There’s an old saying with photographers that goes something like this:
Amateur Photographers worry about equipment.
Semi-Pro’s worry about light.
Professional Photographers worry about invoices being paid.
Hardware. I suppose as a professional photographer, I make sure I use the best equipment I can so I don’t have to worry about gear. I could never understand full-time pro’s not using the best equipment they can afford. They’d buy a middle of the range camera and a dirt-bike. What are you? A dirt-bike rider or a photographer?
I get the occasional “train spotter” come up to me while I work and try to strike up a conversation about the camera they use at home. I’m actually the last person to talk to about consumer and pro-sumer cameras because I haven’t had any experience with them before. The top level Nikons I’m familiar with are the D2X (my first freelance digital camera – before that we had D1’s at a previous workplace), the D3, and my current D4S and D6. I had a look at the D5 but the minor improvements don’t seem to match the extra expense. Update 2022: My main cameras are now the Nikon D6 with the D4S as a backup. The D6 a beast and not for everyone, but I’m thrashing my Nikon D6 every single day. It’s my business partner. It’s my best friend. The updates to autofocus and low light sensitivity have been excellent. Also, GPS tagging and WiFi/Bluetooth have been handy, although connectivity hasn’t been as great as expected. That could be an issue with the outdated SnapBridge app though.
I did buy a D5300 as a second video DSLR, and to be quite honest, I hate it. I hate the feel of it, the sound of the shutter, the autofocus, the convoluted controls… It’s a real pain to use. Sure the early pro cameras don’t have WiFi or GPS (unless you pay through the nose for add-on hardware) but my fingers know where all the buttons are on a D4S and it’s super strong and reliable.
I take literally millions of photos and I’ve only had to replace one shutter mechanism on the D3 a few years ago. It turned out, after the cost of a D4 camera hire and the cost of replacing the shutter, it would have been cheaper to fly to Sydney and have it replaced straight away. That’s one of the few downsides to living in South Australia.
After years of digital work, I stick with some reliable brands. SanDisk for CF memory (that’s right, pro-cameras still use CF cards, much to the disbelief of electronics store employees. Apple, the SD card reader on a MacBook Pro is almost useless.) I also use Sony QXD cards and Western Digital hard drives. It’s not unusual to shoot a large project that requires around 70gb of card storage, plus hard drive backups. Update 2022: CF Express is where it’s at! Super fast, but super expensive.
Lenses. The great thing about a pro-camera vs the D5300 is I can use any Nikon lens. I love old manual 50mm “pancake” lenses, obscure macro lenses, you name it. I haven’t used many other brands because years ago the auto-focus was really slow and vignetting was sometimes extreme. I’d be happy to try some new other lens brands in the near future.
Computers. Apple all the way. They work in a simple and easy way. Using a PC is a nightmare for me. Everything works in the most convoluted way possible. I can’t stand them! I currently run a MacBook and a MacBook Pro, both with 1 external monitor each to maximise palette space and make workflow easier. Update 2022: I was seriously looking at a new MacPro before the D6 came along. Let’s face it, new cameras are more fun than new computers. I’m glad I held off though as the new Mac Studios look pretty promising. I’m generally after big RAM rather than a huge range of cores. Lack of GPU VRAM is the latest issue when running the current version of Photoshop.
As for software, I’ve been a Photoshop fan since version 5 in the late 90’s. Before that I was using Aldus Photostyler which was acquired by Adobe in 1994. Most of my training that wasn’t in the workplace was done at Regency Park TAFE. It was a great place to learn.
I suppose I’m quite set in my ways in regard to workflow, so other than some new plug-ins occasionally, I’m very happy to stay with Adobe Creative Cloud and the regular updates to Photoshop and Bridge.
I’ve still got a fantastic Nikon negative scanner which I used before moving over from SLR to DSLR and I’m really disappointed that OSX upgrades have meant I can’t use it any more. I’ve still got piles of transparencies that I’d love to digitise and put up online.