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Friday, October 30, 2009

Beware Of The Sun?


A Burning Question • What’s A Pro Camera? • Prints From The Dark Side • When Things Get Wet

Labels: How-ToColumnTech Tips

This Article Features Photo Zoom

What’s A Pro Camera?

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II with an EF 15mm ƒ/2.8 fisheye lens attached, ƒ/16 at 1⁄250 sec., ISO 200
Q I’m an avid amateur landscape photographer who’s pondering making the jump to pro. On a recent trip to the Canadian Rockies, I met a professional photographer who told me I would have to upgrade my camera to something like a Canon EOS 5D Mark II or Nikon D3X to have a chance of making quality, professional images (I’m currently shooting with a Canon EOS Rebel XTi). The main reason for upgrading, he insisted, was to take advantage of the much better “pixel sensitivity” from more expensive cameras. He said these pro cameras would deliver images with “pop.” Now, I’m not one to discount advice from someone who’s already making a living in the same field I aspire to, but I’m puzzled. I’ve read, in these very pages, that the excellent “entry-level” Canon and Nikon D-SLRs are eminently capable of producing professional images. What gives? And for the record, I’ve had no trouble capturing images that I consider professional quality—images that “pop”—with my little ol’ Canon XTi.
S. Eaton
Vancouver, B.C., Canada


A Let’s see. What’s a professional photographer? What’s a professional camera? What’s an image that pops? We usually say a “professional” photographer is one whose day job is photography, sufficiently remunerative so as to make a living from it. This doesn’t mean that everyone who’s making a living at photography is producing professional work—of consistently high quality, both creatively and technically. There’s no doubt that a high-end camera can facilitate the work of a capable photographer, and even help to elevate it to a professional standard. The equipment needs to meet certain criteria in file size, sharpness and color rendition for the product to be sold in professional markets. Fast autofocus, expandable ISO, full-frame sensors, rapid capture, image-stabilized lenses and other advanced functions can vastly increase a competent photographer’s creative and technical options. All of these factors might indeed improve your chances for capturing a high-quality, compelling image—one that “pops.”

As long as you’re using quality lenses, your 10.1-megapixel Canon Rebel XTi is capable of producing images of professional quality, more than adequate for the cover of this magazine. In fact, this entry-level D-SLR has many advantages over the best, expensive, professional ones available just a few years ago. Its limitations, as compared to today’s top-of-the-line D-SLRs, are in its relatively small sensor size and lower resolution, lack of robustness for field use and slower image capture rate. The XTi’s DIGIC II processor doesn’t offer the same expanded ISO (low-light capture) options available in cameras with DIGIC 4 processors, such as the Canon EOS Rebel T1i, the EOS 5D Mark II and the new Canon EOS 7D.

It’s still the person behind the camera who creates the image with a WOW factor, and I’ve judged photography contests where some of the most creative and compelling work was done with compact point-and-shoot digital cameras. You’ll know that you’re growing as a professional photographer, however, when your creative drive and technical standards exceed the limits of your equipment and ability. New worlds will open to you when you master the higher-level skills required to maximize the capabilities of pro gear.

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