In my article yesterday I suggested that if you consider yourself a pro video shooter you should consider upgrading to a pro camera. I got a lot of debate from this idea and the resounding statement that many people said was that a pro camera does not make you a pro shooter. And in the same thought a crappy camera can be made to shine in the hands of a skilled professional.

This I agree with 100%. However, I think people confuse two different forms of professionals. I want to separate them and challenge you to consider where you stand.

The “Professional” Artist

This is someone who is experienced in every facet of their art form. In video, they are skilled at lighting, composition, storytelling, etc. They could make an iPhone shine. They are not limited by the the camera they choose. In fact some enjoy the challenge of producing content on a “less pro” medium.

The “Professional” Business(person)

This is someone who not only enjoys the art of their craft, but also chooses to do it for a living. They have clients that they work with to produce content for. They have income and expenses, marketing and competition, due dates and revisions, etc. For the businessperson, their art form is what they sell and the quality of their equipment simply backs that up.

I’ve always said there are three things that make up a “professional” shooter:

  • The ability to see a shot.
  • The ability to own (or have access to) the gear.
  • The ability to use the gear to get the shot.

I’ve seen a lot of people with fancy gear and crappy video. On the other hand, I’ve seen really talented people who have been limited by the gear at their disposal.

The other half of the equation I touched on in a previous article, Camera Gear: DIY vs. Buy. In this article I discussed the advantages of building DIY gear versus the advantages of owning professional gear designed to do the job right. This point can be made for the cameras as well. A paying client shouldn’t have to deal with the limitations of your gear. If they do, don’t expect to charge top dollar.

There are TV ads being shown in your town that ranged in budget from $100 to $1 million+. What made the difference? The skill of the the shooter/agency, the quality of the message, the talent in front of the camera, the expenses in props, locations, etc. and finally the equipment used. I promise you most $500,000 TV ads were not shot on a Handycam and most $100 ads were not shot on a Red Epic.

IF you are a professional, IF you are charging your clients money and IF you plan on doing video as some sort of business into the near future, I would suggest that your gear reflects your rate. If you’re charging your clients pennies to shoot something, then by all means, a DSLR may be more than sufficient. But if you want to step into the realm of high-end clients and larger rates, then it’s time to up your game.

Consider the following good advice to keep in mind: If you want to compete with other video professionals in your area, the DSLR will not cut it in the near future. Technology evolves and you have to stay with it. Those who don’t are left in the dust. Just drive down your street and look at all the vacant office buildings from companies who couldn’t maintain a profit in today’s market.

All that said, an artist is free to paint with whatever brush they want. Keep experimenting and growing in your craft. It is incredibly exciting to see what people are doing with the limitations they are presented with.