Saying a Camera takes Nice Pictures is like Saying a Guitar Plays Nice Melodies

Saying a Camera takes Nice Pictures is like Saying a Guitar Plays Nice Melodies

The following was left as a comment on a previous post by one of our readers – Angelino Pan y Vino (no link given). I thought it was a great story and one that might encourage readers who might feel they have lower quality cameras and gear.

Image by colodio

Image by colodio

Saying a camera takes nice pictures is like saying a guitar plays nice melodies.

You may quote me on that.

This goes to both amateur photographers, who don’t have top-notch equipment, as well as those ‘professional’ photographers, who like to compensate in gear what they lack in skill (ie: buying 10+ studio lights, 4-5 different cameras, with countless lenses and props).

You can spend all your money in professional equipment, but if you don’t have the skill to use it, it’s pretty much worthless. Likewise, even if your equipment isn’t top notch, you can still accomplish wonderful things, as long as you know what it is capable of.

The Dominican photographer Wilfredo García, when going on photography trips with his students, and clubs, always came back with the best picture. He was known for having a huge collection of cameras, going well over a hundred.

During one of these trips, a student challenged him, saying he would obviously bring back the best photograph, as he had the fanciest cameras. He replied “So why don’t you choose a camera for me, for the next trip?”

He went with a disposable film camera, and still bought back the best picture.

As long as you know the limitations of your equipment, and how to overcome them, it is possible to take gorgeous photographs, even if you don’t have a fortune to spend on your gear.

Note from Darren: I‘m interested to hear your thoughts on Angelino’s comments! While I’m someone who has spent his fair share of money on different photography gear – I’m amazed how often I come back to the most basic lenses when taking my best shots. What do you think?

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • Mort Metersky September 25, 2013 03:54 am

    I teach photography at a non profit called "The Conservatory," where we have Music, Art and Drama classes. The first thing I tell my students is, ' It's Not the Camera, It's the Person." Without the appropriate composition, a lack of knowledge on how to use aperture, shutter speed or manual settings, your photographs will not be of good quality. However, that is just the beginning. You don't learn from photography books and articles, but rather from critique of your images from knowledgeable photographers. I encourage my students to join a photography club that has competitions where outside judges provide critique of your images. That is how I learned and after five years, I got into my first juried show. It is like any sport or musical instrument you play, practice, practice,practice!

  • Curtis September 22, 2013 06:48 am

    Let's take a different perspective.
    Take a look at the 10 most expensive photographs purchased,
    None of them were made with high-end photography gear needed.
    Speaks volumes to the main point of this article,

  • Mort Metersky August 17, 2012 02:19 am

    I tell my students, "It's not the camera, it's the person." In order to produce a nice compositional image, even a record shot, you have to know the rules of composition. In addition, you have to know when you can break a rule to make an even better images. It is NOT an overnight endeavor and it can NOT be done without help from a knowledgeable person or persons. Join a camera club that has competitions and get your images critiqued by qualified judges. After 100s and 100s of photos, after four years of having my slides critiqued, I was accepted in a juried show. Like anything in life, using the Olympics as an example, every athlete there had coaches and years of practice to get to the Olympic level. It is my belief that EVERY Olympic athlete is a champion.

  • Maple Mcdoniel August 14, 2012 09:27 pm

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  • Roy Govender May 2, 2012 08:05 pm

    Love this article & could not have come at a better time. I played professional soccer & coached soccer for many years. Can relate to those who thought that a new soccer ball or boots would improve their playing. It is indeed all about developing the necessary skills and putting to good use the available equipment. When the technique & skills are mastered, we can make old equipment come alive. Thanks for this article; I am a new photographer & was contemplating new equipment but know what I need to do. Will invest the time & energy necessary & look forward to much better pictures.

  • Robin April 27, 2012 06:12 pm

    Having read some of the other comments I can see both sides. I remember Frank Williams famously saying it was his cars that won races not the driver after sacking Damon Hill and not winning the F1 championship again. On the other hand, Michael Schumaker hasn't done at all well in a different car has he? (Maybe not enough practise? LOL)

  • Robin April 27, 2012 05:56 pm

    I have a friend who once said to me, 'You know, these are my 3rd set of golf clubs and my golf still hasn't improved.' I asked him how often he practised the game and he said, 'Oh, I don't have time to practise, I just play in the company competitions.' The moral? - As has already been stated, don't buy something if you don't intend to practise using it.

  • PaulB January 13, 2012 03:19 am

    Haha, love it.............. we've all had those moments when people say... Wow, you must have an amazing camera! :)

  • Charlotte January 2, 2012 08:11 am

    This article is so true and I am glad to see someone finally state the obvious. I don't know how many times I am asked what camera I use or what settings do I use. Sometimes I respond with the name and type of camera that I use but then add that it isn't always the camera but the person using it! I have learned that you have to be careful who you say that too though!!

    I have also had some people who get mad and frustrated when they ask for my settings and I give them my settings, then they insist that they already use the same settings and don't get the same results. So then I go into more detail as to how I go about shooting a set of pictures and I seem to loose them or make them more mad and frustrated. I have to remind myself that they are not getting mad at me, even though sometimes it seems that way, but that they are just frustrated with themselves.

  • Scott Pacaldo December 24, 2011 07:42 pm

    I shoot with iPod Touch 4--a 0.7mp camera, AND I'M PROUD OF IT!

    The reason for this is that currently I don't have the means to afford a "decent" camera, or so they say.
    I also have my chances to shoot with an old sony cybershot compact camera(7mp) that is lying inside the family drawer but I didn't bother to use it because it was pink in color. It will be awkward for me to use it in the streets. haha.

    In late 2009 to 2010, I started shooting "mobile photography" with my Nokia N70.
    Try to search up mobile photography, iphoneography.

  • Rob Norton-Edwards December 21, 2011 11:47 pm

    Been following this thread for a bit now and am delighted to see so many different views. One poster, however, suggested that a guitarist will be able to play better melodies on a better guitar. As a guitarist myself, I have to disagree as this is fundamentally wrong and displays for me the fundamental misconception at the heart of this thread.

    Starting with the analogy, the same guitarist will be able to make the same melody on ANY guitar - provided it's of the same type (i.e. acoustic vs electric). The difference comes in that the music will sound better on a higher quality guitar. This is because the better guitar has better tonality, resonance, etc. The melody, though, will be the same. You can't play better because you have better gear (your skill is the same), but your playing will sound better with better gear.

    On guitars of similar quality, the difference will not be as noticeable, but it will be there. The trained ear will pick it up more than the untrained ear. Of course, different guitars will offer anyone the capacity to do different things, which might not be possible on other types of equipment. For example, you cannot do high distortion pitch-bending heavy metal squeals on an acoustic, while that is possible on an electric guitar.

    So... the analogy holds true. In photography terms, the same photographer, with two cameras of the same basic type (i.e. not one with a 600mm zoom compared to one with a 35mm), though different quality (i.e. one with top glass as opposed to one with entry level glass or a poor sensor), will be able to take the same photograph under similar conditions. However, the higher quality gear will generally make the photo 'look' better, even if they're compositionally the same. Again, the differences may be less noticeable to the untrained eye, but they will be there.

    When all is said and done, though, if someone says that's a great photo, isn't that what matters? As photographers we try to capture something we see (usually) so that we can show it to others. If it inspires the sort of reaction we want, I'd say that's the point, not what camera someone thinks so have.

    From some comments, there seem to be folks on here who take it personally when someone compliments their camera. WAKE UP CALL: they have complimented your shot! The concept of second level sarcasm is probably not what they intended, so get over yourself, keep shooting and keep getting people to say nice things about your images.

    See you in the viewfinder....

  • Dante December 20, 2011 05:43 am

    I agree and disagree with both sides in the comments section, better equipment won't make you a better photographer but better equipment will enhance your skill because better technology is better technology plain and simple. I have heard the the whole "you must have a nice camera" many times but I have learned it is better to brush it off than to comeback with a snide comment about guitars or ovens or whatever else. The people who say this "nice camera" comment obviously either know very little about photography or are suffering from their own ignorance about what makes them a good photographer. Either way why should I care what they think? Like Gary Monkur mentioned earlier, golf is the same way. People see me driving the ball in the 285 yard range down the middle of the fairway and think it is my nice driver because it says "Tour" on it but little do they know I have been playing for 25 years, played on school teams with coaches and have spent more hours practicing and doing drills then they have played on the course.

    So of course if someone told me I drive well because I have a "nice driver" it would be a little insulting considering the effort and commitment I put into honing my skill but I prefer to let my game play be my voice and not some negative comment in return. Much like golf manufacturers camera makers try to develop products that help the average amateur and weekend warrior shoot better. If they think buying a brand new 1500.00 dollar camera or club will make them shoot better then by all means go for it, it isn't my money. Why should I care? If my skill is better than theirs I will beat them regardless of how much their equipment costs, if they are better than me they will beat me regardless of how much my equipment costs, within reason of course. But better technology helps all players/photographers shoot better. If it didn't we would see all professional photographers using folding film cameras and all professional golfers using persimmons drivers and wooden shafts. The undeniable fact is that higher end technology is better technology, if it wasn't why aren't more of us out there shooting with D40s? After all we can produce the same quality images regardless of camera right?

  • Israel Brewster December 20, 2011 03:01 am

    I have to disagree - to an extent. To continue with the analogy presented in the headline, yes, a skilled guitarist can make a lovely melody from a low quality guitar, and a bad guitarist can make horrible noise from the best guitar. However, given a guitarist of a certain skill level (be it low or high), they will be able to make a better melody with a better guitar. The only exception to that would be for people on either end of the skill spectrum- that is, the best guitarist may be able to overcome the limitations of a poor guitar to produce as good of a sound as from a nice guitar, while a poor guitarist may not be able to produce good sound on anything. However, for any average guitarist, a better guitar WILL produce better sound. I believe the same holds true in photography, supported by my personal experience.

    Yes, I got some excellent shots with my cheap camera, before I upgraded to a DSLR. It's not impossible, and a skilled photographer could doubtless do much better than me. However, I have gotten a lot more nice shots, and the nicest of my shots have gotten much nicer since I upgraded my equipment. With my point-and-shoot, I got a lot more bad shots than good. Now that I have a DSLR, I get a lot more good shots than bad (framing/subject may still be an issue, but at least the quality is there). So yes, my DSLR DOES take nice shots - at least relative to my point-and-shoot.

  • Yasser Komeha December 19, 2011 07:15 pm

    Absulotly right.. Although I have a fancy gear; one of my best shots was taken using a $30 web camera. Actually it was used by a marketing firm in a tourism campaign.

  • Mort Metersky December 19, 2011 12:54 pm

    I have been teaching my students that it is "not the camera but the person" that takes a good image. With the advent of manipulation software ( I use Photoshop Elements), it's not only the composition that is created by the maker but it's also about being creative. It is not only having a "creative" image but also looking beyond the image and then using Photoshop and being creative. How many of you have converted a colored image into a black and white image using Nik software and discovered that the black and white image its much better than the colored one. Try to look beyond the image to "see" what can be done with it.

  • Larry Lourcey December 19, 2011 11:29 am

    Preach it brother!
    So true. I love the comparison to the guitar. You certainly need adequate gear, but the real talent is BEHIND the camera.

  • XposurePro Lightroom Presets December 18, 2011 11:26 pm

    "Saying a camera takes nice pictures" ... ok is this suppose to mean professional pictures? Because "nice" is not a word that is allowed to be used in my studio. A nice picture is not going to lead to huge sales and a happy client. If I'm producing "nice pictures" then I have not exceeded my clients expectations and at best I have barely meet those expectations. I take "nice pictures" with my cell phone. Therefore I'm taking this comment as the author is speaking about nice ... snapshots .. not on a professional level.

    This post holds absolutely no weight. .. what exactly is trying to be said?

    "You can spend all your money in professional equipment, but if you don’t have the skill to use it, it’s pretty much worthless" ... ok this is true ( and common sense so what's the point .. other than to be negative)

    "Likewise, even if your equipment isn’t top notch, you can still accomplish wonderful things, as long as you know what it is capable of." ... the key phrases here are "wonderful things" .. what is defined by that? I'm guessing not professional quality because otherwise it would make sense to say you could accomplish professional quality ... but you cannot produce the same quality with low-end gear and so we have ... wonderful things.
    Second part to look at is "what it is capable of" ... in other words you can take "nice pictures" (snapshots) when you are confronted with the perfect conditions that the equipment can handle ..... This doesn't even need to be explained .. Come on now ... This type of thinking is a joke (especially after making cracks about pros compensating a lack of skill with expensive gear)

    As for the wildlife professor story ... Maybe that was a sign that the professor wasn't doing his job. And Again ... what level are we talking about ... "nice pictures" or professional quality?

    To be perfectly honest I've been hearing this same basic statement for over 20 years and I'm sure it was being said long before that .... it's not the camera it's the photographer. The interesting fact is that in almost every case it is said by a non-working professional who cannot afford to purchase the equipment they are saying a photographer does not need. This is just an age old justification used by people who don't have pro equipment and are bothered by it. If you're happy with a low-end camera then that's great .. enjoy photography and have fun with it. However, don't be negative against professionals who are using high-end equipment and shooting top-end clients on a daily basis.

    Which makes more sense .. pros spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on professional equipment because that is what is needed to successfully compete on a professional level and produce a higher level of quality.


    pros are spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover up the fact that they don't know what they are doing .. because somebody who cannot afford to buy all that cool equipment said so.

    So what are my thoughts on this post? ... Extremely non-professional thinking .. but it produced "nice comment numbers"

  • Haxn December 18, 2011 10:46 pm

    somehow top notch gear may work against you if I may add,
    pull out your dslr and everyone goes stiff thinking its press or worse get kickout of the place...
    though at times its always the bigger guns and the sound they make that intimidates the enemy, models on a runway kind of give you a better smile and more respect when they see your equipment ;-).

  • Dodie Remedios December 18, 2011 07:18 pm

    After reading through all the comments (which took me a while I may add) it seems that the view is divided among those who A.) Totally agreed with Darren and B.) Those who said the equipment has something to do with the quality of the pictures or both the camera and photographer are factors for good pictures.

    I am part of group A, for those in group B you are totally missing the point of this thread. There was even an analogy using a Stradivarius. That made me laugh, its so far off from the article. If the article was about how much better a professional piece of equipment (camera, violin or otherwise) can produce quality results than a cheaper, more consumer piece of equipment, then they could be correct. But that is not what Darren is trying to point out. A total camera klutz would be hard pressed to produce a better image with a high end DSLR than a professional / highly skilled photographer with a cheap P&S, even if that DSLR is in auto mode. Why? the lens cap was left on or the subject was on in frame or he could not find the shutter, and a number of other reasons that all points to one thing, he is an idiot with no sense of composition. Hell you could give him access to the hubble space telescope and he'll still come out with crappy pictures.

    Give me a Stradivarius and there is no way I can play better than someone with the slightest level of skill using a cheap knockoff, Why? because I can't play the violin even if my life depended on it.

    I apologize if I offended anyone, but I guess it takes some extreme (albeit silly) examples to make a point.

  • Molly December 18, 2011 05:07 am

    "Wow, your camera takes nice pictures."
    "Thanks, your mouth makes nice compliments."

    That's a quote from my friend, the top one, and the bottom one from her friend.

  • Douglas Clarke December 17, 2011 02:02 pm

    I am in complete agreement. We were on a cruise and one fellow with us commented on what nice pictures my camera took. His wife confided to me that her husband took horrible pics. He would cut off the heads of folks and all sorts of things. While I am not an expert by any stretch I do know a bit about composition. using ISO, white balance, etc. My excellent camera was a Panasonic FH 20 that I paid $120.00 for. Hardly what one would call a professional grade camera. I have learned to trick it into doing many things it wasn't designed for. It fits nicely in a shirt pocket and I use it much more often than my Nikon D60. I would much rather hire a carpenter with a $20 hammer that knew how to use it than one with a $100 hammer that couldn't hit the nail most of the time.

  • Nicolas Boivin December 17, 2011 07:47 am

    50mm f1.8 is all I have to say :D

    That and the fact that learning composition can bring far better pictures than buying a 1d X with 1000s of $$ in lenses.

    If you don't know how to see the light and the world, you could have the best camera in the world, your pictures would still be bland...

  • Reggie December 17, 2011 06:11 am

    Naturally, it is NOT about the equipment. I'm a photojournalist and I teach students photography. They use a regular point and shoot digital camera and one would be surprised at the images kids from K-5 come up with. One shoots from the heart and what one sees that they conncet with. Of course Nikon and other camera companies along with individuals that talk a good game, usually about their equipment, would have us think differently.

  • Stu December 17, 2011 05:46 am

    I once heard a photographer say when asked what is the best camera have. His reply " the one you have when you need to take the picture".

  • Kartik December 17, 2011 04:52 am

    This has got to be the topic on DPS with the most number of comments and that is for a reason. We, as photographers do feel bad or insulted when someone gives the camera all the credit for the photo. On Facebook, after seeing some of my pics, I get comments like "I need to buy a better camera" or "Your camera is great". However this is just what the layman thinks. On Flickr, its a different story, people actually constructively criticize photos and do discuss gear as well but not to the extent of making the photographer feel bad.

    I did learn some nice replies which I will probably use in this scenario, the best being from Deb "I'll let my camera know that"...perfect!

    Although not related, I also feel kind of insulted when someone says "You use Photoshop right?". Mostly, these are people who always use their $2000 DSLRs in Full Auto mode. These people know, but do not want to admit that post processing has existed forever even without digital cameras and digital photo processing even carried forward some of its terms like "dodging and burning". Its hard to explain a common man that the modern photography is a combination of skills, gear and digital processing. Photoshop or any post processing tool is merely a tool, its the artist using it that turns a snapshot into a photo. Again, its like saying "Photoshop made your photo so nice". Absolutely ridiculous.

    These days when I am presented with the "Do you use Photoshop" questions, my modest response is that RAW files do need to be converted to JPEG and hence I decide, according to the situation, whether its Lightroom or Photoshop or Sony's RAW converter software. Amen.

  • prashant gupta December 17, 2011 03:51 am

    absolutely ryt...its you who is handling d camera nt d otr way arnd...

  • Jyl P December 17, 2011 12:33 am

    My brother would take pictures and show them to his logger friends. They would say nice picture what kind of camera do you have. He finally asked them how they would feel if he said nice job cutting down that tree and
    making it land where you wanted it to land . . . what kind of chain saw do you have ? They understood.

  • blaize December 16, 2011 06:31 pm

    I think a lot of folks here think it is a bit of both.

    One of the best things any photographer can do is known the gear he or she has -- know what it can do and how to do it and knowing the limitations of the gear. When I use my camera phone, I have no control over depth of field and no real zoom capabilities. Likewise, I know that it is slower than molasses with shutter lag. These limitations change how I take pictures when compared to something like my 50D. With my arsenal of lenses and filters. Rather than complaining about what my phone can't do, I try and think of how to creatively use what I have to capture an image.

  • Dodie Remedios December 16, 2011 06:27 pm

    Amen, the camera is just a piece of equipment, it is worthless without the photographer behind it. Whereas a true photographer can express him/herself with any equipment.

    I am one of those who does not do much post processing, preferring to appreciate the shot as I took it. With that said, do I hate photoshop? No, in fact I have used image editors a lot for the past 20 years, from ms paint (early 80s) to corel to lightroom. I just feel that post processing is another art form in itself. In the age of film cameras, developing the pictures manually in your own darkroom was its form of post processing. And just like photography, post processing is a hard skill to master, a skill that requires a lot of patience and a good eye for detail. I've seen a number of good photos that were ruined when it was photoshopped poorly.

    So whether is in taking pictures or in post processing, if you do not have the skills then don't be surprised if the results are not what you expected.

  • Amarjyoti Goswami December 16, 2011 05:36 pm

    Yes. I fully agree. Before capturing a picture, we should able to have a vision of the outcome. A good picture is a kind of poetry , first born in the heart of the quick photographer and within that quickness of the mili-moments shows the creator behind.

  • Mark December 16, 2011 04:44 pm

    I read a lot of people making the comparison of a professional photographer with a "crappy" camera vs. a amateur with a "professional" camera. This is not a valid comparison. If you want to talk about the equipment - you have to keep a constant in the equation. That constant would then be the photographer. Compare the pictures taken by a professional with the "crappy" camera and pictures taken by the same photographer with the "professional" camera. I bet the the pictures taken with the better camera would win every time.

  • Vijaya kumar December 16, 2011 04:02 pm

    It is bit of both- the gear as well as the skill. A poor gear will let you down in a challenging situation say a scene with poor lighting. I always believed that you have to be more of an artist than a camera buff to get good appealing pictures.

  • Theo van Niekerk December 16, 2011 03:49 pm

    A woman who loves to cook, and does it well, once said to me "Your photos are wonderful, you must have a good camera,"
    I replied "Your food tastes wonderful, you must have good pots" :)

  • Mark December 16, 2011 03:44 pm

    Well, honestly ...

    As both a guitarist and photographer, whilst I agree with the thrust of the article I often describe a guitar as "playing well" or giving a "sweet sound" or "giving a great sound".

    Does it do this by itself while sitting in the case? Of course not. Can I get the same sound out of a $50 Ebay special? Not a chance.

    Can I get the same photo out of the Point & Shoot that I always keep in my car and my Canon EOS 7D? Very rarely.

  • Kevin December 16, 2011 02:32 pm

    "Money can't buy you happiness." This does not imply that lack of it buys happiness or abundance buys you sadness, If you are serious about photography buy the best equipment you can afford and learn to use it. No one is doubting that a simple cell phone in the right hands is capable of stunning results but it will always be easier and more consistence with a proper camera. I terms of learning I have always believed that these simple three steps should be taught in this order, Focus, Exposure and Composition. Unfortunately composition is the hardest to learn and the difference between good, bad and great photographs however if the first two aspects don't exist then composition is irrelevant.

    Buying the best equipment you can afford does not imply the best equipment that exists.

  • John Tod December 16, 2011 01:41 pm

    I went to a studio course once with an older Canon Rebel XT. Many others had more modern cameras. I was quite pleased my camera was able to take fantastic photos and I would catch the model poses very good. The models were professionals who would strike a pose and then another and another or you could suggest a pose. I quickly learned that having the best tools does not necessarily make you the best artist.

  • Ulrike Stein December 16, 2011 01:27 pm

    my teacher uses the example, a good oven doesn't make the best cake

  • Jeff December 16, 2011 01:21 pm

    further support and clarification for what i am saying, I own both a 5DmkII and a 7D. A 7D actually takes sharper images then the 5DmkII.

    That being said, I still shoot better shots with my 5DmkII because it's the camera I'm more familiar with and have had a lot more time to learn. I fully expect my skills to improve with the 7D (which they are slowly as i use it more)

    One more point for thought. My 7D is never going to have the DOF of my 5DmkII because it isn't full frame, having the full frame sensor opens up so many more options to inspire creativity. I'll shoot my 7D to capture wildlife and sports, I'll use my 5DmkII for everything else that i want more creativity from.

  • Jeff December 16, 2011 01:15 pm

    disappointing.... I think people in here are taking this article way too much to heart. It's a good point, but it's just an opinion of one person.

    People on here are taking this article too technically. Yes, a better camera is going to take a better picture, but we are talking about the content of a picture, not the technical quality of it. Yes a professional camera is going to have sharper lines and more contrast.

    On the other hand, some people who are looking at this article are using it to justify their low end equipment (in some cases) You may be great with your P&S but your abilities could be way beyond what that camera is capable of. a good camera could make a good photographer, "great" just by allowing them more option/capabilities.

    and for all those who complain about people who don't know how to handle their expensive/nice equipment, perhaps they should look more at the persons willingness to learn how to use the equipment they have, rather then judge them on the equipment they have and the shots they are currently getting... We all learn every day, we all improve, and articles like this hold us back in some ways.

    Sorry to say it, but i disagree with the article. It doesn't take much into consideration, and it feels like a "make yourself feel good" article, and a slightly narrow minded view of what's out there.

    Just my opinion.

  • Fotofanatix December 16, 2011 12:15 pm

    Totally Agree,
    My First ever and only DSLR (bought last year) is a Nikon D90 with the standard twin lens 'kit' - 18-55mm, 55-200mm, yes it was more than i was expecting to pay when i decided to purchase a camera (i paid in total with the camera bag, tripod and SD card a little in excess of AU$1800.00, i then received $200.00 cash back so all up just over $1600.00). I wasn't looking for an awesome camera like the D90 but that's what i ended up with - after doing tons of research - and i'm extremely happy with it, the point is i went through a stage of wanting 'Pro' lenses that cost in excess of $2000.00 each because i thought them alone, coupled with the camera body, would better my photography - let's face it in certain circumstances there are shots you cannot get with just a standard lens, wide angle landscape shots for instance - but as an amateur photographer and one who is on a disability, with a wife and four kids to support, i cannot justify spending that sort of money on any extra camera equipment, so i have studied and learned about the equipment i do have - i also purchased a 2nd hand 70-300mm lens off of e-bay for under $100.00 - my photography has gone from strength to strength because i study my equipment and 'play around' with the different settings on my camera, i love my camera and the lenses, yes i would love to get a macro, a wide angle and maybe one more telephoto lens but all that can wait (probably till i win the lotto or someone is kind and generous enough to sell me theirs cheaply). i do not personally use photo editing software - i just don't like it, i prefer my photo's to be natural - and let's face it the beauty of digital is "If you don't like the photo, delete it and take another one at virtually no cost"!!! with me, what you see is what you get!!!
    Thanks for a BRILLIANT site Darren, keep it up.

  • julie December 16, 2011 12:10 pm

    I agree with everyone stating it's both the user and the camera. I also believe there is no harm in using photoshop either. As long as it's used to enhance photos. Photography is art, afterall. If a person wants to add a neat action to their photo to set a certain mood for it, for example, then why not?

  • George Landry December 16, 2011 12:02 pm

    The shot isn't because of the camera, it's because of the eye of the photographer. If you can't see it, you can't capture it. Good gear makes it easier, but only once you become intimate enough with it that you don't waste a lot of time thinking about your equipment.

  • Arthur J Kimber Jr December 16, 2011 11:56 am

    Getting an outstanding photo does not always require a lot of expensive equipment. My personal experience has been track and field events before digital cameras and I was using a Kodak Instantmatic, great action shots.

  • Tine December 16, 2011 11:25 am

    I'm still saving up for a DSLR so I use an entry-level Samsung digital camera. It's always funny when people see my pictures and ask what camera I use (since they take such nice shots). It's flattering. I tell them that it's a low-end a digicam and explain that it's the camera user and not the camera that matters. I don't think I'm boasting but just showing them that lack of flashy gadgets is not a hindrance to photography.

  • tony December 16, 2011 11:06 am

    There has to be a balance of gear and skill. I have taken some amazing pictures that I'm really proud of on a 5 dollar disposable camera I got from walgreens, and I've produced some serious crap with my nice 900 buck digital.

    The gear is not as important as the eye behind the lens, but bad gear can limit the photographer too. Just recently I had to upgrade my Walkabout lens because the limitations of it's capabilities was frustrating to no end and I was blowing shots because of it. Now I have a nice 500 dollar 35mm prime lens that works MUCH better for me.

  • Mark Lathrop December 16, 2011 10:38 am

    Great article...I'll bet I have heard this statement 50 times if I've heard it once. It makes me just shake my head and chuckle inside. From some people it can actually be a little insulting to your ability.

  • mikeytronic December 16, 2011 10:25 am

    You know what I see a lot of here? Something like this

    "Professionals use expensive things to compensate for their lack of skill. My favourite pictures are from cheap cameras. That makes me a better photographer than you could understand."

    You know what I don't see a lot of? Photos as evidence of aforementioned and much lauded skill.

    The above are mine. Back to school if you think you can do that with less than expensive things.
    Photographers don't take pictures, cameras do. Take the camera out of your hands and you're just a socially awkward gawker who wants praise for the beauty of the world around you.

  • Jorge December 16, 2011 10:19 am

    As an exercise, many times I go out with my camera and only the 50 mm lens, inspired on the career of Henri Cartier-Bresson

  • Jim December 16, 2011 10:08 am

    This argument has been going on for years. I always hears things like "it's not the camera it's the photographer". It's true that some folks don't know an f stop from a shortstop and wouldn't priduce good images with any equipment. It is also true you can't make a quality 13x19 with a 2mp point and shoot. You can't make a blanket statement that camera equipment doesn't matter.

  • Barbara Fox December 16, 2011 10:02 am

    I cannot count the times someone has said this to me!

  • Marco December 16, 2011 09:49 am

    It is never the camera that makes a great image, but no one can capture a great image of an eagle grabbing a fish from a river with a $99 point and shoot. Not enough lens and too much shutter lag!

    That said, my neighbor could not pick up my Canon 7D and take great images either. It is always the skill of the photographer looking through the viewfinder AND HAVING THE RIGHT GEAR for the job!!

    I did not start with the 7D, in fact I am still learning how to get the most from it after using a Canon XSi for a year and a half. That camera was great while I was learning and would still work fine for most types of photography, however action wildlife shots require better gear to get higher ISO with less noise, larger buffer for bursts of shots, and a much faster drive to get a good series of shots to select the best pose in a moving animal. Sometimes it is just the photographer, but other times it is the quality of the equipment. Depends on what you want to shoot.

  • Jason Adell December 16, 2011 08:57 am

    Awesome article and I couldn't agree more. A few years back when I started in photography I had just the bottom line DSLR camera and kit lens, after a dew days I was taking great photographs and as time went on I got better. Then it seemed I stopped making progress and even though I was taking awesome photographs, I stopped getting better. So I saved up the money and went out a bought a Canon 5D mkii and a 70-200 2.8 IS. My photographs went from good to bad and I couldn't figure out why. I had a bigger, more expensive camera and lens, but still wasn't taking quality photographs. It took me a while but soon I figured it was because I didn't understand my new fancy equipment. I was using it like my started gear.

  • Sam B December 16, 2011 08:54 am

    Chris, I totally agree with your comment about the weight factor of a pricy FF camera. They have thier purpose as does every other camera on the market. Shoot with what you can afford then move up the equipment ladder as needed. But spend the big bucks only if you love photography and not because you're feeding your ego. Marketing and advertising lead one to believe that new and improved is better and you're nothing until you own it! Don't do it for this reason. Be the "Under Dog". Be the guy with the crappy car who gets the hot chick!

  • Morten December 16, 2011 08:50 am

    I have always liked to think that I am a strong believer in this ethos and after reading this it has really refreshed my mind!

    I am looking to purchase my first DSLR (I've been an amateur photographer for around 3 years now but have never purchased my own DSLR) and after having pretty much endorsed my uni's Nikon D7000 for ten weeks now, I have been dead-set on one of those.

    But after reading this I have realized that with a little skill and ability I don't need a fancy shmancy brand new camera.

  • George December 16, 2011 08:36 am

    When I up graded from a 20d to a 5d, several of my friends commented on my work, "you bought a new camera didn't you." Equipment does make a difference, if you have the talent to use it. If you haven't out grown your current equipment, there's no reason to upgrade.

  • Marie December 16, 2011 08:31 am

    I've been a firm believer of 'its not the equipment it's the photographer'. I've taken pics with cell phones that put some peoples DLSR pics to shame. there are people pointing out that there is a difference in cameras. I agree with that too. my cell phone pics arent much good blown up much bigger then a simple 4x6, where my Nikon d5000 pics can be blown up MUCH bigger. but what those people arent getting is that someone with out ANY creative inclination have trouble getting 'good' pics regardless of the technology involved.

    Taken with my LG Dare cellphone

    Taken with my nikon(my most viewed/commented/faved pic on flickr)

    I'm getting better and the camera quality does help but if you don't have a vision or an eye for a photo nothing can help you. and my last point is that photography like SO many things is subjective. everyone has their own opinion and what you like i might not...just my thoughts...

  • Mandy December 16, 2011 08:19 am

    I agree, you can have the most expensive best camera in the world but it doesn't automatically mean you can take brilliant photos.

    Two of my favourite photos were taken with my Traveler DC-5080 that cost £50:

    no post processing

  • Chris December 16, 2011 08:15 am

    In specific circumstances a more expensive camera MAY be able to capture something in a specific way that a cheaper camera can't easily. However, 99% of the time it makes no difference. I was fortunate enough to win a Nikon D700 in a photo contest and I hated it. Sold it. Never looked back. Why? It was heavy and big and a royal pain in the butt. And you know what? The quality of the images really weren't that much better than my "lowly" Olympus E420 (which I still own and love). Now if you are shooting weddings or professional sports for a living, maybe it would make sense. But I mostly shoot outdoor adventure (skiing, climbing...) and my trusty 420 with the kit zoom lens has never let me down. Plus, if I drop it off a mountain, I'm not out thousands of dollars! I will admit that I use my old Minolta glass when I am feeling artsy fartsy and need more depth of field, but that is my only concession to the gear beast.

  • James Rendina December 16, 2011 08:10 am

    Years ago I attended a three day photo seminar in Chicago. One of the guest speakers opened his 3 hour presentation with perhaps 50 slides. They were all outstanding. Then he took from his pocket something like a $129 point and shoot and assured all of us that this was the camera he had used to take all of these images. Then he gave a presentation on composition that was one of the best I had ever heard.

  • Matt Golosinski December 16, 2011 07:59 am

    A fine reminder that gear is a tool to be used. Conventional technique and top-flight gear may end up producing a "conventional" image. Perfectly nice, perhaps, but maybe underwhelming. Vision and an unconventional eye, even with a technically poor tool, can end up creating something marvelous. As I recall, many conventional critics lambasted Robert Frank's "The Americans" when it first appeared, as he defied convention.

  • u4ya December 16, 2011 07:48 am

    That was a delicious meal, you must have a great stove.

  • MsKirpi December 16, 2011 07:45 am

    If you know what you're doing (even if only "somewhat") you can get a decent photo with an inexpensive camera. I own a little Kodak point & shoot camera and I still manage to get some fairly decent shots with it. The key is knowing how to compose the shot, and understanding lighting and things like that. Not that I am saying that I am a good photographer--I still have WAY too much to learn to call myself "good"! I'm just "high mediocre" and "darn lucky" at times!

  • James December 16, 2011 07:42 am

    I thought for sure the rest of the title would be "Saying a Camera takes Nice Pictures is like saying those clothes make you look skinny!"

  • Deb Buchanan December 16, 2011 07:38 am

    The first time I won a photo contest, someone said, "Your camera takes good pictures" and it upset me because the camera wouldn't have taken the picture without me pressing the button. I in turn said, "I'll let my camera know that". The camera only produces the image of what the photographer sees.

  • D Sheehan December 16, 2011 07:31 am

    "It ain't the guitar it's the way you play it"

  • Dennis King December 16, 2011 07:22 am

    I had many friends say "you to great pictures cuz you have that fancy camera" I said thanks but that is not true, I take great pictures because I know how to the the equipment I have. The next day I went on a mission with my iPhone. I brought them a picture of my car that I took with my phone and they said "wow - you took that with a phone?"

  • UG December 16, 2011 07:13 am

    The first time I got the "wow your camera takes really nice pictures" comment, ill admit I felt slightly insulted. It was only after hearing it repeatedly from many others that it dawned on me that they meant no harm and just didn't understand. Now I take it as a compliment, smile and simply say

  • Stephanie December 16, 2011 07:11 am

    I absolutely agree. Although, I prefer to tell people that saying a camera takes good pictures is like saying a pot made a great dinner. It's not the pot, it's the chef. Just like it's not the camera, it's the photog behind it.

  • SJCT December 16, 2011 07:08 am

    I get the point. But if you take the analogy one step further...A great guitar player sounds ten times better on a great sounding guitar!

  • Johnny December 16, 2011 06:57 am

    Cameras don't shoot people. People shoot people.

  • Barry E.Warren December 16, 2011 03:32 am

    I agree with Rob Norton-Edwards, "The most important part of a camera is the nut holding it."

  • Barry E.Warren December 16, 2011 03:27 am

    The camera some what helps, but Photography is creating a photo not taking a pic. Anyone can take a pic. Only a photographer can create the photo.

  • Cathy December 16, 2011 02:50 am

    Well as far as composition goes that is strictly in the hands of the photographer as good as today's cameras are they can't compose a shot for you. But, I do think that equipment matters more now then it did in the days of film. With film it doesn't matter if you had a Kodak Brownie or a Lieca you could go to the store buy the same film and have it processed in exactly the same method. Now not only can you buy different qualities of lenses and bodies the way it's always been but the recording media varies in quality. The sensors do make a difference in the quality of the photo and how much data is collected. Even in the same camera if you take a photo in RAW vs jpg there are different amounts of data that the photo contains. Deeper richer colors come with better sensors because they can record more colors.. Now if that particular subject doesn't require extra data to get the point across you can take that photo your 5 year old cell phone. If it really matters then you might be saving or have already splurged on the latest and greatest professional camera from the manufacturer of your choice. I admit I would buy a Canon 1Dx if I could afford it. Shutter lag wasn't an issue with film but it is with digital it effects what photos you can take.

    So if you aren't trying to exceed the limits of the camera to get the shot then no the camera that you are using doesn't matter but if you are exceeding the limits of your camera then yes camera quality does matter. .

  • Tyler F December 16, 2011 02:23 am

    I agree partly - you still need an "eye" for photography, however, some shots you can't get because of your equipment, you couldn't get a 30 second exposure with a point and shoot, you couldn't take a photo of a bird in flight at 100m away with a point and shoot and you most certainly can't take a good photo at night without flash on a phones camera.

  • Brian Lunergan December 16, 2011 01:13 am

    Does this debate occur in many fields? Yup! Sadly, more often than not the way it ends up getting expressed places it squarely along side those little boys out behind the barn who drop their pants to compare size and performance of their "equipment" to see who is more adult and supposedly more mature than their pals. Retail advertising wins. The latest, greatest, and fastest whatever trumps anything seen as lesser.

    Don't mean nothing in the long run. An unskilled klutz is still a klutz even though he has the best gear money can buy until he develops the skills to use the tools effectively. OTOH, a skilled amateur or pro anything can make the tools he has available positively sing regardless of the brand, quality, or price.

    Just musing out loud...


  • LA Crab December 16, 2011 12:48 am

    So true. I encourage my students and novice friends to develop their knowledge base and skills, determining if they like photography first and want to put the effort into it, before purchasing more expensive equipment. A book I have recently come across by Laurie Excell and others, Composition - From Snapshots to Great Shots, does a great job of instructing those developing skills. I recommend this book to everyone.

  • Lou December 16, 2011 12:10 am

    Well I have been playing guitar for 42 years.
    Whilst it's true the guitar does not play the melodies the player does.
    The sound quality of a cheap $100.00 guitar vs. say a Taylor GS8 at $2500.00 is incomparable
    The playability of an expensive guitar sometimes is harder than that of a cheapO model.

    So at first I got his analogy....of course by being a guitar player.... it's not that simple
    Can I play melodies on a cheap guitar better than someone without much experience can play an expensive guitar. Absolutely.
    Do I play BETTER sounding melodies on a quality guitar? Absolutely!

    It really comes down to the long debated equipment vs skill and why it's debated I will never know because it has always remained the same having both is better than one or the other.

    As with any performer confidence is a key ingredient....any taking pictures surly falls into the "Arts" of creativity. When I went from an XS rebel to a 7D did it make me take better pictures...........well yes.
    Not necessarily because the camera was better....and it is better....but because for me having the right tool gave me confidence that I could be better......believing I could be better made me better.

    So the debate rages on and really it's pointless. Skewed it will always be to the presenters point of view on the matter.

    Ask Wilfredo if he had a choice and could go out with an instamatic or a 5D mark II which would he choose?
    Too ask him which takes a better quality photo?

  • Rob Norton-Edwards December 15, 2011 09:35 pm

    I tend to agree, though the guitar analogy only works partially. Some guitars have nicer tonal qulaity than others. The same melody played on one will sound better than on another, if played by the same person. Sure, skill comes into it, but the gear can certainly make a difference.

    However, I think it is mostly about the photographer. If you think about it, some of the most iconic photographers, whose work we look to and are inspired by, did not have fancy cameras. I'm talking about Adams and Cartier-Bresson and the like. And so many others. Their gear was pretty ropey by the standards of even the cheap stuff available today.

    Yet their eye for the image, composition and, (dare I say it?) 'magic' has produced something astonishing.

    The most important part of a camera is the nut holding it.

  • Leonardo December 15, 2011 08:20 pm

    "Likewise, even if your equipment isn’t top notch, you can still accomplish wonderful things, as long as you know what it is capable of."

    "As long as you know the limitations of your equipment, and how to overcome them, it is possible to take gorgeous photographs, even if you don’t have a fortune to spend on your gear."

    I think these two sentences nail down the whole issue pretty well. In my (limited) experience higher quality equipment tends to reliably and consistently remove many of the limitations imposed on you by less expensive one. This in turn offers a series of advantages that go from gaining the possibility of working in a more relaxed and quicker way to the chance of taking pictures in difficult conditions, conditions that could even prevent you from shooting were you only equipped with lesser quality gear.
    For example, reliably taking high quality pictures of moving people in low, harsh lighting conditions (like with theater and other performing arts) will likely require the use of equipment that has good high ISO performance and a nice dynamic range. But high ISO is also useful in photojournalism and sports photography, since it allows to use smaller apertures while maintaining a fast enough shutter speed to freeze action. The added depth of field improves the chances of obtaining well focused pictures in situations where you have to act quickly since you can't always exactly predict when something interesting is going to happen and you don't have a second chance to take a picture you just missed.

    On the other hand, if you are just shooting in "normal", less extreme conditions, then lower end equipment will do as good of a job as higher quality one. After all equipment is just equipment, that is a series of tools you use to "channel" your photographic skills in order to get a visually satisfying picture. Quoting Thulsa Doom (from the 1982 Conan movie by John Milius): "Steel isn't strong, boy, flesh is stronger! [...] What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?"

  • Erik Kerstenbeck December 15, 2011 04:59 pm


    This shot plays to both themes - Guitar and Photo


  • Brian December 15, 2011 02:51 pm

    @copyrat - There isn't a difference if I am playing it. Once again, I could have the Steinway and a talented pianist could have the cheapo Piano... he would play the best music. You are missing the point. Certainly the talented photographer can do more with a full frame DSLR than he can a point and shoot but he could do more with a point and shoot than a monkey with a DSLR!

  • Bharat Justa December 15, 2011 01:30 pm

    The camera has a good image quality, a good sensor...

  • susan December 15, 2011 01:11 pm

    anyone who said gear absolutely matters didn't get the point of this post. Yes, a 2000 dollar camera will take a better "quality" then a $800. But i guarantee, a client don't give a crap if its a camera worth 2k, or 800 bucks. A professional that understands exposure or composition etc. will get the better photograph with a $800 camera, then amateur with the $2000. Gear don't mean anything if you don't know how to use it. Probably think the best camera is the one with the highest megapixels too......

  • Average Joe December 15, 2011 10:59 am

    I think equipment obviously can enhance the photos, but it's so true that you can still get amazing photos with the lesser quality equipement. I was actually just thinking that tonight as I was taking a picture of the clouds with my iPhone.

  • Heather December 15, 2011 10:30 am

    I've had a lot of friends ask me recently what camera I have "because it takes good pictures." I've been shooting with my DSLR for over a year and a lot of my pictures from when I first got the camera look like what I did with my point and shoot. I've been doing a lot of learning in the last year, including taking a course from NYIP and I feel like I've improved immensely and now all of sudden all these comments about how my camera takes good pictures. I thought it was me.

  • Kartik December 15, 2011 10:10 am

    I dedicate this to everyone who buys expensive DSLRs and uses them in "Auto" mode. Amen.

  • Cassie December 15, 2011 10:10 am

    Would have to say it goes hand in hand.
    Sure you can take amazing shots with a cheaper point and shoot if you know what you are doing, but put a DSLR in those same hands and the quality exponentially improves. Those same hands should be able to tweak this, change that, to turn a humdrum image into the fantastic.
    I have a T2i, and an Olympus stylus tough point and shoot. Both give a reasonable image quality (12+MP), and have some choice of settings. Rather depends on the situation as to which I reach for. And to be honest, there are images I took with the Olympus that I havent managed to beat with the T2i. Simply put, its not the equipment you have, its the manner you use it. BUT having better equipment will make it easier to get 'the shot' you wanted when you took the camera (whatever kind you use) from the camera bag.

    As someone once said to me, the best camera is one you use.

  • hans December 15, 2011 10:06 am

    Recently, i challenged a friend to go into town with only an agfa clack and 1 roll of film.
    It's my way of teaching the importance of framing and composing and personally, I think it's a challenge everyone should take at least once.

  • Michael December 15, 2011 07:53 am

    the best equipment you can have is the equipment that makes taking the scene you see (or want to see) and transferring it onto the sensor/film. Fancy equipment that can do everything for you, but not output a jpeg that looks how (or close to how) you want it. Photography for me is about finding a scene and quickly taking a photograph of it that doesn't require very much editing at all.

  • Wanda Huff December 15, 2011 05:11 am

    I believe that a few of us are differing on the interpretation. i don't think we are comparing quality of the photographs taken by the same person with two different cameras but comparing the same camera being used by two different person having no clue of the camera's abilities and how to best use them, not knowing what to take a picture of or how to take it in a captivating fashion and the other person knowing what the best setting to use, how to use it, when to use it and having the creative eye to select the subject and how best to display it whether being angle, lighting or distance.
    I had this exact issue come up myself as my husband wanted me to show someone the new present he got me, my first DSLR Nikon D5100 and the person's response after I showed them some of the options and such ,stated "With the way things are made and all the new gadgets and auto-focusing now you don't even need talent anymore!"
    Funny thing is, so many have commented on my publicly shared photos, saying how good they are and when they hear I have the Nikon they comment "Oh THAT'S why they are such great shots!" Unknown to them, over 90% of all those photos were taken with my Kodak Easy Share Z612 that I bought from Wal-mart for $250 years ago.
    I'm not saying I'm talented but as my friend says, "Wanda, a camera can have all the bells and whistles and I still take an unfocused shaky picture, so evidently the CAMERA doesn't TAKE THE PERFECT PICTURE, the photographer does!"

  • Chris December 15, 2011 04:47 am

    Good luck getting Bird-in-Flight pictures with a disposable camera! :)

  • GradyPhilpott December 15, 2011 04:40 am

    Stradivarius instruments don't sell for millions for no reason.

    Professional photographers don't shell out the big bucks for D3 Nikon cameras for no good reason.

    A great instrument won't make you a virtuoso any more than an expensive camera will make you a great photographer, but if the equipment were not important, we'd all be using Kodak Brownies.

  • iggy_l December 15, 2011 03:51 am

    well the article is only half true, expensive gear wont take better composition (for example) but compering two shitty (forgive my french) photo, an expensive gear will be better quality shitty photo.
    i can not see how a 1.2 mega pixel camera will give better photo (from the same spot ) than a 18 mega pixel camera. after saying that if you don't have the skill or knowledge then it is true no meter how much money you spend on equipment/

  • Randumb December 15, 2011 03:33 am

    BS. I can take way better pics with my $800 camera, $300 lens, and $500 software than I can with a $5 disposable camera from Walgreens. I'm getting tired of people saying it's not about the equipment, when really it is. All my equipment makes my Christmas family portraits look a helluva lot better looking than the ones I get from friends using a built-in flash in front of a Christmas tree. Knowledge and and a photographic-eye can only take you so far.

  • raghavendra December 15, 2011 03:25 am

    Precisely the point!

  • Stephen Siteman December 15, 2011 02:56 am


    I would like to throw my two cents into this pile of pennies - so to speak. I make photographs. I also play guitar. I have to agree, the guitar (camera) doesn't make the melody (picture). Having said that; if you are playing a 35 dollar (USD) cheap acoustic which is not set up correctly, you are still going to produce some pretty horrible sounding music. You have to learn to tweak the instrument to get the best sound out of it. There is a saying where I grew up, "When you pick up a Fender Strat, it's like the guitar plays itself." Meaning if you have the skill, then the superior equipment will enhance your ability to play.
    If Jimmy Paige, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, Muddy Waters, or any of the other great guitarists picked up my old junker acoustic, they would be able to get amazing sounds out of it. However, they would get better tonality out of a $6,000.00 Fender Strat. So what I am saying is that while you need the talent and the knowledge of the imstrument, having better equipment does produce better/more consistent results.

  • Jason St. Petersburg Photographer December 15, 2011 02:33 am

    My feeling on this matter is that most people who say that gear does not matter have thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars worth of gear. I certainly do not say gear does not matter. Gear ABSOLUTELY matters. You ABSOLUTELY need the right gear for the right (photography) job.

    Sure, in certain situations pretty much any DSLR can produce a great looking image. That is not in question.

    Obviously if someone does not have photography skills no camera of any kind will help them until they know how to use it.

    However, I will repeat, gear ABSOLUTELY matters.

    Last week I had a job to photograph a flamenco dancer in the basement bar of a restaurant, and it was as dark as a basement. Gear mattered for that job.

    For pretty much any job I do having a DSLR body (D300) with dedicated buttons & switches for all major settings is a must as wholesale settings changes are often necessary over the course of the job. There just is not time to go into menus to change ISO or change focus modes, for example. So having a high enough level DSLR body to get all the dedicated buttons and switches matters.

    I have taught almost 200 1-on-1 DSLR photography lessons in the past three years here in St. Petersburg. About 25% of those students ended up buying additional or new gear after my lessons after we determined what type of photographs they would like to make, and now that they have the skill to make them, what gear is limiting their ability to do it. Most of the time it is just a simple matter of getting a speedlight. Second most is getting a 50mm lens. Others who want to do sports and having a DSLR that can only shoot 3 frames per second, well, they then know that gear is the limitation for that.

    Gear matters. Period. There is no profession in the world where the professionals in that field are not using the absolute best gear that can be afforded. For some reason with photography gear it seems to be up for debate. I am sure people in the medical field are not debating gear matters.

  • Jenn December 15, 2011 02:19 am

    While I agree with the main gist of the article, what is wrong with investing in professional grade gear? I would rather invest in expensive gear now, and never have to upgrade my lenses ever. It seems a waste of money to buy gear dictated by my current knowledge and then have to spend more money to buy better gear every time I outgrow its limitations.

  • Dino December 15, 2011 02:17 am

    There is no question that the tone of a guitar is considered by every musician before a purchase. It's also true that a great guitarist can get passable, even good, music from a dime store, plastic ukulele. However, for a struggling student, the right guitar, a moderately priced quality instrument, will make the difference between success and discouragement. True, the struggling student who benefits from this investment will, likely, never be a "great" musician since great talent supersedes equipment. But, for the rest of us, the 99%, starting with worthwhile equipment can lead to a very satisfying career or creative outlet.

  • Jean-Pierre December 15, 2011 01:56 am

  • Danny December 15, 2011 01:44 am

    Same thing goes with post production.... People are becoming dependent on it and losing any gift they might have had for just taking good photographs....If its used as a separate art form, I get it.... But so many use it to take a poor quality photo and try and turn it into something special....

    If you are trying to make beautiful photographs, stay away from post production....

  • ccting December 15, 2011 01:12 am

    You need to sharpen your swords before learning to kill ;D

  • Maximo Almonte December 15, 2011 01:06 am

    I remember when I first started and I totally agree with the content of this article. I live in NewYork and all you see around time square is masses of tourist carrying DSLRs. I had the thought one day..."mmm! Are they all really good photographers, or they just seem to be good ones because of their equipment". I have a 50D with some basic lenses, I have done baby showers, kids parties, maternity sessions and portrait work with the camera, and people always tell me, Your pictures are so great, your camera takes good pictures and even though I may sound like a teacher correcting them I always stop them in their tracks and let them know, "The camera doesn't take the pictures, the photographer does." The camera just helps capture that moment that people comment on. Instead of a great picture, I want people to go look back at it and say wow.
    It is all in the eye, the creativity, and the way you study light and how will it best work in that given situation.

  • Jeff Hillman December 15, 2011 12:59 am

    Aside from agreeing fully with Angelino's ideas, I'd have to say he / she has the awesomest name I've ever heard! The "Angel of Bread and Wine." I'd follow this person anywhere...

  • John Lane July 2, 2010 11:52 pm

    The above is common sense, like reading the instruction manual first. Take some photography courses so you don't try to run before you can walk. For a mediterranean-style wedding album or wedding albums

  • Loraine McCall April 9, 2010 09:32 am

    Yes, I agree. And yes, to those who mentioned that equipment is a factor. There has to be a balance. And it all varies on each circumstance and session. About the creativity part, it is great to be creative, but we need to also make sure that does not become too time consuming! Balance, plan, and prioritize!


  • Steve Schaper October 28, 2009 11:44 am

    Boy oh boy does the guitar make a difference! A luthier-built properly 'tuned' instrument when the wood has opened up can really 'sing'. A crappy foreign factory build instrument can sound very dead and dull - if you are lucky. And the strings matter, do - a great deal.

    Bad analogy.

    A good camera can definitely reduce the amount of noise on your image. I don't think anyone would argue that all you need is the camera on your cell phone to shoot for Arizona Highways, for instance. But the difference in acoustic instruments is even greater.

  • Sir Nitpicker October 25, 2009 04:09 am

    A guitar produces tones, a camera produces pictures.
    You can play a melody without a guitar, but good luck taking a picture without a camera.

    The phrase is appropriate.

    Don't misunderstand me it's a good article, and an important point is made, but I like to nitpick sometimes.

  • Pigon October 24, 2009 10:06 pm

    Yes, I agree in 100% with all that was said in the article. First comes the photographers vision and idea for the picture. That's the most important part. The camera (gear) and all the accessories are just the tools that should help to make that vision come true.

  • joshua baskerville October 23, 2009 07:24 pm

    I agree with that 110%

    Soo often ill be taking a photograph and say to my self "if only i had this, or had that" Then i realise i don't have "this or that" and i still want to (even need to) take the photograph.

    For example. I once had to photograph my aunt who was applying for a job, and needed some photos, one full body shot, another shoulders up. When she got to my place it was thick cloud, nearing sunset. I have a slow lens (f/3.5-5.6) and didn't have a speedlight at that stage, yet i still got a killer shot. I knew i was unable to retain a fast shutter speed and get the correct exposure, so i set the ISO up a little, had what was left of the sun over my shoulder (in her face) and i took the photo in RAW. Once on the computer, the photo was a little underexposed but sharp. I decided to create a high contrast partly black and white image, and a little vigneeting. The overall result was stunning.. probably a better result then if i had of had that flash and fast lens i was cursing not owning.

    Live with what you own. =]*

  • Dianna October 21, 2009 03:55 am

    I have a saying that I use too "Telling me my camera takes good pictures is like me telling you your stove cooks good food".

  • Vivek October 20, 2009 08:19 am

    I guess it's true that few can accomplish so much with so little gear or a basic point and shoot camera. However, am thinking, once someone plays with the DSLRs or one of those 'expensive' cameras that offer a lot of flexibility with settings/ clarity/ zoom (nifty 50 is worth mentioning, for clarity and DoF though), then they will be able to get the best out of basic ones too, as they understand the knack of it. Of course, the 'expensive' ones are priced at that range for a reason, huh?

    But, I've seen wonderful shots come out of iPhone too, so can't take sides here but that's my thought.

    Canon S5 IS.

  • Shannon October 20, 2009 01:50 am

    This is so I went to the park yesterday with my kids to get some pictures of them and the fall leaves. I saw MANY people there with the same idea, as well as some hired photographers doing family portraits and engagement shoots. (I have started my own business for the same thing). And I was feeling down on myself, since I only have basic studio gear, and a Rebel with the stock lens and a 50mm 1.8. They had the umbrellas, and big fancy flashes, and huge expensive lenses. I thought maybe I should just give up till I win the lottery.
    I've always had the premis of this article in the back of my mind, but today was a good day to read it again and bring back some inspiration to keep going! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Wilson Wong October 19, 2009 01:50 pm

    It is basically a chicken and egg thing. Without the basic equipment, one would never know the limitations of one's skills and the limitation of the equipment. Usually with the help of better equipment it will allow the photographer to capture the moment much more easier than with the basic equipment. The worst attitude to have towards photography is "Oh, I can photoshop the image later"

    My experience. I have a F2.8 lens in a dimly lit restaurant situated in Kathmandu that happens to have a cultural dance show for the patrons. No matter what the camera can dish out, the dance moves and the low light, just wouldn' allow good images to be captured. Furthermore, flash is not an option. So it takes skills to make full use of whatever the equipment can do and the appreciation of the environment that allows one to take a picture. (i made full use of the small halogen lights that throws small lighted space as my light source and wait for the dancers to move into those light to take my shot)

    So it goes to show that having all the equipment in the world, if one do not how to use them won't allow good images to be captured. And to capture an image beautifully is the result of good composition that no equipment can teach.

  • Myrna October 19, 2009 12:41 am

    I agree, its not the camera, its the photograhper. I have had all kinds of camera, some for the 40's an 50's, and istant disposels. 35 mil. camera, I like the film, but have gone to digtal. I have been ask when doing weddings, Make Me Look Good. ,,,,,,, I just see what I want to see. and the camera takes what i see.I have won lots of county fairs here, I use a Olympus FE-170 point an shoot. well it does very well. Got 3 1st, a 1st, best of class and Best of Show this year. so fancy eq. is not for me. the cheap or fancy money ones. its your choice what one want. to me It in the eyes and artistic one sees.

  • Dawna October 19, 2009 12:35 am

    I am so glad you wrote about this. Just starting in Digital Photography I always wondered if I had the right equipment or if I had a better lens would it make a difference? I came to the conclusion that I needed to learn all I could about what I had before I bought something else.
    Good article thanks for giving me back my confidence.

  • Suzanne Williams October 18, 2009 10:05 pm

    Thank you for this article. I have been preaching this for quite a while now. It is never about the camera, but about the eye behind it!

  • ziba October 18, 2009 07:08 pm

    The limitation is inside of our mind, Camera and technique are nothing unless photographer use them with creativity... Any Limitation outside can't stop us to have good picture... I have lots of nice photos with my D450 Canon but Now I bought Nikon D700 full frame camera around 3 months and I stop go for shooting... In art its good we be free and best equipments giving us reponsibility, I dont accept any responsibility for art

  • Neal October 18, 2009 06:02 am

    Yes better quality improves the picture, but give any craftsman average tools they will do better work that an average person with the best tools. I know my picture reflect my skill not my camera

  • Daniel Chua October 17, 2009 11:39 am

    "it is not the arrow, it is the indian"

  • Abdulwahab Alhajji October 17, 2009 09:36 am

    wow great thread , i love it , i agree with him , you can even take shots with a camera phone and they'd still look nice!

  • Billy October 17, 2009 07:29 am

    I definitely agree with this article. The posters here that are reminding us of the fact that a DSLR takes better quality images in terms of it's pixels are only stating the obvious, we know that people, that's why DSLR's & fast lenses cost so much!

    The best images I have ever seen are not perfect in terms of noise, blur, clarity, colour or whatever but have used these apparent elements of 'imperfection' to their advantage, almost featuring them. These images capture the viewer, it's all about good content, the imagination, you can throw as much money as you like at gear but if you don't have that little spark in your head then fancy gear and deep pockets won't help your photos.

    A good photographer can pre-visualise, take a shot in advance, minutes, hours, days, months or even years before they press that shutter button or even own a camera....


  • Liz October 17, 2009 06:50 am

    Beautiful and inspiring post. I want to thank you whole heartedly, from an aspiring photographer who has always used "hand-me-down" equipment.

  • Norml October 17, 2009 05:51 am

    When I'm shooting an event (wedding, bar or bat miztvah), I'll occasionally show a subject the shot I just took of them to see if they like it. When they do -- typical comment, "That's a really good camera!"

  • James Apps October 17, 2009 04:10 am

    I have noticed that although I have bought a DSLR camera the same rules of composition, light, being in the right place, and the artistic ability to see what is good in what you are looking at and using it still apply. I take snaps a lot but now and then when I have really looked at what I am doing I realise that as my knowledge increases and I begin to understand more about the art of taking photographs as well as the technical ability with the camera the better I use the camera I have. I have a 35mm Chinon SLR that I have used and discovered that I can take some good photos with it (and some dreadful ones too) and an Olympus pocket 35mm that requires a simple point and shoot - same result. The Fuji I use for school photo's - on trips out and for places where I don't want to lug the Canon, I get good photos too. With the Canon I can make some awful shots as well as some I am satisfied with. that feeling of taking the picture you wanted to take. Great stuff.

  • KRIS October 17, 2009 04:02 am

    Old saying, the equipment should match the skills. There has to be a balance.
    Thanks, Kris

  • Alex October 17, 2009 03:21 am

    I understand what Angelino and Darren mean but I cannot agree with them. Sure, if you know your camera's limitations you can take good pictures - but *only* within its range. Like shooting your golden retriever in your back yard. What happens if you want to take a picture in conditions that your camera just cannot cope with? No knowledge will save your pictures when, for example, you try to shoot a bicycle race in a forest on a cloudy morning, using anything less than a passable DSLR.

  • Dunja0712 October 17, 2009 02:56 am

    Quality of a photo may depend on camera, of course. I mean, SOME photos that are made with expensive D-SLR camera may have more clarity, sharpness etc.

    BUT, you just can't buy the qualities and skills of a photographer himself. There's no use buying expensive camera, lenses and other equipment, if you make photos that are not interesting, innovative, well composed, with good subject, story, "mood" - whatever you consider a fine artistic photo has to contain.

    So, I completely agree with the quote when it comes to the skills of a photographer. But I also agree with "Copyrat" in some way, when it comes to quality of an image itself.

    Hope you understood me, English is not my native language. :))

  • Rob October 17, 2009 01:52 am

    I would say that it’s about you and your relationship with your Camera.

    You gave a good example of Garcia getting the best shots with a disposable camera.
    I'll say give him a better camera and the photos will be even better.

    It’s about the person having the skill first and being able to use their camera properly.
    There always a learning curve with every new camera you pick up.

    I have taken photos since I was a kid with a Kodak 127 (film, hand wound camera) and I noticed that my photos got better with time.
    Every time I got a new camera, my quality would initial drop to below those of the best from my previous camera, but then as I understood my camera better the quality would rise and eventually exceed the previous camera.

    I went through this with my first DSLR ( I got over a year ago) and I have noticed the quality improving as i learnt the camera.
    One of the earliest a year ago

    One of the latest a year after the previous

  • wsk9co October 17, 2009 01:26 am

    When someone says, "wow, you must have a great camera", to a photographer it's like a backwards insult. However, if you look past that, and help the person understand that your camera is a tool, you may just be helping them find their creativity.

  • bamapicker October 17, 2009 12:23 am

    I too am a photographer and guitarist and I chose the best tools that I could afford to accomplish the ultimate goals of both genera's, which of course are completely different and in my opinion shouldn't be equated.

    A great photographer has a better chance of creating a good image (under ideal conditions) with an inexpensive camera than a guitarist has at sounding good on a cheap guitar.

    Having said that, a good camera with better lenses, better menus, dedicated buttons and switches, lower light capability, faster shutter speeds etc,etc, gives you the means to more easily take your craft to a much higher level. The same with guitars....more expensive usually means, easier to play, perfect intonation,quality of construction,and in general makes the hours and hours of practice required to become proficient more enjoyable.

    Use what you have of course but never lose sight of the fact that an inferior tool can keep you from reaching your full potential.

  • T-Fiz October 17, 2009 12:16 am

    I will say that some of my better photos came from the cheaper cameras I used to own, I think alot of it had to do with the fact that all I had to think about was just to take the dang picture. I didn't have to worry about aperture, shutter, ISO, exposure, etc. HOWEVER, it wasn't until after I bought an entry-level DSLR and using RAW that I started to play around and being creative with editing photos.

  • John Howell October 16, 2009 10:53 pm

    I tend to agree with this statement as it is the composer not the camera. The better camera and lens just allows you more or better options. For example, getting the sharper image with a good lens. Taking a less noisy picture with higher ISO . After years of shooting, I am still inclined to believe that nothing beats Composition and exposure

  • zaug October 16, 2009 09:59 pm

    Indeed, the article is spot on. I like the comparison.
    Another I heard somewhere (a bit like one mentioned above), "that was a delicious meal, you must have some really nice pans!" : D
    Thanks to all for sharing their ways of looking at it; it helps the rest of us fine tune our perspectives.
    As this shows, it is a very personal thing; for many a good P&S is plenty to realize their vision while others need more options.
    No one can really say except for themselves what is a valid limiting factor in the process. I followed a thread where someone asked if the readers thought it was a good time to upgrade to a particular model of camera. Someone responded by telling them that from the looks of their photos their gear was not the limiting factor; which they had not ask for an opinion of. Anyway, they upgraded and indeed their photos did improve, who can say why, probably the better viewfinder was a factor, but I also think that getting what was to him a "serious" camera made him more serious about his photography. I think also getting a quality piece of gear that works predictably, can remove concerns from the process and allow one to focus more on seeing and creating. A new piece of kit can also spark interest and work in a way as to open up ideas one may not have thought of, otherwise.
    A lot of what I was after with a DSLR was not only control over more aspects of the process, but easy access to those controls was even more important.
    For me it is a fine line between having gear of sufficient quality and going too far. Admittedly, sometimes it is hard to know what is enough.

  • Hal Mooney October 16, 2009 09:18 pm

    One more note - being a guitarist, as well as a photographer, I can say that an old guitar that has been cared for, can sound beautiful in the right hands. The same for an old camera.
    BUT, a CHEAP guitar, that is not well made, can never sound good. Same for a cheap camera.
    Get the best you can afford, then PRACTICE until you can use it well.
    That to me is the greatest advantage of digital - you can practice all you want, without having to pay for film and processing!

  • Hal Mooney October 16, 2009 09:09 pm

    I shot weddings, portraits and everything else, for 28 years with a Mamiya twin lens reflex (with only the normal lens). I've never owned a Hasselblad. My 35mm cameras were all manual.
    I'm not bragging about that, just saying that I was taught by my mentors to equip yourself with basic equipment that will last, and take sharp, clear images. Then use your wits and creativity to come back with good pictures.
    My college photography professor, Suzanne Camp Crosby, studied under Jerry Ulsman, and she shot with an ancient old Rollie that didn't even HAVE interchangeable lenses! And she won competitions everywhere.
    I finally bought a digital camera, a Canon 20D and a couple of good zooms. I'm having fun with them, but I find myself getting sloppy, assuming that I can "fix it later". If you have to "fix it later", you didn't do your job on site!

  • Shariq October 16, 2009 08:46 pm

    Very true, Darren. I was showing my cousin some recent pics I took of Stonehenge (link below), and he commented, "I know you have a decent camera (D40X) and lens (Nikkor 18-200 VR), but to take a pic like this it takes vision. It would never have occurred to me that the clouds in this picture were worth photographing." I thought that was a very insightful comment, especially since he doesn't even own a camera, and I'm not just saying so because he thought it was a good pic!

  • Lilliane P October 16, 2009 08:17 pm

    I think it's true, definitely .... and not just in photography.

  • Steve October 16, 2009 07:18 pm

    People often ask me about what equipment I use, how much it all costs and how I manage to get such good (sometimes!) pictures.

    My reply is always the same: The best, and most precious, two bits of photo gear I possess are my eyes. It’s here where the whole process begins.

    If you can’t ’see’ an image before you pick up the camera then no amount of money or expensive gear will get you that special shot.

    It’s people and their imaginations that make great pictures, not expensive camera gear.

  • Azzamac October 16, 2009 06:38 pm

    I totally agree with the statement!

    @Marc, that is so so true...i also quit my local club for the exact same reason!

  • Lynsey October 16, 2009 06:17 pm

    How wonderful! I always have camera envy whenever I see other photographers. I will learn to appreciate my little camera a bit more.

    Futhermore, a recent reader letter in Practical Photography magazine had this story to tell, which was apparently told to him by another professional photographer:

    The photographer held a dinner party at his house. During the evening, he was asked by some of the guests if they could see some of his work. He was delighted to show them.

    At the end of the evening, as the guests were leaving, one of the ladies thanked him for the dinner and added, "I thought your photographs were wonderful. You must have a very good camera"

    A few weeks later this same lady had a dinner party of her own and the photographer was invited. After the meal, as he left he expressed his appreciation of her meal and said "You must have a very good cooker".

  • Just John October 16, 2009 04:19 pm

    My response to this is, have a look at the story I have on the front page of my wen site -
    Thanks for the article.

  • Gordon October 16, 2009 03:22 pm

    Definitely true. It's really the photographer's eye that matters. While it can be learnt, some people just have a natural eye for a good photo. I wish I did.

    But never forget that GEAR IS FUN!

  • musician October 16, 2009 03:07 pm

    A guitar which is not in tune, will never be able to produce excellent music, no matter how good the musician is.

  • Alison Greenwood October 16, 2009 02:30 pm

    Ughhh I will get there in the end!
    Summer Fruit

  • Alison Greenwood October 16, 2009 02:28 pm

    Still Life

  • Alison Greenwood October 16, 2009 02:26 pm

    I never seem to get links to images correct in here :o(

    Here's the still life ...

  • Alison Greenwood October 16, 2009 02:23 pm

    Funnily enough I made a photo book recently, entitled, "It's not the camera".

    I love using my Canon Powershot SX 110 IS but I also have a Canon EOS 40D and 350D.

    However, my P&S is wonderful on family days out because it is light and fits nicely in my pocket.

    Here are a couple of pictures I have taken on family days out to the park ...

    ... and to the library.

    And a still life, simply placed on my worktop in my kitchen, by a window :o)

  • Lidda October 16, 2009 01:08 pm

    I agree. There are these girls on flickr who are around 16 who also own canon rebels (amateur gear as they say) who take pictures that look like they belong in vogue or some high fashion magazine. They have a 50mm 1.8 lens which cost about 90 bucks and their pictures and composition and style and tiniest little details are just gorgeous and they do all this without spending 3 grand on camera gear. I wish i was as good as them and I'm 28 with the same camera but my ideas are no where near as artistic as theirs. So yeah good gear can help but people with this wonderful artist eye do not need expensive equipment. They can make art from anything.

  • JulianHt October 16, 2009 01:02 pm

    Very true. I use a Canon EOS 30D but I have made some of my best pictures with my old Canon G3 camera. Check out the site of Nitsa - and
    Read about her approach to photography. Very interesting.

  • Rafael October 16, 2009 12:05 pm

    Is she looking through the viewfinder or through the flash?

    by the way... its not the camera but the shooter.

  • Cathy October 16, 2009 12:03 pm

    I've been thinking about this topic as I've read all the comments. The conclusion I reached is that better equipment will make you a better photographer but, the best equipment in the world can't make you the best photographer in the world. In other words better equipment will make the skills you have shine more but even the best equipment can't give you talent. A great photographer is a matter of talent, training, and the right equipment.

    I was talking with a friend of mine about photography and we concluded that it is much easier in these days of digital photography to have a great portfolio, take 200 photos (film) vs 20,000 (digital) and you're bound to have more photos that look good. I learned to shot in film and she learned in the digital age and until she bought a 85mm 1.4 manual lens for her dSLR (that darn cost thing) t I shot a lot less photos then she did and more of mine turned out. I think it was because I learned in the days of film where you tended to be more reluctant to press the shutter until you at least thought the shot was going to be good. Back in my days of shooting film if I shot 200 photos in a day I was taking pictures at the Olympics! Now if I take 2,000 in a day I whine a bit about the time to go through them all but, I don't have to take out a loan or spend weeks in the darkroom.

  • klh October 16, 2009 11:45 am

    While I agree that better equipment makes picture look better, without the skill to know when to hit the shutter button, you've got nothing but a picture.

    I was shooting my son's sporting event when another mom came up to me to tell me about how our sons played together years before, she scrapbooked and had used my pictures (which I gave her), and the photos were great. Then came the camera about how I am lucky to have a nice camera to use, I just want to mention that the pictures she had were taken with my Sony point and shoot.

    The following week she brought the scrapbook to show me. "It's beautiful" I said, "you must have great scissors."

    The point I am trying to make is without the skill, the equipment is just a small bonus, this is true for everything from photography to sex, just my opinion!

  • Chris October 16, 2009 11:43 am

    Let's not get carried away with our purity here..... whilst I think we all know what the "quoter" means, it is pretty damned hard to make a technically impressive image with equipment that does not have the range to capture it. Sure, a brilliant image has a lot to do with its creator, but don't be silly and naive - good quipment helps a lot too.

  • Bruce Meyer October 16, 2009 11:41 am

    There's a bottom limit to how cheap the equipment can be, but I agree with the point. I recently found some pictures I took in 1968 with an instamatic of a rock concert, and by golly, they still hold up as decent rock photography today. I was trying out my ability to take artistic rock photos with the cheapo box that I had. I posted them on my redbubble site, if anyone wants to see.

  • kevin fleming October 16, 2009 11:09 am

    Cameras can be best friends full of fun ,easy to enjoy, no complications and always there when you need them

  • Oren October 16, 2009 10:54 am

    I used to be known as a bad photographer. Then I bought an SLR (a cheapo bottom shelf SLR) and I instantly became a better photographer. I believe that equipment helps a lot, to a point. After that it's just vision. My main question about this story is why does this Wilfredo Garcia feel the need to show up his students? And how old are these kids anyway? Is he trying to validate himself? Show off? I checked his site. It's not that good. Like at all. Seriously.

  • Sarah October 16, 2009 10:51 am

    I do agree with the article. I have a Canon powershot SIS3. Had it for two years now.I am still discovering its potential. I upgraded from a Sony cybershot, basic point and shoot which I had for about 4 years. I got the canon when I had completely and utterly exhausted all my sony cam options :)

  • Gillian October 16, 2009 10:45 am

    Well Said!

  • Dennis Newman October 15, 2009 11:13 am

    This is my second post on this subject. I think Steffie makes a great point in her 1st paragraph and says much better what I wanted to say in my 1st post which is that superior equipment makes for superior results in many cases, but not exclusively. Good equipment, however, can turn a very good photo into a superior photo. For instance, in my 1st post I used the difference between a Hasselblad and a Brownie Hawkeye to make my point. Some years ago I took a picture of two white Lilies with a pure black background which I accomplished with DOF and which earned me a blue ribbon at my county fair. I couldn't have got that same picture with a Brownie Hawkeye. However, I may have gottten an equal result from any camera that has DOF capabilities.
    Equipment makes a difference.

  • steffiec October 15, 2009 10:35 am

    Good article! I'm no pro, but I think its a balance of investing in the right equipment that suits individual needs (not necessarily the most expensive), knowing how to use the equipment properly (and to its greatest extent), PLUS the knowledge, creativity, and skill that goes into composing a beautiful shot - which carries the most weight and comes naturally to some, while others have to work hard and practice at it.

    It is interesting to do a google search of your local pro photographers...I'm sure you'll find dozens that shoot beautiful photos, while others are just not at the same level. As well, I know many amateurs who haven't invested much in their equipment but take amazing shots; and then others who buy into all the bells and whistles but their photos are bland.

  • Christopher October 15, 2009 06:55 am

    Great article! I agree with the original poster. It's a common misconception among hobbyist and amaetur photographers. Most believe that professional photographers are "professional" just because they can afford more expsensive photography gear, while that isn't the case at all. I believe that being a good photographer is more about creativity and skill which is hard to overcome by just getting better gear.

  • Photo Productions (UK) October 14, 2009 02:20 pm

    Amend your photos with your photo editing software and then choose your favorites.

    You can then check to order your Professional Photo Book.

    Premium Photobooks, Not Premium prices

  • Ewa October 14, 2009 12:34 pm

    I totally agree with author.
    10 years ago I'd gotten my first film camera. ZENIT-E from 1972. I even don't remember what the lens was. But I had only one lens. It's all manual camera.
    Today I've got Nikon D80 with 4 lenses.
    And you know what... Sometimes I go back to my photos from 10, 9, 8 years ago, and I am speechless how beautiful they are.
    That camer taught me how to be a great observer for good shot, and hot to adjust the perfect settings.

  • Alejandro October 14, 2009 01:38 am

    I agree with the fundamentals, yet I also disagree: some niches can't be done with just any camera. You can't do underwater photography without a waterproof camera. You can't do sports photography without a fast DSLRs. You can't shoot birds without long telephotos. And there's a reason why serious landscape photographers use digital 35mm FF or Digital Medium Format: skill being equal, they're the best tool for the job.

  • Eric Mesa October 14, 2009 12:32 am

    I recently blogged about this at

    and to recap, basically you can take good photos with a crappy cellphone camera as I show in the post. But better cameras definitely give the photographer the ability to be more in control of the shot. (eg control the f-stop and, therefore, how much of the scene is in focus)

  • patrickv October 13, 2009 09:58 pm

    I agree with the original poster. So true indeed. YOu don't really need fancy gears or whatever SLR's to get magnificent pictures. I have a digital cameras and the pictures i've taken are often nicer than expected.

    "As long as you know the limitations of your equipment, and how to overcome them, it is possible to take gorgeous photographs, even if you don’t have a fortune to spend on your gear"

    The above is so true. good statement

  • Ricky October 13, 2009 01:25 pm

    Eric O'Donnell, thank you for your post at 11:22. You spoke for me far better than I could have done myself.

    A personal observation: I have noticed that those who espouse such a philosophy as stated in this article, whether in music or photography (or other), are most often those who have access to the equipment they want to marginalize.

  • PWOB October 13, 2009 09:16 am

    Great article! I couldn't agree more! One of the main reasons I started PWOB - to highlight those with the talent behind the lens, not the photoshop skills behind the mouse. :-)

  • GregCissold October 13, 2009 07:46 am

    Bryan Petterson expresses it in the difference between a correct exposure and an artistic exposure.
    It is a combination of science and art

  • mitch October 13, 2009 04:46 am

    love this post. it's not all in the equipment. while right about overcoming the limits of your equipment, i'm more inline with what the first commenter said about creativity within the limits of your equipment (the houdini solution?).

  • Arun October 13, 2009 04:42 am

    A very good anology, indeed. very true......But I see that many seem to have misunderstood the absoluteness of the concept. What I mean is that a beautiful picture is a picture is a picture is a picture. It is a beautiful picture......taken with coolpix or D40, D60, D90, D300 or a D700 or even a D3. Noise performance, focus speeed, white balance etc etc are details.......Now you are walking across a village on the suburbs of Machu old lady with a goat and a haystack on her head walks take a shot in just a few seconds. And she is gone........may be a coolpix will work better here......even if the lighting situation was challenging. Most beautiful moments are fleeting. Yea, you had a studio, with great lighting, and a willing model...and time to tweak it all.....thats a different scenario......some cant see the best shot even then.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But without a little bit of ideas from the devil behind it, the camera doesnt matter. Putting it in order, Eye, understanding, creativity and skill (to make the best with the least). Lastly photographic equipment.

    Dont you think so?

  • Steven Cohen October 13, 2009 03:51 am

    Absolutely. Whenever I get equipment envy and look in my empty wallet, I remind myself that the key to becoming a better photographer has nothing to do with getting better equipment but developing a better eye and better technique. My photos won't magically improve simply because I am now using a better camera.

  • Lena October 13, 2009 02:40 am

    Reading all the responses, it looks like most people agree with the author. I do as well. You definitely do not need fancy equipment to get a great shot. My example - I got my D40X in December 2007. I knew I wanted to take my creative skills to the next level, by finally jumping on the digital wagon. (My Canon Elan 7 was my world, and it really took alot to get to the digital side for me.) I had digitals p&s prior, but I would use both the Canon and digital because I was comparing. It took me 3 years to make the DSLR decision. So, I was all excited when we were going on vacation last year. I was going to take crisper pictures in Universal & Islands of Adventure. I live for theme parks! The colors were going to POP! Well, the first morning there, the camera dropped on the bathroom floor. (Do not ever put your camera on the closed toilet seat - it WILL fall off!) I was totally devistated! All I could think about was the angles, and lighting situations that would be better with my D40x. I of course had a backup. A Kodak Z612. It is only a 6.1mp camera, but I decided that I was going to use it the same way I would use my Nikon. With no flash. I was pleasantly surprised. It made me realize, that it was my eye that made the difference, and not the equipment. (Although that Kodak had such nice crisp pictures! It had a Zeiss lens, which probably accounted for the crispness) Since then, I have looked at photography differently. I have started to finally use my manual features, just have purchased a 35 prime to go with my kit lens. I hope this lens takes my creative skills to an all new level!

    I also do have some friends that have DSLR's and they just - point and shoot. They do not use the camera creatively at all. I think most people go for the low end DSLR's because they like to take a lot of pictures, and they will get a crisper picture, and because of the fast shutter speed to catch the kids moving. This mostly goes for my friends that have children. This is absolutely fine - for what they want. But when the person says OH, I have this and this, but they take craptacular shots... (the worst is blown out pics) - it irks me to no end.

  • Eduardo October 13, 2009 02:25 am

    I only signed to a photography workshop, got so disappointed that the whole workshop was how to use the camera but not how to take pictures (nothing on composition, lighting, etc...). I never tried another since then and decided to learn the hard way on my on.

    i think this article goes to the point, people focus too much on equipment and too little on photography. I bought a nikon d40 (my first DSLR) just when it was discontinued, so it was cheap! I don;t see how a more expensive camera would help me, and have no problem using it in P (which sort of an auto mode) or even full auto, as it does the same thing I would do manually. this way i can focus on taking the picture rather than adjusting the camera. And when I want to do something different, say longer shutter speed or limited depth of field, then I switch to A, S or full manual.

  • Joel October 13, 2009 02:00 am

    I think that a better camera (and kit) makes it easier to take difficult shots. I don't have a fancy kit at all but I think that my photos are pretty OK for my rather elementary photography skills. Here's my post about why I chose the camera and kit I did:

  • Ariana Murphy October 13, 2009 01:24 am

    Interesting article! I just graduated from a good point-and-shoot (Fuji 1000S) to my very first DSLR (Nikon D60) which I'm still learning to use. I'm very proud of many of my shots on the Fuji and hope that I will be able to learn the technical aspects of the Nikon well enough to get as good results.


    - Ariana

  • Doc Holliday October 13, 2009 12:52 am

    A couple of weeks ago, I spent a week in Yellowstone around Mammoth Hot Springs. I thought I had things pretty nailed as far as the ability to take 'good' images I was satisfied with. Boy, was I wrong. In a place like Mammoth, there are a thousand and one challenges I have never encountered anywhere else. Go to Tower Falls and there another group of challenges, et cetera.

    And it wasn't the two cameras that hung off me that limited me, (although a Super-telephoto might have been nice, I doubt it would have made most of the images better). It was my abilities. Talk about frustrating. I came home with, at least, 15GB of images. The ones that were within my level of knowledge and experience were good to great, (IMHO). With rest of them, I felt and they looked like I had never picked up a camera before. it was pretty humbling... But, a good learning experience...

    I also learned that you don't take good pictures after you've flogged yourself up and down a couple of mountains, having gotten up at 4:30AM for the light, but that's for another posting... LOL

  • Lew Holzman October 13, 2009 12:52 am

    Absolutely! Anyone can take a snapshot but not everyone can take what exists and make it a piece of art.

  • Sarah October 13, 2009 12:31 am

    Gotta say I agree with the point of this article. Maybe not the fine details like others were pointing out, but I do feel that other photographers who have been doing this professionally for longer than I have look down on me because I'm doing it so far natural light only because I don't have a studio space or lighting equipment. Just because I'm not using an incredible fast lens (I'm in love with my 28-105mm 3.5/4.5) doesn't mean I can't produce awesome results - or at least photographs that I am really happy with, feel have improved, etc. Yes, I hope I'm much better 5 years from now, but with all the experience & practice I'm getting now, I'm not worrying about it. Just enjoying it and knowing I'm getting better.
    Anyway, HOWEVER since I got my DSLR last May, I have not touched my point & shoot which wasn't a bad camera. And I really don't want to. :) Because even in my 1st month using it on Auto, I got better pictures than I ever had before. There was no going back. :)

  • Mark October 13, 2009 12:10 am

    A camera and lenses are just tools for the photographer, the same way a hammer and saw are tools for a carpenter. I can build the same house with the same tools as a professional carpenter and the house that they build would be much better then the house i built. Given the same tools its about the skill in using them.
    That having been said i can guarantee that the pros tend to use better gear because of wear and tear and the ability to do things that nonpros wouldn't even think or consider to do.

  • Cathy October 12, 2009 11:32 pm

    A good photo can be taken with any camera but printing it out bigger then 4 x 6 might be an issue depending on the camera.

  • Eric O'Donnell October 12, 2009 11:22 pm

    The points made in the article are trite and certainly not original. Of course there is skill required to see the opportunity for a great photograph and then capture it in a unique and powerful way. Who would deny that? Any serious photographer is humble enough to realize how much study and practice is required to create consistently good pictures.
    On the other hand, the value of good equipment is equally obvious to anyone who has used graduated to it after using inferior gear. Ask a capable photographer (for example, the one referenced in the story) to take two pictures of the same scene, especially in challenging conditions. Give him/her a disposable camera for one, and a SLR for the second. The second picture will be far superior to the first technically, and thus artistically.
    I am fortunate enough to be able to use good gear. I do so with two core beliefs - first, that failed pictures are inevitably my responsibility, and secondly, that an obligation has been imposed upon me to learn as much as I possibly can about photography to make my work worthy of the money I put into equipment.
    I love the DPS organization, but I think it was a significant error to elevate this comment to the status of an article. It was really nothing but reverse snobbery posing as wisdom.

  • jmarieg October 12, 2009 11:20 pm

    I agree with Arik and also with Joan. The outcome of the photos that you take with whatever camera you have relies mostly on your own personal creativity and the way you see things. It also relies on camera skills. In online photo contests I've seen the most beautiful photos taken with point and shoot cameras as well as winners taken with the most expensive of the lot. If you don't have the need or the money to get the fanciest and newest gear, the bottom line is: learn to use what you have and use it well.

  • Kaspar October 12, 2009 09:23 pm

    There was a pretty interesting article on this subject on another photography blog about one week ago:

  • Ian Pack October 12, 2009 08:26 pm

    Technique and knowing the limitations of your kit and overcoming those limitations are more important than expensive kit. Think with your eyes and you'll become a better photographer.

  • mello October 12, 2009 07:23 pm

    I completely agree. I've been asked so many times which camera and lenses I use, but no one asks me how long it took me to be happy with the majority of the photos I've taken. It's taken me months to learn how to use my camera creatively and I'm still learning (I've had my D40 for nearly a year now, and you should've seen the photos I was taking when I first go it - they were rubbish!). I don't use expensive lenses either; my two favourite lenses are 50mm f1.8 AI and 35mm f2.5 AIS E Series manual focus lenses, which cost me around £50 each on ebay. Other than these, I use the 18-55mm and 55-200mm kit lenses, which aren't particularly expensive either!

    I've seen some mediocre photos taken with cameras such as the D90, D300 and D700, and whilst I'd love any of those cameras, I'd rather have real photographic talent!

  • Franklin Banker October 12, 2009 05:56 pm

    I posted some pictures I recently took with my new Canon SX 110 IS camera, and I have had a lot of comments on it, mostly positive. I am not even good enough to call myself an amateur, but this camera is so good it makes me look better than I really am!

    Anyway, I have owned other kinds of cameras before, but never had one that has so many variables as this one for the money. I love using it, and it truly makes me look good. I just am not that good at taking pictures, but I do consider the subject matter as I take pictures now, and that is some of the difference.

  • Florian October 12, 2009 05:48 pm

    Absolutley true :)

  • johnp October 12, 2009 04:52 pm

    I do agree its the image that really counts but part of the joy of photography for me is using quality equipment (as best as I can afford anyhow) that I know I can rely on to properly record that image in the best possible way.

  • wrerm October 12, 2009 02:26 pm

    I love the comment - "Saying a camera takes nice pictures is like saying a guitar plays nice melodies." It brings to mind a quote from Theodore Roosevelt - "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."...I agree 100%

  • Tim October 12, 2009 01:03 pm

    Agreed. The person is the one creating the beautiful photographs, not the equipment.

  • Mei Teng October 12, 2009 12:39 pm

    You need both talent and the right equipment.

  • Arif | October 12, 2009 11:03 am

    An expensive pen won't automatically t make you into a Pulitzer winning writer. So why is the opposite always assumed in photography? :)

  • Reznor October 12, 2009 10:43 am

    I think, you just have to see photography as 50% art and 50% craftsmanship. Your equipment is not relevant for the art, the person behind the camera is. For the mere craftsmanship though, tech is relevant. No matter what profession you're in, you need good tools. My girlfriend is a chef and she could go on and on about how important the quality of her knives is for her work. It's just the same. Cheap gear is just a handicap you gotta find workarounds for that waste time and energy. If the gear wasn't important, then why do all the pros have cameras and lenses for thousands of dollars? Cause they're all pretentious clowns? Some of them most certainly are, but most of them just know about the importance especially of good glass. What good is the greatest shot with awesome composition when chromatic aberrations are ruining everything or if your aperture is too big to get a decent shutter speed so that you have blurred results. Gear does matter. The end.

  • Sue Densmore October 12, 2009 10:13 am

    I completely agree! I play a very nice guitar. But I don't always play the nicest melodies! ;-)

  • Kate Duval October 12, 2009 10:10 am

    AMEN! Thanks so much for this post! I hear this all the time at choice comeback is always. "Awww....thanks! But what if you invited me over for dinner next week and when your delicious meal was done I turned to you and said, WOW, that was an amazing meal, what kind of pans are you using?" I would much prefer someone to ask for the recipe instead of the "type" of pan!!

  • Arik Jones October 12, 2009 10:09 am

    I agree with most of this article as it does really matter the skill you convey through your own photography. But the context for which these photographs appear often relies on the kind of gear you're working with. For example: sports photography. I'd love to see a seasoned professional go out with a 8mp point and shoot, getting great shots on skill alone. Can you imagine?

    I think it's important to strike a reasonable compromise for how your gear stacks up to the kinds of photography you're trying to execute. Analogy: would you run off into a 3-day war with a single 9mm pistol? Probably not. Why would you do the same in photography? Have you ever tried capturing action shots in low-light without flash on a point and shoot or a disposable? Sure, on an off chance you might capture a great shot, but how many would have you taken to get to there?

    I think it's important to choose your gear wisely, especially those who are just beginning. I bought a Canon XSi when I wasn't ready for it at all. But it allows me to do things and expose shots in ways that my little point and shoot just didn't allow. All in all, I'm saying let's not downplay the importance of proper gear. Sometimes it is the difference between a good and bad shot.

  • Daniel Fealko October 12, 2009 09:20 am

    I use both a Canon PowerShot A590 and a Canon 40D. In all honesty, I don't think there's a single shot out of the P&S that's better than any of my shots from the 40D. Your example of Wilfredo García compares his skills against those of his students. I'd be interested in seeing a comparison instead of his photos from the disposable against those from his best camera. In other words, the only variable would be the photographer, not the cameras, photographers, and their individual skill levels. As others have pointed out, it's a combination. If not, then why would any professional photographer spend the money on high-end equipment if a disposable is good enough?

  • Silverzz October 12, 2009 08:06 am

    While there is truth that it is not the camera but the photographer that makes a good shot, there is also another saying that goes 'you need the right tools for the job'.

    Of course skill counts for a lot but there is a reason why some people pay more for their camera than they did for their car. I am still a photograpy beginner but I can tell the difference between something done on a cheap p&s and the latest 20+mp dslr, and the difference really is quite a lot.

    However it is also true that a bad photographer can not hide behind good gear ;)

  • Jona100 October 12, 2009 07:31 am

    "But having a good eye/talent alone won’t get you those always, either. Otherwise why would we spend money upgrading?"

    People upgrade because they have converted 'want' to 'need' in their mind. No one needs expensive equipment; most purchases seem to be driven by people (who are almost always exclusively men) buying for the satisfaction of having expensive equipment.

    I think we all know what they say about a fool and their money.........

  • Rob October 12, 2009 07:22 am

    Of course its always a combination. The difference is getting the most out of what you have. My uncle has been a sailer almost all his life and one weekend went sailing in his boat with a friend who was a world class sailor. He was shocked/scared at how fast she sailed his boat. Same boat, same ocean but she could "see" the wind better. 2 years ago I went to a professional driving school. After a week i could do things with my car I thought were impossible. Same car, same road. I think the biggest advantage of a DSLR/better equipment is that it expands the space between the limits - limits of skill and limits of equipment. I can get better indoor/low light pictures because I have a f/1.4 lens. But that only gives me more light to work with, not better composition.

  • Holly October 12, 2009 07:15 am

    I agree with the author, to a point. If you know how to compose a shot, it makes a huge difference, but there are certain shots (like those that I take with my Canon 85 1.2L lens) that you can not duplicate with a p&s camera. However I think I did quite well with my iPhone, and captured lots of cool shots, on a recent flight to Vermont:

    The best camera is the one you have with you, I'm sure you've heard that one before. ;-)

  • Joan October 12, 2009 07:08 am

    I agree with this article. Sometimes people will say to me, "Wow, you must have a really great camera!" I don't consider that a compliment. I think the equipment is helpful but the real power of the art is the person behind the lens or the hands encircling the strings. The art begins inside the artist's soul. The equipment is there to assist the artist in revealing it to those willing to partake.

  • C.K. Lee October 12, 2009 07:05 am

    It really depends on the kind of person you are. Some will always be more fascinated by the technical aspects of a photograph. Others will be drawn more to the emotional impact it has. Which person are you? Neither is more right than the other, and both are equally valid. Learn to appreciate 'the other side' and you'll be better for it.

  • anastasia October 12, 2009 06:41 am

    When I worked as a photographer and photo editor, I noticed that photographers who liked to talk ad nauseam about the quantity and quality of their equipment tended to be insecure about themselves and their work. It's much more common with amateurs than professionals. I agree with marc, gary, reena, et al. in that I'd rather talk about the image than the equipment, not that the latter isn't important or doesn't interest me.

    This quote hits on the irritation that most photogs feel when their creative work is reduced to the quality of the camera they used to capture the image. It's incredibly common and quite insulting, though not intended to be, so there's not much to say in response but to shrug it off.

  • Dennis Newman October 12, 2009 06:37 am

    You've heard of the Stradivarius violin, right? I'd say a Strad plays much sweeter music than a $150 violin bought at a local music shop and I believe I'd be right, but how would that same Strad sound in the hands of an unskilled amateur? Clearly not as good as a pro could make it sound.
    I believe the same to be true in photography. You cannot make me believe the picture taken with a Brownie Hawkeye would have the same quality as one taken with a Hasselblad no matter how good the photographer is who's taking the pictures.

  • Daniel*1977 October 12, 2009 06:28 am

    I agree with the author. there are many people in Poland who have a DSLR - of course most have switch on AUTO, or else do not know how to make pictures.
    I have a hybrid,it's old but still good.
    I found that I can not afford the DSLR.
    Before I learn to take pictures good enough for me - and still I've it ;)
    if you have time I invite you to my flickr:

  • Aimee Greeblemonkey October 12, 2009 06:23 am

    100% agree. More like one million percent but whatever. A camera is a tool just like anything else. We have a joke around the office (design & web dev firm) that people think that Macs come with a graphic design degree. And command + a = ad, command + w = web site, and so forth.

    Get a great photo takes skill, time, patience, and sometimes even a fair amount of luck.

  • Hpole October 12, 2009 06:23 am

    I Agree with the article. Recently My Best Friend Give Temporally his old pictbridge camera Hi bought a cool Nikon the best but not always He take the best pic, more material more options more menus not always is synonymous of a good photo, have less cameras but understand them can give more best shots.

  • David October 12, 2009 06:07 am

    It is like the old saying "It is not the pencil you write with but how you write with it"

  • Danferno October 12, 2009 05:51 am

    I disagree. There's just something about holding a DSLR close to your eye that sparks the creative juices in me. Plus the difference in technical quality can not be overlooked after you've once realised it (yes, I'm one of those people who cringes at chromatic aberration).

  • SJlarue October 12, 2009 04:56 am

    I completely disagree.....I used to have a Kodak P&S and a D70 and would take awesome shots with both of them. Then I showed my friends and they said "Wow! You must have an awesome camera!"...Well I knew the cameras were low end cameras and if they ever found out, I would have to deal with being called a good photographer. So I went and bought a D300 just to say that they were right and that I had an awesome camera. :D

    YES! I am being sarcastic. :)

  • 224 October 12, 2009 04:49 am

    Great point and it's really true!
    I have a friend with a really fancy dSLR camera, several lenses and flashes, and when I look at her pictures, I'm never really engaged by them. Sure, they are technically very well done and very sharp, but the content is just boring to me.

    I'm in no way a great photographer, but I'm learning and trying to become better. I am a student, so really can't afford a super nice camera. But I'm learning and trying to get better shots with the one I have.

    I had the chance to use my friend's Canon 5d Mark II the other day, and it was obviously way better than mine and I could do more thing with it than mine. One day I do plan to get an SLR, but until then I have plenty of chances to learn and try to get the best shots with what I do have

  • Dave Wilson October 12, 2009 04:40 am

    It was good to read this point of view echoed. I have a standing joke with a couple of my colleagues about using "the camera that takes the good pictures". As if to prove the point that it's not the gear that matters, my most popular image was taken with a sub-$200 digital compact. What matters is what you see, how you see it and having some way of capturing the image.

    This also brings to mind one of my favourite Ansel Adams quotes - "The most important part of a camera is the 12 inches behind the viewfinder."

  • Ad October 12, 2009 04:38 am

    There's a tendency to "make" photos with Photoshop and the likes. It seems people are not able anymore to use their camera properly to make great photos. For me it's still de guy (or girl) behind the camera how makes a great picture. A great photographer is able to make good pictures, even with a disposible camera.

  • JS October 12, 2009 04:33 am

    Good article !

    I think it's pretty true: photography (and music !) is first sensibility and talent, more than technique and equipment. I've just experienced that: I was taking pictures for a friend's wedding with an other photographer who kept saying he had a better camera than mine and it turns out the friend liked my pictures better, even if they weren't technically perfect...
    I think In the end, it's all about sensibility and the idea of a "good" picture...

  • mark October 12, 2009 03:57 am

    I've always thought that a skilled photographer can take better photos with whatever is available than an unskilled one with the latest and greatest new gear. Whenever a new camera comes out people lament the "piece of crap" they now own even though it is more than capable. I've taken some great pictures with an Instamatic camera.

  • Nehal October 12, 2009 03:50 am

    To date, one of my favorite shots ever was taken with a point-and-shoot film camera about ten years ago. I've taken many good shots since, with newer and better equipment, but that shot will always be on my wall.

  • Daniel Bento October 12, 2009 03:46 am

    It's quite true. For example, I found my old pictures (with a compact camera) much more original and actrative that most of the pictures that I took with my new DSLR.

    It's right when people say that with a good camera the results are better, but ok... but photography isn't only a super tech skill result... but also a very creative game and... when people with "a stupid" camera do beauty things it's because they have that potential... if we don't have the equipment, than we found another turn!

  • Tassi Smith October 12, 2009 03:43 am

    I agree with the article and all the points that have been given by other readers. It is the photographer that makes an image pop and engages the viewer not the camera. However the lesser or cheaper the camera the more pixelation will be visible no matter how well you know the camera. I think there needs to be the understanding of your own present camera equipment before you go out and buy the big expensive gear thinking you are going to get a much better image. I have a friend that has bought into the idea of the big expensive gear will get you the better image however her images always come off with poor lighting, blurriness where it shouldn't be, and graininess. I like what ODYN stated,
    "A good photographer however will be able to stretch the use of every piece of equipment to it’s very limit (and beyond). And (more importantly) create content."
    When you have stretched your equipment to the very limit, for myself, I think that is the time when I move on to the next equipment level.
    Two examples of some of my favorite work.
    I have always loved this image. I took it with my canon point and shoot and did some adjustments through photoshop.
    This image was taken with my new DSLR. I love this photo and think this came out much more crisp than the previous image because of the better quality of equipment. I also did not have to adjust very much in photoshop. However I think with my experience they both turned out to be great images.

  • Reznor October 12, 2009 02:59 am

    Give an amateur a cheap point-and-shoot camera, let him take a picture and then give him a DSLR and let him take a picture. Even if he has no idea what he's doing, the DSLR-shot will propably look better. Sometimes you just need the proper equipment. No matter how good a photographer you are, your equipment does limit your potential to unfold your creativity. If the natural lighting just isn't sufficient, you do need a good light source, be it a flash gun or a studio light. If you don't, you can crank up your ISO, get a crappy shot or just don't shoot at all. It's not only skill, equipment IS a factor.

  • Marcy October 12, 2009 02:54 am

    Ditto odyn

    There's a reason why we splurge on nice equipment-- it makes a difference. I remember being blown away with the first pictures I took with my DSLR. I constantly see forum posts of photogs who are amazed by the higher quality of the new camera or lens they just bought.

    No, having a fancy camera alone won't get you amazing pictures (at least not consistently).

    But having a good eye/talent alone won't get you those always, either. Otherwise why would we spend money upgrading?

    It takes BOTH talent AND the right tools to truly maximize your potential.

  • Odyn October 12, 2009 02:43 am

    Guitar doesn't play nice melodies. But a guitar can sound good ... or not so good.
    Same with cameras. Camera doesn't take nice photos. Photographer does. But proper equipment will make a difference in quality and in whether (sometimes) the picture can be taken at all. A good photographer however will be able to stretch the use of every piece of equipment to it's very limit (and beyond). And (more importantly) create content.

  • aritra October 12, 2009 02:43 am

    I agree, but not completely. You need good lens to get good pics. but the thing which you are trying to say , i think, is the fact that with the lens i have with me at the moment .. i am not using it to the best possible level. so with my cam .. someone with better skills will get better pic. but that doesnt mean , as many will think , that spending on lens, gears is waste.

  • Marc j October 12, 2009 02:41 am

    all i have to say is HOLGA

  • R Melanson October 12, 2009 02:27 am

    Under the right circumstances I agree totally. However, there are times when a disposable just wont take the shot you want no matter how good your skill set is! Saying otherwise is a bit of an over generalization isn't it?
    I own a full frame DSLR camera and some nice fast lenses and don't think I'm compensating for anything!! I've taken some great shots with a cheap point and shoot but couldn't make do with only having that in my camera bag. Every situation has it's optimum tool.

  • FiZ October 12, 2009 02:26 am

    I couldn't agree more. From my own experience, I've (unintentionally) fooled a lot of people into thinking I had a DSLR way before I actually bought my first and only. I'm not the best photographer and i don't claim to be, but composing a good picture is worth more than expensive equipment. And I really can't remember how many friends/coworkers I've pissed off at one point in time for telling them either not to get a "pro camera" or that they wasted their money because they take really bad pictures.

  • Reena October 12, 2009 02:16 am

    I totally agree with it. Some people have said to me that I take good pictures because I have a SLR camera. NO! it's not that! they don't see the hours I've spent reading and researching, touching bottons in the camera and playing with PS.

    Nowadays I tend to go back to basics using my cheap 50mm and I'd kill for a Lomo camera, what looks pretty simple and easy to use.

  • Copyrat October 12, 2009 02:12 am

    I don't agree at all. Mainly because the header is wrong. Instead of calling it "Saying a Camera takes Nice Pictures is like Saying a Guitar Plays Nice Melodies"
    it should be
    "Saying a Camera takes Nice Pictures is like Saying a Guitar Plays BETTER SOUND".
    As the difference between a let's say Nikon D700 and a D40 is clearly to see in the pictures you take, the difference between a cheap piano from China and a Steinway grand piano is clearly to hear.

  • Dominique October 12, 2009 02:05 am

    I totally agree. It's like having the fastest, most expensive and beautiful car, but what good is it if you don't know how to drive? You can't buy talent, experience or an "artistic eye".

  • Gary Moncur October 12, 2009 01:57 am

    I completely agree with the article. I live in Carnoustie in Scotland and the town is synonimois with Golf and hosting the British Open Championships. THe point is that this kind of thing is seen in all hobbies/professions. I can stand at the 1st tee and watch hordes of golfers (tourists not locals) walking up to take tere shot with 100s and sometimes 1,000s of Dollars/Pounds of the best gear money can buy then slicing there bal into the water etc. Good equipment has its merits and will certainly help with contrast, sharpness etc but at the end of the day if the image lacks punch or makes you not want to look at it again then all is lost.

  • John K October 12, 2009 01:46 am

    I think Angelino makes a great point. All too often, I see/read of people that only seem to invest in the most expensive equipment but not take enough time to understand the functions in their camera. Admittedly, I was in this camp too before I started photography as a serious hobby.

    Even accomplished professionals like Ken Rockwell say the same thing -- photography is more about the photographer and his/her skills while being less about the equipment. It's been said before and it's worth repeating -- the best camera is the one you have on you!

    Another pet peeve is the automatic reliance on software to make the photograph a great one. That's another discussion for another day!

  • marc October 12, 2009 01:36 am

    great article. this is one of the reasons why i abandon my local camera clubs. they spend too much time doing the "geeky" stuff about, "oh, there is some pixelation here" or "gee, i see some light fall off here," etc. they do not spend enough time asking the questions, "am i engaged with this image?" or, "do i find myself wanting to spend time looking at this picture?" so many of the great photos from the 20th centruy would not have made it pass these people who have all the gear in the world except "vision."

  • Florian October 12, 2009 01:31 am

    Well, I prefer "saying a camera takes nice pictures is like saying a kitchen makes tasty dishes"

  • Tom October 12, 2009 12:52 am

    Although you can be limited by your equipment, limits can also increase your creativity. And 90% of the picture is in the composition and subject:)