The major difference between being a professional photographer and a budding amateur is the toll your work takes on the gear you own. Since I bought my Canon 1D mkIII over four years ago it has taken over 100,000 images and been the main camera for over 60 sessions and 10 international trips. In that time it has worked flawlessly; never a problem…until last week. While shooting a majorly important campaign for Paderno Cookware that involved being in the snow while a model held a new eco-friendly pan as she faced into a grove of trees, I noticed that my viewfinder now longer was clear due to darkness. In fact, I could only see through the eyepiece if I was about 3 inches back. This is not a good situation when it is bright, the snow is increasing and the model needs to hold a product. Fortunately, it all went well as professionals can handle quirky situations.
I completed another major branding piece for Graeme Cameron of Base Camp X the next day, and still lots of problems with the eyepiece. Frankly, I had decided that it was time to accept that the camera had lasted through tough work and needed to be sent out to pasture. At only 10 MP in the days when 20MP are the base standard, it might be time to either spend another $7000 for the Canon 1D X or switch to a Hasselblad CFV back. Time plays tricks on us, however, and while searching for lost items I came across the problem: the focusing screen that fits below the mirror had fallen out of the body while my cold hands were fumbling with a lens change. In lieu of needing to replace the $7000 body I am opting to replace the now scratched screen with an upgraded screen and to replace the worn out eyecup. Total cost $90 all in from B&H Photo in New York City.
The other piece that I needed to upgrade to is a beauty dish. I have found that over time I am taking more and more photographs of people and needed a second soft reflector. My Profoto umbrella became a little bent from use, so it is the perfect time to cough up $400 for a soft white beauty dish. I had a hard time choosing between the reflector and a second soft box, but in the end I think that the beauty dish will be more useful. The Profoto equipment has worked out very well for me. While it is quite expensive compare to the Alien Bees lights I started with, the colour consistency is critical for the type of work that I generally do. Plus, Profoto is built on a whole different level. My take on gear: buy professional gear if you are a professional because over time you will need to repair it instead of replacing it. A great camera or solid reflector are more important than you think.