What's a Pro these days? And so what?

pdk42

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I see lots of posts at the moment about Olympus potentially concentrating on the "Pro" market as they transition to JIP. But then I ask myself - what is a "Pro" these days.

It seems to me that the heart has been pulled out of the professional photography market over the last 10-15 years. I have several friends who used to make a decent living back in the nineties/millenium era, but who now have given up almost entirely. Stock has been killed by amateurs giving away stuff for nothing (or almost nothing); commercial work is too often done by the client using a DSLR that the company bought for all but the bigger jobs; press/sport has tanked in lockstep with the death of printed media in an on-line world; general portraiture for the public has been decimated by them often getting a good-enough result with their iPhone; and so on...

Now, I'm not saying that all pro work has dried up - just that it cannot be anything more than a tiny percentage of the potential camera-gear-buying public. About the only area that's healthy still is weddings - but the competition is immense with noobs out there offering their services at way below what it needs to be for someone to earn a living.

I'm sure the camera companies know all this, so I can only assume that by marketing their gear as "pro" the objective is to entice amateurs into thinking they could be pros too. Of course, this plays best if you're selling FF gear since that, of course, is what "the pros" use.

Here's a great example - a post from a Nikon Facebook group:

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I mean:

a) The 24-70 has been reviewed endlessly and no-one has ever called it anything but "extremely sharp".

b) What is an image posted by some random tog on FB going to prove about a Z6's usefulness for a wedding? The Z6 is a 24Mp FF camera with fantastic IQ, amazing high ISO performance etc. Almost anyone who can turn the dial to "Auto" and point it at a bride will get a sharp shot!

Would you really expect the photographer for your wedding to be going to FB to ask dumb questions about gear?


Sorry - it's a quiet day...
 
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I take “pro” to be code for minimum, sustainable price points.
It doesn’t matter the context of image use.

The industry has fixed costs, their “floor”.
With the massive decline in volume at the low and mid, this means the price charged per unit per customer has to rise to just break even, much less stay profitable.
That‘s happened as the low and mid consumers bolted to,smartphones. Dedicated ILC shooters stayed behind. Therefore, per unit (camera body) expenditures rose considerably.
For 2019 Olympus, per unit, they required $1700 per camera body sold to break even, including all after-market sales. The industry average is much less, reflecting both Olympus’s small market share and lack of traditional professional photographer base with accompanying high-margin products.
JIP will look to drop that $1700 by cutting costs, but cannot continue to subsidize the lower-end product lines, say, below $1200, about what Canon‘s fixed cost, break even is.
So “higher end” or “pro” probably means unit sales, with after-market, at around that price point.
They don’t care if it’s a soccer mom or an advertising shoot. All they want is to to hit that average price point.
JIP may even eliminate all camera bodies below that target arguing the format’s small user base cannot cater to the “newbie” because there are too few of them in the overall market anyway, and the cost to walk them up and have them defect to larger sensors, is unsustainable.
The latter point makes sense in the context of changing the brand, as brand loyalty isn’t something this transfer to JIP is perhaps depending on.
There are some customers JIP cannot afford to keep happy.
 

RichardC

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I suppose from Olympus's point of view, a 'pro' would be someone who doesn't mind spending a lot of money on buying/leasing gear so long as that gear will deliver the results they need, and go on delivering until it's time to replace it with more Olympus gear. In an ideal world, they would drop the odd camera/lens and require early replacement.

The facebook person doesn't sound like a pro - they sound like an amateur who has been asked to shoot their cousin's wedding. A pro wedding photographer does not buy equipment based on facebook samples. The image quality isn't as important as reliability and predictable outcomes.

A 'pro' wedding photographer communicates with their client to establish that what is wanted is realistic and deliverable. They will have a plan, a back up plan, a back up of the back up plan, spare equipment and an arrangement for a colleague to back them up in the even they broke a leg the day before the event. A pro wedding photographer doesn't use motorways/freeways in case an accident prevents them getting off.

I find macro much much harder than I ever found wedding photography and am in total awe of anyone who actually manages to make a living from it. One day maybe, if my eyes and arms continue to work properly.
 
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exakta

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Dentists use Nikon don't they?

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:drinks:
 

Bushboy

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Pro. Soon as you see it, you know you want it.
You know it.
Expensive and heavy.
It won’t bounce if you drop it on concrete.
 

retiredfromlife

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Going to step out on a limb here, but I think a lot of manufacturers say "pro" just to make the enthusiasts think they are using pro gear as that is where most of the sales seem to be.
Not saying the Oly gear is not pro, but I think it is just marketing.
I only know one pro now and he just gets what he needs to get the work done. At the camera club I belong to he does not even discuss gear. The only reason I can get some gear info out of him is because I have known him for over thirty years since our caving days.
 

pdk42

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Going to step out on a limb here, but I think a lot of manufacturers say "pro" just to make the enthusiasts think they are using pro gear as that is where most of the sales seem to be.
Not saying the Oly gear is not pro, but I think it is just marketing.
I only know one pro now and he just gets what he needs to get the work done. At the camera club I belong to he does not even discuss gear. The only reason I can get some gear info out of him is because I have known him for over thirty years since our caving days.
That makes sense. You never hear electricians talking about the circuit testers they use!
 

PeeBee

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That makes sense. You never hear electricians talking about the circuit testers they use!

Actually, I do. They just don't need to constantly validate the adequacy of their tool :whistling:

(Edit: I correct myself, those circuit testers do of course need periodic inspection and calibration :hiding: )

Anyho, to me a pro is a person who is proficient in a particular subject or task. In marketing, it's a product that is proficient for use within a particular subject or task, a cut above capable. It's not necessarily connected to a paid occupation.
 
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The Grumpy Snapper

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Going to step out on a limb here, but I think a lot of manufacturers say "pro" just to make the enthusiasts think they are using pro gear as that is where most of the sales seem to be.
Not saying the Oly gear is not pro, but I think it is just marketing.
I only know one pro now and he just gets what he needs to get the work done. At the camera club I belong to he does not even discuss gear. The only reason I can get some gear info out of him is because I have known him for over thirty years since our caving days.

In the 1970s and 80s anything labeled Pro or Professional was mostly cheaply made crap to be avoided.

The only exception I can think of were the Tenba Pro Pak bags. My P595 Pro Pak from the first batch to arrive in the U.K. in the very early 1980s is still going strong. In my opinion the Pro Pak bags were the best shoulder bags for film shooters by a huge margin. I ended up with three in different sizes and still have all three.
 

RichardC

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In the 1970s and 80s anything labeled Pro or Professional was mostly cheaply made crap to be avoided.

The only exception I can think of were the Tenba Pro Pak bags. My P595 Pro Pak from the first batch to arrive in the U.K. in the very early 1980s is still going strong. In my opinion the Pro Pak bags were the best shoulder bags for film shooters by a huge margin. I ended up with three in different sizes and still have all three.

Mamiya C330 Professional S - nice
Sunpak Auto 622 Pro - nice
Slik Pro tripod - nice
Bronica Professional Lens Hood - expensive, needed loctite, essential

Cokin P - what was I thinking?
 

The Grumpy Snapper

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Mamiya C330 Professional S - nice
Sunpak Auto 622 Pro - nice
Slik Pro tripod - nice
Bronica Professional Lens Hood - expensive, needed loctite, essential

Cokin P - what was I thinking?

Exactly. I owned a Mamiya C330 system for a couple of years but it wasn't anything special and possibly the least pro medium format system.

You would have had to pay me to use a Sunpak flash or a Slik tripod.
 

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