Gear is not important (unless it is)

Not a day seems to pass on which someone from the photographic online community seems to write about “how unimportant” the gear is for making great photos, in one way or another. Quotes are shared on Twitter, blog posts are written, discussions held, rants posted. And I tend to agree, but at the same time, I’m getting so tired of it.

You can’t make sports photos in low light with a D70 and the 18-55 kit zoom.

And when a pro photographer that is running around with a pro DSLR and a full set of f/1.4 primes and f/2.8 zooms tells me “gear doesn’t matter” I do find a certain hypocrisy in that statement. :-} If gear is really so unimportant, then why do you have at least $5000 (probably much more than that, actually) of it in your camera bag?

Chiemgau Alps, looking into Austria.
Horrible image quality.

What seems to be neglected, always, is that digital is not film. If I was a film user, there would perhaps be no reason to update from an old Nikon F100, unless it broke. But digital photo technology and sensors have advanced a lot. Today, I can make photos with my Nikon D800 that I simply wasn’t able to make seven years ago with my first DSLR body, a Nikon D70. In fact, the D800 is my fourth DSLR body in only five years – and it is the very first DSLR camera that leaves nothing to be desired for me.

I understand everyone who wants to update their gear, be it to get closer to their photographic vision, or to be able to make photos that sell.

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4 Comments

  1. I look at it this way. Good gear will not make you good if you’re not, but bad gear will prevent you from being good. This applies in oh so many things. In many things, photography is one, physics comes into play. You simply cannot stop motion with the desired exposure and/or get the depth of field you want without the proper gear. There certainly is a law of diminishing returns… but there is still a place for most of the top end gear. There’s probably a few things made either because someone wanted bragging rights or somebody with very deep pockets financed gear for a particular problem (the Canon 5200mm comes to mind).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s how I see it too. I just updated the post with a photo to illustrate that point. Not that I was a good photographer (or would even call myself that) back in 2003 but with what I had, I wasn’t able to capture the splendor of this scenery. Blown out highlights and drowned, noisy shadows. Wouldn’t have happened with better gear.

      Like

  2. Agreed. The gear does matter to a certain degree. My old Nikon D3200 with a kit lens couldn’t take night shots. Not due to anything necessarily with the camera, but since the lowest my lens would go was like 5.something, it just wasn’t going to happen.

    I also, think M nailed it. A beast of a camera isn’t going to make a bad photographer good, but a really bad camera can make a good photographer not as good as they could be.

    Liked by 1 person

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