This is a tricky one to define. Before we can investigate the differences in these cameras we must understand what is considered a semi-pro camera and a pro camera. This blog was inspired by a student that asked me this very question and it got me thinking about the blurred lines between this level of cameras.
Firstly, let just say that any camera is capable of being used in a professional manner, i.e. you can earn an income from it, so do not worry if you are not using the latest, greatest or most expensive camera out there! The camera does not make the photographer!
When looking at these cameras the best indication of their level is the price tag. These cameras range from about $1500 – $4100. This price range will be based on things like the camera’s sensor size (a full frame camera does not mean it is pro camera!), frames per second, video quality, functionality, build etc. What often can cause confusion here is that these semi-pro cameras can have higher Megapixel counts compared to Pro cameras, again this does not mean it is a pro camera! Cameras that fall into this range would be cameras like the Nikon D750, D850 & Canon 5Dmk4, and 5Dr just as some examples in a wide range of cameras.
These cameras are far more expensive ranging from about $5800 – $9300! So why are you paying so much more? Well, it comes down to what’s inside. The parts in these cameras are designed to last much longer, are more durable for intense use that photographers at this level demand. Here you will also have the best image processors (like the CPU in your camera) that will provide better color reproduction, Frames per second, buffering and write speeds (how quickly the photos save to the memory card) and many extra functions. Cameras in this range would be the Nikon D5 and the Canon 1DX.
Who uses these cameras?
Semi-pro cameras are favored by wedding and event photographers and generally the majority of photographers out there working or simply shooting for enjoyment.
Pro cameras are used by photographers in very demanding situations where speed is important. Think wildlife, sports and perhaps the biggest area – photojournalism. Does this mean that you cannot use a semi-pro camera in these situations? No certainly not it is just that a Pro camera is designed to tackle areas like this more effectively.
So, which is the best?
For me, there is a clear winner here: Semi-pro cameras. There are several reasons for this but the main one is cost. Pro cameras are out of reach for most photographers due to the high costs. And Semi-Pro cameras are more practical. Pro cameras are very cumbersome. Yes, there are differences for sure and yes image quality is better in Pro cameras, but not worth the extra cost for most, this photographer included.
Your Shaw Academy Photography educator