    Worcestershire
    "Pro" or "Professional", when applied to equipment for any of the arts, and in particular photography, more or less becomes shorthand for:-

    Equipment that might be regarded as high-level in terms of performance and/or construction and/or price and ownership and use of which would serve to illustrate that the owner/user could be regarded as knowing what they were doing/capable of doing a good job/providing a satisfactory outcome for the fee paid. While at no time indicating whether any of these things are true, the mere presence of such equipment in the hands of the user indicates that at least they can afford it and if they bought it they might just know how to use it. If its expensive/well built/made by somebody well known there is a good chance that it might probably survive the job, it might make us look or sound good and even if the user is incompetent and a complete fraud will give us reassurance that we haven't squandered our hard earned cash. This attribution of worth and quality by the mere possession of expensive/quality/hard wearing tools and the confidence it tends to instill in both the user and the customer reassures both. None of us like to be thought of as incompetent or unable to fulfill our obligations, and the possession of equipment that helps us to overcome that is a handy thing to have, particularly if we have some misgivings about our abilities. By describing one of their products as professional, or having it described as such by others, companies can contribute to our confidence and give us the illusion that even if we don't know our armpit from our elbow, at least we have a piece of equipment that might just get us through by the virtue of it being expensive/well built/made by somebody well known etc. It also functions as a badge or a uniform and clearly states to those we seek to impress and indeed ourselves, that we are up to the task. It makes us look competent even when we may doubt our own abilities, it makes us look less like an enthusiast and hobbyist and makes us look more experienced and capable than we may feel or look without it. It takes away the concept of the amateur, the dabbler and the dilettante, and replaces those unflattering terms with concepts of reliability, trustworthiness and ability. If we look like we know what we are doing we may well end up really knowing what we are doing, and in a situation which is new to us and we are uncertain of, anything that helps up to overcome our sense of fallibility is worth every penny/dollar/yen etc.
     
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  3. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    with cameras the tag 'pro' has less to do with the quality of the picture it takes and more to do with factors such as durability, robustness, reliability.

    Any professional - and i define a professional as someone whose primary source of income comes from whatever they do- needs their tools to be fit for purpose and reliable. It doesn't matter if they are a chef with their knives, a carpenter with his tools or a musician playing in front of an audience of thousands, they have to rely on their tools to do their job

    So for an example a sports photographer will probably take many more pictures during one event than most of the people here take in a month or even 6 months. They will need their camera to have the ability to shoot in all weathers, probably at very high frame rates, with very fast autofocus, and not have to stop and change batteries every 5 minutes. If the camera they have doesn't deliver this first and foremost then they wont get the shot, wont be paid and wont be able to pay their bills.

    There is a certain irony - particularly with cameras, in that non pros buying pro cameras probably keeps the industry afloat

    K
     
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  4. cucco

    cucco Mu-43 Regular

    129
    Dec 28, 2010
    :rofl::rofl::rofl::2thumbs:

    @Soundimageplus
    If you just off-handedly winged that definition, I'm truly impressed.
    If you borrowed it from somewhere, I **want** to know that source - it's 100% on target!
     
    • Like Like x 2
  5. FlyPenFly

    FlyPenFly Mu-43 Veteran

    448
    Feb 15, 2011
    A lot if not most of history's most amazing and noted photographers did not use the very best available "pro" lenses, bodies, and film of the time.

    In Cartier-Bresson's day, Leica was the value budget solution.

    However, it seems they are better remembered than the dentists of the time who used the "pro" equipment.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Jason
    soundimageplus,

    Did you write that or is this a quote from some other source? At any rate, I love this:

    The key words here are "true", "can afford it", and "might". I consider myself as a "casual photographer enthusiast" is such a thing exists. So my opinions probably don't hold much weight, but I see lots of gearheads who want certain things because of they think it will be a magic bullet solving all of their photographic problems or they just want to pay for something just to say they can.

    I am an avid bowler. While interestingly, "pro" bowlers are those usually considered the guys on tv bowling pro tournaments making a living off of bowling. However, in the classical sense of what "amature" is in the context of collegiant bowling or Olympic sports, a professional is considered anyone who joins a tournament and makes makes money off of the prize fund in that tournament. I used to bowl many tournaments and I have made money off of those tournaments. I have done this with low end equipment and high end equipment. I use whatever gets the job done.

    Now, is there a market, small market for certain cameras? Sure. Kevin brought up those situations where those cameras are needed. I don't think those users on the forums fall into that category. Maybe some, but not all.
     
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  7. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    782
    Feb 2, 2010
    Worcestershire
    It is entirely mine, and the culmination of many years of soul-searching, and the constant handing over of large sums of money to delighted dealers!

    Like you I used to be a freelance musician and work in recording studios. I now make my living as a full-time photographer and the constant dilemma of what I'd really LIKE to use and what I feel I SHOULD use never goes away.

    With time I've become a bit more relaxed about using what works for me and my GH1 and now GH2 have seen a lot of action. You'll know as well as me that a customers perception of how competent/talented etc. you are is a combination of many things, one of which is what gear you use, but its not the whole story and probably far less important than your overall demeanour.

    In a situation where people have seen that you are able to deliver then things can get a little more relaxed and there's not such a need to impress.

    On your original point, I would agree 100% that Panasonic and Olympus do make equipment that can be used for professional work. The only gear thats "broken" when I've been on a job have been Canon and Nikon, so-called "pro" cameras. My GH1 even survived my clumsily dropping it onto a pavement. Dented but still worked perfectly.

    However, I won't ever claim to be immune from the confidence boosting that turning up with a BIG camera / BIG lens combination can instill in me, which was the point I was trying to get across in my earlier piece. Using "Professional" gear won't make us into a "Professional" but it might make us feel that we could get mistaken for one!!

    In the little picture of me in the top left corner I'm carrying my 5DMKII, battery grip and zoom lens photographing a wedding. What you don't see is the GH1 with 20mm f/1.7 over the other shoulder. I've since given up shooting weddings and I don't work in "the public eye" anywhere near as much. Consequently I'm much more able to use what I want these days. People don't pay me any less for the pictures I take with m4/3 cameras and I've never had any complaints about the quality. When you say "I submit that both Olympus and Panasonic HAVE created pro bodies. In fact, I've seen results on this site alone that indicate to me that the pictures coming out of these cameras are of the highest quality worthy of marketing and sale - thus feeding a profession - thus "pro." I agree 100%.

    Finally an anecdote. David Bailey, the UK photographer shot a Vogue cover on an Olympus E10. (3.98MP) He sent the image they wanted to use as a digital file to them and they said, we can't use this its too small a file. He then printed out the image, scanned it to 40MB and sent that to them. They happily published it.
     
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  8. Cerebus2

    Cerebus2 Mu-43 Rookie

    21
    Oct 12, 2010
    'Pro' is what you do, not what you buy.

    -- C
     
  9. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    782
    Feb 2, 2010
    Worcestershire
    I think it can be many things, and can be used in many ways. Often it gets both misused and misunderstood. There are probably many better ways of describing camera gear, but the term "Pro" gets used instead. Its not restricted to Photography either.

    In many ways we all have some general idea as to what it means. Speaking as someone who earns his living from photography, I and other colleagues I know, often use all sorts of equipment that may not be thought of as being "that which a professional may use" but as cucco rightly pointed out :- "In recording gear, folks are constantly asking which microphones or audio interfaces or software or cables or blah, blah, blah are "pro." My answer to most of them is - I can get the job done and sell the final product using any of that gear. So....to me, it counts as pro."

    And as KevinParis also rightly pointed out "There is a certain irony - particularly with cameras, in that non pros buying pro cameras probably keeps the industry afloat" I for one am grateful that they do, because if they didn't some of the gear I buy would be even more expensive than it is now!
     
  10. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    K has delivered a very good definition of "Pro" ... to which I add "consistency". Professional hardware and the professional photographer must be able to produce the exceptional photograph, day-in and day-out.

    I think that another definition of "Pro" hardware, for the purpose of this thread, is the ability to consistently:

    1) Deliver an image(s) equal to or better than than the client's expectations (IQ);

    2) Deliver an image(s) equal to or better than than the expectations of the photog's peers/colleagues/contemporaries (IQ); and

    3) Allow the photographer to attain the desired results easier than with lesser equipment (the exceptional image).

    As there are many types of professional photographers, there are as many different requirements for hardware. A wedding photog would need different equipment to attain requirement 1, 2 and 3 than a product photog, an architectural photog has different equipment demands and IQ than a photojournalist and an artist may have requirements which transcends any of the above.

    Pro equipment has nothing to do with cost (similar to the French Horn). Pro equipment is the hardware required to meet 1, 2 and 3.

    Gary
     
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  11. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    782
    Feb 2, 2010
    Worcestershire
    Good analysis.
     
  12. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    If I were king I would require every manufacturer in the realm to add this as an asterisk to any item labeled "Pro".


    Well done!
     
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  13. twalker294

    twalker294 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    543
    Aug 18, 2010
    This sounds all nice and touchy feely and such, but the truth is, if a professional anything is let down by his tools, then he can't produce his best work. If you buy a Canon 550D and expect to be able to take 100,000 pictures a year with it, you will likely be disappointed and this disappointment will likely happen at the most inopportune time.
     
  14. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    "Pro" means at least a 20% markup.

    My favorite term "Pro-sumer." Someone who spends more than a con-sumer.

    In practical terms, professional equipment is equipment use by a professional. It has nothing to do with durability nor quality. I have know professionals use Holgas and cheap digital cameras. A professional is someone who earns a living from something, talent and skill are not primary. Pigheadedness is a more important quality.
     
  15. Alanroseman

    Alanroseman Super Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2010
    New England
    Hikari,

    More and more I'm appreciating your slant on life, and things photographic.

    I've been in business for many many years, and I must say I've been involved in many tech projects where younger gurus with thousands of dollars worth of pro tech equipment, have thrown in the towel.

    Pigheadedness, determination, the desire to succeed / fear of failure (one and the same?), and lastly experience in one's field all contribute to professionalism. Not just tools... but the correct tools really do help.

    Every home user with a wireless network and or a router has had some success in my field, perhaps they even managed some IP telephony, streamed some music, taught themselves to record from the cable TV box onto their own hard drive. Some folks are really very talented and proficient with technology, as well as their home computer and network. Maybe they networked their own small business, or their brother in law's insurance office.

    But when a medium sized hospital calls at 1:30 Am to say all the intake phones are out, the call director is dead, and two switches are not responding. I doubt they'd want to show up, and I seriously doubt they'd have have the experience to shoot the trouble, even if they had the "pro tools" to do it.

    Just like "pro" photographers who see rank amateurs strolling about with Canon Mark IV's, "just because they have the dough". I deal with countless home networkers, basement hackers, etc. They have all sorts of cool high tech toys. What they don't have is the experience, or background to handle absolutely any situation tossed at them, especially under intense pressure. Which I believe speaks to Gary Ayala's point. Deliver the goods.

    Often times being a pro consists of being paid for what you know... not so much what you're carrying around in your kit.

    I think this probably applies to many "professions" and is not exclusive to photography.
     
  16. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    And that is really it in a nutshell. Naturally, there are some things that are really difficult with out a certain amount of technology--nanoimaging with a macro lens is not possible, not even one made by Leica. But the knowledge and experience is really the bedrock of what any professional does. I certainly have done many things with resources that are sub-optimal. But my work is measured by the results, not in how difficult it was to achieve or what I used to get there. It certainly has been rare where I have ever been in a situation where I have everything I could have asked for. You just make do--a wonderful expression that sums it up nicely: "making" and "doing" are the great achievers.
     
  17. Alanroseman

    Alanroseman Super Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2010
    New England
    Here, here!!

    Good stuff Hikari...

    "It's a poor craftsman who blames his tools"

    "The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions."
     
  18. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Alan I like your point. As was reading your post it appears as I understand it, that a 'pro' or 'professional' doesn't happen overnight but by a culmination of experience over time.
     
  19. Alanroseman

    Alanroseman Super Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2010
    New England
    Exactly. Read Gary's post on this ... deliver the goods baby.

    That's what get them to write a check, not the tools your carrying.
     
  20. squeegee

    squeegee Mu-43 Veteran

    403
    Jan 26, 2010
    I love this rant. I have similar issues with a lot of other things I do. I work in IT as a profession, I do more (and make more money) using second hand ebay-ed equipment than the typical home user - whom typically has equipment newer and more expensive than I do. As a matter of fact, the typical home user is probably the ones supplying me with the good cheap used equipement :biggrin:

    I love it when others spend tons of money on new stuff beyond their needs (cameras or computers or what ever), it means I'll get the chance to play with equipment way beyond what I'd normally be able to afford and way beyond my own needs for a cheap price.

    Bring on the "Pro" lenses, the sooner the better, cuz I have to wait longer for them to hit the used market :rolleyes: