Assuming the photographer has professional skills, are cameras over $2000 required? I really think from an image quality perspective, the Nikon 5200 is enough, the rest of the features of more expensive cameras are really not important to me.

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    This question seems to presume that "goodness" is a linear scale, with "professional quality" at some threshold. But it doesn't really work that way. Different professional uses require different qualities, and strengths in one area might be weaknesses in another. And these may be entirely unrelated to quality for non-business work. Do you really mean to ask whether the D5200 or similar cameras would be good choices for professional wedding photography in specific, or are you using that as something that seems like it might be a point on the "quality required" yardstick?
    – mattdm
    Dec 1 '14 at 20:17
  • This might be a good place to point to DigitalRev TV's cheap camera challenge, wherein host Kai gets some famous photographer to shoot for a day with a really, really crappy camera. Here's one with fashion photographer Lara Jade, for example.
    – Caleb
    Feb 2 '16 at 20:29
  • @Caleb - That's implying that the D5200 is a really crappy camera. Comparing it to a toy camera. I don't see how this is helpful. Jul 27 '16 at 14:26
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    @JoshuaF.Rountree You miss the point I was making, which is that taking decent photos is more about knowledge than gear. I wasn't saying that a D5200 is a crappy camera at all.
    – Caleb
    Jul 27 '16 at 18:22

You don't necessarily need a $2000+ camera. As you said, the photographer is the most important part, however good cameras make life a whole lot easier and allow shooting in situations you otherwise couldn't. Particularly for low light, having full frame makes a big difference. Additionally, higher end cameras give more direct access to controls to make adjustments on the fly.

The D5200 is an extremely limited entry level model. It is not designed for rigorous use or rapid adjustment. It is designed for casual shooters that want to step up to having better optics. It has a limited user interface and very limited capabilities compared to even a midrange camera.

If you are good enough and can use a flash, then you can probably get by with a more limited camera and being able to anticipate your situation enough in advance to adjust the camera as needed, even if it is harder to control, but having that extra light sensitivity and controls right at your finger tips can save photos you would otherwise miss. Similar can be said for lenses. You can use a cheap prime lens to help with low light, but you are limiting your ability to catch shots quickly by shooting a wedding with a prime. It is doable, but far riskier and trickier to do well, with far more chances of missing key shots.

For weddings in particular, I would say that shooting with a mid-range model is certainly possible, but I would personally advise against going with a low end model for weddings unless you are a second shooter. I would also suggest that the high end model cameras and fast zoom lenses (even if third party) are well worth the cost and will make your life much easier for weddings.

Outside of time-critical and low light uses there is far less need for a higher end professional camera. Again, they are still useful to have, but you don't by any means have to have one to do professional level work. The biggest single quality reason for buying a higher end cameras is the shallower depth of field and additional detail you get from full frame. The biggest single advantage to usability is the added control interfaces.

(To give you an idea of my background, I first entered the DSLR space with a Canon xTi with a 17-40 f/4L lens as my main lens. I eventually upgraded to a 5D Mark iii and f/2.8 zoom lenses in order to start shooting weddings. I would consider using something like a 70d or 7d as a backup body and it could probably be used as a main body, but I'd never use something in the Rebel (#00D) line (equivalent to Nikon's 4 digit model numbers) for such situations. Certainly not as the primary shooter. It is just too limiting and too risky. You don't want to screw up capturing the most important day of people's lives to that point.)

  • time-critical and low light uses Can these issues be overcomes by having a strong flash ? and maybe less changes to the settings when taking photos
    – sino
    Dec 2 '14 at 14:12
  • @sino - yes and no. Adding more light will prevent noise, but it also alters the characteristics of the image and flash may not be wanted by some clients. Additionally, unless you intend to manually focus all your shots (makes shooting on the fly a lot harder) you have to worry about the focus performance of the camera, which is going to be quite a bit lower on cheaper cameras and slower lenses. Similarly, you can avoid making settings changes as often, but that also means less artistic freedom to get the shot you want the way you want on the fly.
    – AJ Henderson
    Dec 2 '14 at 14:37
  • +1: there are some quality differences as you go up-scale, but the biggest difference is in the camera as a tool. A "professional" camera will have more control, more customization, and be able to work at a faster pace, for when the photographer has to make the photo happen, now. You could build a nice house with just a hammer, a handsaw, and a 12-inch ruler, but a professional will have lots of specialized tools.
    – Wayne
    Dec 6 '14 at 16:22
  • I actually really like that comparison. Since without the specialized tools is pretty hard to get curved surfaces right and some corners might not quite be square in the house, but it will still stand just fine if the construction worker is good.
    – AJ Henderson
    Dec 6 '14 at 17:10
  • I guess it should also be noted that some wedding photographers prefer APS-C cameras such as the D7000 since they offer the pro-features for a fraction of the cost with a crop sensor. Jul 27 '16 at 14:31

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