Stop wishing for that Amazing Camera and Appreciate The One You’ve Got

0Comments
This photo was taken with a 2 megapixel Canon Powershot A60 at Cannon Beach, Oregon. I don't care what the readers think of this photo. I like it. I waited, concentrated and opened the shutter at just the right moment for this.

This photo was taken with a 2 megapixel Canon Powershot A60 at Cannon Beach, Oregon. I don't care what the readers think of this photo. I like it. I waited, concentrated and opened the shutter at just the right moment for this.

I know a lot of DPS readers are dreaming of and saving for that perfect digital camera – today Dan Dyer from Automatic Camera has a post for you with a good reminder.

All cameras have are essentially the same thing, a shutter that exposes light on a light-sensitive surface. Sure, there are differences in engineering tolerances and technical ranges and the latest technology. But Ansel Adams didn’t have today’s latest gadget. He had know-how, and practice.

The real difference between an average photo and an amazing photo, is the photographer, not the camera.

Here’s how you can make your camera amazing. It just takes a little bit of work.

1 Read your camera manual. If you don’t have it anymore, you can probably find it online. Learn every feature and aspect of the camera you have. It will take amazing pictures if you know how to use it properly.

2 Take your camera with you everywhere you go, and take lots of photos. Take photos of everything. Find something uninteresting and find a way to make it interesting. That is the essence of art.

3 Practice in manual mode. All cameras have a manual mode take a photo and change a single setting. Then change that one setting and take another photo. In my opinion this is the best way to understand the manipulation of light.

4 Make each photo count. One of the biggest downfalls of digital photography is the ability to take so many photos so easily for so little monetary investment. So we buy a cheap camera and snap away, hardly taking a thought to what is in the view finder. STOP! Think about your next photo, then take the time to make it amazing. You’ll start thinking like a photographer and your photos will improve ten fold.

5 Keep your best photos in a special place, discard the rest. Professional photographers take thousands of and show only their best to the client. Take photos for you, you are your own client. One day you’ll look back and be amazed at your work.

Now get to work.

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  • Heath

    One of the my favorite photos I have ever taken was with a 1.2 M Camera. The only regret that I have about this is that it does not print well in a large size for framing.

  • Heidi

    Great! I needed a reminder that I should be greatful for what I have.

  • Seems that some of my best photography has come from my tiny Coolpix 7.1 M camera. Although, my Canon Rebel is pretty slick…;-)

    I think the key to remember here, as mentioned above, is that you need to bring your camera with you EVERYWHERE. The best photos sometimes come from the spur of the moment. Great post, thank you.

  • Richard

    It is true that the photographer is the main driving force behind taking good pictures.

    But a good camera is also essential. Many have already highlighted why above.

    It’s like a carpenter. Give him a €8 circular saw. He will cut the wood ok with it, but he will need to spend time tidying the wood up after as it will not cut square and he will have a poor finish.

    Give him a €200 circular saw and the quality of his work improves drastically with little extra effort on top to finish it off.

    If it is only the photographer, then why don’t professionals just use point and clicks?

  • jay

    This is a great article. Every year a new and improved camera is released with some great option that “we think” we need to produce great images. I have settled on my D80 for the time being and plan on focusing on comp. and technique.

  • JD

    Great article. It’s soo true…need vs want!

    Peace.

  • This is great advice Dan!

  • Dennis Jones

    Personally, I believe the article and a number of the comments are spot on. I shoot with a D80 and like many, believe you need good equipment but it’s the person behind the lens that “sees” the opportunity for a great shot. Together with the camera (no matter what type) they try and capture the moment and hopefully it resembles what they had in mind.

  • Justin

    Good advice. I’d rather hear an excellent musician on a crummy guitar than a crummy musician on an excellent guitar any day.

  • pffft

    what if the one I have IS amazing? πŸ™‚

  • thank you foro your suggestion. it’s just I needed to listen today!!! I was doing a big mistake in ordering a new camera!!!!
    regards from Italia

  • I’m happy with my Olympus x-775 I take great pictures with my camera and I am still learning all it’s features.

  • Caroline

    I don’t own a digital SLR. I don’t know all there is to know about the “point and shoot” cameras that I have right now, but I mess around with settings constantly. I try to remember what I did, TRY, but sometimes the best pictures are totally accidental. My grandmother got me into photography and her biggest piece of advice to me was this: “It isn’t what camera you own, it isn’t the price you paid, it’s all about the photographer. If you have the eye, an inexpensive camera can produce better results than a high end camera in the hands of someone with no talent.” Like I said, I may not have the best camera, but I can still take better pictures than my friend with the digital SLR!! πŸ˜‰

  • James

    Agree completely. I had an old 1.3mb Fuji and one shot came out particularly well. I increased the pixels in Photoshop and had a perfect A3 print from it. It scored 18/20 in a competition. Can’t be bad!

  • Tom

    I couldn’t agree more, this is what got me from an ok photographer to an excellent one!
    I was a Elder Hostel co-ordinator and one of the classes was photography.
    I would bring my Pentax k1000 out on the shoots and the teacher would give me
    film. I listened to what he was saying about sometimes not taking the whole scene
    but concentrating on the details. That’s when i started to really look at what I shot. I stopped
    snapping away hoping I got a good shot. I would walk around the subject, see where the light was
    coming from and especially what was behind my subject, such as keeping lines from coming out of, or
    intersecting with a persons head in a portrait.
    I get really excited when I see something special and as the author of this piece has pointed out waiting
    for the right moment to take the shot. It’s not the camera as much as it is your eye that takes the photo.

  • Frank

    Learn from your mistakes

    #5a Keep your best photos at a special place
    #5b Keep the rest at a special place too

    Analyze your bad photos to figure out what you should have done while shooting them.

    Don’t try to compensate your mistakes by postprocessing, but learn from your postprocessing what you should have done differently while shooting.

  • Mary

    This artical came at the perfect time. I have a canon Rebel XT and have had my eye on a few upper scale cameras but your right it isnt the camera you use its opening your mind and using your creativity and just take your camera everywhere. The problem I have now is lugging around my camera which gets pretty heavy and not always the easiest tag along camera. So instead of getting the newer high tech camera I need to find a decent smaller scale camera I CAN take everywhere. Any suggestions? I’m looking at the Canon G10. I would love to hear feed back if someone has this camera or one of it counterparts.

  • Loved this article and so true especially the line about the the difference between and average and an amazing photo is the photographer..not the camera

  • Zafarullah

    This article has boosted my confidence for my SONY DSC-P73. I was feeling shy to use this camera of mine of and on and was borrowing someone else for my assignments in King Saud University, Riyadh. Now I will never do that and be proud to have my own P73 which had fetched me 2 prizes of 100 Dollars each and a picture publication in Tim Horton’s Yearly Magazine of 2007, back home in Canada.
    Thanks once again for this cool advice.
    ZAFARULLAH
    Riyadh
    Saudi Arabia

  • Great advise!!! the grass is not always greener on the other side. It takes a long time and practice to know a camera.

  • Khanh

    It’s hard to part with photos you’ve taken though, especially when HDD space is so cheap nowadays.
    However, I think it’s a good tip.
    I’m not ready to part with some of my photos yet though.
    One day though..

  • chewy

    “The real difference between an average photo and an amazing photo, is the photographer, not the camera.”

    -so true! great advice and tips as well… πŸ™‚

  • Mike

    Any time I start wanting to buy a new camera, I just go to Flickr and search for my Camera model. The photos in the search results remind me that my camera is very capable of capturing stunning images.

  • Makes perfect sense. In fact I was telling a new photographer exactly the same things on the weekend. Encouraging him to get out there, practice, shoot and get real time feedback on his existing point and shoot.

  • this is so true! Many people have looked at my photos and assumed what makes them different is my “expensive camera” but I have gotten great shots with a simple point and shoot camera.

    I have stood next to someone with the same camera, and our photos are completely different. Too often the hardware gets the credit for the photographer’s work.

  • cristiano007

    This thread has been great, I posted before but have something new to say. The point of the article is not giving up to improve your photography equipment or to say that P&S are better than DSLRs. The point is take what you have now and practice plain photography (subject, composition, light, moment, etc) in the best way you can NOW. One people in the thread said that she look for his camera in Flickr and see what other people can do and that’s enough to make her stop wishing a new model. Good idea . I tried a different thing, I searched some of my dream models and checked not the interesting photos but the recent ones. I found some not so good images… well, even bad ones, taken for the supposedly perfect cameras. That’s good therapy to get you back to learn and practice with your present camera.

  • you make very good points about learning to use what you have before you add to or upgrade. Not that upgrading is wrong, but to think new equipment will correct lack of training or understanding is the source of all the mediocore photography now flooding the internet and tv news.

    When you have master what you have, it is time to think of moving on.

  • Tip Number 1 point b: if someone makes fun of you for reading it, hit* ’em with it.

    Recently I read my camera manual at the coffee shop I hang out at. I got ridiculed for it. A few days later one of them asked me to show them how to work their camera. I replied, ‘ read the manual & practice a few more mistakes…’ Then I showed ’em a few simple things.

    I say the 3P’s make great images. My 3P’s are not practice practice practice but Play Play Play. Play with each setting and combination of settings until you know deeply what each does. Along the way you’ll score a few hits with a lot of misses.

    Finally, learn the limitations of the gear & push, not punish, yourself around within those limitations. I agree with everyone here it’s not the gear but user that makes an image great.

    *Show ’em what you learned from the manual with an actual picture.

  • LOL! Brian, I can just see you sitting there reading your manual, and others snickering.
    Why is it that reading a manual or following directions somehow equaite with less than stellar intellegence for some people?

    I think it is less than intellegent not to read the manual!

  • ElDavid

    Very true. All my digital pictures are taken with a sony dsc-v3, and my analogues with a canon a-1. Not exactly new or high-end.

  • Jo

    this is just what i needed to read at this time..sometimes i feel that my camera don’t do what i wanted it to do. but now i had realized that i doesn’t matter what my camera is, as long as i practice hard i will get the pictures that i want. thanks for sharing.

  • Knowing what you have is more than half the battle. I have three good cameras, a 35mm, a point and shoot digital and a DSLR. Each has it own strong points and things that it does very well, and things it does not do well. between them I get good shots. and I have sold photos I took with the point and shoot as well as from the two expensive cameras. I can tuck the little camera in and take in places where the big camera would be in the way.

  • mdwicker

    Does anyone even read these comments this long after the post? Excellent article. I’ve been trying to learn this lesson in my photography. Where can I find more good articles about how to find inspiration? What to take pictures of? How to find a subject? How to decide what to plan? These kinds of resources seem lacking in general, to me. Kudos, DPS, on doing some like that.

  • Prashad L

    For me it’s all about ISO. More expensive gear allows me to take pictures in low light without using the flash, which in most of the time look a lot better.
    I have a 400D and get by using noise reduction, but I’d love to have a camera that can take photos at ISO 3200 without any noise.
    Too bad such a camera doesnt exist yet in the “amateur” price range, although the 7D is starting to get there. I guess technology is moving fast and in a couple of years we’ll see massive improvements in ISO.

  • jack clarfelt

    A short list of professional photograhers who have given up their expensive equipment to use cheap P & S cameras would go a long way to convincing me.

  • It is too bad such a great camera does not yet exist, but like you said, it will.

    until then, we need to really understand what we have, and its limits and abilities. then when we upgrade we can take full advantage of it.

  • Trueash

    C’mon… In other words, what you are saying is: “Know your camera’s limitations and do not attempt to go beyond them”, right?
    I’ll give you an example: http://www.fotka.ua/o.cgi?i=158703 This was taken with a superzoom point-and-click camera, in a rather low light (dull autumn morning in a forest). The camera cannot shoot continuously in *raw, so I had to opt for *jpeg – that one limitation; another one is the sensitivity – if I tried to use 200 or 400, the noise would get as large as bricks.

  • Mr Smile

    Thank a lot. I don’t have special camera but I use my mobile phone N73 with 3.2 MP Carl Zeiss lens & one simple Canon IXY 510 IS camera. And I enjoy and satisfy with my shots.
    It is good to be happy what you have rather than to be unhappy what you don’t have.

  • As much as I appreciate the camera I have, I really wish I had found a smaller one. I love the idea of taking it everywhere, but I don’t because it’s large and I don’t have a case. I do follow the rest of the advice, though.

  • Sue Doss-McAleer

    Everyone always says to read the manual. The manual has not been very helpful to me. I take my camera everywhere and it’s not tiny or very light. I use manual mode almost always. Most of the time I put a lot of thought into the picture I’m trying to create. I’m not a fan of “spray and pray”. I DO save more shots than I should. I’m not a great photographer and I’m rarely happy with anything I shoot. All in all, I absolutely love my Canon 70D! BUT, I’m frustrated in learning what it is capable of doing and how to use it to it’s fullest capabilities. I think it’s because I’m so inexperienced with cameras.

  • Bill

    I have a Sony dsc-hx1 doesn’t have interchangeable lenses and its only a 9.0 MP but I’m not going to be making poster size pictures. I am very happy with the quality of pictures and everything it can do. The best thing that I won’t be tempted on spending all the money on separate lenses and just concentrate on making good pictures..

  • Kathleen Mekailek

    I just got my first DSLR and I got the very basic model. I don’t believe it is the camera that makes the difference,even though a better lens does help- it is the person behind the camera. The only reason I took up photography was to get inspiration for my paintings and my photographs have done better and they were with a point and shoot! I have been in two gallery exhibits, one juried exhibition and received an award and had one published in a magazine- all in 4 months and all with a point and shoot. I’m hoping with the better lens, I can up my game but I very seriously doubt that I will ever spend 1000s on a camera- maybe if I become famous I will revisit the situation- LOL

  • Jared

    I just got my first DSLR..Reading the manual did help me a lot… I was used to phone photography were it took me just a few seconds if not just one, to take a picture. Now I’m getting used to the idea of consulting the viewfinder and/or taking a photo with more than one setting…I also getting used to flashing out this chunky camera in public…. Some people are suspicious but a recent story on how to boost confidence in street photography might come in handy

  • Kirti soni

    Intresting turtorial for beginners in dslr..i liked it very much………and from now-onward i will carry my nikon dslr 5100 everywhere .
    i usually play only on sunday (holiday).But now i have change my mind.

  • Dave Nutter

    very good comments. I just about to give a class to beginners and I always mention most of what you have said in this article. It is not the camera that counts, but the photographer

  • TV

    I’m still wishing for that camera. The only camera I have right now is the one in my 4 year old EVO 4G.

  • Kwesi Cobbah Sagoe

    I am still taking photos and I think am not improving. Help me

  • armagedon 2015

    thanks all of you guys out there I have learned so much

Some Older Comments

  • S.Abe April 11, 2011 10:18 am

    As much as I appreciate the camera I have, I really wish I had found a smaller one. I love the idea of taking it everywhere, but I don't because it's large and I don't have a case. I do follow the rest of the advice, though.

  • Mr Smile May 24, 2010 09:59 pm

    Thank a lot. I don't have special camera but I use my mobile phone N73 with 3.2 MP Carl Zeiss lens & one simple Canon IXY 510 IS camera. And I enjoy and satisfy with my shots.
    It is good to be happy what you have rather than to be unhappy what you don't have.

  • Trueash December 9, 2009 06:06 pm

    C'mon... In other words, what you are saying is: "Know your camera's limitations and do not attempt to go beyond them", right?
    I'll give you an example: http://www.fotka.ua/o.cgi?i=158703 This was taken with a superzoom point-and-click camera, in a rather low light (dull autumn morning in a forest). The camera cannot shoot continuously in *raw, so I had to opt for *jpeg - that one limitation; another one is the sensitivity - if I tried to use 200 or 400, the noise would get as large as bricks.

  • starrpoint November 29, 2009 12:17 pm

    It is too bad such a great camera does not yet exist, but like you said, it will.

    until then, we need to really understand what we have, and its limits and abilities. then when we upgrade we can take full advantage of it.

  • jack clarfelt November 29, 2009 09:22 am

    A short list of professional photograhers who have given up their expensive equipment to use cheap P & S cameras would go a long way to convincing me.

  • Prashad L November 28, 2009 08:41 pm

    For me it's all about ISO. More expensive gear allows me to take pictures in low light without using the flash, which in most of the time look a lot better.
    I have a 400D and get by using noise reduction, but I'd love to have a camera that can take photos at ISO 3200 without any noise.
    Too bad such a camera doesnt exist yet in the "amateur" price range, although the 7D is starting to get there. I guess technology is moving fast and in a couple of years we'll see massive improvements in ISO.

  • mdwicker November 27, 2009 07:05 pm

    Does anyone even read these comments this long after the post? Excellent article. I've been trying to learn this lesson in my photography. Where can I find more good articles about how to find inspiration? What to take pictures of? How to find a subject? How to decide what to plan? These kinds of resources seem lacking in general, to me. Kudos, DPS, on doing some like that.

  • starrpoint July 28, 2009 12:50 pm

    Knowing what you have is more than half the battle. I have three good cameras, a 35mm, a point and shoot digital and a DSLR. Each has it own strong points and things that it does very well, and things it does not do well. between them I get good shots. and I have sold photos I took with the point and shoot as well as from the two expensive cameras. I can tuck the little camera in and take in places where the big camera would be in the way.

  • Jo July 28, 2009 12:35 pm

    this is just what i needed to read at this time..sometimes i feel that my camera don't do what i wanted it to do. but now i had realized that i doesn't matter what my camera is, as long as i practice hard i will get the pictures that i want. thanks for sharing.

  • ElDavid June 24, 2009 07:06 am

    Very true. All my digital pictures are taken with a sony dsc-v3, and my analogues with a canon a-1. Not exactly new or high-end.

  • starrpoint May 29, 2009 10:48 am

    LOL! Brian, I can just see you sitting there reading your manual, and others snickering.
    Why is it that reading a manual or following directions somehow equaite with less than stellar intellegence for some people?

    I think it is less than intellegent not to read the manual!

  • Brian May 29, 2009 08:21 am

    Tip Number 1 point b: if someone makes fun of you for reading it, hit* 'em with it.

    Recently I read my camera manual at the coffee shop I hang out at. I got ridiculed for it. A few days later one of them asked me to show them how to work their camera. I replied, ' read the manual & practice a few more mistakes...' Then I showed 'em a few simple things.

    I say the 3P's make great images. My 3P's are not practice practice practice but Play Play Play. Play with each setting and combination of settings until you know deeply what each does. Along the way you'll score a few hits with a lot of misses.

    Finally, learn the limitations of the gear & push, not punish, yourself around within those limitations. I agree with everyone here it's not the gear but user that makes an image great.

    *Show 'em what you learned from the manual with an actual picture.

  • starrpoint February 20, 2009 06:29 am

    you make very good points about learning to use what you have before you add to or upgrade. Not that upgrading is wrong, but to think new equipment will correct lack of training or understanding is the source of all the mediocore photography now flooding the internet and tv news.

    When you have master what you have, it is time to think of moving on.

  • cristiano007 February 20, 2009 12:07 am

    This thread has been great, I posted before but have something new to say. The point of the article is not giving up to improve your photography equipment or to say that P&S are better than DSLRs. The point is take what you have now and practice plain photography (subject, composition, light, moment, etc) in the best way you can NOW. One people in the thread said that she look for his camera in Flickr and see what other people can do and that's enough to make her stop wishing a new model. Good idea . I tried a different thing, I searched some of my dream models and checked not the interesting photos but the recent ones. I found some not so good images... well, even bad ones, taken for the supposedly perfect cameras. That's good therapy to get you back to learn and practice with your present camera.

  • starrpoint February 18, 2009 03:00 am

    this is so true! Many people have looked at my photos and assumed what makes them different is my "expensive camera" but I have gotten great shots with a simple point and shoot camera.

    I have stood next to someone with the same camera, and our photos are completely different. Too often the hardware gets the credit for the photographer's work.

  • Shilpa B. February 17, 2009 11:24 pm

    Makes perfect sense. In fact I was telling a new photographer exactly the same things on the weekend. Encouraging him to get out there, practice, shoot and get real time feedback on his existing point and shoot.

  • Mike February 17, 2009 08:35 am

    Any time I start wanting to buy a new camera, I just go to Flickr and search for my Camera model. The photos in the search results remind me that my camera is very capable of capturing stunning images.

  • chewy February 13, 2009 09:13 pm

    "The real difference between an average photo and an amazing photo, is the photographer, not the camera."

    -so true! great advice and tips as well... :)

  • Khanh February 13, 2009 07:08 am

    It's hard to part with photos you've taken though, especially when HDD space is so cheap nowadays.
    However, I think it's a good tip.
    I'm not ready to part with some of my photos yet though.
    One day though..

  • Bertrand February 13, 2009 07:05 am

    Great advise!!! the grass is not always greener on the other side. It takes a long time and practice to know a camera.

  • Zafarullah February 13, 2009 06:52 am

    This article has boosted my confidence for my SONY DSC-P73. I was feeling shy to use this camera of mine of and on and was borrowing someone else for my assignments in King Saud University, Riyadh. Now I will never do that and be proud to have my own P73 which had fetched me 2 prizes of 100 Dollars each and a picture publication in Tim Horton's Yearly Magazine of 2007, back home in Canada.
    Thanks once again for this cool advice.
    ZAFARULLAH
    Riyadh
    Saudi Arabia

  • Gill February 13, 2009 06:35 am

    Loved this article and so true especially the line about the the difference between and average and an amazing photo is the photographer..not the camera

  • Mary February 13, 2009 05:57 am

    This artical came at the perfect time. I have a canon Rebel XT and have had my eye on a few upper scale cameras but your right it isnt the camera you use its opening your mind and using your creativity and just take your camera everywhere. The problem I have now is lugging around my camera which gets pretty heavy and not always the easiest tag along camera. So instead of getting the newer high tech camera I need to find a decent smaller scale camera I CAN take everywhere. Any suggestions? I'm looking at the Canon G10. I would love to hear feed back if someone has this camera or one of it counterparts.

  • Frank February 13, 2009 05:27 am

    Learn from your mistakes

    #5a Keep your best photos at a special place
    #5b Keep the rest at a special place too

    Analyze your bad photos to figure out what you should have done while shooting them.

    Don't try to compensate your mistakes by postprocessing, but learn from your postprocessing what you should have done differently while shooting.

  • Tom February 13, 2009 04:38 am

    I couldn't agree more, this is what got me from an ok photographer to an excellent one!
    I was a Elder Hostel co-ordinator and one of the classes was photography.
    I would bring my Pentax k1000 out on the shoots and the teacher would give me
    film. I listened to what he was saying about sometimes not taking the whole scene
    but concentrating on the details. That's when i started to really look at what I shot. I stopped
    snapping away hoping I got a good shot. I would walk around the subject, see where the light was
    coming from and especially what was behind my subject, such as keeping lines from coming out of, or
    intersecting with a persons head in a portrait.
    I get really excited when I see something special and as the author of this piece has pointed out waiting
    for the right moment to take the shot. It's not the camera as much as it is your eye that takes the photo.

  • James February 13, 2009 04:36 am

    Agree completely. I had an old 1.3mb Fuji and one shot came out particularly well. I increased the pixels in Photoshop and had a perfect A3 print from it. It scored 18/20 in a competition. Can't be bad!

  • Caroline February 13, 2009 03:38 am

    I don't own a digital SLR. I don't know all there is to know about the "point and shoot" cameras that I have right now, but I mess around with settings constantly. I try to remember what I did, TRY, but sometimes the best pictures are totally accidental. My grandmother got me into photography and her biggest piece of advice to me was this: "It isn't what camera you own, it isn't the price you paid, it's all about the photographer. If you have the eye, an inexpensive camera can produce better results than a high end camera in the hands of someone with no talent." Like I said, I may not have the best camera, but I can still take better pictures than my friend with the digital SLR!! ;-)

  • Nancy February 13, 2009 02:38 am

    I'm happy with my Olympus x-775 I take great pictures with my camera and I am still learning all it's features.

  • francesca February 12, 2009 09:34 am

    thank you foro your suggestion. it's just I needed to listen today!!! I was doing a big mistake in ordering a new camera!!!!
    regards from Italia

  • pffft February 12, 2009 05:46 am

    what if the one I have IS amazing? :)

  • Justin February 12, 2009 05:00 am

    Good advice. I'd rather hear an excellent musician on a crummy guitar than a crummy musician on an excellent guitar any day.

  • Dennis Jones February 12, 2009 04:27 am

    Personally, I believe the article and a number of the comments are spot on. I shoot with a D80 and like many, believe you need good equipment but it's the person behind the lens that "sees" the opportunity for a great shot. Together with the camera (no matter what type) they try and capture the moment and hopefully it resembles what they had in mind.

  • Natalie Norton February 12, 2009 02:08 am

    This is great advice Dan!

  • JD February 11, 2009 10:30 pm

    Great article. It's soo true...need vs want!

    Peace.

  • jay February 11, 2009 10:04 pm

    This is a great article. Every year a new and improved camera is released with some great option that "we think" we need to produce great images. I have settled on my D80 for the time being and plan on focusing on comp. and technique.

  • Richard February 11, 2009 07:41 pm

    It is true that the photographer is the main driving force behind taking good pictures.

    But a good camera is also essential. Many have already highlighted why above.

    It's like a carpenter. Give him a €8 circular saw. He will cut the wood ok with it, but he will need to spend time tidying the wood up after as it will not cut square and he will have a poor finish.

    Give him a €200 circular saw and the quality of his work improves drastically with little extra effort on top to finish it off.

    If it is only the photographer, then why don't professionals just use point and clicks?

  • Smart Boy February 11, 2009 07:10 pm

    Seems that some of my best photography has come from my tiny Coolpix 7.1 M camera. Although, my Canon Rebel is pretty slick...;-)

    I think the key to remember here, as mentioned above, is that you need to bring your camera with you EVERYWHERE. The best photos sometimes come from the spur of the moment. Great post, thank you.

  • Heidi February 11, 2009 01:55 pm

    Great! I needed a reminder that I should be greatful for what I have.

  • Heath February 11, 2009 08:54 am

    One of the my favorite photos I have ever taken was with a 1.2 M Camera. The only regret that I have about this is that it does not print well in a large size for framing.

  • tysha February 11, 2009 08:29 am

    I would have to say "Amen" to that! If a photographers tools are like a painter's brushes...well, it isn't always the biggest or most expensive that makes the painting.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  • cristiano007 February 11, 2009 07:31 am

    I second Dan theory, and even give more proofs. These two came from my old cell phone, a Motorola E815, only 1 megapix, I think. So bad is now defunct. It was far better than a big, expensive new Nokia N73 from a nephew.

    Moto E815 01

    Moto E815 02

    My little Canon SD1100 is great too, look my stream. I do wish to have a DSLR (a D40 would be enough by now), but I'm trying to get the most of my little thing, accept its limitations and practicing and learning as crazy. When the DSLR come, I'll be better prepared to enjoy that too.

    (SOOO Sorry for the two bad posts, please, erase the first two, administrator)

  • Jocelyn February 11, 2009 03:35 am

    GREAT article!! I agree with everything said, but I also agree that there can be limitations on certain cameras. But really, bottom line....it's the person behind the camera that provides the art and the vision. I LOVE my D40! :D

  • Mario Kluser February 11, 2009 02:30 am

    Just an hour before I read this article I said to a friend why I stick to my Canon EOS 400D:

    It's because I first have to use THIS camera to it's full potential and when I found out that the possibilities of it don't match anymore with my ability to make a good photo I'm considering an upgrade. And I'm sure that I'm not even near the borders of the camera's possibilities.

    Happy shooting everyone!

  • Sime February 11, 2009 12:45 am

    Yep, Totally agree with you, to a point.

    There is NO amount of reading my owners manual that is going to make my crop sensor become a full frame...(if only, eh!)

    Nice article.

  • Eduardo PΓ©rez February 10, 2009 11:49 pm

    A badly-composed and meaningless image will not become a well-composed and meaningful image just because you add more pixels to it. When someone tries to convince me of the contrary, I tell them to go to 1x.com: just browsing the 150px thumbnails will give me that "woa!" feeling.

  • DonVega February 10, 2009 11:26 pm

    I think that wanting the latest and greatest is a lazy many's way of fooling himself to thinking that the camera will make the difference between him being a so-so photographer and a great photographer. If you take a 35mm camera and know that you have to make every shot count, maybe you will slow down when shooting with a digital camera and a big memory card.

  • Danferno February 10, 2009 10:05 pm

    I agree with John. You can make good images with a crappy camera. But you could've made even better images with a better camera. I used to make image with a P+S that got to 1600x1200 resolution and about 3x optical zoom. The images weren't bad. But then my brother got a dSLR and I took some images with that too and they were better. Why?

    1) Crispness. The dSLR has a higher resolution and a much better sensor/lens. This allows for sharper images.
    2) Viewfinder. Taking images from an LCD-screen is simply not the same as looking through a real viewfinder.
    3) Size. Of the camera. I can lift the P+S with one finger and just click the shutter button. I can't do that with a dSLR. I need to lift it with both hands, one of them on the lens, one on the body. It's hard to just snap a shot with a heavy camera, also see 2).
    4) Chromatic aberration. It's not nitpicking. I have had several very good shots ruined by the purple linings around everything.

  • Cynthia Bohannon-Brown February 10, 2009 08:35 pm

    This is my favorite article on the DPS website (so far) because it reminds us that quality photos are the objective of photography. I began taking pics over five years ago with a small Sony camera; however, some of the nature photos that I took were spectacular!

    Great nature photos are the result of understanding the proper use of my camera, experimentation, patience, God's beautiful work, and being in the right places at the right time.

    Thanks for this "back-to-basics" article.

  • Nick February 10, 2009 07:10 pm

    A lot of common sense, but you missed the point.
    The difference between a crappy photo and a great one is not the camera, nor the photographer.

    It's the photographer AND the camera.

    Ansel Adams used the best equipment in the world. The best cameras, the best film, the best lenses, chemicals, paper, and he was helped by the best printing professionals of his time.

    With a DSLR, he'd be the same? I don't think so.

    The best photographer in the world, without the right camera/lens/film/chemicals/printer/paper will make a good photo, not an outstanding one.
    A crappy photographer, with the best camera money can buy, will make a perfectly exposed and incredibly sharp photo, not a great one.

    You can be the God of Photography, but if your maximum aperture is 5.6 you can't narrow your depth of field like the rich guy with a 1.2 lens does.

    Like others pointed out, it's like car racing: will the best driver win with the slowest car?

    ;-)

  • rhermans February 10, 2009 06:27 pm

    I still believe that a better camera helps, it get easier to use manual settings, the quality of the sensor is better.
    But how much is the upgrade worth, or how much you want to spend for the next hype.

    In the end it's always the person behind the camera that has to take the shot.

    Ronny

  • johnny February 10, 2009 06:03 pm

    And photo is great!!!!

  • johnny February 10, 2009 06:01 pm

    GREAT ARTICLE!!!! 100% true. Thanks for reminding me.

  • David February 10, 2009 05:50 pm

    I'm dreaming of new lens (700-200) although I've got only EOS 400 ;-) But the lens is almost twice as expensive as my camera.

  • axel g February 10, 2009 05:14 pm

    That's an amazing shot Dan!

    So, field trips pay off even with a basic camera +_+

  • Scott Kingery February 10, 2009 04:58 pm

    I know this site is about still photography but I just stumbled across a post the other day where a guy does a side by side comparison with an HD video camera and a cheap Flip video camera. It really shows how the message is all about your subject matter and not your equipment. Good lessons even if you aren't into video.
    http://kirkmastin.blogspot.com/2008/02/flip-video-vlog-tale-of-two-formats_21.html

  • John February 10, 2009 04:03 pm

    This article was an interesting counterpoint to the "gearhead" mindset that arises in many other contexts--golf certainly comes to mind.But I simply disagree with the premise that results are 99% photographer, 1% equipment as the article seems to imply. This is certainly not true in sports where performance is more measurable. For instance, while it's true that better clubs won't make you Tiger Woods, it is also true that better clubs will make you measurably better. Modern equipment produces longer shots off the tee, more greens in regulation, etc. The same was true of tennis with the invention of composite racquets. Modern tennis platers--pros and amateurs alike--can simply hit the ball harder, more consistently and more accurately with modern equipment than with wooden racquets of yesteryear.

    It seems to me doubtful that photographic equipment is not subject to the same effects, though it is harder to measure photographic "performance". While Ansel Adams could pick up a disposable camera and produce art, most of us aren't Ansel Adams. For the average consumer, better equipment likely helps. One final specific example. Before migrating from a point and shoot (where I followed the author's advice and memorized the manual to maxmimize the performance of the camera), it was simply impossible to get the desired bokeh for certain types of isolation shots. The small focal length plus the small sensor simply render too much DOF. After going to a DSLR, this creative element is now something that I can control. Of course, controlling DOF matters to the artistry of the shot. On a low-end point and shoot, there is no amount of manual reading that will enable you to control this, while on a DSLR, it's not really very difficult. In short, equipment matters to the realization of certain aspects of the artistic vision.

    The simple fact is that better equipment improves performance.

  • MeiTeng February 10, 2009 03:52 pm

    Very good article with equally good tips! Thanks for sharing. I intend to learn to shoot more in the manual mode.

  • E Bogue February 10, 2009 03:30 pm

    If you've got a pretty decent camera - something with at least aperture and shutter speed modes as well as the automatic settings - most beginners and intermediate photographers will probably see more improvement in their photos by learning how to make use of what they have than they will by getting a fancy new camera.

    One learns a lot about the variety of things a camera can do by pushing it to its limits. If I'm using, say, 25% or 50% of the capability of my camera, I can get a lot of improvement for free by learning how to make use of the settings or techniques I haven't yet mastered.

    It's really the photographer, not the camera, who makes the photo.

  • Paul February 10, 2009 03:23 pm

    I have owned my Fujifilm S5000 for 5 years and I am still learning about everything it can do. Only recently I have begun shooting in raw. Point being in todays world it may have become easier to buy a new camera with more whizz-bang functions before learning what the old one could do. I personally will not buy another camera until this quits working.

  • Amandalynn February 10, 2009 03:13 pm

    Thank you! This type of thing needs to be said more.

    I have so many friends who want to pursue photography now that digital photography is affordable and all the rage, but so many of them constantly blame their cameras when they don't get what they want out of them.... and no matter how hard I try, I can't seem to convince people that a good camera will NOT make you a good photographer.

    A skilled photographer with a lower quality camera will always produce something better than an unskilled photographer with a top of the line camera.

  • Rick February 10, 2009 02:50 pm

    Until you're ready for that shiny new Rebel, you can learn a lot about composition and photo processing with the point-and-shoot you've already got.

  • Lori February 10, 2009 02:22 pm

    Ditto!

  • Richard February 10, 2009 01:46 pm

    Now that is good advice to all of us,and I couldn't agree more!

  • Yuri February 10, 2009 12:57 pm

    This is a true lesson not only in photography but in a life phylosophy.
    For a couple of years I am squeezing the most from my trusty Canon S3 IS with the help of $2 garage-sale tripod, $100 Sony teleconverter and a flash diffuser made of a milk container. The camera manual is falling apart and the layer of CHDK software plays the role of the proverbial cherry on the top! Who needs bulky DSLR with the package like this!

  • Felipe February 10, 2009 12:45 pm

    Give a carpenter a rubber mallet and tell him that a good craftsman doesn't blame his tools. :P

    What I want to say is, tools (cameras) have their specific uses. The wrong camera will limit your possibilities and creativity.
    I'd love to play with bulb mode, exotic lenses, or taking photos that aren't badly out of focus due to a rubbish brand-less camera.

    On the other hand, limitations can induce creativity. In order to take long/multiple exposures, I bought a $2 film camera and modified it so the shutter would stay open as long as I like. Haven't had a chance to give it a try though.

  • dcclark February 10, 2009 12:41 pm

    Amen.

  • Karen February 10, 2009 12:38 pm

    I needed to hear this. Bookmarking and twittering this one. :)

  • K. Praslowicz February 10, 2009 12:26 pm

    And always remember that every legendary photo taken to date was done with something most likely considered obsolete today. Newness is not a requirement for greatness.

  • Helen Bradley February 10, 2009 11:58 am

    Hallelujah – finally the voice of reason. It's the person behind the camera 99.9% of the time, not the camera that makes the shot. Nice post Dan ;)

  • Yemoonyah February 10, 2009 11:58 am

    Sure, it's nice to have the best camera you can get.
    But it is really the moment you want to capture that is important not the tool you use to capture it with.
    It is your creativity that makes every photo special and no one can copy that,
    even if they have the best camera there is. I only have a Samsung S1060 and I love it.
    I have taken some great pictures with it: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yemoonyah/

  • Mary February 10, 2009 11:43 am

    I got a similar shot with an old, under 2mp canon point and shoot . I think to a certain extent, camera type doesn't matter. However, in some situations such as low light/long exposure, at least a basic DSLR is necessary.

  • Adam February 10, 2009 11:24 am

    Best post on this website yet....

  • mimi February 10, 2009 11:09 am

    Great article! Reminds me of the story I heard about a photographer who was invited to someone's house for dinner and to show some photos he'd taken from a trip. The host was gushing over his pictures and said "wow, you must have a really nice camera to take such great photos!'. To which he replied, ' wow, dinner was great! You must have some really nice pots and pans!"

  • teresa February 10, 2009 10:58 am

    #4 is so true. I've found that my photos have greatly improved since starting to shoot Polaroid - even when I'm shooting digital I try and think about what I'm doing. A $2 will really make you think ;)

  • Stephanie Wagner February 10, 2009 10:29 am

    Great post! Hopefully you've shaken some people out of this always needing more state of mind.

  • Michael VanDeWalker February 10, 2009 10:07 am

    While some of the point and shoots can do a pretty good job once you learn to use them you are still limited.

    Once you get a DSLR body, I don't care which one, and you get some good glass you have a great tool. Tools alone don't make a craftsman. If you want to make good photographs on a consistent basis you have to use the tools you have and learn to use them well. This includes your image editing program. Remember... it is your darkroom when shooting digital.

    Slow down and learn to see what that sensor is going to see before you press the button and remember what you are and are not going to be able to work with in your "darkroom".

  • Dan February 10, 2009 10:02 am

    All excellent points except for the last one.

    Point #5 should probably read "Save your best photos someplace special. Keep ALL of them somewhere where you can review them later".

    As noted in a previous topic, what you may think is garbage now may be something you want to learn from, play with, or modify later.

  • Tyler February 10, 2009 09:50 am

    Last I looked I couldn't change the aperture or shutter speed on my Canon SD750, though it does have those 'creative' modes. But still not really manually, the camera does the work you just point and shoot.

    I agree though, the person behind the camera is who takes a good photo. The camera is a tool to help aid at capturing the best possible out come of it.

    I bought my Canon XSi because I love being able to manipulate the Aperture and Shutter speeds to get different results.

    I too used to own a Canon A60 until it met up with the face of a rock :(
    My SD750 is for portibiliy where I can't bring my dSLR. My dSLR so I can play with the manual settings like I could on my old 35mm Pentax.

  • pz February 10, 2009 09:28 am

    Yes, that is good advice. However, sometimes technical limitations of your camera do get in the way. Case in point. I have a Panasonic Lumix point and shoot, with a Leica lens. I adore that camera--it takes great pictures. But, the other day, I went to photograph a college hockey game and the camera just didn't cut it, even in the sports mode. Most of the pictures came out blurry, even on the fastest shutter speed.

  • Aimee Greeblemonkey February 10, 2009 09:14 am

    WORD!

  • Jared February 10, 2009 09:14 am

    True, equipment does not prevent a good photog from taking good pictures. However, good equipment will certainly assist in taking some better pictures

    I think that digicams are starting to get to a point where major advancements will be few and far between. When they were first coming from film, the next upgrade to a digicam body was usually pretty significant. It seems like alot of the upgrades to a model series are starting to become comparatively minor. I'm not saying there won't be innovation in future models, but the argument that 'the latest and greatest is worth the upgrade' won't hold nearly as much weight after too long.

  • titanium_geek February 10, 2009 09:09 am

    I found it very humorous that the ad on the RSS feed was for a camera competition. :)

    When my parents got a DSLR, I was excited to learn how to use it, and started saving for one. When I got a non-DSLR camera (still a nice one though) for my birthday, I admit I was a little disappointed. However, it's much better for toting everywhere, and I have taken some really nice shots with it. I agree totally that the most important piece of gear you can take is yourself.

  • Teewinot February 10, 2009 09:02 am

    Here here! I KNOW there is so much more to my camera (40D) that I don't even know about. Great post!

  • Vic Morphy February 10, 2009 08:59 am

    A great and concise, little article with EXACtly the right message.
    Too many people get the techno bug and rely on the equipment for that fab shot. I first began my photo work with a little Olypmus 2mgpx camera in 2002, used it prolifically and some of my ( and others) favourite shots emerged from it! eg Bridge on foggy morning - sienna on my flicker website .http://flickr/vixstix

    The only other piece of equipment that might help enormously is a tripod. I own a little 8 cm one that I bought for $10 (Aus) !

    So, keep whatever camera you have charged and with you and you can be sure that opportunities for that shot that you are proud of will arise!

    Good on you Chris. Vic

  • Ilan February 10, 2009 08:52 am

    I actually satisfied with the D80 I got.
    I got all the lenses I need.
    I make good photos.
    I don't need anything else.

    Well...
    Maybe just a 17-55mm lens. And MAYBE just a D700 body. And just to be fully covered - a GX200 to go around.

    There. Nothing more

    :D

  • Emil February 10, 2009 08:43 am

    Amen!

  • Jon February 10, 2009 08:39 am

    This is an article many should read. I think far too many people don't really take the time to learn how to use the functions on their gear. Thankfully I did traditional black and white film photography for a semester at college. Using a fully manual camera with one prime lens certainly opens your eyes up.

    Was good fun too, shame I've not the space for a darkroom of my own at the moment. One for the wishlist in future!

  • Chris Ostermann February 10, 2009 08:38 am

    This is the best piece of advice I have seen out there for people that have gotten that "upgrade bug." The camera doesnt make the photograph, the photographer does.

  • Mikko February 10, 2009 08:07 am

    This is a good reminder for us all!

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