Deal 9: Hacking Photography mega-deal
Every day I get emails from photographers asking which camera to buy so they might become better photographers. STOP! Use what you have, get out there and shoot! As Darren Rowse wrote in a recent article about camera lust “Sometimes I think our lust for cameras and gear could be getting in the way of actually becoming better photographers.” I have to agree with that statement.
I love using a good camera and an L lens as much as the next photographer. That new camera and expensive lens does not create a good picture. You do! And processing software? Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture will not turn a bad picture into a good one, but they will certainly help make a good image even better.
A new camera will not make you a better photographer. Period. It will only make you a new camera owner. To become a better photographer, learn to see. Learn to see the new and see the familiar as new. Get out there every day on photo walks. Work on a daily or weekly project. Give yourself assignments or goals. Most importantly – get outside your comfort zone! Shoot, shoot and shoot some more.
If your work is not improving and you have the money, then buy more gear and help the economy. If your work is improving, and you feel limited by the equipment you have and you have the funds, then maybe it’s time to invest in a better camera body or a new lens.
I used the most basic gear for years. Even as I turned pro, I kept using the same equipment for quite a while. Sometimes my clients had better cameras than I had! I upgraded my gear gradually only as my client base grew and I could afford it. I did not go into debt and honed my skills as a result. I am very grateful for that.
It’s true that a more advanced – and expensive – camera system can improve your work, but only if you already know how to make a good picture with your current equipment. Everyday I see dozens of amazing images shot with basic cameras or iPhones. I also see plenty of bad pictures shot with fancy, expensive equipment. When someone sees a truly great image, they don’t ask which camera was used. They say, “Wow, who took that amazing photograph?” After a piano performance, no one ever asks the concert pianist whether she was playing on a Yamaha or a Steinway. The audience is moved by the performance, not by the piano. Let’s face it, the most iconic photographs of the last century were all made with far less sophisticated equipment than the most basic point and shoot we have today, but they all had something in common: They were made by people with passion and vision.
Inspiration is everywhere – online, in photography books and in the work of others. Get inspired, but don’t try to copy them! The idea is for you to develop your own style, not imitate others. Style comes with vision, technical expertise, and experimenting – it takes time to develop. A better camera may make you look cool, but it will not provide you with photographic style.
Limitations are challenges that can serve you well. For example, even if you own ten different lenses, carry just one on your photo walks. That one lens will help you see your familiar world in new ways – and your back will thank you later! Maybe you can only afford a used DSLR and a 50mm f/1.8 – then take some awesome pictures with that. Either way, in the long run you will improve your craft and shoot some killer images along the way.
We all have to start somewhere. Our camera is just a tool. It’s okay to lust after the latest gear, we all do to some extent, but stop whining and wishing you had the latest Canon or Nikon. Get out there and use what you have. That is what will make you a better photographer.
December 29, 2012 09:12 am
Gerome - I suspect that you are changing lenses in all the wrong places. Outdoors in the wind, indoors with people moving around over carpet, maybe even forgetting to turn the camera off for a few seconds before opening it up to let static charge dissipate. There are good articles on the net on lens changing. Read them. My DSLR has lens changes regularly as I change subjects and in three years not one spot of dust on the sensor. ( Touch wood !) In a desperate situation change the lens INSIDE a large brand new clear plastic bag. Historically, plate camera photographers in the nineteenth century changed the photo sensitive glass plates in their huge wooden holders inside a big cloth bag . 35 mm film spools which had stuck or broken whist re-winding were changed in cameras the same way - in a bag. Changing a DSLR lens would be childs play by comparison, in a plastic bag you can see through.
December 28, 2012 03:39 am
I have a definite whine about equipment: sensor dust. No such thing existed with film cameras. Had 3 DSLRs so far (they self-destruct easily), and each one quickly got lots of spots on images due to dust on the sensors. Have a new Canon Rebel, three weeks old, and already the first spot in images. Cleaning sensors is expensive and not always successful. I've even got spots on a sealed, waterproof camera. What gives? Extremely annoying. Not to mention time consuming in post process. Yes, I still go out and shoot, but not with much joy knowing I face laborious post process to get rid of spots.
Also it is not so easy to just shoot, without knowing your equipment, how to change shutter speed, or aperture if it is not readily apparent or intuitive. And some ridiculous cameras use screen menus which annoy intensely. So instead of shooting you are fooling around with hidden settings.
My rant for today.
October 8, 2012 06:13 pm
OMG this is so true. Glad to hear this. I've been shooting with the same camera for 4 going on 5 yrs now. :) I love my baby and I will get a new 1 when my $$$$$$ gets right.
September 10, 2012 01:23 am
I think her point here was that she has a lot of new people who follow her that are also new to the industry. It's easy to focus on the equipment first instead of the photograph. I've taken a lot of great photos with so so equipment. Make sure you are getting every last thing you can get out of what you have instead of buying bigger and better. Framing, setting and story are just as important as lighting, and focus.
September 7, 2012 02:27 pm
I do concur with the points raised here. I personally follow the principle of "breaking the camera", i.e. pushing the camera (or other equipment) to its limits till it can produce no better. The point is to arrive at a certainty that one has outgrown the current gear and in fact, being held back by it. That's when I would start looking for the next step-up. I have an entry level dslr and couple of lenses, which I have been using for 2 years now and would be using for quite sometime before I am in a position to upgrade.
May 23, 2012 10:04 pm
yearh. who needs pro equipment when d3000 does a job like this:
May 16, 2012 04:57 am
Neat little article, and some good advice too! Wish I had more time to shoot just for fun
May 10, 2012 10:56 am
And that, Rona, says it all. Very simply; very succinctly.
May 10, 2012 10:10 am
Lots of controversy here! I guess my take on it is that you have to make a distinction between becoming a better photographer and taking better photographs. I totally agree with the article--no, a different camera can't make you a better photographer, any more than a new stove will make you a better cook. But a better camera CAN give you better results because of a better lens, bigger sensor, etc, just like a better stove will heat more evenly and do a better job baking the cake.
May 10, 2012 12:17 am
I can speak to both sides of this topic with one story. Last Fall I decided to return to college after a 12 year hiatus. In order to make it more appealing, I decided to take a "fun" class: Digital Photo I. The class description only required a digital camera, not necessarily a DSLR. I had a Nikon Cool Pix point-and shoot that I had received as a gift for Christmas. So, the first day of class, every other student had a DSLR!!!! I was so jealous of their beautiful cameras and their removeable lenses, but I had assignments I had to fulfill. And so, I did. And I think I did, ok. I searched and hunted every pawn shop I could find. I finally found a Canon Rebel XTi for $240!!! It came with 2 batteries, an 80mm lens, a CF card, it was a great deal! I struggled a little to catch up, but I caught on and learned how to use my new equipment....Then, after just 2 assignments into the Spring Semester, a tragedy occurred. My worst fear....my camera would not work, I didn't know what to do...I was mid-assignment! How would I ever finish!?!? I took it to the camera repair shop...$200 to repair (2 pins in the card reader slot were bent, the pins were only $2!). The price was really $200 to open the camera, because you know, that is delicate work. I am a student, with no financial aid and lucky enough to have a work-study job that pays minimum wage! How could I afford to repair my camera??? How could I afford not to??? I took the cheap way out. I had no other choice. I had no money! So, I went back to the point-and-shoot. Thank goodness for the Nikon. Or so I thought. I hated it! I hated the fact that I had to use this "sub-par" camera. I sat there...I looked at it...I didn't "want" to use it...there was no Raw setting...there was no Manual setting! I sat there, like a deer in headlights! I couldn't move, I was uninspired!!! But, what choice did I have? I had to get my assignment done. My assignment: Night Photography! When I needed the Manual mode most, all I could manipulate with my point-and-shoot was ISO! I was in artist hell! So I pouted a little longer and then I realized that I was my biggest obstacle! Not my camera! I was putting more parameters on myself and my creativity than the lack of a camera. I had a camera, not the one I wanted, but I had more than some! So, I took that Nikon and I went outside and I shot some pictures. I had some terrible images, and sometimes I had no image at all, just a black screen. But, I also had some great images! Better than I thought I would. I used a tripod, I changed the ISO, I had to get creative and use what I had. I used two of those images in my end-of-the-year student portfolio. So all-in-all. I was not as satisfied as I would have been if I had been able to use a better camera, with a better sensor and better glass, but I did learn to stop being my biggest obstacle and use what I have!
p.s. I have not been able to raise enough funds to fix my camera, so if anyone out there has a DSLR they no longer need or use and would be willing to help out a new photographer, I would love to hear from you.
Angelica[eimg url='http://www5.snapfish.com/snapfish/slideshow/AlbumID=6229839025/PictureID=254680324025/a=7316617025_7316617025/otsc=SHR/otsi=SPIClink/COBRAND_NAME=snapfish/' title='COBRAND_NAME=snapfish'][eimg url='http://www5.snapfish.com/snapfish/slideshow/AlbumID=6229839025/PictureID=254674643025/a=7316617025_7316617025/otsc=SHR/otsi=SPIClink/COBRAND_NAME=snapfish/' title='COBRAND_NAME=snapfish']
May 9, 2012 01:41 am
Hi Valerie-I so appreciated this article, as a brand new photographer, this was great to read and I love my "not so new" gear! Thanks for the encouragement!!!
May 7, 2012 12:47 am
This may be a bit extreme, but I have found that the type or "fanciness" of your equipment has nothing to do with the qaulity of your work. I have seen awsome shots taken from a 3mp point and shoot, so why are we whining as you put it, about the $2500+ setup we now have? The photograph is produced by nature, the photographer is the one who "sees" the shot, the camera is simply a recording device. If the Marines were to use cameras, they would say, My camera without me is useless, without my camera, I am useless".
May 5, 2012 01:53 am
While this article may be filed in the "for beginners" section, there is no indication of this fact in the newsletter or the main listing of recent articles. And this premise may be useful for beginners, but fails as you advance your knowledge and skill set. Entry level cameras can and do limit you as you advance. Upgrading to L series lenses was the best move I ever made. Upgrading to the Canon 7D was an equally great move, however the one caveat is that I had to relearn a lot of stuff to be effective with the 7D. Top of the line cameras are not nearly as forgiving as entry level DSLRs.
May 4, 2012 07:54 pm
May 4, 2012 07:42 pm
I do agree for this article Stop Whining About Your Equipment, Get Out There And Shoot!
May 4, 2012 06:33 pm
good article. use mostly a 24-70 or 70 - 200 when working but my favorite one is a 50, 1.4 ... (flickr.com/photos/jensaddis; jens rueckert /facebook; tumblr.jensaddis; tumblr.addismonochrome) so less is more and definitely challenging. when challenged you have to improve or remove. I try to improve. On the other hand I like to collect camerastuff and to use it. It is just so wonderful technical equipment. Love my Nikon D 700, wonderful work of craftsmansArt. and the lenses are gobsmacking!! Anyway set yourself some tasks, challenge yourself with less: one camera, one lens. no other lenses, no flash ... limitations as freedom from technical restrictions by to much equipment;-)
go out and shoot
May 4, 2012 06:27 pm
Totally agree with this article. I have a second-hand DSLR and the same for the lenses. No complains. I realize that it's all coming from inside me. The camera is a tool, used or new, but still have to use my brain, hands, vision, heart.
May 4, 2012 12:28 pm
This, and the 'camera lust' article, got me thinking. All those lovely free photography sites we visit many times a week. Well, I do. Who funds them ? And the photography magazines we buy, or borrow. Advertisers, that's who. The good ones - like dPS - keep the advertisers discreet and not too obvious. Some sites it's hard to find the editorial matter for the ads. I have learned that most website advertising can be ignored. Not even seen. By developing 'tunnel vision' for the stuff you came to see. That way the pressure to buy, buy ,buy, the latest goodies can be minimised. The really 'commercial' sites of course lose my interest entirely.
May 4, 2012 11:40 am
Personally, it doesn't matter what equipment you use. It's how your able to capture what you see (or envision) with what you have.
May 4, 2012 07:33 am
I agree. I've been assuming that folks who are jonesing for high-end lenses, etc., are those who are making large prints & selling images. I do recommend the 7D as a wonderful alternative to the much pricier Canons. It's what was strongly urged on me when I approached professionals about a good body for wildlife. It's especially good for me because arthritic hands are not so adept at handling full-sensor camera bodies.
May 4, 2012 07:20 am
A professional photographer who makes a living from his photography would require a high end camera and good glass. But really, anyone who isn't making money from photography doesn't need a Canon 1D, or even a 5DMkIII. A second hand rebel will take great pictures, perfect for internet sharing, emails, viewing on PCs, or whatever.
However, good glass - yes, that will make a difference if you've first learned how to take a good picture with not so good glass, but that's not the full story. If you take a 16 Mb image with cheap glass and reduce it in size to a more manageable 3 or 4 Mb file, it can be made to look just as stunning as a professional full sized photograph. If all you're doing is sharing on the internet and on a blog, what more do you want? Don't blame your gear, just learn to use it. If you're hoping to make some money from photography, okay, maybe you do need better gear :)
May 4, 2012 06:32 am
So true..... I'm sure Nikon & Canon won't thank you. The rate at wich they introduce new cameras seems designed to sucker the whiners in. I have for me the perfect set up roughly the digital equivalent of the film gear I started using 30 years ago. I prefer to invest in petrol to get me to interesting locations
May 4, 2012 06:21 am
I agree absolutely with commenter Charles Allen. I upgraded from a Rebel to a 40D & then, when the 40D was in the shop, to a 7D, & I see a big, big difference in my shots. Ditto with finally buying PSE 9. I have shot with both the 40D & the 7D, using the same L lens, on the same day, in the same place, & can see a difference. I am much happier with my images now, not to mention selling more of them. The difference in speed between the 40D & the 7D is phenomenal. I took shots I loved with my little point-&-shoot before the 7D arrived, but I limited myself to situations where I knew that DoF & speed would not be a problem. Let's be honest - no gear is going to make you into a good photographer, & good photographers can take great shots with a Droid, but there is a reason that the pros use the equipment they do.
May 4, 2012 06:06 am
Another excellent column. Thank you Valerie!
May 4, 2012 05:46 am
Thanks for adding your voice to this perspective, Valerie. I appreciate your thoughts in the context within which they were shared and I agree with you in that context, which is this:
...photographers asking which camera to buy so they might become better photographers.
You reinforced that context when you wrote:
Let’s face it, the most iconic photographs of the last century were all made with far less sophisticated equipment than the most basic point and shoot we have today....
Some of the people who've been disagreeing about whether gear makes a difference seem to have missed that context so don't take their objections personally :-)
As for me, I sometimes whine -- even if only to myself -- about not yet having a telephoto lens. I do, of course, exercise my kit zoom (eff. 28-84mm), and I own an eff. 40mm 1.7 prime that challenges me to work with a fixed focal length. Even with the constant learning & refinement I experience with these 2 lenses, and the joy I get from doing what I can with what I've got, there's no getting around the very real limitation of not being able to photograph distant objects with any great detail; particularly of celestial objects/events like the upcoming May 20th eclipse.
With that eclipse in mind... insert slight whining here :-)
May 4, 2012 04:45 am
Thanks! I think I'll refer people to this article when they say crop sensors are for amateurs. The difference isn't skill, it's price.
May 4, 2012 04:33 am
Ah, it was so much better waiting in line for adding a comment... While being agreed with your article, that's exactly your last comment that added my opinion in what was left out: " Any cheap point and shoot today is 100 times better than what the masters used 50 years ago…" That's the best word about it and I'd rest my case.
What I would dare you to do is to take your film camera and use a new lens on it, because I dare to say that's not even about mechanics in what was done until the days of a digital camera, but more in the field of optics... And while I am crazy when remembering what great lens were Rolleinar M.C. 2.8/105, just use any new good lens and we would just happen to see how the equipment (sometimes) does matter...
And the pixels, eh, that's another story.
May 4, 2012 03:58 am
An excellent story, very reassuring. Thank you for writing it.
May 4, 2012 03:26 am
Wow, I did not think this article would get that many comments. Don't get me wrong, of course equipment matters once you feel limitations in what you own. But equipment should never be an excuse for not capturing great images. It's not all about color quality or the low noise. Is it Cartier-Bresson who used the same camera for his entire career? Any cheap point and shoot today is 100 times better than what the masters used 50 years ago...
May 4, 2012 03:17 am
Equipment does matter!
As an artist, son, I got the eye on the photographic development in 1969 and got my first camera in 1971
it was a Rolleikor and I was so fascinated that it became my first hobby.
During these times I went so far that I got my own photo lab (black & white)
Then it happened nothing exciting in many years, only after that I got my first digital camera - 8 years ago (fuji) this sat hobby back up and running in a new dimension. I developed with my camera and soon realized that I needed a better camera. Unfortunately I could not afford to buy the latest equipment (familien interest came first) but then fotshop came into play and where I could go on in my artistic design.
Only now I will be 63, I have an EOS that makes fotogafering a pleasure and I look forward to afford to buy a macro lens before retiring.
You live in a time of opportunity and if I were 30 years again, I would buy the latest and pay off everything in 10 years
A happy digital camera owner
Forgive my weird english
Google translation from the Swedish
May 4, 2012 02:59 am
@Kamlesh There should not be any significant difference between a Canon and a Nikon if in a similar price range. You may want to check your white balance adjustments. so many people leave their WB in AWB and have very disappointing results. Good luck!
May 4, 2012 02:51 am
I have Canon 550d with lens kit 18-55 mm & i am using it for wedding photography but as compare to Nikon the skin & color tone is not upto the mark as that of Nikon 40X.
Plz advice me for any adjustment in my camera setting or in flash (Nissin D622i).so I can use under indoor lights & have nice color tone,since i am doing wedding photography as a source of Income.
May 4, 2012 02:35 am
Interesting article and good points made.
I think it is also worth bearing in mind that the photographic industry relies on photographers replacing and upgrading their equipment. Considerable skillful effort is devoted to marketing and advertising to get us to do precisely that.
It works. I find myself drooling whenever a new product with better features is released and I'm easily caught up in the technical minutiae that accompanies a new camera. In almost all cases, these improvements will indeed lead to a technically better image. But they will not make a photographer into an artist. That is solely up to you.
May 4, 2012 02:26 am
Thanks for your highly valued advice.
I like to know that is CANON CAMERA are made for outside photo shoot while NIKON for indoor purpose so that they give their best Image quality.
May 4, 2012 02:10 am
i,ve got a simple fuji digital camera but my motto with any camera i have had is know your camera its limits and limitations i take it everywhere with me but know it inside out and have taken some pretty good photos with it that i am pleased with
May 4, 2012 01:43 am
For those who Whine about to much talk about whiners....stop whining about it and go out and shoot instead reading about what you don't like to read about...whining...!
May 4, 2012 01:01 am
This pertains to most people, but not all.
May 3, 2012 01:24 pm
I would have to say I both agree with this, and don't agree with it. Here is why, because I am new, very new to this picture taking, and my goals are to have enough skill to take decent pictures for my journalism class, blog, and any future story I get to do when I am done with school. Now I had been using a 5 mp camera to take pictures at political rallies, and they never turned out that good. I just bought a t2 i EOS Canon, and a 75-300 telephoto lens, and my pictures look great. I did read the instructions, and practiced a little bit, but I've been taking pictures that I did not expect to take awhile. Now by no means am I great at this, or even good. I am still trying to learn more about taking pictures that really wow me and everyone else, but this camera has allowed me to feel a lot more comfortable with taking pictures. It does a lot of the work. Plus, the setting to get various types of pictures are real easy to use. Look at me, it looks like I am selling the camera. I am not, I almost bought a Sony. I hope this is not too much.
May 3, 2012 08:06 am
Thanks for sharing this great article ... definitely left me inspired and I will be going on that walk soon :)
May 2, 2012 02:43 pm
Great article and great point. The camera does not make the picture, the shooter does. I had a nice reminder of how far I have come with my photography a couple of months ago. I was at the opening of a new bridge in Dallas and as I was waiting for a performance to begin, I glanced down at someone's nice Canon dslr camera with the setting set to that pretty green square. (Automatic)
I was in that same spot a year ago. I had this great camera that I had no clue how to use! However, with lots and lots of practice, I was able to move from the green box to the "M". With the exception of different lenses for different purposes, use what you have and master it.
May 2, 2012 01:23 pm
But I like whinning, my wife won't listen to me, so I have to turn to the internet for validation... :)
May 2, 2012 03:46 am
Loved the article. I personally have used many camera over my life, ranging from an old Mercury half-frame, Konica's and several Nikons. I have had many wonderful experiences with every one. In fact I still own all these cameras. They bring memories of places I have been and the joys of trying to get that perfect shot. I am now into the digital world, so I can see the shot I have captured instantly. Now I have the option to reshoot. So travel this planet and shoot shoot shoot. Still trying to get that "OMG" photo.
May 2, 2012 02:52 am
I shot out there for wedding, belly dance.. and so on. I think i need better gears still :)__
Lack of gears make me hard to shoot (as i lack of skills).
May 2, 2012 01:43 am
I lived this blog this weekend. I took my D70 out with the nifty 50. Patience is the key, and you'll get good pix with a well maintained camera.[eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/38452303@N04/6985955776/' title='2012 Abril 28-30 Boca Chica 289' url='http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7135/6985955776_1ab3645a2c.jpg']
May 1, 2012 11:00 pm
Macro photo of a spider with a 40-something year old lens reversed on a 30-something year old teleconverter:
May 1, 2012 09:43 pm
@jojie C you may copy a pose you saw in a great portrait but ultimately it's your personality and your interaction with your subject that will make or break the picture.
May 1, 2012 09:04 pm
Can you elaborate more about getting inspirations but not copy and imitate them? I get the meaning, but it's kinda hard to say, see a great portrait shot that works and using it as an inspiration to get something like that of your own, without actually using that see is already working... gets?
May 1, 2012 07:18 pm
As a beginner, couldn't agree more. We need to learn composition first.
So, buy a prime lens and experiment with compositions by moving left-right front-behind ..It will teach you a lot of things.
May 1, 2012 05:15 pm
Wow...what a read . simply awsome
May 1, 2012 01:39 pm
I have used Instamatics, Polaroids, disposables, point and shoot cameras and DSLRs. I have slowly worked my way up to a Canon EOS 5D MkIII. The new camera takes gorgeous pictures - but the downside is... I have no excuse for 'bad' photos anymore.
Knowing this is inspiring me to become a better photographer, to try and capture those truly amazing shots. The equipment DOES make a difference - but only if and when you have learned how to use it!
Each and every one of us could have won awards for those photos we have 'missed.' Usually its timing, sometimes its 'the light,' but only rarely is it because of the equipment.
May 1, 2012 11:56 am
Wow, who knew that this was such a heated topic?!
I've been told that I have a 'good eye' for photography, but the lack of a decent camera has put me off ever pursuing it as a hobby. I have one camera, a 4 year old Canon Powershot A580 (stop sniggering, please!). Recently I decided I really would like to try this, so I was desperately trying to find a cheap 2nd hand DSLR but we just can't afford one at the moment.
I had a whine and was ready to give up when something inside my (somewhat slow to catch on) head thought I'd actually have a look at the camera I do own. And what a wonderful surprise it was to see the 'function' button with its myriad of features that I've seen but never paid any attention to!
So I took some photos and changed things around and can actually see the difference! They won't be good enough to enlarge and grace my walls, but I have a new passion to learn everything I can about technique from my old camera, and will start pestering all my photography-crazed friends for any help I can get. I may even go out with them one day, uninhibited as I now am by the encouragement of Valerie's words in this article.
May 1, 2012 06:00 am
I wonder what camera gear Valerie shoots with ? I'd put money on it being some of the gear we 'lust' after. I have a 60D I'm very happy with it, I don't need a bigger, better camera. I would like a pro lens, purely because the kit lense that my 60D came with doesn't give me the quality and sharpness I'd like. I'd like to see article on why Canon charge so much for Pro lenses, come on £2,000 for the lense I'd like!!! No way does it cost that much to make, there must be a massive mark up on it. We should be starting a campaign to get them to lower their prices. The daft thing is if the priced them sensibly they would sell so many more and they would make more money in the long run.
May 1, 2012 03:17 am
It's true. Recently, instead of lusting after medium format pricy tool, I went through my collection of film 35mm cameras and started taking pictures with film again. Feels good
[eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/marianagea/6982781550/' title='nik-portra-ws11' url='http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7053/6982781550_3533c98a75_b.jpg']
May 1, 2012 02:20 am
I couldn't agree more!! Lately, i have found myself shopping for gear more than i have been shooting/editing/planning for shoots. It's a vicious circle, and i've talked to a lot of different photographers about this. I buy a lot of my gear used, and the number one thing i hear is: "i'm selling this because i went a little crazy when i first bought my camera and picked up too many lenses, now I need money for bills, etc" I shoot with a Canon 40D, 50mm 1.8, 85mm 1.8. If i had my choice i'd have a 5D MarkII or III with a 16-35 2.8, 24-70 2.8, and last but not least a 70-200 2.8. $8,000 later....I'D BE SHOOTING LIKE A PRO!!. Or would I? I often take for granted the gear that i have. I can get great bokeh with both of my lenses, the 85mm is a great portrait lens. All in all i'm on Valerie's side, until you can justify buying new gear knowing that the gear you have is "holding" you back. But until then, go outside, shoot, shoot, shoot, then shoot some more.
May 1, 2012 02:18 am
Beautiful article, Valerie. I am in the same position now. I am not a pro yet, but I take good pictures with my Nikon D40 compared to others around with much higher version cameras. I too feel that I reached a position to buy a latest one, which I will be buying soon.
May 1, 2012 02:04 am
Well done, you've nailed it in probably the best article I have ever read!
However the one thing I would add is that when you do reach a certain level and you feel that you could do justice to a new lightbox, get it. I made do with an old Canon 300D for 3 years, then I bought a 450D, then a 550D. I only stepped up each time when I felt I deserved it because I was making more use of it because of the mere fact of simply owning it, it made me want to shoot more with each upgrade. Looking back at my shots over the last 4 years I can see how I improved over each month.
Finally last August I went all out and bought my prize I've always wanted, a 5D MkII with 27-70mm L. The first day's shooting I was trying so hard I came home with 2 great shots and ever since simply owning one it makes me want to get out more and more. I feel that only being a mere amateur I need to work hard to justify owning a professional tool, I must prove to myself that I deserve such a device. To that end I shoot anywhere up to 15 hours a week when I can outside working my 9-5 office job.
So sometimes that lust for something new fills you with so much enthusiasm, you feel you must work to justify it.
May 1, 2012 01:40 am
Thats why I like say I make pictures...Not just take them..With the shot and the use of the software, I can make it whatever I want it to be...
May 1, 2012 12:56 am
But Darren, why did you post the article of the New Cannon Mark III above this article in your newsletter? OH I LUSTED, but totally agree with your article and came out of my trance.
I shoot a Oly EPL-2 and happy with it...to a degree. After buying I read and can see the limits of the camera and I'm pushing them. But more than that, I question if its me not doing better but doing the same things that do not improve myself. How and Where can one get a critique of their work? I would put my efforts up to be displayed but a comment of nice does me little to improve.
I would like to hear about "how to get your images analyzed/critiqued". I'm a member of a local camera club but get little feedback their as the professionals are snobs and above us enthusiast, and the rest use their equipment to be socially engaged.
Do most enjoy the newsletters, keep up the good work.
April 30, 2012 10:46 pm
This really did me some good. Please check out my website and feel free to shoot me an email with comments and beneficial critiques. I've been on this "gear lust" and really don't have the money for all I "feel" I need, so this article helped. Thank you so much. Be blessed.
April 30, 2012 10:04 pm
April 30, 2012 09:44 pm
This article is listed under the category Photography Tips for Beginners. Our "professional" wedding photographer had a fancy camera & lens but didn't take good photos.
April 30, 2012 09:42 pm
Strike "specific section."
April 30, 2012 09:38 pm
The point is relevant and it is well articulated and I find repetitive responses about repetition little more than amusing.
I think new photographers are most at risk of putting too much emphasis on gear than principle and technique and they're the people that won't have seen this article dozens of times before.
I'd like to see a specific section or regular feature in DPS for less experienced photographers as the site has been an invaluable resource for me in my development. And frankly, if a photographer as experienced, successful and talented as Valerie can take time out to advise (or re-advise) on subjects that are particularly relevant to newbies, then more credit to her.
April 30, 2012 07:41 pm
I agree 100% with this post. I am a working Pro, for who my cameras and lenses are just tools to get a job done, and they do a damn good job at that. My upgrade cycle is only when it becomes uneconomical to repair an existing piece of kit. Just because the latest and greatest hits the shelves every day doesn't mean go out and get it because it will make you a better photographer...it won't. Exceptional images happen because of what is behind the camera, not the camera/lens combination itself. Get out there and really learn to use what you have, and practise, practise, practise...you would be surprised what you can do with even your Cellphone camera, using the tried and tested techniques of photography.
April 30, 2012 07:03 pm
I agree with Ash. Until two years ago I only had a point and shoot. It was a decent P&S, but when I moved up to a SLR (Nikon D5000 and now D7000) I realised how good a picture can be. It was quite a revelation. I'm not a snob, but the range of tones and colours are simply uncomparable to a P&S (not to mention a camera phone). Whilst I occassionally take out my P&S for shooting, I cannot take the camera seriously enough knowing that the end result will never be as good. It has to be a SLR (or at least something with a decent sensor).
April 30, 2012 06:18 pm
I took the plunge & purchased $100 50mm 1.8 lens. Not a big investment but helped my photography tremendously since I was limited with the kit lens. It will be a long time before I master that lens. I'm struggling with dof in relation to distance & aperture setting. Any great articles???
April 30, 2012 05:10 pm
Fine for an amateur situation, but if you are looking to earn money off people by taking photographs, you should be offering quality and in many areas that means having the the best available equipment. Not to be able to offer customers this is cheating them of their money.
April 30, 2012 03:45 pm
Sorry, but this theme gets a little old and is, frankly, somewhat patronizing. Yes yes, having a better camera will not suddenly make a lame photographer into a great photographer...but who really argues this?
Of course one should use what gear they have to improve their technical and creative skills (what other choice?). But saying "Shut up and go shoot" insults me. I want a better camera *and* I make the most out of the equipment I have at hand. These two statements are not mutually exclusive. Also, it is somewhat disingenuous to say that a better camera cannot make a difference in the quality of pictures people can take...it can and does, which is precisely why pro photographers work their way up to top of the line cameras.
Take my current situation...I have a camera that shifts skin colors into the red and has a middle-of-the-road tonal range. If I had a better camera, skin tones would be more natural and my photos would have a richer color quality that I would find satisfying. That wouldn't suddenly make me a "better photographer", but it would help me make photographs that I find more satisfying to my tastes and creative goals. Does that make me a whiner or simply a person who knows enough about the limitations of my equipment to aspire to more?
April 30, 2012 03:00 pm
Paul Deveaux, You said it all!!!!
April 30, 2012 01:38 pm
My camera gear is good (though I have a mile long list of upgrades that I'd love to have). Can I whine about my computer? It's pushing 4 years old. I've maxed out my RAM. and keep my HD nice and clean. Still, it struggles to keep up. I've gotten into time lapse, and It really struggles with rendering video. 1080p is a guarantee that it will fail. I could sure use an upgraded computer. . . .
Here's my latest time lapse. 720p is as good as I could get. I've images for several others that I need to render.
April 30, 2012 01:00 pm
I like the theme "Give the best in what you have!"
recently took a lily flower in pond
April 30, 2012 11:56 am
Perhaps the crux of the argument is that one should always be ready to make photos, using the camara at hand. Using simple equipment to learn to see allows one to concentrate in the image, but there are limitations.
At lunch today I took the following pictures with a 3.1MP Motorola XT136 mobile. The image quality is fair, but they tell a story.
Post-processing with the GIMP did help.
Gustavo J. Mata
April 30, 2012 10:40 am
The problem in this whole argument stems from the definition of what a "better photograph" is. If this means better focused and better exposed, then yes, a new camera with a faster more accurate autofocus system or improved light meter make make the photos "better." If, however, your definition of a good photograph goes beyond mere technical qualities (i.e. exposure, focus, sharpness, etc.) then newer equipment won't change anything. You will simply be able to produce sharp, well exposed, focused images that don't have any impact on the viewer.
We need to be asking ourselves why we want the additional capability that newer equipment provides. An earlier commenter mentioned wanting to create shallow DOF and needing fast glass to do it. The question to be asked is why do you want to create that shallow DOF in the first place? The answer is most likely to add visual mass to to the subject by isolating it from the background. There are other ways to isolate the subject than just shallow DOF. Color, leading lines, simplifying the background, point of view, lighting, golden mean, and rule of thirds are several ways to generate visual mass in the subject without fast glass. Shallow DOF is simply one technique that can be used among a host of others.
My point is as photographers we have a very low degree of visual literacy - we don't know what a good photograph is in the first place and cannot articulate it.
We need to shift the conversation from megapixels, frame rates, and high iso capability to things like perspective, color, texture, line, repetition, quality of light, etc. The better we can actually articulate what is happening visually in our photographs, the easier it is to improve them.
Just for the record my primary camera is about 7 years old. My favorite/most used two lenses are both over 25 years old.
April 30, 2012 10:10 am
I suspect that a better way to put it would be "if you need to ask which camera will make you a better photographer, you don't need a new camera." A better camera may help overcome limitations in your existing gear, but it won't overcome the limitations in the photographer.
April 30, 2012 09:57 am
Okay, so I totally agree with Valerie's last comment, that's what I think hahah!
April 30, 2012 09:54 am
Definitely agree. Use what you've got to the fullest, stop making excuses.
With a disposable camera, one of my favorites:
April 30, 2012 09:43 am
Here Here! Some of my favorite photos were from my Point & Shoot days!
Albeit with a bit of post-processing......
April 30, 2012 09:01 am
The headline is enough to describe the whole article. Good article.
April 30, 2012 06:32 am
Ok, I get it, 'whining' was a bit strong ;-) the bottom line is that until you really feel limitations in your current gear (most people never do if they don't get out of auto mode) getting a new camera will not magically make better pictures for you. There is nothing wrong with gear lust, or being into photography just for the gear. A lot of photographers are.
I just know that a lot of new photographers are under the impression, still, that having a great camera will make them great photographers and that's absurd (or I would already own the same tennis racquet as Nadal and be a pro player!!!!)
YES, expensive cameras and lenses will definitely deliver better pictures IF you know how to take good pictures to start with...
April 30, 2012 05:47 am
I agree with this article.
Whining about your gear and not using what you have to go out and take pictures is a lot different from being an active photographer who is always eager to add to his arsenal.
Some articles criticize those who like to buy new gear whether it helps them as photographers or not, but the fascination with and the acquisition of new gear is the hallmark of many hobbies.
I just bought a $200 bowling ball that I get less strikes with than my $100 ball, but I know that after a summer of lessons, the more expensive ball will pay off, once I've learned how to use it properly.
The thing is that I didn't throw away my $100 ball and I kept up my bowling, ever striving to master both.
The same can be said of photography. Lust after the gear and buy it, but don't ditch the gear you're most familiar with and keep on shooting.
Every new piece of equipment I've ever bought lead me to understand two things. I'm not a master of my craft or sport and the new equipment doesn't solve problems so much as it presents new challenges.
April 30, 2012 05:04 am
first comment is the best
April 30, 2012 04:19 am
I totally agree with the article. I have a nice enough camera and I would like some new lenses to play around with, but I know that my skills are what I make them. I can try really hard and practice and become better without high priced super nice gear. Thanks!
April 30, 2012 04:09 am
Although I now have a D3s and it is good my old D90 still took a good photo at considerably less cost
April 30, 2012 03:54 am
I'm not much whining about my gear, but I get about 2-4 shots which are in correct focus and expose from whole film(36). It maybe because its full manual camera, and I shoot to little (less then 10 shots a week) to learn to identify correct exposure and subjects tent to escape so I can't correctly focus.
Is it bad that I want some auto-focus camera with some good exposure meter, I'm not even planning it to be digital..
is this what you call Whining ? I guess there are lots of people who because of not knowing You can't write you, so that those whiners would be minority.
April 30, 2012 03:27 am
great post, thanks!!
April 30, 2012 03:06 am
I blogged about this yesterday....you have to go out and take photos....they don't come to you!
April 30, 2012 03:00 am
I recently read an article on Petapixel.com titled "Gear doesn't matter...until it matters" The point being that there are some effects that you just cannot achieve without certain gear. For example, you can blur the background a bit with a kit lens if you know how. But you cant get that crazy DoF effect some people like without a 50mm f/1.8 or better lens. So you can have all the vision and talent you want, but you're limited to the physical characteristics of the lens/camera. Another personal example. When I was learning and experimenting a lot with photography, I wanted to take a double exposure picture (this was in the film days). The camera I had wouldn't let me do it. I was able to borrow a camera that did let me do it, but I was absolutely limited by the gear I had.
I think the point people try to make when they say "Gear doesn't matter" is that good photographers CAN make good pictures with bad gear. In the end all equipment has its limitations.
April 30, 2012 02:46 am
I kinda agree with the first comment. Anyway, if your camera broke and all you had left was say, an iPod camera, you'd be whining too. No matter what you say, better gear improves your shots. Why else would people pay thousands of dollars on cameras and gear?
April 30, 2012 02:37 am
I take my pics here http://disney-photography-blog.com/ with a T3i.
They're lovely shots and the cameras just fine, but I think I'm ready for an upgrade. Maybe to a 5d mk2.
April 30, 2012 02:28 am
True, this has been discussed and written about over and over again. BUT there are new photographers who hear about it for the first time every day!
April 30, 2012 02:20 am
No offence, too. But this discussion is just far too over-discussed. Not to mention that no matter how much of amazing points you make, it is always awkward if you actually own some of the best gears on the market. Sometimes, they might even have the exact same whatever reasons that you have to justify your purchase of your Ls.
My suggestion is to let it be. Don't answer those e-mails if you don't want too. Or you can link them to DPreview or DXomark or even stevehuff which will answer most of their questions.
April 30, 2012 02:16 am
Love this post and I agree with it.
April 30, 2012 02:11 am
I agree 100% with this post.
April 30, 2012 01:43 am
Seeing these "Stop Whining" posts on DPS is almost as annoying as hearing people whine about their gear. No offense meant, but the internet is made for anonymity and whiners.
Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook
Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook
Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook
Sign up to the free DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE
GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed