26 May 2018

As consumer features migrate up to pro cameras, is Consumer the new Professional?

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Consumer is the new professional Consumer is the new professional RedShark/Sony

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Mackie_ipad_controlled_mixer.jpg

 Mackie mixer that's controlled remotely from an iPad, which also "docks" with the device to become an integral part of the mixer.

It's not an absolute thing, either. Professionals have been using consumer DSLRs to make videos for a long time now. But I think the trend is established. And it's easy to see why.

There is so much money avaialble from the likes of Samsung and (especially) Apple to develop new technology that products that sell in bigger numbers are going to have more R&D available to them. There will still be a very high end occupied by the likes of Sony's F65 and ARRI's Alexa, but these are ten times what mainstream professionals need tp pay for something that still does a very good job in the eye of the consumer. Budgets have to be appropriate for you to need to use these types of cameras, and if they are, they still do a superlative job.

 

Money trickled up

In the past, the extra R&D needed to produce professional products was either amortised as the high-end features were brought into consumer models or, by making them more competitive, brought in the extra money that trickled up to fund the high end research again. And of course professional products are more expensive. But what's changed now is that - except in very rarified quarters - the price gap isn't as much as it used to be - because it doesn't need to be.

Now, if a company like Apple senses that a new product is going to sell in millions, that's where the money goes. And it does take a lot of money to develop a new chip or sensor or a new operating system. In fact, why would anyone want to develop a new OS just for a new type of scientific instrument or camera when something like Android will do a brilliant job?

This is not just a one-time change in the state of affairs. As technology is evolving, so is the relationship between professional and consumer products. Consumer expectations are going up while the practicalities of making a film on a nearly zero budget are pushing professionals towards mass-produced products.

None of this is bad! It's a kind of technological dividend that we're receiving because some things that used to be really expensive (like small, wireless, portable computers) are almost free.

And because consumer devices are now just so good, what it means to be a "professional" might need to be redefined, without a strong reference to the cost of the the equipment you need to get the job done!

 

 




David Shapton

David is the Editor In Chief of RedShark Publications. He's been a professional columnist and author since 1998, when he started writing for the European Music Technology magazine Sound on Sound. David has worked with professional digital audio and video for the last 25 years.

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