Is my camera “professional”?

A recent thread on Flickr about the unavailability of the D70s devolved into a question about whether the Nikon D70 is a “professional” camera or not.

It started with an comment by davehodg: “The camera is the hammer, the photographer is the craftsman.”

A point I agree with.

sam_ fired back: “Nikon currently produces five digital SLR models, including two “professional” models and three intended for consumers. The professional models include the D2X and D2Hs. While the consumer models include the D50, D70s and D200. Regardless of your personal opinion davehodg, this is how Nikon markets the mentioned cameras.”

A point I also agree with.

Then a whole slew of posts followed using durability to distinguish professional and non-professional cameras.

The “durability argument”

The problem with the “durability” argument is that along comes the Nikon D200 which weather-sealed but marketed as a consumer/enthusiast digicam. It recently won a TIPA as best “expert” dSLR. The Canon EOS 5D ($3000 street) won a TIPA for the best “professional” dSLR and yet it isn’t weather-sealed.

I think sam_ is closer to the truth. In general, it’s how the camera is marketed, not the “durability” or a similar moving target. Simply put: the D70 is marketed as a consumer camera even though its metering system is better than nearly every Nikon film camera on the market; the D200 is marketed as an “enthusiast” camera even though it is weather-sealed; the D2X and D2H is marketed as a “professional” camera and ex post facto people come up with the “durability” argument to distinguish camera lines.

Before, it was megapixels, sensor size, metering, frame-rate, etc. What’s next? An integrated battery grip suddenly makes it “pro” and other cameras “consumer”?

Price is going to be a stronger correlate between “pro” and “consumer” than any other single feature.

Back on topic: D70s availability

My guess is that the D200 and the 18-200mm DX VR popularity is diverting the Thailand factory’s manufacturing resources away from the D70s and 18-70mm DX kit. For instance, D200 are not always in stock and my 18-200mm DX VR has been on backorder for two months (the camera store is still filling out backorders dating to the middle of January!). Isn’t it reasonable to assume that the D70s is just hard to come by for this reason?

That coupled with recent D70s price drops means that you now have a backorder situation on the D70s and D70s kits.

By the time the D200 and 18-200mm kit lenses catch up with worldwide demand, Nikon will introduce the D90 and throw another monkey wrench into things. But since that won’t happen until this fall, I don’t think you could say Nikon is clearing their channels for such a camera.

So is my camera “professional”?

Do I make money with it?


My camera isn’t professional. The same camera (Nikon D70) in someone else’s hands is. Many pros make money with cameras much worse than mine.

17 thoughts on “Is my camera “professional”?

  1. This is true. My friends uncle is a professional full time photographer. His primary camera is a Nikon F3. Sometimes he borrows my friends D70 🙂

    My biggest problem with DSLRs and there “pro” or “consumer” level is the price.
    Before (you know, those film days) the F100 was the “prosumer” camera with pro features in a body you could afford. $1k CAD. Most consumer SLRs were half or less. Now my D70 is $1k, and in a lot of ways it’s a very consumer oriented camera, barely comparable to the F100. Along (finally, because the D100 isn’t really up to it) comes the D200. A Digital SLR worthy of comparison to the F100 at over 2x the price. It’s almost hitting the cost of a new F5. Of course you can get into the whole film/developing cost savings thing.

  2. It’s a great post, but don’t take no notice of those with pricier cameras telling you that their kit’s better.
    The camera doesn’t matter one iota.
    A friend of mine has a canon 5d with all the obligatory ‘L’ series lenses that an ‘enthusiast’ takes pride in. For twenty years he’s been taking photographs of everything he can and never sold a photograph in a gallery. In contrast, check out Nitsa, ( ) after less than six years photography she is the most ‘hit-on’ photographer on the net. She buys her cameras from second-hand shops and boot-sales, basically any camera goes.
    What makes a professional is the photographer, not the kit. Just because you own a Farrari doesn’t make you a better driver.
    The one thing all pros have though is direction, none of this ‘jack of all trades’. A landscape photographer shoots nothing but landscapes, portrait photographers stick with portraits, etc

  3. Thanks for picking that comment up. I did wonder wether I’d get flamed to heck by the hardware fetishists but it seemed to go down OK 🙂

    @mark: The nonphotography link is awesome.

  4. @Dave: Thanks for bringing it up!

    @mark, @loïc: I was going to respond but I think I’ll make it a future blog entry.

  5. Pingback:
  6. I don’t know how linked this article and their blog has registration disabled (which you need to comment). Here is my response to the above article:

    Actually the noise in CCDs is going to be lower than on CMOS. The only exception will be dark current noise (long exposure) in a consumer device (not astronomy). This is because CCDs require an off chip processor which is run at a higher voltage (gained up) and generate a lot of heat in the box. That’s why Nikon cameras need Long Exposure NR.

    The reason it isn’t noticed is because microlenses in the camera focus a lot of the available light on the tiny photosensitive area of the CMOS mitigates this problem. Also the Canon 5D has much less photosites per square inch (because it is only 2 megapixels more but covers a full 35mm frame) which means that more light is gathered into the pixel minimizing shot noise. When you add Canon’s traditionally more aggressive image processing, you end up with the 5D testing out less noisy than the D200 and the Rebel XT testing out less noisy than the D70. (Though the D50 tests out less noisy than the Rebel XT even though it has the same sensor as the D70!)

    (Note that the high dependency on microlenses in CMOS aggravates the problem the Canon 5D has with vignetting as light near the edges of a 35mm frame are not normally incident (they’re at an angle).)

    Personally, I’d love a Canon 5D and a Nikon D200. But having to choose one, I’ll stick with the latter. It does, as you say, “bridge the gap between pro and consumer cameras”

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