3.05.2012

You can't use that. It's not professional.

This is a homemade florescent bank.  We cobbled it together to use it as a fill light in a giant data center that was all lit with similar florescent tubes.  It worked great.  The images were exactly what the client wanted.  It worked better than thousands of dollars of filtered flash would have.  It cost less than fifty bucks.  It's held together with tape and bungie cords.  There are chunks of cardboard that separate the tubes.  It's not pretty it just works.

Marketing works harder at sucking the individuality out of art and life better than just about anything else except poverty.  When you are poor you have to use what you have at hand.  But when you have enough pocket change rattling around you can get sucked into the whirlpool of "how the professionals do it."  And pretty soon you'll be shooting just like everyone else.

I wrote a column for Michael Johnston's blog, TheOnlinePhotographer, that ran on Sunday.  In it I talked about the Panasonic/Leica 25mm Summilux lens for the micro four thirds systems.  One commenter asked, in so many words, how I could convince clients that "Kirk+G3 = Professional?"
(The G3: referencing a < $550 small sensor camera).

This comes up in every facet of being a working photographer.  It's all based on looking in the rear view mirror of working life. How we did things a decade ago.  That's how it seeps into the current idiom.  The truth is that there's no longer any even imaginary line between what tools are professional and which ones are just screaming fun.  Now that the overwhelming target space for our "visual genius" is the iPhone screen or the website viewed in a coffee shop on a 15 inch laptop the metaphorical sky is the limit.  Not the number or provenance of our pixels.

Here's how I think of the whole subject...

Old school "pro" computer = The big tower with multiple processors and the giant monitor. The rationale: Big files demand fast processors.  The speed saves me time and money...

The reality = Most photographers would find the latest i7 equipped laptops screamin' fast.  And cheaper.  I ditched big computers in 2007 and I've never looked back.  My office set up right now?  A 13 inch Apple MacBook Pro with an i5 processor hooked to a 24 inch monitor.  Runs fast and works well.  

Old school "pro" camera = Canon 1 series, Nikon D3 series.  According the the experts who don't make money taking photographs any camera used by a "pro" must be weatherproofed, watersealed, shoot at 10 frames per second, have a shutter that will last far longer than their interest in said camera, and the camera must be made out of many pounds of metal strong enough to endure re-entry from outer space and impact with the Sonoran Desert at terminal velocity.  In the current space the camera must also have tons and tons of pixels.

The reality = Given that 80 percent of the images go to the web, that very few people make prints anymore and that ever advancing digital technology makes camera bodies more or less disposable there are tons and tons of people getting paid for making images with Canon Rebels, Sony nex5's and other small and delicious cameras.  The size of the body is meaningless as an evaluation of final quality in use.  My current small cameras spank the big, expensive cameras of yesteryear and our clients aren't really pestering us for anything better or more "spec'd."  Twelve megapixels is still the sweet spot for most work from a size/quality paradigm and sixteen megapixels is huge. 

Bulletproof?  The only two cameras I've had that required major service (or any service at all) have been a Canon 1 series camera with a defective circuit board and a Nikon D300 that backfocused everything in the universe.  The smaller, cheaper cameras?  In my small, anecdotal survey?  Much more reliable.

I'll trade face detection autofocus with eye preference over extra seals every day.  Makes my job easier.  Makes the focus better.  If I spent my days in San Diego, dedicated to photographing the Navy Seals in action I'd probably want an "everything proofed" camera but most photographers I know shoot in offices and in cushy suburban neighborhoods. 

I prefer using the micro four thirds cameras when it's appropriate.  They're more fun.  And, for most of the stuff I do the images are just great.  If you shoot sports you need something different.  But that's one of those YMMV things.  For ad guys the whole live view thing is a wonderful.  Do I need an optical view finder? Only to impress my hobbyist friends.

Old School "pro" lenses = The pervasive idea is big, fat, white zoom lenses with f-stops of 2.8 and lots and lots of knobs. Or big, fat primes with gold or red rings around the barrels. Heavy, weatherproofed and beknighted with a string of letters like ASPH, ED, UD, IF, and of course, LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL.

Reality? =  While I've got some bigger lenses in a drawer somewhere the stuff I use looks more like fun stuff.  I like little zooms like the 14-45mm zoom I have on my G3.  Or the 14-42mm zoom I have on my EP3.  If I'm lighting stuff the apertures are fast enough.  If I'm outside the lenses are always fast enough.  If I need better I switch to cute little prime lenses (at a third the cost of their bigger cousins)  with apertures that are just as fast as the "pro" lenses but give me a little more focus coverage because of their shorter focal lengths.  But more importantly not having to carry all the prestige around with me leaves me more energy to explore and be nice.

Old School "Pro" lights = Profoto.  Big boxes. Big monolights.  Lots of big accessories.  Many stands.  Lots of sandbags.  Lots of assistants to hold everything together.  In fairness though I should mention that the great middle of the professional market has transitioned to plastic flashes from Paul Buff without too much grumbling.  

Reality? = Most of the images I see could be made with a couple of $100 speedlights and a couple of slave cells.  My five figure project in December was done entirely with three LED panels (maybe $1,000 total).  You light with what you need.  Most pros have a small set of electronic flashes, some portable flashes and a few fun lights like LEDs or florescents.  If you need more you rent more.  The real art is knowing when to turn most of it off...

This pro versus amateur thing is so silly.  When I talk to guys who've been doing it for years I hear the same story over and over again.  They started taking photos with a (fill in the blank/advanced amateur camera) simple, basic camera, shot lots and lots of fun stuff that people really liked.  Went "pro" and bought all the trappings and then spent the next twenty years trying to get back to that simpler time. Why? Because everyone, including themselves, loved the images from the time when the pictures were about the idea or the emotion instead of the magnesium alloy and product positioning.

Remember the early cellphones? Remember when you owned the Motorola "brick"?  Was that more professional than an iPhone?  Could it do as much?

Remember the Buick Electra?  Remember when you owned that Suburban? Was it better transportation than your Mini Cooper or your Outback?

"Professional" is such a lovely advertising buzzword because it connotes acceptance of a defined standard. But what is professional video in the time of the Canon 5Dmk2 or the Panasonic GH2?  Is it still a $50,000 Sony Betacam?  Will it matter on Youtube?  Does it matter on Vimeo?  What if the smaller cameras create files that looks just as good? Or better?  Now you can afford to be a videographer.  Now more people can afford to be photographers.  All they need to supply is intelligence, taste and elbow grease.

In medicine and law "professional" means more training, not more gear.  

Old School Photographer = We conjure up the hip guy in black with a warehouse full of studio space, surrounded by high power popping flashes in enormous umbrellas telling hot models to pout with more energy.  The guy is surrounded by legions of assistants.  Some look at big screens as the photographer shoots.  Some shout out encouragement.  Some flirt with the hot client.  Some flirt with the coterie of hot models waiting in the wings.  Some flirt with each other.  All wait breathlessly for the magic.  All vie to be the next one to hold the prestigious medium format camera.  All wear their black baseball caps backwards. It's only for webcasts, only for TV.  Only for the movies...

The Reality? = For most it's a process of daily marketing, a trip to a client's store or factory or restaurant to shoot.  Setting up a few lights.  Taking good photographs.  Billing reasonable amounts and delivering images that will help to move a client's products and services.  Sometimes they'll bring along an assistant to help carry some gear up the inevitable stairs or across the parking lot.  Headshots in our smaller and efficient studios.  The day-to-day needs of local commerce.

Back to the original question.  Most clients who know the difference between professional camera models are themselves deeply interested in photography and would have shot their own products or people but they needed you to do so because something needed to be lit or people needed to be posed or the client could belay their ego and admit that you routinely found better compositions than they would have and they were willing to pay for your services.

If they know nothing about the nuts and bolts of photography they probably hired you because they went to your website and looked and saw what they needed to see and have/had a reasonable expectation that you'd deliver a similar and satisfactory product.  They didn't see your camera or your lights or your computer when they hired you.  Nor (I hope) did you bring the gear along to your pre-production meeting.  If you want to be considered professional your first obligation is to deliver at least to the level that you advertise on your website.  And the kind of gear you need in order to be able to do that is something that's up to you.  My wife is a graphic designer.  She couldn't care less what camera or lens I use on her jobs.  The final tally is binary.  I got the image she wanted or I didn't.  End of story.

Professional is how you act and deliver, not something you lug around over your shoulder.


32 comments:

typingtalker said...

"One commenter asked, in so many words, how I could convince clients that "Kirk+G3 = Professional?""

By delivering the images they want at a price they are willing to pay.

Gregg Mack said...

Kirk, how very timely to me personally. After Canon's announcement on Friday of the new 5DMk3 and especially the new Speedlites, I sort of went into a personal depression all weekend. I was wondering where does this insane spiral of equipment escalation end for me. I decided that it pretty much HAS ended. I'm simply going to make do with what I've got for now, which shouldn't be limiting at all. It's fatiguing. I need a rest, so I'm taking one.

Thanks for your reconfirming post this morning!

kirk tuck said...

typingtalker, no. By delivering the licensing of images at prices that make for a sustainable business.

RichardEby said...

"This is a homemade florescent bank."

Don't take that to an airport ...

;-)

kirk tuck said...

RichardEby, Strictly made on site...

hbernstein said...

"The real art is knowing when to turn most of it off..."

Even though the piece isn't about lighting, I love that statement.

As for the rest, it's all about tools. A "pro" better be using the right tool for the job, and nothing more, because ego won't pay the bills.

I like the feel of larger cameras, I have big hands, and come from a background of extensive use of medium and large format film equipment. I'm no longer a professional photographer, and have no great need for speed or unobtrusiveness. I photograph what I want, when I want, so I'm an artist, or amateur. But if I was in business now, there's no way that I would screw myself by hanging on to the old way of doing things!

IRA said...

"Because everyone, including themselves, loved the images from the time when the pictures were about the idea or the emotion instead of the magnesium alloy and product positioning."

This *really* resonates--I've been feeling burned-out on photography for a while now and the solution for me has been to go back to shooting with the Pentax K1000 I started out with (or sometimes a holga). I've got a Canon 7D which is everything I could ever want in a camera and I'm perfectly comfortable with digital but it's all just a bit too left-brained for me to really let go sometimes.

Not to mention I found a 2nd K1000 body/lens in great shape on craigslist for $25--cheapest "full-frame" camera ever...

John F. Opie said...

I'm one of the moderators on a watch forum (the biggest one out there) and will be heading to Basel in a few days to spend 5 days there. I'm taking my E30 with me, but really expect to largely work with my EP1 and GF2, with an LED ring light for macro work and an 80-LED panel for video. It all fits into a single small carrying bag (12-60, 50 macro, Vivitar Series 1 200 f3 for distant macro work, as well as the 14 and 17 lenses). It just works, doesn't break my back, and while I'll be taking a tripod with me, I can't see using it all that much. This is my third show in 4 years and I remember feeling intimidated by the pros running around - dressed in black - in teams of threes schlepping huge bags of equipment...no longer. I'll be spending my time learning about new watches, writing about them, photographing them and the people behind them, and I've learned that everyone has press packages with plenty of studio shots, so I can skip trying to duplicate these and concentrate on the people behind the story...

Robert Roaldi said...

Don't knock old big cameras. An out-of-commision Nikkormat attached to a 500 mm Spiratone makes a perfect weapon when burglars break into your house in the middle of the night. They will have no idea what hit them. :)

Phil Service said...

A propos of what constitutes a "professional" camera, Thom Hogan ran an interesting poll Jan 23-24. In it, he asked readers whether they would rather have a current high-end mirrorless camera (V1, EP-3, NEX-7, etc) or a high-end "consumer" level DSRL of, say, 3, 4, or 5 years ago. In all cases except one, the current mirrorless was strongly preferred. In other words, his readers felt that current high-end mirrorless cameras were better (more desirable?) than high-end consumer DSLRs of only a few years ago. While this doesn't directly address the issue of what constitutes a "professional"camera today, it certainly suggests that the target is moving -- in the direction of mirrorless.

Ron Nabity said...

Kirk,

Your post is so right-on: "Went "pro" and bought all the trappings and then spent the next twenty years trying to get back to that simpler time." Reminds me of the basic premise of the book, "Your Money or Your Life" - it talks about having "enough" and the dissatisfaction that comes with pursuing more.

Yet this philosophy about "pro" gear strikes home with only one part of me. There is still a part of me that says (and yes, I'm going to admit this out loud), "It's my first assignment with a new client, will they have confidence in me if I walk in with a small camera and a couple of speedlights? Maybe I should bring out the big stuff until they get to know me better."

I acknowledge this concern about first impressions may only be in my head, but it sure does come up strongly. Or maybe it's just Withdrawal Symptoms.

Ron

kirk tuck said...

I feel the same resistance sometimes. Cure? Pack a bag of security blanket stuff and bring it along. Pull out the new stuff and shoot with it. If anyone freaks you always have the back up ready to go. My bet? They'll watch you set up, look at the first test image on the back LCD and smile and fully engage. People just want stuff to work...

Len said...

Spot on Kirk... As always.... I have been shooting with my EP-1 and doing pro work for years... Not one person noticed...

Mel said...

This so cures my urges to spend....gotta get out and shoot more with what I've got!

Poagao said...

Ah, the Buick Electra...first car I ever drove, in the summer of '76. We were both seven. The things we do for love...

Rob Grey said...

I'm reminded of a friend who, for many years, was a senior photographer at an outdoor magazine, and continues to contribute to said magazine. This friend would often bring along his small point-and-shoot on assignments in lieu of an SLR and a couple lenses, in the name of saving weight. This would raise eyebrows of course, but more often than not he would make photos that worked and were published. He figured that as long as the photos he made worked, then why not? Right? Made sense to me. He did have and used an SLR when it was called for, but the point-and-shoot was his "workhorse." He's now a big fan of the small mirrorless cameras, and is raising a family with images made with them...

Richard said...

This is the real reason you make the big bucks, Kurt, creativity! Hooray!!

Virtual Garrett said...

Thank you, Richard, I laughed my ass off!

Robert said...

I once asked the question does technology raise the bar?, on my blog and And finally have the words that best fit my answer. only creativity raises the bar.

epavel said...

Gregg, nice to see that I'm not alone :) Just got Pan G3 instead of 5DMk2

Kirk, many thanks for your articles. Seriously considering taking a MTF camera (with 45/1.8 of course) as the primary one for a next assignment.

DIM LS said...

i disagree with the article

DIM LS said...

D700 with voigtlander 40mm vs GF1 with pana 20mm.
No corelation:
deeper colors, more dynamic range, greater tones, less DOF when needed, easier composition, simultaneous composition and focus DECISION, not big setup, as it is with all classic manual zeiss primes.

You can blame 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8 as monsters. But you have 21mm,25mm,28mm,35mm,50mm,85mm primes that are years ago in imaging quality combined with an FF sensor. You have a system that SMELLS photography. Pentaprism with MF lenses on an FF camera is the most liberating photographic procedure, together with leica's system, if we are not talking about fast moving objects covered with telephoto lenses, and greatest photos and photographs are made with focal lenses from 24-85mm range.

Pentaprism is the best composition and viewing interface and the best focus decision interface either simultaneously. You have to be a photographer to understand this.

FF sensors are much better than current m43. I am not talking about numbers, i am talking about what eyes can see.

FF bodies, expept from optical viewfinder, have dedicated ISO button, Fn buttons, Dual controls, DOF priview, focus button, Exposure lock button, exposure compensation button, white balance button, c-s-m lens focus swich, d700 has metering mode switch, focus mode switch that all are active SIMULANEOUSLY. No m43 body is so mature and photographic. Same for OM-D.

I was a fan of m43 and 43, but its incomplete yet, and it has THE fundamental drawbacks. Rear lcd is not as good composition and viewing tool. Same with ELV, even if you can see the live histogramm... with the lcd or elv you cannot see the dof of your image as detailed as you can with penta and its vital when you shoot with f5.6 and less in FF. Magnification aids are good but you cannot see the whole image at the same time or you cannot judge the dof due to lack of resolution.

"cute little prime lenses (at a third the cost of their bigger cousins)" for 14 or 17 or 20mm m43 lenses is a joke from a puplic figure with professional image. These lenses are crap on m43 sensors if you compare its imaging to zeiss or nikon primes coupled with an FF sensor for example. If you were a teenager excited with new technology achievements you could say that. But now you cannot.

"I like little zooms like the 14-45" f3.5-f5.6 is like f7-f11 on ff, with plastic cheap feel. It is a very good KIT lens but nothing to compare with good FF zooms. Lets wait for pana 12-35 f2.8.

"but give me a little more focus coverage" is propaganda. This is one of the bigest drawbacks of m43. it is not advantage. FF can have this little more focus coverage as well, together with 2-3 stops of iso back-up (that m43 doesnt have) if you reach low shutter speeds.

All the article has a point but in every line you can see the bias, the lack of justice, the emotional judjment that at least is not convincing (in fact its furstrating) to the knowledgable photographers. It could make an inexperienced readed EXCITED but its MISLEADING. And i do not accept this light side of arguments from a profesinal and experienced writer.

p.s. i have tried 3 slr systems, and 1 m43. 1 slr system was oly e30 with 14-35, 7-14, 50mm.
m43 with 20mm, 14-45mm, voigt 40mm sl2, voigt 35mm f1.4 m mount, pana 45mm f2.8, pana 45-200.

kirk tuck said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kirk tuck said...

Your assessment is invalid for me and many others. There are intangibles in every camera choice, some of which you may not value the way others do.

Mark Davidson said...

I am a recovered gear hound. It was cured when my business nearly died in 2007/2008 because of the drop in business. I got rid of all my debt by selling all the gear that was cute but didn't put food on the table. I am down to two bodies and four key lenses. My lighting is compact and battery powered.

My business has recovered but my stinginess remains. Because of my compact gear I can do jobs quickly and assistant-free. I am looking at the new m43 Olys because I can see real use for them. But I will shoulder my gear til I am good and ready to change.

IMO the preoccupation with "pro" almost never comes from pros.

kirk tuck said...

Exactly right, Mark. Same procedure here.

Rob Grey said...

The micro-4/3 system may not be for you, but we don't know why, you don't mention what you shoot and who you shoot for. If you're a wedding photographer who makes big prints, then sure, your best choice would be a full frame camera with a control layout you're comfortable with. But there is nothing, in fact, stopping anyone with a m4/3 camera from doing the same.

Me, I shoot landscapes for fun, and I use a Hasselblad for that. When I shoot for work, I do editorial images for a music magazine... and I use an Olympus E-P1. No complaints yet, either. A D700 would be an excellent camera for that, too, but I like the Pen, I like its size, I like buying a whole kit with three lenses for the cost of a bulky "professional" 2.8 zoom. Because it works for me doesn't mean it has to work for you.

These cameras, they're all just tools. They don't define who we are, despite what the marketing hype would have us believe. Would you put so much stock into a hammer or drill?

Anyhow, you're probably just a troll and I walked right into it. Oh well.

P.S. Your notion of "crappy" seems skewed, because I've heard nothing but praise for the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 and images I've seen (albeit online) have been great.

DIM LS said...

I am not trolling and i have never done. i am also an amateur (not professional) so i shoot for myself as a hobby. I consider myself knowledgable about equipment, ergonomics and the technical aspects of photography. I have used GF1 and G1 extensively and i considered myself an exited early adopter of the new possibilities and the special and unique charateristics of the m43 mirrorless system. When i was m43 i had not tried FF and in fact i had the same attitude against FF as Kirk has. Actually, before getting D700 i was so excited with 25mm 0.95, a classic lens in classic focal length with shalow dof potential, that actually would "hit" FF straight to the head. it also showed me that the m43 system would have from the beginning a serious lens support (really only FF supports 28,35,50 and 85mm with high quality lenses) so m43 could be a strong and mature system.

But i found out that m43 system is still enough immature against FF. It has potential, but it will take some time to be enough complete. i have my reasoning for that and i do not have the time and the space to start wrighting, but you got an idea from my previous post.

With FF i see that it has much better potential.

My reasoning for my flaming(i admit it and im sorry if i was not calm enough and making personal attacks) comment is that i found Kirks article very biast in favor of m43, so much that it was not based on facts objectively but on emotional and not so much real facts. It can make people rush into m43 and then these people could not be so satisfied with m43. I would prefare a more objective article. This article is like a promo/advertisment for m43.

kirk tuck said...

DIMLS, The practice of photograph as an art form is hardly binary. And the Visual Science Lab isn't a "test site" for people buying their first camera system. Most of our readers have owned FF cameras for years, have a background in film and understand the trade offs. They are also interested in alternatives for any number of reasons. I've re-read the article again and I'm happy with it. I discussed the stuff I really liked about the m4:3 format and why I prefer it for many assignments. If you read through the 924 previous posts you'll find articles about Medium Format digital cameras, medium format film cameras and FF frame cameras from as far back as the Kodak SLR/n.

After one has become conversant with all the specs and theories and has used digital cameras for a decade the process of selecting a favorite can ONLY be emotional. Given your reductive reasoning no one would ever buy anything but a Phase One 80 megapixel Medium Format Digital Camera as it is the top rated by DXO, the highest image quality available for less than $100,000 and a great camera into the bargain.

But not everyone wants to spend the money to buy full frame cameras. Not everyone wants to always carry a full frame camera. And some people actually prefer the challenge of trying to make their m4:3 files look as good as FF files as they possibly can.

Are full frame cameras better? If you want ultimate resolution they might be (although DXO says that the a77 cropped frame camera from Sony is just about as good as the FF Canon 5dmk2 at normal ISOs). If you want something you can carry all day long maybe not.

Don't think that the long term readers here will rush out, uninformed or misinformed and buy whatever I tell them to. They will just fold my opinions into their process as one more datapoint.

Think for a moment about your response above and how it would relate to buying cars. Should we all drive Porsches because they are the fastest? Should we all buy Suburbans because they are the biggest? Or should we continue to buy cars based on our unique needs. A long distance commuter might do better with a Prius than a Suburban. A teenage driver might do better with a Volvo station wagon than the Porche (we'll probably be safer to).

You are trying to apply a subset of camera metrics which may not have the same priorities for other photographers. Don't you imagine that we all know how good and saturated the files from a Nikon D3x can be? But at the same time don't you think we can choose a camera like an Olympus EP3 if we decide to embark upon a walking tour of the Appalachian Trail?

A quick survey of our readers would reveal that the majority of them own more than one camera and more than just one system. We select the tool for the job. It's not like buying a house. We can afford more than one.

For the record, and well detailed in the past posts, I use Canon 5Dmk2's, Canon 1DSmk2's, a Sony a77, a box full of Hasselblad film cameras and several Kodak full frame digital cameras in addition to the micro fourth thirds cameras. All have a unique look and all are valid for a different intersection of photographic needs and constraints.

Don't read my articles if you didn't like this one. You probably won't like any of the others either.

DIM LS said...

Kirk, thanx for the answer.

Raianerastha said...

One thing I see "Wannabe" amateurs fail to consider in their comments about the superiority of FF over lesser formats (and on down the line, APS-C over 4/3, 4/3 over compact systems), is end use. Kirk, you mention this regularly and it seems to sail right over the heads of many people. I've worked in the printing and newspaper industry. Most photos that end up in newsprint don't need to be more than 1MB .jpeg, tops. Web use? If you give a web designer 6MB files, he's just going to reduce them and compress them to ones that won't take 20 or 30 seconds to load.

Now, I know people will argue that an editor or art director or graphic artist "demands" huge files to work with. Again that depends on the end use medium.

Oh yeah, let's not forget about the genre. What may be considered essential for a fashion photographer is situational for a free-lancer doing a company annual report, and not even a consideration for a photojournalist on assignment in Darfur.

Working as a pro isn't about laboriously analyzing sharpness of files, unless perhaps for fine art photographers. It's just as Kirk has said: delivering quality images at a price the client likes and on time. People hire the IMAGES, in a sense, rather than the photographer. (Some very famous and successful photographers are also overbearing boors or crass, self-absorbed "artistes", but their vision and style are so original clients put up with them).

The trump of any "that's not professional" claim is the fact that pros are using iPhones for full page fashion shots. Nothing more need be said.

Another thing it seems is forgotten is enjoying the job. That enjoyment should be the right of the photographer (I once met a successful wedding photographer who hated doing weddings, but "Hey, it's a living" LOL). So if Kirk-or any other professional-enjoys using a G3 and some 50 year old legacy primes to shoot a paying gig, and the client is satisfied, so much the better.

pixieslv said...

Being a pro is delivering images on time that are acceptable. Being a good pro is showing more than they expected. It is NOT about equipment! Sorry all you gear-heads.
i use tiny P/S Digital cameras, a few in a pocket, spare batteries. Most of my stuff is for internet. My PC a gift. A small laptop soon. The price is getting good!
Do i use the big names. The big pro equipment? I own it and sometimes for a special job, use it. The Nikons,Canon,Pentax or Leica systems.The weight kills me!
Kirk's writing is valid, it is how to do a job easily and MAKE money. Not invest in more equipment with weird lenses, like Noctilux! Anyway even Kirk can't come home with that one! Where is your kid's college fund?
Being pro also means enjoying what you do. i love who and what i do.