Luminous Landscape Forum

Equipment & Techniques => Pro Business Discussion => Topic started by: djordjez on August 20, 2018, 08:10:23 am

Title: Scaling down a gear
Post by: djordjez on August 20, 2018, 08:10:23 am
Hi all experienced users,

In a last three years ago I did a significant gear upgrade. I purchased Broncolor lights, last summer went back to MF with Phase One kit. I did pushed myself to the financial limits, but I love this gear and result. But, trying to be business smart, I did noticed several things:

- None of the clients has asked me to shoot with medium format camera.
- except one personal project, there where no real critical need for battery powered Broncolor gear.

There is no room to go with higher prices because of more expensive gear. So I am thinking...am I actually loosing money, but I am totally unaware of that. I am thinking to sell Bron + MF, and have that money as a safe fund or as saving. I already have Nikon gear.

what are you thoughts as experienced users? Do we sometimes get prisoners of our childish desires ? Overall I am not super satisfied with my overall lifestyle, especially how much money [loan] on monthly basis goes for this gear.

Please note that I live in Montenegro, tiny tiny country in Europe without any rental place.

Best,

Dj.
Title: Re: Scaling down a gear
Post by: KevinA on October 27, 2018, 11:40:05 am
Hi all experienced users,

In a last three years ago I did a significant gear upgrade. I purchased Broncolor lights, last summer went back to MF with Phase One kit. I did pushed myself to the financial limits, but I love this gear and result. But, trying to be business smart, I did noticed several things:

- None of the clients has asked me to shoot with medium format camera.
- except one personal project, there where no real critical need for battery powered Broncolor gear.

There is no room to go with higher prices because of more expensive gear. So I am thinking...am I actually loosing money, but I am totally unaware of that. I am thinking to sell Bron + MF, and have that money as a safe fund or as saving. I already have Nikon gear.

what are you thoughts as experienced users? Do we sometimes get prisoners of our childish desires ? Overall I am not super satisfied with my overall lifestyle, especially how much money [loan] on monthly basis goes for this gear.

Please note that I live in Montenegro, tiny tiny country in Europe without any rental place.

Best,

Dj.
No one gives a toss what you shoot with. I nearly went the MF route some years ago but I couldn't see where the extra moey would come from to justify the investment. Unless you are in some high-end niche market you don't need MF.
Many years ago a friend of mine shot mostly 10x8, his clients insisted on it, then digital came along and they wanted it all shot on a digital 35mm, then it was the Canon 5D. Providing the flash goes bang when you want it to, any make will do.
Anything you can do to cut costs that doesnt compromise your work is well worth doing. Thats my opinion.
Title: Re: Scaling down a gear
Post by: TonyVentourisPhotography on October 28, 2018, 09:38:10 am
Only select jobs ďrequireĒ medium format digital of the latest.  And those jobs will probably afford rental fees to obtain it. 

I bought into medium format several years ago because a tech cam and digital back was the best I could get for architecture which I shoot full time.  A couple clients did notice the difference, and appreciate. The rest have no clue and donít care.  In fact if the overall shot is great, thatís all that matters.  A lot of my clients that I used to deliver medium format to, I know deliver micro 4/3 and they are still saying wow, the amazing.  No one has noticed.  I now shoot 90% Olympus.  The rest are shoots with the phase that I critically need a tech cam.  Iím using the Olympus and digitally shifting because my work is done more efficiently even compared to the tech cam.  Results look identical in most cases. 

If financially it is putting you out...do the smart thing for your business.  A good business endures and lasts.  Donít let gear shut your business down.  Iíve been in business 11 years now shooting.  It takes time, but the more each shoot is profit, the longer you can sustain yourself viably. 
Title: Re: Scaling down a gear
Post by: Two23 on October 28, 2018, 11:53:16 am
It's been my own experience shooting weddings that none of my customers could tell what camera I used.  As long as you are delivering acceptable quality they are happy.  They are sensitive to creative and dynamic composition, but not camera gear.  It makes no sense to keep expensive stuff that isn't earning you income.  Not only that, you are losing money because it slowly loses value with time.


Kent in SD
Title: Re: Scaling down a gear
Post by: mstevensphoto on November 05, 2018, 10:43:40 pm
your problem, as I see it, is that you've already bought the gear. what you will now get for it used will be so much less that it may not make any sense to sell it.

As to nobody demanding you shoot MF, that's likely true of most clients - but- there is a certain "professional" feeling that some will get. when I do the dog and pony show because there's an ad agency person present I drag out the profoto, the big tripod, all the crap and do exactly the same thing I can do with my Einstein flashes, easy to use tripod and half the crap.....I can literally make a reflector out of a piece of white paper or an expensive screen on collapsible frame or I can use a fill light and giant soft box...it's lame, but sometimes that show is what gets you taken seriously and the client feeling like they made the right choice.
Title: Re: Scaling down a gear
Post by: David Eichler on November 06, 2018, 03:04:31 am
Hi all experienced users,

In a last three years ago I did a significant gear upgrade. I purchased Broncolor lights, last summer went back to MF with Phase One kit. I did pushed myself to the financial limits, but I love this gear and result. But, trying to be business smart, I did noticed several things:

- None of the clients has asked me to shoot with medium format camera.
- except one personal project, there where no real critical need for battery powered Broncolor gear.

There is no room to go with higher prices because of more expensive gear. So I am thinking...am I actually loosing money, but I am totally unaware of that. I am thinking to sell Bron + MF, and have that money as a safe fund or as saving. I already have Nikon gear.

what are you thoughts as experienced users? Do we sometimes get prisoners of our childish desires ? Overall I am not super satisfied with my overall lifestyle, especially how much money [loan] on monthly basis goes for this gear.

Please note that I live in Montenegro, tiny tiny country in Europe without any rental place.

Best,

Dj.

No one can really answer this question but you, unless....  If this equipment is purely for professional use and you are clearly not making enough money to cover the cost or don't expect to be able to that, then it clearly makes no sense.

Commercially, I think the only clear justification for a larger format these days is if you need to be able make major crops without losing substantial quality or if you need to offer the capability to make very large prints or reproductions that will be viewed at close range, and you are able to charge enough to offer these capabilities.
Title: Re: Scaling down a gear
Post by: Ken Bennett on November 24, 2018, 09:11:07 pm
When I was a young photographer I thought I needed a big medium format system, so I borrowed a lot of money and bought a complete Bronica SQ-A kit. Then I thought I needed "professional" strobes so I borrowed more money and bought a big Dynalite kit. Both of those decisions ended up being pretty heavy anchors around my neck when the economy got worse. The reality for me was that the kind of work that I liked, and was reasonably good at, could be done with 35mm cameras and some basic flash equipment.

Nowadays, some of the smallest cameras make amazing quality images - see for example the little Sony full frame cameras. Any decent modern camera will provide professional level files to clients. And we are in the golden age of inexpensive, feature-intensive flash systems -- see the Godox stuff, for example. Amazing. I'm shooting Fuji X series cameras and a complete kit of Godox flashes -- the whole flash kit probably cost less than $2000 -- about the cost of a single battery monolight from a high-end flash maker. I get good results, our designers are happy, and the overall cost is relatively low.

(OK, yes, I am also shooting with the Fuji GFX system, but I have the distinct and rare advantage of being a staff photographer and my employer purchased it [and many thanks to them.] I would not purchase it if I were freelancing -- none of my clients would ever want to spend more money for me to shoot with MF gear. Note that I own my own crop-sensor Fuji gear.)

Should you sell your Medium Format gear, and your high end flash system? Only you can answer that. If you can easily afford the systems, and they make you happy when using them, there's your answer. I have several pieces of kit that are overpriced but make me happy when using them. But if the monthly payments are a serious drag on your budget, and you don't see any additional revenue from the systems, maybe you don't need them. Or, perhaps you can find clients who do see the value in using MF gear and high end flash units. Perhaps the personal work you are doing with the flash system can attract clients who want something similar.

Good luck with everything.
Title: Re: Scaling down a gear
Post by: langier on November 24, 2018, 10:03:44 pm
In the past ten years of travel to the Balkans, I did the same. Upgraded to full-frame, brought lights, heavy lenses and all the support. The files were gorgeous but the wear-and-tear of travel packing it all and raised eyebrows in customs...

Five years ago, I brought an M43 camera along. Half the size, weight, etc. Image quality as good as my first trip to Balkans. Starting three years ago, the full-frame stayed home and even in my domestic work, a lot is done on the little camera, much with existing lighting.

For me, it's liberating is weight, size, and I'm under the radar when I'm shooting. Few feel threatened by the little camera, they make little noise, but great images. If I need the higher resolution of my full-frame, I put the camera on a tripod and shoot at twice the size of the larger camera.

Besides weight and size, the cameras are less expensive to purchase, as are the lenses. A bonus for the bottom line!

So thinking pragmatically, it's a win-win to downsize and though larger tools and great lighting was fun while it lasted, it's a lot more fun not to have to work for the tools that are supposed to work for us.
Title: Re: Scaling down a gear
Post by: Msstudio on December 08, 2018, 01:30:34 pm
Obviously it really becomes a real personal decision, pushing your financial limits is a real tricky proposition, don't overdo it. I've seen this backfire more than once, with tragic consequences.
My take on this is that certain MF solutions are hard/not to be obtained (or limited) with other equipment, mainly flash sync time (vs. HSS) and then there's 16bit color, which miss dearly when shooting beauty or critical skin color on lower budget jobs that don't allow for MF capture. On the other hand, high end equipment sets you apart from other competitors and high end amateurs. I do have clients who occasionally request MF capture with all that comes with it and others who don't, but start paying extra attention once these unfamiliar cameras come out (from the subjects too their publicists etc.).
Then theres the reliability of the high end lighting equipment: I had a case earlier this year where one photographer came in with "generic" strobe equipment and shot in the morning and had serious issues with power, recycle and blowouts whereas I shot in the same room (same power outlets etc.) in the afternoon with Profoto and had not a single glitch, thats what I pay for.
Unfortunately, selling high end equipment on the used market meets rather little demand, so you'll take a sizable loss. But if you feel a set of 35mm DSLRs with a small set of lenses and a downsized lighting would fit your style better, i'd go for it, all about downsizing. Personally I started to incorporate the new Profoto B10 and have to admit im pretty blown away, super small, reliable and nice quality light.