What Cameras Do Professional Photographers Use?

No doubt you hear the term ‘professional camera’ brandished about like a selfie stick. But what does this really mean? In a world where smartphones can produce feature-length movies, professional photographers can use a huge variety of cameras for stunning results.

However, there are still cameras and accessories that are favoured by professional photographers. And this article aims to outline what these are, to help those of you thinking of embarking on a photography career or who simply want the same gear as the professionals.

Cameras

Many professional photographers use high-end Canon or Nikon DSLRs, such as a Canon EOS 1DX Mark II or a Nikon D5.

These are the crème de la crème of cameras, designed to produce amazing results. Both cameras feature over 20 megapixels, staggering autofocus, 4k video recording, great ISO sensitivity, frame rates between 12-14FPS (the Nikon D5 has a jaw dropping 153-point AF system), and more.

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But this isn’t to say that you need an expensive camera to be a professional photographer. Some professional photographers are more than happy with a mid-range option like a Canon 7D or a Nikon D750.

The selection of camera comes down to the type of professional photography too. A professional sports photographer might carefully consider the FPS specs to ensure the camera can handle the fast-moving athletes.

Meanwhile, a photojournalist might prefer a rugged, compact camera body that can endure extreme conditions. The Sony Alpha A7S is one such example, a high-quality, sturdy compact camera and the world’s smallest interchangeable lens camera.

Generally, professional photographers in all fields will look for cameras with:

  • Large pixel size
  • A high ISO and low image noise
  • Fast, effective focusing
  • Fast shutter speed
  • Weight balance between the camera body and large lenses
  • Colour accuracy
  • Camera durability

Camera Lenses

Professional photographers will likely spend more and focus more attention to camera lenses than the camera body.

How many lenses you require depends on your budget and the type of photography you want to undertake. Some professionals pack an arsenal of lenses. Others prefer to pack light and take a couple of versatile options.

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Here’s an example kit bag for a professional photographer who uses a Canon DSLR:

  • An EF 16–35mm f/2.8L lens is an impressive example of a wide-angle lens that delivers low-light performance and depth-of-field control for most types of professional photography.
  • A EF 24–70mm f/2.8L all-rounder type lens is known for its image quality and versatility. It can be used equally well for indoor event photography as outdoorsy landscape photography.
  • A 70–200mm f/2.8L telephoto lens allows you to get up-close-and-personal with nature or sports, and the modern versions come equipped with powerful image stabilisation and ultrasonic focusing technology. Sports photographers may also want a super-telephoto lens of 300mm or 400mm.
  • A 50mm f/1.2L prime lens is a photographer’s favourite and a great tool to have in your toolbox. The focal length, when combined with a full-frame sensor, is considered to most closely resemble the perspective seen by the human eye.

Photography Equipment

One major difference between professional and not-so-professional photographers is the sheer amount of photography equipment. Full time photographers should be prepared for any situation and, as such, often carry around an array of accessories.

Tripods

A reliable tripod that you can set up quickly is an essential item for professional photographers. You never know when the need for a formal group photo or a remote-triggered composition will strike.

Batteries

Almost every professional photographer will have a horror story about losing battery at a pivotal moment (read our tips on how to conserve battery life to ensure this doesn’t happen to you). Almost every one of them will then extol the virtues of carrying at least one spare battery in their camera bags at all times.

Memory cards

Photographers will often carry three or four storage cards with them. And not just any storage cards. Unbeknownst to some, there is a huge gulf in quality among memory card classes so make sure your cards are capable of handling the speeds of your camera.

Lighting

Wedding, event and portrait photographers in particular like to be able to control light, and a light meter can help determine an accurate flash exposure for your environment. Consider investing in a softbox, reflector or umbrella to soften light and manipulate it to your desires.

Bags

All of these key photography accessories, plus your other optional extras like a remote or lens hoods, lens caps and filters need to go somewhere. That’s why your camera bag is so crucial. You want it to fit and for all your tools to be readily accessible, in a logical, organised manner that works for you.

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Read more Camera House blog posts for professional photography tips or get the gear the professionals use by shopping the huge range of camera products now.

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