Will a $10K “Pro-Grade” Camera Make Better Pictures? Perspective from a Boomer Photographer

Jim Moore
38 min readDec 21, 2022
Grackle Nikon Z6ii by Jim Moore

“Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution.” Ansel Adams


If there is one word that amps up anxiety or conjures images of bank-breaking expenditures among millions of photographers, that word is “professional.” For as long as I’ve been a photographer, earning my living in the business, or just enjoying the art of photography in my retirement years, pro-gear — professional equipment — is the image which generations of new and advanced photographers have come to embrace as the pivot upon which turns their chances of achieving just the right image.

In online forums, in camera manufacturer’s ads, in camera clubs, in popular discourse among photographers, there is preference — maybe deference — afforded the would-be-buyers and owners of top-end cameras and lenses otherwise known as pro-gear or, worse, prosumer equipment. I have no idea what a prosumer is other than an advertising gimmick to lure amateur photographers into ever-increasing price levels of camera bodies and lenses.

Absent experience, you cannot buy better outcomes

The word pro-gear is not necessarily pejorative; it legitimately describes a category of equipment that is manufactured to higher quality standards than cameras and lenses within the reach of a newcomer’s or student’s budget. It defines equipment that is weatherized, more durable, containing higher-density sensors capable of producing higher resolution images, shooting faster frames per second, more electronically sophisticated, capable of faster data connections, excellent low-light gathering glass, more complex lens elements and minimal color aberration, broader ranges of stability and internal motors that can capture high-speed action…and much more. No photographer can be faulted for wanting to expand their inventory of equipment and own equipment that will help them achieve the very best images they can possibly shoot.

The camera and lens you bought for $400 may have only rudimentary versions of the electronics available in the same brand’s $4,000 camera body and $1,000 lens…

Jim Moore

Journalist, former Capitol Hill staff (House and Senate), former Cabinet speechwriter, editor, photojournalist and bird photographer. Top Writer Quora 2016–2017