Do Clients Respect Bigger Camera Equipment?

Do Clients Respect Bigger Camera Equipment?

A few days ago, a friend of mine brought a DJI Osmo to film alongside his usual DSLR set up. The client questioned them: “Why are you filming on your phone?”

Sure, he was using his iPhone as a monitor, but the Osmo is a handy replacement for a gimbal setup. It’s considered a piece of professional equipment by us, but does a client have a different expectation? I could see Sony’s a7 range being compared to a point and shoot if you didn’t know what was under the hood. In turn, LED lighting is getting smaller and thinner.

Obviously, the dream client understands the process (and also asks for no re-edits!) but nobody can rely on this luxury. If you’re working in the corporate space, you may end up dealing with people who equate a big camera to the quality of your work.

Just last month, I brought a larger than usual rig in order to attach some radio mics to my main camera. The client remarked that it looked complicated, which it was, and “must [have been] very high-tech.” I was shooting on a regular Canon DSLR — nothing special. However, it meant that the client trusted my ability. Arguably, I could have shot on Black Magic’s Pocket Cinema camera and achieved a better look.

Does this matter to most photographers and videographers? Probably not, as long your clients are on your side. Does having bigger equipment add to your value in the eyes of an untrained marketing professional? Unfortunately, that may be true.

It’s part of the reason that I’m reluctant to replace my DJI Ronin-M with something like the Osmo. It’s more compact, it gets the job done, and it saves time, but it’s not going to get my clients to trust me, even if I’m using the $1,700 Zenmuse X5.

What are your experiences with slimmer equipment? Have any clients called you out, thinking that your equipment wasn’t professional enough for the job?

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42 Comments
Chris Reist's picture

Nice Post! I think the importe Thing is the endresultat !:)

A vdS's picture

I agree with you but sadly a lot of people judge by the size but this does not apply to photography only : cars, sex, etc. Everybody know that having the bigger tool doesn't especially give the best results but when you don't know anything about it it's the only way to compare :D

Usman Dawood's picture

Highly debatable, not as certain as one would think. After testing the 100mp Phase one I don't think that's completely true.

Usman Dawood's picture

The angle of view is definitely useful for wide angle kind of shots without having the wide angle look. I'm not fully convinced on the image quality side of things though. It's basically the same as APS-C vs Full frame, not really that much in it in my experience.

Here's the kicker though I'm buying a medium format camera anyway lol not for the image quality or MPs but cause of the angle of view.

Do you shoot medium format or is it something you're looking to work with too. Have you found a significant difference in image quality based on your experience?

Gabe Gutierrez's picture

Don't many wildlife photographers use APS-C cameras to get better quality images? If you can't fill the frame and are forced to crop, APS-C will give you more MP at crops. Even a 50.6MP 5DS R at 1.6x crop is only 20 MP; a T6s is 24.2 for nearly 3x less of the price. Don't get me wrong now, if you're not having to crop full frame is the way to go.

Gabe Gutierrez's picture

Sorry, I meant if you're taking a 1.6 crop camera or cropping to 1.6 from full frame the numbers I stated previously occur. And if I believe right, cropping isnt simply cutting resolution in half, it's MP/CF^2 so the factor is determining the MP count.

Gabe Gutierrez's picture

Someone would be more inclined to crop with a APS when they cannot fill the frame. As I stated before, if one is in a wildlife scenario and cannot fill the frame cropping on an APS will give you a higher resolution image than if you were to crop to the same size on full frame --mathematics is not needed to see a 1DX crop to 8 MP at 1.6x. Hopefully that is simple :)

aNELe Onwuka's picture

Hmmmm I think what he means is - An APS-C camera and a Full Frame both using say a 400mm lens are shooting a far away lion (subject) from the same car (point) and neither fills the frame due to the distance of the subject.
The subject in the image from the full frame will be so much smaller than on the APS-C camera so cropping to make the subject an identical size (both cameras) would be worse and less pixels on the Full Frame.
Or that's what I think he means.

Vicki Clayson's picture

Bigger sensor yes, bigger camera, irrelavent.

Stepan Maxa's picture

Just few days ago I was hired to do some street photography. I knew it will be a lot of walking through the city in hot weather and I knew I will use only my great Nikkor 80-200, so I decided to not take my bag with another 2 lenses and stuff, just took body + lens on a strap and went for shooting. I can tell you the client was surprised and looked dissapointed, expecting some lights, 3 lenses, asistant… probably, even though D700 with grip and attached 80-200 is pretty big camera. And it was weird even for me so I don't think I will do this again. People are buying even the "feel" of profesionality…

Gabriel SAP's picture

Do your client know what street photography is? Haha

Deleted Account's picture

Just stop assuming and have conversation with your client beforehand. When non-photographer say street photography, he/she probably think about photography on the street.

Stepan Maxa's picture

So?

Mark Davidson's picture

I worry on occasion as I will use a Panasonic FZ-1000 to shoot discreet candids at meetings. However I find that when I show them images on the back of any camera they invariably say "WOW, that is a great camera!".
:/

Anonymous's picture

I shoot with really small minimal gear. A Fuji X-T1 and X100T. I mainly shoot weddings and portrait work. I find because a good amount of my clients haven't worked with a photographer before it's never really an issue.

I get the normal questions like "hey is that a film camera, how old is it?" all the time but it's more curiosity than anything else.

The only people that say anything about my gear being "non-professional" are the uncle bobs at weddings that bring a Canon 1DX to the wedding.

I think it depends on your client and your field of photography but I would like to think the clients I work with have seen my work and are only interested in the end result.

Deleted Account's picture

Less the client pay, more he will try to micromanage and will have more complaints. In every industry.

Sebastian K's picture

I think a lot of them do until they're proven otherwise. Big equipment often looks more professional than say something smaller that might look like a consumer product. The end product will teach them a lesson usually.

Sebastian K's picture

Also as a side note, the Osmo with the X5 ends up costing about the same or even more than a Ronin M and an equivalent, such as a GH4.

Stephen Kampff's picture

I know! That's why I wrote this article. The X5 is a serious competitor and is so ridiculously handy compared to the Ronin-M! Obviously though you can't mount a Zoom audio recorder and radio mics to the Osmo.

Jayson Carey's picture

actually, you can. there are a TON of accessories for it now, many for doing just that.

filmkennedy's picture

I just had a shoot where my a camera was my Red Weapon with GL Optics Leica R lenses and my b camera was a FS700r with an Odyssey and 16mm pancake lens on a Ronin. The client was under the impression that my FS700r was a much better camera then my Weapon. Sure both of them are about the same size and weight on how I rig them but I think half the time they are trying to strike up a conversation during the down times. They don't really know any better and are always under the assumption that the bigger the better

William Talamelli's picture

They respect what looks impressive to them but the end result always does the most talking. With that said the OSMO is a toy, it looks like one and operates like one - if a phone is an irreplaceable part of your operation its time to step it up.

Stephen Kampff's picture

My current setup for events involved leaving the Ronin-M rigged up somewhere, while I go around with a regular shoulder rig and get shots. Considering I'm only shooting 8-9 shots with the Ronin, it would make sense to ditch it for an Osmo X5 and save the hassle.
Then again it'd be handy to just have both..

Will McGregor's picture

William, what you have said is COMPLETELY ridiculous. The fact you said the Osmo is a toy, that it acts like and operates show's how ridiculous of a statement you have made and probably that you've never even held one (this is when you say "i've owned one or used it extensively")

Plus the even more ridiculous fact you've said if you're phone/tablet is part of your operation you need to step up, equally stupid!.

The Osmo is an extremely well built piece of machinery with a professional grade gimbal and camera with interchangeable lenses.

Show me a single toy that offers 4K video with upto 12 stops of dynamic range?

As for using a phone or tablet as part of your set up, if you can't use it due to your stupid statement that then means pretty much all drone footage is out the window, almost every drone platform uses a phone or tablet as its monitor system

Same as GoPro's.

They offer far better resolution than any monitor with 64 bit computing power as well as being WAY smarter than any standard monitor on any camera.

More and more manufactures are utilizing smart devices in their systems because we have them on us at all times and its a cheaper way for us to get the device.

The Osmo is an incredible piece of kit, amazing for small run and gunning where a bigger set up would be too heavy or draw attention.

I used nothing but an Osmo on shoot for a onewheel skateboard, had to walk for over an hour in the rain to get to where we needed to shoot. Carrying a Ronin and DSLR rig in a case was not an option where as I could just put the osmo inside my jacket to hide from the rain.

Zachary Will's picture

I'm a firm believer that size doesn't matter. It's how you use it.

Gabriele Zanon's picture

In Italy you can have a stunning portfolio but if you don't have a DSLR with a 70-200 f/2.8 for A LOT of people, you are only a guy that are playing the role of the photographer, not a real one, specially in weddings.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

It is either small talk or they actually don't trust 100% and need a lil reassurance. The few who noticed I was shooting Sony and not Canon made different comments. A couple said they had heard the hype about how great the camera was and were interested in seeing it in real life. A couple other people mentioned how small it was, I explained that it had 2x the file size of the Canon and the files were much better. Then they asked about lunch...
Maybe the fact that the Pelican case with the Sony kit was just one of about 5 other Pelican cases in the van made it less of a difference. I have never been accused of NOT having enough stuff on location :)
I used to work for a guy who sometimes had me set up a couple C-stands (even if we didn;t need them) with sandbags...made it look like we ready for anything....

Hidenori Inagaki's picture

some people are paying for experience... and long lens and bright flash a la paparazzi style.
Some client do want to show off photoshoot to their customer etc. And that is when you are getting odd request of having big gear and lighting gear presence, since they need appearance as much as end result.

frank nazario's picture

Sadly this is the truth... perception is everything. If you can do it with a speedlight get a profoto B1... a web based campaing will never see a difference between a FF or an APS-C body but you better be able to pull that super camera D810 or D5 or Canon 1 Dx or 5Dsr with the 7k dollars of lenses... it is also braggin rights to your client... sad but true... why do they still ask for Medium Format photos for web base photography. it is absurd.

Not all clients or agencies put you in that position but believe me when I tell you it happens all the time.

ronnie yeoh's picture

As one of you said, perception is everything, at least when you do your first shoot for the client. But after a few shoots, your client doesn't care anymore about your 'professional looking stuff'.

dale clark's picture

I switched to Sony last year and really only had a couple clients notice that I no longer shoot Canon. When I did shoot Canon, I had one say "I thought pros only used Nikons". Now, with a grip, metabones, tilt shift lens and Arca tripod head attached, the camera rig is still pretty good size.

Terry Thomas's picture

Back in the 1960s I worked for a studio where I shot weddings with a 4x5 Speed Graphic and sometimes for another studio that used a roll film camera (not a Hasselblad). One wedding guest looked at the roll film camera and asked me if that was really the camera I was using to shoot the wedding. Even now when I shoot with my Nikon dslr, people with point and shoot cameras are impressed because of the size difference.

Will McGregor's picture

It shouldn't matter but it does. I've had clients think I was amateur because I don't shoot a 1D series.

Joe McNally said the same, he said he could shoot 95% of his corporate gigs with a bag of speedlites and no assistants but for the money he charges he needs to bring out the bells and whistles.

So he'll bring 1/2 assistants and use huge studio lighting, 6 foot octa's all due to the client perception.

ALEXANDER TARDIF's picture

There are plenty of reasons to use either large or small kits... depending on your client they might understand more than you think about your setup AND might have very legitimate reasons to expect certain equipment. I think you're oversimplifying things too much with just the "size" variable. Many clients deserve some respect when it comes to their opinion of what hardware should be used because, well... many of them are simply educated about what can and can't be achieved with your one-man-crew-indie-setup, no matter how good your showreel looks on Vimeo.

You wouldn't go out and shoot with A7Sii+Rhode Video Mic+GM24-70 F2.8 on the same shoot where you might be expected to rig up a Red Weapon+CZ Compact Zoom, etc. or even "just" an FS7+B4 zoom. The kits that require 2-3 crew (or more) is what the client often is looking for... a pro TEAM that will deliver pro results (and not just the quality of your 4K footage).

Rob Mynard's picture

This is the argument that sells battery grips by the truckload.

Bruno Domingues's picture

haha this came at the exact moment I'm moving away from my Canon 5D to the Sony mirrorless system.

Courtney K.'s picture

This happens a lot. I shoot video with a big Sony XD Cam, but sometimes it's easier to shoot on the DSLR.

On another note, showing up to some shoots as a one-woman crew gets a similar reaction (usually from men). "It's just YOU?" Yep, that still goes on.

Ty Poland's picture

This is pretty true, I've been asked the same question when filming on my Osmo and I always wonder if the client has any idea about the gear we are using or how much it costs or the quality it is capable of putting out. Unfortunately, I don't think they care and the more complicated something looks, the better they think it is. In some situations , it's a lot more convenient for us to have lighter gear that does the same job, but I think it's funny people don't understand the gear's ability.

Whenever I take my drone out at a job, people are blown away and think it's awesome and that I can film amazing video with it hooked up to my iPad and all. They don't realize that the video and photos write to a memory card instead of your phone and that the quality is almost equivalent to an iPhone 6 (its still a decent camera but nothing compared to a full frame dslr that I normally use). However, if I had an Inspire 1 with the x5, they would have no idea that there is any sort of quality bump because they don't have the knowledge we do. Nice article!

Ian Smith's picture

Though I have a lot to say about some of the arguments in this thread about the quality of each, the original question remains, "Do clients respect bigger camera equipment?"
In my experience this has been absolutely true. I have worked for a wide range of clients, and a number of venues. I have filmed for military clients and tech savvy engineers as well as for higher education in a state institution. I've done weddings and other large and small events. In every instance, even the difference of putting a Canon 5Dmkiii into a shoulder rig and adding a monitor and a ZoomH6 gains an entirely new respect from spectators (including the clients). People will walk up to me and ask who I'm shooting for and how long it took me to get into my field. I've never been asked that when simply holding the 5Dmkiii on a photoshoot - unless I've got lights, umbrellas, and diffusers set up. As a matter of fact when I first began shooting models, I didn't even have a battery grip. Even adding a battery grip displayed a clear line between getting comments and not. Though my photos have improved over time, I could still achieve the same quality without the battery grip.
As for the arguments debating whether OSMO is a toy or not - I'll see soon enough. I've got one coming in along side a new Canon C300mkii with a Ronin-m. I'll have a very good idea soon enough on both conversation topics. If anyone would care to continue the conversation on my findings, hit me up. I love evaluating and discussing tools for the job! - IBSMITHMEDIA

Vicki Clayson's picture

I shoot with the a7 series at weddings and i do get a lot of guests asking about them. Its generally curiosity I've had so far though

Adam Dean's picture

I've never had anyone "mock or scoff" at our video equipment but every time we do use the DJI Ronin-M with a mounted Canon DSLR or Canon C100 at least 5 people come by to gawk at it. After they see us use it they then make comments about how complicated it looks and it must be super expensive. To me its heavy and cumbersome to use but I see the value in bringing it. Even if we only pull 5-10 seconds from it for the final video.

Dave Kastner's picture

I shot a wedding and the client was very happy with the results. Some time later he saw me taking pictures without the bracket and flash and the battery pack, making the camera seem small to him. He questioned me to be sure that was not the camera that I used for his wedding shoot. Apparently to some clients, size does matter.