The camera doesn't make the photographer.
We all know that.
Then again professional equipment can and will enhance your business and art.
I know the world has changed . . . I know that people want more for less in all spectrums of society, but turning a healthy profit for yourself and clients is not a dirty word.
I personally want my suppliers to have success because if they don't they won't be around.
Throughout my career we've invested in our business. Studios, vehicles, equipment. For a lot of years I had a simple rule that when I produce a large project I would buy something substantial, something that would last.
In a way it was my rainy day fund and when I look at the equipment I own, my medium format backs have lasted longer than anything I use, except some lighting and grip.
What this allowed me to do when budgets contracted I could use the equipment I preferred without having to toss profit to a rental house.
Sure the Nikon is close to medium format in spec, but then again when I bought my backs, there was no 30 mpx 35mm cameras and even today when tethering 35mm hits the buffer, my phase backs don't, 35mm has very limited software suites, my phase backs have robust professional suites and are more viable today than they were when I bought them.
Does that mean everyone should buy a medium format back? No. But does that mean that medium format is obsolete. No.
I do know that commercial clients expect professional equipment. They might not know a profoto from a Alien Bee, but they do know if the photographer is well equipped enough to produce their project.
They know when lights stop working, or something stops the project.
They know when a camera loses connection in tethering, when a file isn't large enough or deep enough to work in post with options, when skin tones look bright orange instead of beautiful brown.
Lately we get a lot of projects that have the "real" word as the driver of the creative brief. I always ask a client to send me a visual reference of what they consider "real" and every time its a heavily produced image with a lot of post production.
It may look "real" in their view, but knowing what it takes to produce a comprehensive project, I know that it takes real professional equipment and crew.
It's a cute idea to think that real is instigram and that will do, but that is rarely the case.
When I mentioned the race to the bottom, it's not about quality or effort. It's just about price. As I said everyone wants to pay less, but I've yet to meet a client that wants less effort or investment from our studios regardless of price.
That's why we invested long ago and continue to.
What is completely left off of these discussions is what equipment I use for professional work. I find it interesting that when I go through the portfolio we present, 40% is shot with CCD based cameras, mostly medium format, though in the broader scheme, probably 80% of what we shoot is done with 35mm.
What I also find interesting that when we shoot something for ourselves, or for editorial (which is really for ourself), we rarely use a 35mm dslr.
Personal work is the most important thing we do, because this is the work that eventually gets us booked.
Now I'm not married to any camera or equipment and if I need a D800 I'll buy one in a moment, but so far I don't because I invested a long time ago.
But when it comes to investment all I can go from is the past. In the time I've owned my Phase backs, I've also owned three sets of Nikons and two sets of Canons.
That doesn't mean any of these cameras or bad or not useful, but for me (and I only speak for me) the digital backs have had a much longer life span.
But as I keep saying, don't take my word for it, try everything yourself and look at the world in worst case scenario.
I own Nikons(3), Lecia(1), Canons(3), REDs(3) and a Sony handicam (1) and I can promise that when issues arise (and issues always arise) my Phase dealer gives me information anytime of day or night. When I previously owned a Leaf I could reach them direct anytime, from any time zone.
The others don't.