CSC - professional tool?

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by soundimageplus, Apr 21, 2011.

  1. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus SC Top Veteran

    Jul 6, 2010
    In the current issue of Professional Photographer - the UK magazine - the editor Grant Scott talks about using Compact System Cameras in the professional environment. He begins by recounting a job he did for Russian Vogue, for which he used a Panasonic GF1 alongside his Canons. Vogue ended up using 3 shots taken with the camera for the magazine and had no issue with the quality.

    He concludes the article (only available in the magazine and not online) by writing:-
    "All this may be a little strange for those who see the CSC as nothing more than a compact on which you can change the lens, but if you have yet to get your hands on a CSC to see what they are capable of (and I am sure you will be both surprised and impressed) I suggest you waste no more time and try one out.

    I'm not saying it will replace your existing kit, but I know that mine has become an essential piece of my photographic arsenal which I would not want to be without and it will definitely be in use on my next commissioned shoot.

    After all wasn't the Leica M series the first CSC? And few of us have a problem shooting with a Leica!"

    While this won't be news to many of us, the fact that the editor of a magazine, aimed fairly and squarely at the working pro, comes out with both an endorsement of CSC's and a positive recommendation to try them out is something different. The writing in this area has mainly consisted of "Yes they are good cameras, but not for serious pro work" type appraisals.

    I'm currently very close to completely getting rid of everything else to work exclusively with CSC's. I earn my living shooting stock photography plus commissioned work for commercial and industrial clients. I'm hoping the next round of camera upgrades will finally give me everything that I need. Mainly with regard to low light performance. Though my on order Fuji X100 will help with that.

    To be honest the bulk of what I do could be accomplished now anyway, but I'd just like to be sure I can handle everything that might get thrown my way. Not that any of this posed a problem in days gone by. High ISO work and fast responding cameras were not a feature of medium-format film work, but we all seemed to manage somehow. Nor did we have Photoshop to fall back on.

    I would suggest all of this makes a nonsense of some of the opinions that get voiced on other forums. Most of which seem to be along the lines of, the DSLR is still king. Well No. The photographer and the results he/she produces are king and always will be.

    I'll end with one of my favourite David Bailey stories. Back in the early 2000's he shot an assignment for Vogue and used an Olympus E-10. (4 MP) He sent the magazine a digital file (all of 10.8 MB) and got a phone call back saying we can't use this. He then printed out the file, sent them that and they happily scanned it and put it on the front cover.

    So we use what we use, but we get hired for what we see.
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  2. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Real Name:
    David - love that closing story!

    I find it pretty interesting that both you and olli ended up writing pieces that compliment each other so well - it's almost as though you planned it, though I'm 99.99% sure that you didn't. I really enjoy having read olli's big picture overview - zeroing in on Nikon and Canon's holding back - first and then finding your very personal account! I'll be looking forward to seeing where things go for you in regards to pairing down your cameras with regard to your needs as a professional.
  3. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Real Name:
    Nice piece David.

    While I know there are some areas in which our smaller cameras cannot always match more traditional DSLRs (dynamic range, sheer resolution) I believe these performance figures leave aside the key point - the final product.

    I have found that my GF1 has encouraged and pushed me to be a better photographer. I don't always have the latitude in post that I had with some other cameras. The difference is not huge, but it is significant. So my composition is more thorough, my response to light and the use of various controls is more refined. I fell that I am a more skilled photographer. This has yet to translate to good photographs, but I am trying...:rolleyes:
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  4. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus SC Top Veteran

    Jul 6, 2010
    With regard to dynamic range, figures do show a poorer latitude on m4/3 but not all DSLR's have great dynamic range, and my Leica M9 full frame is really bad at it. No digital camera can yet compete with film with regard to this, but we all seem to manage. There are very few images that I take on CSC's that really suffer because of reduced DR. I do think its exaggerated.

    As to resolution, when the G1 appeared, several reviews said that it out-resolved a Nikon D3 and D700 at low ISO's, and having used both cameras I agree with that. The GH2 at ISO 100, with one of the prime lenses and especially with a M-mount Zeiss or Leica, is capable of astonishing results & to my eyes surpasses anything I can get from a DSLR. My GH2 is certainly sharper than my Sony a850 25MP full-frame monster, a D3X, 7D, 5D MkII or anything else I've ever used. Its only surpassed for that by my Leica M9. By shooting raw and processing carefully I don't have any problem with the IQ from that camera.

    DSLR's tend to have quite heavy anti-aliasing filters, because of the nature of the work they get used for. "Pro" DSLR's particularly have to have it because otherwise they could never be used for things like fashion shows or anything involving patterned clothing as the moire would just be unaceptable. They also tend to get used much more often in low-light situations, so thats a consideration also. The Nikon D3 is a great camera for low light and high ISO's but its not the sharpest at low ISO's.
  5. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Real Name:
    I pretty much agree. The M4/3 cameras are very capable, and if used with attention and good post-processing I am happy with what I have been able to do. Sometimes I have been deeply impressed. I would say though that with my 5D I noticed greater latitude, especially with shadows. I am confident that this can be, or perhaps with the GH2 sensor, has been matched. I think with the K5 and D7000 sensors we see what can be done, and although they are larger sensors I am confident M4/3 is close.

    All of this swings us back to the product depth. If the IQ is somewhere between good enough and as good as DSLR, some of the biggest challenges for serious to pro photographers are: the range of lenses, the ancillary gear and the product servicing and support. The guys making these cameras have to decide what they want to be.

    From a commercial perspective they certainly need volume and as phones threaten P&S, cameras like the GF2 make sense for them. The downside, as I see it, is that most people who move up from P&S do not keep moving up and/or do not buy a wide range of gear or services. The serious amateurs are the customers with depth. But of course unless you have a volume business you won't have the R&D cash to develop for the serious people, or the ability to carry some equipment that does not make a profit but does keep customers who are profitable overall.

    Perhaps I am just optimistic, but my hope is that the perfectly understandable move to the GF2 does not preclude continued support for more serious photographers, but is an effort to grow the volume business needed for overall growth. The margins on higher-end stuff is usually better, but you need both streams.
  6. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Jul 3, 2010
    Love the David Bailey anecdote.

    It seems pretty clear to me that current CSCs can be used for at least some of the professional work being done out there and probably a lot of it. Like you said, it's significant to see the editor of a magazine for working pros coming on board (officially) with this concept!