I remember just ten years ago seeing a fellow photographer with a red ring on his lens usually meant he was a pro or a serious hobbyist. Today you see L series lenses on half the bodies (and almost 100% of FF cameras) and someone with a big white lens very frequently
So whats changed?
Is it that digital photography has made it easier and less expensive to enjoy photography?
Is it that it is now easier to share your results (flickr via iphone for example, rather than carrying round a printed portfolio) and show everybody what a clever and talented person you are?
10 years ago I worked in what was probably Glasgows busiest specialist camera shop, the 300D was all the rage but even then, even serious enthusiasts were buying bridge cameras like the Minolta Dimage 7, or Nikon 5800, selling anything better than a D70 or 300D was quite a notable day.
From what I can see from the current market bodies have generally became less expensive, much less expensive at the low end, but lens prices have remained pretty static (in line with inflation) so is it when folk graduate from a rebel they want the better lenses?
When I worked in camera retail, every picture a customer showed me was 'brilliant' 'that could be an athena poster', if they had anything better than a rebel I would refer to 'professionals like yourself'...
It taught me that photographers are nothing if not vain. In actual fact the professionals went to Calumet and most of the crap customers showed me was truely dire. But I got good sales.