Can photography gear make you a better photographer?

This is something I struggle with, I truly believe that the best camera is the camera you already have. I want to believe that you can give me any camera and I will still make great photographs. But the truth is, camera gear does matter… kind of.

For some photographers great autofocus matters, or dynamic range, camera size, discreetness, weather resistance, megapixel count, sharpness, macro ability’s, focal length, iso range. The list is never-ending because we all have different needs and we all photograph in our own way and our styles require different parameters.

Here is an extreme example, if you gave me a 4-megapixel point and shoot camera with a 50mm lens I probably would be able to take a photograph in my style. But if you gave me a 100-megapixel Hasselblad with a 300mm lens I wouldn’t be able to. I’d get close but it wouldn’t reflect my style. Now in saying that a good professional would be able to make it work. And any good photographer knows how to adapt to a situation, but that doesn’t mean that gear doesn’t matter.

I’m a strong believer in only using one camera & lens until you understand it, knowing it inside and out. I believe in mastering gear, focal lengths and having consistency when it comes to someone’s photographic style. I can’t see myself photographing something without having a 50mm or 28mm lens at my disposal. You might be the same, you might have a default piece of gear, it might be a flash or a film type. We all have that something that is consistent with our work, and that consistency matters.

All cameras essentially do the same thing. The only thing your paying for when you start going into that upper-tier market is small percentages. And those small refinements matter to the professional. I have to say if you’re starting out or just doing it for fun, then paying an extra 10k or 1k isn’t worth it till you find your style or make a comfortable living from this profession.

In short, does photography gear matter? The answer is yes. When your business or profession requires it. Any other time what you have is good enough. Even professionals love the liberation of playing around with something as simple as a smartphone camera. When the bank account or credit runs short, do one better and adapt. Learn to use what you have, master the gear you already own. Because the best equipment you will ever own is your artistic eye, your vision, your style, your way of looking at the world. And that is something money can’t buy.

2 Comments

  1. Can photography gear make you a better photographer? No. There is no amount of gear or money you can acquire to make up for lack of skill, vision, passion, creativity, etc. A better question is whether you need a certain bit of gear to do the type of photography you want to accomplish. Maybe. There are genres that require particular types of gear. Then again, going against the grain and doing things unconventionally may produce something uniquely awesome. I worked for 5 years as a pro hockey photographer, which entails fast focusing cameras and wide aperture telephoto lenses typically. My favorite shots from that time were all the behind the scenes stuff though - things I shot with a Fuji X100 or even my phone.
    • What a cool story, that is amazing. After 5 year of working a small point and shoot 35mm and your iPhone made your favourite photos!? That goes to show you, gear is just a tool. Thanks for sharing

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