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FORUMS General Gear Talk Camera Vs. Camera 
Thread started 11 Feb 2015 (Wednesday) 09:18
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Why do Pros Use Inferior Camera as a Back-up

 
Larry ­ Johnson
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Feb 11, 2015 09:18 |  #1

Like many, I've been looking to upgrade cameras. One of the cameras that I'm considering is often described as "a good back-up but not my first choice." (I'm assuming that a back-up is a spare that is used if something goes wrong with the first choice camera.) Why would someone use what they consider to be a second choice camera as a back-up. If it's not your first choice, why would you have it as a spare. On the other hand, if it's good enough as a back-up, why not use it as your first choice. I'm sure a lot of it has to do with cost, but that just doesn't seem logical to me from a professional stand-point.


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Trvlr323
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Feb 11, 2015 09:28 |  #2

You have to figure economics into the choice. If it is a rarely used 'only if the primary breaks' backup it makes little sense to most to sink a huge chunk of money into it. The backup will be used in a specific situation to get the job done till the primary is replaced or repaired so, 'good enough' to get you out of a pinch but maybe not 'good enough' to use all the time. There is also the issue of function. I used an APS-C body as backup to my 5D3 for a long time. While it was 'inferior' to many it was worth its weight in gold to me when the crop factor was an advantage. It all just depends on your personal perspective.


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Feb 11, 2015 09:50 |  #3

As an emerging pro, I don't have the money to duplicate my kit, the 5DM3 and all of the EF lenses. When I'm on a job, I bring the 60D, an APS-C body, along with a separate lens as a backup kit. Should anything happen to the 5DM3 and/or any of the lenses, I still have the backup. is it ideal? No, but it works. Accordingly, I keep current with the 60D. I use it and have fun with it.

When did I get the 60D? I got that before the 5DM3. It was my main camera for some time, and is a fine camera. When I went to the 5DM3, I kept the 60D. Why get rid of a perfectly good camera, especially when my goal was to go pro on some level? I'd ultimately need a backup, and I figured it was ideal for that. Have I used it as a backup? No. I've brought it anyway.

Besides, define "inferior". My first professional book photos went on the front and back cover of a technical book on aviation safety, along with some inside. The photos were taken with a G9. Inferior is what you make it. I've seen people take terrible photos with high end cameras, and excellent photos with low end cameras. I know what you mean by inferior, but it's all a matter of what you can do with your cameras.


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Feb 11, 2015 10:19 as a reply to  @ Trvlr323's post |  #4

Yes, it's basically an insurance policy. I'm not a full time pro, but I shoot on paid shoots on a pretty regular basis. The way I see it is I want to put as much of my money as possible into gear that I use on a regular basis. I don't have a great deal of funds to invest in gear that sits on the shelf.


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jimeuph1
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Feb 11, 2015 10:33 |  #5

As you upgrade, it makes sense to semi retire the old camera and keep it as a back up, certainly the resale value, is barely ever worth it... Unless you have G.A.S. and you upgrade bodies every six months.

Most DSLR's within the last 5 years are more than capable of producing high quality work, if you know how to use an "inferior camera" then for all but the most critical work you can please most clients.




  
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Tigerkn
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Feb 11, 2015 10:47 |  #6

Wedding/Event shooting perspective: If the main body die the early in the day, the 2nd body should be able to do most/all things that the main body can including ISO capability, External flash attachments, Lenses, Focus capability in low lighting conditions, etc. If not, it will not be a fun session.

Used to be: 60D back up for 5D2 - Now: 6D back up for 5D3 :). Time to time, I use both body at the same time, so it is easy to process photos since they have the similar capability in most cases.


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nathancarter
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Feb 11, 2015 11:41 |  #7

mathogre wrote in post #17426970 (external link)
As an emerging pro, I don't have the money to duplicate my kit, the 5DM3 and all of the EF lenses. When I'm on a job, I bring the 60D, an APS-C body, along with a separate lens as a backup kit. Should anything happen to the 5DM3 and/or any of the lenses, I still have the backup. is it ideal? No, but it works. Accordingly, I keep current with the 60D. I use it and have fun with it.

When did I get the 60D? I got that before the 5DM3. It was my main camera for some time, and is a fine camera. When I went to the 5DM3, I kept the 60D. Why get rid of a perfectly good camera, especially when my goal was to go pro on some level? I'd ultimately need a backup, and I figured it was ideal for that. Have I used it as a backup? No. I've brought it anyway.


Exactly my setup as well. I upgraded from the 60D to the 5D3, and keep the 60D for backup & second-camera duty. I'm familiar with it, it works reliably, it uses the same batteries as the 5D3, all the lenses are interchangeable except the one Sigma EF-S 17-70.


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RDKirk
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Feb 13, 2015 09:54 |  #8

I've never been of the "inferior back up camera" school. I understand the impact of economics, but if I have a choice, it's always better to have multiple identical cameras as "back up" cameras...at least three bodies. I'd rather sell the old body to help buy two identical bodies.

Multiple identical bodies means every body can produce the same results--the results you advertise you can produce. You never want to say, "I couldn't do that neat shot I have on my website because that camera broke."

Multiple identical bodies means can set them up the same way and you're always working the same controls the same way...get that muscle memory tuned well enough to unerringly operate it fast even without looking.

Multiple identical bodies means you can rotate working bodies: Even out wear and damage probabilities as well as more quickly spotting a camera that needs maintenance. Ever had a flat tire and discovered your compact spare had gone flat? That didn't happen back in the days of full-sized spares, because the spare was in the tire rotation. Same thing with cameras--keep them all in rotation.

I said three bodies: Two to carry on the job, one to be in the shop if a bad thing happens.


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rang
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Feb 13, 2015 11:32 |  #9

I use sets of 1DX's for production rigs so that I'm not swapping lenses - for speed. Or depending on the situation a FF with the 2nd rig being a crop body. In either case the bodies have menus and features that are very, very similar so its fast and familiar when it comes to configuring on the fly due to shooting situations or creative demands that are essentially one offs when I don't want to save and override what is saved in my Custom Modes. My Custom modes are setup for 90% of what I shoot.
I wouldn't consider whatever I use as a "backup" to be an **"inferior" rig**. Just different with different degrees of strengths/features.
And of course ...things break. And never at an opportune time.
I realize not everyone can or would want do this but this is just my setup.


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Feb 13, 2015 12:26 |  #10

I don't consider my back up to be "inferior", it's just an older model that used to be my primary. Now it works when I need two bodies or as a back up. I rarely need a back up but, if I do, it will do the job well.


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Larry ­ Johnson
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Feb 13, 2015 12:58 |  #11

mathogre wrote in post #17426970 (external link)
Besides, define "inferior". Inferior is what you make it. I've seen people take terrible photos with high end cameras, and excellent photos with low end cameras. I know what you mean by inferior, but it's all a matter of what you can do with your cameras.

Inferior in this context would be "not your first choice or something that you consider would produce lesser quality images to what you shoot the majority of the time." It's not about what you make it. It's about the the potential of the equipment assuming a competent operator.

I've read comments from people on this forum stating something like, I'd buy that [new] camera only as a backup, but not as my regular camera. I've also read reviews of new cameras by companies suggesting this particular new camera would make a great camera for an enthusiast or a backup for a pro, or some similar wording.


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Feb 13, 2015 15:07 |  #12

The OP has a good point, logically speaking. If you really need a backup, the backup really should be the same camera as your primary. Think of it like this:
1) If a cheaper, lessor backup can get the job done with no loss in quality for the client, how do you justify (from a business standpoint) having the more expensive primary?
2) If a cheaper, lessor backup is a bit of a step down in what you can deliver, how do you really call it a backup? Aren't you settling for a lessor result for the client in the case your primary does fail?

That said, I understand the practical aspects in not wanting a lot of money tied up in a backup camera, or rationalizing the 'good enough' results from the backup are, well, good enough for the client.


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Feb 13, 2015 15:32 |  #13

I use my 60d as my... secondary camera. Its a backup for daytime landscapes and its my go-to camera for everything the 5d can't do.

The 60d has great results but the 60d / 5d combination gives me more options. My prime lenses are set up so that I can reproduce results on the 5d with the 60d and vice versa.

If I were in a position to buy a new backup camera, it would be of the same type (or a bit better newer version) as my main camera. The main thing is the ability to set up both cameras in the same way and operate both quickly.


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Feb 13, 2015 15:37 |  #14

JeffreyG wrote in post #17430581 (external link)
The OP has a good point, logically speaking. If you really need a backup, the backup really should be the same camera as your primary. Think of it like this:
1) If a cheaper, lessor backup can get the job done with no loss in quality for the client, how do you justify (from a business standpoint) having the more expensive primary?
2) If a cheaper, lessor backup is a bit of a step down in what you can deliver, how do you really call it a backup? Aren't you settling for a lessor result for the client in the case your primary does fail?

That said, I understand the practical aspects in not wanting a lot of money tied up in a backup camera, or rationalizing the 'good enough' results from the backup are, well, good enough for the client.

The primary may just be more durable or do things easier or have more useful automation or may have features not needed most of the time or have IQ that's not needed for most jobs. In other words there may be many reason a lesser (or semi-retired) camera can serve well as a backup without any compromise in productivity.


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mclaren777
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Feb 13, 2015 22:01 |  #15

It's the same reason you probably have a crummy spare tire in your car's trunk – it's really unlikely that you'll need it, but it's a great safety net to have if you do.


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