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As a professional photographer, your camera, lenses, and other accessories are your bread and butter. If you’re a carpenter and you lose or break your hammer and saw, you won’t be working.
Same reasoning applies to us and is why you need at least two cameras for your professional work.
Professional photography equipment is not cheap, though, so we’ll also give some helpful professional photography gear tips covering how to save money while covering your needs. Plus, there are other valid reasons why you need at least two cameras in addition to having a backup or failsafe.
Backups Are Important
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From my personal experience and from talking to colleagues, the number one reason why you need at least two cameras as a professional is to ensure you can complete your job.
Once, long ago, I was getting ready to shoot a wedding of a friend. I was using a medium format camera with Kodak’s professional color negative film. Perfect setup for a wedding. The camera broke 30 minutes before the wedding!
Thankfully, I always carried my 35mm camera with me plus a couple of lenses because I’m looking for something to photograph. All I had was color slide film, pretty slow, too. But I got by. Barely.
The moral of that story is that if we can’t shoot the pics we need to shoot, we can’t complete the job we were hired to do. This applies to weddings and events, real estate, commercial product photography, environmental portraits, and several other genres.
Studio photographers do well to have backups too, since we often need to deliver on a deadline. Besides, it just stinks to be without a camera for any length of time when things go wrong.
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That is my most important reason why you need at least two cameras, but the question comes up, do we need to have identical doubles of everything? No, we don’t.
However, if we’re making money off of our cameras, the backup should be capable of the primary functions and quality of our primary equipment. If we’re shooting with a pro-level Full Frame format camera, our backup might be an older Full Frame camera or a more recent prosumer or enthusiast-level camera in that format.
We could also use a different format with many of the same features and excellent quality. So, for our pro body Full Frame, maybe an APS-C or MFT pro-style camera would work.
The same idea applies with regard to lenses. If we drop our fast zoom lens, substituting a fast prime in a focal length covered by the zoom could suit our need.
Even our kit lenses could be used in a pinch. Remember, it’s not the optical quality that generally sets them apart, but their slower apertures and less robust physical construction. Just beware of all of the limitations and work around them.
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In my real-life example, I was covered in my hour of need because I had a camera with me, always ready to go. But, I didn't make a habit of always carrying my large, pro cameras with me everywhere because sometimes it was simply too much trouble.
A common saying is that the best camera is the one you have with you. A smaller format camera, or an enthusiast or prosumer level camera may have us more inclined to take it with us. So, outside of covering our butts for work, another reason why you need at least two cameras is so that you can have fun with your photography.
Some of our smartphone cameras may qualify in this aspect, such as the newest iPhones and Androids, but most likely we’re going to want our interchangeable lenses and other features of DSLRs and mirrorless system cameras.
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Thinking of features brings up an additional reason why you need at least two cameras. Some cameras have a feature set that lends itself to slightly different applications than our primary camera.
For example, our main camera may have a huge pixel count for high resolution, but a lower pixel count camera may give us better low-light performance. Or, our primary camera is wonderful for still photography, but another camera gives us superior video recording.
How To Save Some Money
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We all know how expensive our high quality or professional photography gear gets, so it’s a good idea to see where we can save money for our 2nd camera or extra lenses. One of the best ways to work within a budget is to buy quality used professional photography equipment from a reputable dealer.
The modifiers I used, “quality” and “reputable,” are important to note. We can all find bargain basement gear at garage sales, online auctions, or a back alley, but if there is a problem with the camera, we may have just lost our money.
A great, reputable web store I found is MPB.com. They are run by camera experts and people who love photography and have developed a fine reputation over many years of buying and selling only the best examples of quality used enthusiast and professional photography equipment.
As you figure out the reason why you need at least two cameras, you want to have the peace of mind that MPB.com gives with their exacting standards, rigorous inspections, and offering a store warranty.