I don't care what gear you use...

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by c_wyatt, Nov 24, 2010.

  1. ... and neither should you. Hopefully this isn't too inflammatory. I just feel the need to say, seeing so many continuous threads about what lens is sharper than another, which camera is better than another, that these are simply tools - a means to an end. The final image is what matters. This is 99% your timing and composition, not whether you used a slightly sharper lens to shoot it than you had last week. The greats don't list what gear they used to capture the great images. They had what they had and they got the photo. I have taken better photos with the kit lens than I have with my nice sharp primes, and vice versa. Great photographers have taken great images using the most basic of equipment. Of course the tool matters, if you need that to capture the moment - and good gear Can help - but the emphasis should be very much on what you shoot. What matters is that you DO capture the moment. Gear is but a part of the role to get that image that has something to say.

    The same could go for other technical considerations.
    "What use is having a great depth of field if there is not an adequate depth of feeling?" - W. Eugene Smith
    To clarify - I don't bemoan choosing good gear. I use a K-7 and fast prime because it has stabilisation, is fast and not too noticeable. However I don't discuss it all the time, list it continuously, and feel that is or isn't why I get my images I want.

    Use what you need to and be done with it! Thoughts?
  2. I predict that there will be few responses to this post, or else terribly hostile ones.
  3. Photography is a multifaceted hobby (or profession), and a big part of it is gear and its technical capability independant of ones artistic endeavor. So there's planty of room for co-existance whether you're a gear wonk or an artist.
  4. I agree with you completely, and I can't stand it when somebody says "That's a great photo, what kind of camera took it?" or anything to that effect - as if that matters nearly as much as, well, pretty much anything else about the image. Give a good photographer any camera that's at all usable and he's going to take good photos, give a bad photographer $20,000 worth of equipment and he'll get bad photos (at very high resolution).
    Though I must admit it's fun when somebody's blown away, asks that question I get to say I used a 40 year old camera and lens I got for $20 on Ebay, and annoying when somebody attributes one of my better digital shots to the "fancy" D90. And nobody who's not a complete tool sees the D90, says that's a great camera and starts chatting about it, but people who aren't complete tools want to talk about my Hasselblad and my SRT.
  5. I concur with the underlying sentiment but disagree with the statement "The final image is what matters. This is 99% your timing and composition, not whether you used a slightly sharper lens to shoot it than you had last week." Remember that "photography" literally means "writing with light" so I would argue that lighting, whether it is existing or manipulated, is a major factor with composition and timing playing key roles as well.
  6. couldn't agree more, or as Don McCullin so aptly put it:
    I only use a camera like I use a toothbrush, it does the job.
  7. Cameras and lenses (and lights, filters, etc.) are just tools. Some tools are better than others, and some are better suited for particular tasks, but just having nice tools doesn't make you a good photographer. A good photographer can take good pictures with his cell phone, as Chase Jarvis has demonstrated nicely (though I'm sure Chase still pulls out the D3x for paying clients!). A bad photographer can't take a good picture with anything except by accident. So tools matter, but the mind behind the camera matters more. People who have nothing meaningful to say about art obsess over the technology because that's the only way they can relate to photography.
    A high-end pro camera in the hands of a gear wonk is like a middle-aged management guy in a suit and tie commuting to work in rush-hour traffic in a Lamborghini. (I have actually seen this.) That sort of car, and the money that went into buying it, is just being wasted. Same for the camera.
  8. Not me. I want the good stuff. I want it expensive. I want it shiny, in a pristine box with crisp edges, locked tightly in place with the cardboard flap. I want to OD on that new camera smell. I want to sleep with the box next to me so I smell ALL the toxic printing and packaging before it goes away. I want to hear the squeak of the styrofoam as you pull it--along with camera or lens--away from the box. I want to hear the swish of air being sucked in past it, replacing the native Japanese, German, or Swedish air with that of the air around me. I want to pull it out of its neat little nest and be the first to feel that new metal and rubber after unwrapping it from its plastic bag. I want to feel the cotton of the desiccant gel bag, with the light blue writing on its side. I want to stare at the bright optics and become mesmerized by the blue, green and golden lens coating. I want to see the etched letters and enamel filling, and marvel at how they can engrave it so precisely into a metal ring--the more colorful the better. I want to hear the tight click of the lens as it locks in place. Oh, wait; my Holga doesn't have interchangeable lenses. Never mind.
  9. I could argue that an FM2 and a couple of prime Nikkors is all any one truely needs to to take almost any shot. It likely would make no difference if the FM2 was swapped for Canon A1 and a couple of prime Canon lenses. A wedding photographer could make the same shots with a Hasselblad or a Bronica SQA. However the wedding photographer would likely not want to shoot with Kodak Brownie and would not get the same quality of images. Thats not to say that somebody could not use the Browie and create good images with a rather vintage snap shot look.
    It's easy for us to say today that gear does not matter but if we had the money for the a top of the line camera we would consider very carefully, look at sample images and try out the camera in stores before we buy it.
    The Nikon D3s was/is considered a game changer for shooting in low light ask all the wedding and sports photographers to give up their D3s bodies and go back to a D2h or D1h. I'm sure they will be queing up to change :). How about the comercial photographer shooting with hi end medium format digital backs. They don't need speed and gear doesn't matter so why not a D70.
    If a piece of gear enables you to get the results that you need then gear matters, if the gear you use feels nice in the hand compared to another brand then gear matters. If the gear you use is smaller in size than another set up and allows you to get shots you may not normally get with larger gear then gear matters.
    Gear matters alot to many people. It makes the difference for some between getting a good shot and getting a great shot or maybe not getting any shot at all.
    Does gear make much difference to me? Yes and No, I take same shots most of the time regardless of what camera I use. I don't need a stealth like setup. I don't need a D3s. I usually take the same shots with film or digital. Do I have cameras I prefer? Yep you bet. Does that change depending on what I am shooting? Yep of course it does.
  10. Gear matters alot to many people. It makes the difference for some between getting a good shot and getting a great shot or maybe not getting any shot at all.​
    And for us non-professionals, it makes all the difference as to our enjoyment of the process.
    It's like saying it doesn't matter which guitar I use as all that matters are the notes I play. Nonesense, it has to be a Gretsch!
  11. The final image is what matters.​
    A platitude, obviously untrue if the referent is technical photography or people for whom equipment matters. Moreover, since every image is ‘final’, in the sense it does not change before our eyes after it’s been taken, it’s fair to say whoever repeats the platitude is smuggling in the word ‘final’ a judgment about merit. Well, OK, but here’s the thing about that. If you compare “final images” with people’s actual photographic output, it’s clear that the final image matters hardly at all. That’s not surprising, right? Many people, I am one of them, enjoy one or more aspects of photography that occur before the final image. Being outdoors, being a voyeur, being in danger, shopping, measurbating, whatever. For them the journey counts for more than the destination (another bromide) and influences their own ideas about photographic merit (e.g. this business about “the moment” is bs from my perspective). I mean --- final image? Who cares! Buy a DSLR, take a thousand pictures during lunch, print the best one. Big deal. I wouldn’t buy it for the price of the ink. Because, to me, other things also matter: process, medium, how you got the picture, etc.
  12. I don't care what gear you use, and I don't care that you don't care what gear I use, but I do care what gear I use.
  13. I feel like I'm in an interesting position to comment on this. I'm a 22 year old photo major in the process of trying to build
    a strong, consistent portfolio using limited resources. I'm taking a semester off because of financial issues, so I don't
    have access to school equipment nor do I have stacks of cash to pour into strobes, triggers, modifiers, or anything else.
    I have homemade ringflash adaptors, diffusers, softboxes, and reflectors lying around my house and my lighting setup
    currently consists of an SB-600, optical slave, and a little Minolta hotshoe flash limiting me to only the most simplistic
    lighting setups. No, I don't own any stands.

    It's been said many times that a master photographer can create great photographs with even the most basic equipment
    (analogies are also often made to music in this respect, which I find to be entirely inaccurate). I consider myself to be a
    competent photographer. I know my way around a camera, I have a solid understanding of composition, and I know how
    to use light... available light. Outside of bounce and fill-flash, my understanding of studio lighting is pretty rudimentary. You see, it's hard to experiment with studio lighting when you don't own any. I'm even limited in my forays into off-
    camera flash due to my reliance on optical slaving.

    I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment that photography shouldn't be all about the equipment. I've seen enough of
    Pop Photo and the like to know what happens when the equipment takes precedence over the craft. However, for
    professionals, and those of us working towards becoming professionals, equipment is far from a nonissue. When I can
    afford it, I intend to invest in lighting. I'd prefer my entire portfolio to not be limited by my equipment or lack thereof.
  14. If you don't care why post this thread? I routinely do not post many, many questions I don't care about - every day. Just get on with what you do care about.
  15. Equipment is important, but i don't care what you use; photographers are my friend...
  16. bmm


    I'm with Michael Chang (response # 2), Steve, Leo, and Stuart to some extent.

    Judging that any one of the sources of enjoyment one gets from photography - and they are very broad and not all directly image-related - is or isn't 'care-worthy' I think is silly. Photography is essentially an individual passtime, so each to their own. Apart from pro's who have an incentive to think of gear tools in cost/return terms and as a means to their product (which is the final image), we're in this photography caper for all manner of illogical reasons.
    Bottom line is that if "its the final image that matters" to you then thats totally cool. If its discussing and getting some particular camera or lens lineup that matters to someone else then thats equally cool. Who am I, or anyone else, to judge... and why would we want to anyway.
  17. I don't mean to sound cynical or overly critical, but I do find it paradoxical that the OP chose to say what equipment he uses in a post about one's choice of equipment not being important. I totally agree with the premise, though. You can capture some great images with a consumer grade DSLR and kit lens.
  18. "...and neither shoud you"?
    Why shouldn't I?
    Seeing a 12x20 inche hand poured carbon print, an 8x10 hand coated pt/pd or a 20x24 polaroid original... I enjoy knowing what tools were used. All understanding the images are top quality work it is iteresting to see what those who make excellent work use. Not the throw away photography we see too often, the copycat junk from those who travel and take the same picture/different park.
    Knowing the basics of what was used helps at times when learning how some images were created. It can help in understanding why some images look the way they do. But then, I am looking more at traditional and now alternative processes than the current crop of spray'n pray style photographers. There will always be those who love tne gear and others who don't care. What does it matter if the final photos are lousy? It still matters to those who spend all that money. Some don't really care about the image, they like the equipment. If that works for them, fine. They will not be the next Paul Caponigro.
  19. Here is what I said earlier: "I predict that there will be few responses to this post, or else terribly hostile ones." I am glad to have been proved mostly wrong. Early responses were thoughtful, while some later ones were malodorous. This sort of thing is only to be expected anywhere in the world.

    As for Photo.Net, among us are members with all kinds of interests and motivations. Specifically, there are these two extremes: those who are interested only in looking at photographs; and those who are interested only in discussing equipment. I suggest that the bulk of members fall between these two extremes.

    As has been said by many, cameras and lenses are tools. All working people -- carpenters, tailors, welders, guitarists and so on -- want the best tools they can have. They can work, and work well, with tools that are not the best: but having good equipment makes it easier for them to do their work. Good tools are dependable, and good work is difficult if one does not trust one's tools or if they are not easy to use.

    In nearly every photographic application, there is no single "best". I have taken photographs of equivalent quality, good or bad, using Leica and Canon RFDR cameras on the one hand and Canon, Pentax and Nikon SLR cameras on the other. While there is no absolute best, valid for all, for every photographer there may well be an individual best. Personal preference and familiarity are the chief reasons why I now use a Leica M3 and not a Nikon F. I also use a FED-2, which gives me results as good as the M3's because I use the same lenses on both: but that is not the camera with which I am most comfortable. In particular, framing with reasonable accuracy takes an effort with the FED, while with the M3 I have no worries on that account.

    Of course equipment is important: but no working photographer will invest time and effort only in discussing equipment because, in the end, results are what matter. For those for whom photography is a hobby, the rules are different.
  20. I do care in as much as there may be properties of the lens or capture medium that add to the final
    image; but the image itself is all that really matters.
  21. I started my aviation career in a pre WWII trainer. Some twenty or more airplanes and forty years later I was flying the modern jet aircraft with LCD or as we called them glass cockpits. I had fun and loved everything that I flew. I learned as much about the equipment as I could. It is the same with my photo gear. However, like my airplanes, to name one, the DC3, I find it all interesting. I did weddings with Bronicas in the nineties. They gave as good a picture as I get now with my current gear. It is just that like the DC3 that the Bronicas took a lot more work (call it sweaty, smelly darkroom) to produce in hours what I now do with modern gear today in minutes. That is the technical side of photography that I really am interested in.

    As far as the continuing arguments like whether Full Frame or crop bodies are better, I think it does not make much difference because as I said in another forum the best is the enemy of the good and in most cases it would take a loupe to determine which was better in a given situation. What I cannot understand is the vehemence of some these inconsequential arguments. Sides are taken, factions are formed and these factions jump in and occasionally hi-jack a rather benign PN forum to prove their point of one side or the other. Modern gear is so good that I believe one can do a good job with several different equipment options both full frame and crop and possibly four/thirds. Last winter I taught photography for beginners where everyone brought their own equipmnent. Some was expensive, some was P&S. I had to half learn about Sony, Nikon (I use Canon not because I think it better but because I have been locked into L lenses for about fourteen years) and several other brands my students had. It's amazing but we got good pictures from all levels of price and size. If I had to go back to the Bronica I know I could get good pictures for large enlargements but like the DC3 it takes a long time to get there. My plea is that given that neither full frame or crop is life critical nor anything else discussed here in PN is that we all, including me, remain respectfrul of other points of view and respect the OP who is sometimes very innocently just seeking information and really not wishing to start the same debate that has been running for sometimes years on PN.
  22. Even the question 'What gear have you got' can have different motivations. If I see a great shot of a bird in flight or a really good macro shot I am often interested in knowing the gear used so I can work out if/how getting that gear may help me get shots of equivalent standard. Unsurprisingly, in many, many cases the answer is 'save the money and just learn to do it better/properly'. But that doesn't mean I won't ask - it is often the photographer who misinterprets the question.
    And I own some gear (not only in photography) for the sheer 'pride of ownership'. Knowing you have the best can sometimes be fun in itself (as with the Ferrari commuter).
    But I think one difference between a pro and an amateur is that amateurs often buy what they can afford and its photographic merits is not always the strongest reason. Professionals buy things that give the best return on investiment for the photography they do. And this often escapes the professional when someone asks them 'what gear have you got'.
  23. Jeez, Michael's "response" finally puts a more exact meaning to the term "camera porn"
    slowly, so slowly, the CF card went into the slot, then .....
  24. I like to use gear the works well, and is within my budget. I am probably going to stick with Nikon gear and I prefer 35mm to other formats. It is just perfect for my hobby shots. I agree that I do not care what gear other's use. I just hope they have good luck with it and snap off some great pics.
  25. I select gear based upon a number of criteria because all of them are important to me:
    • Reliability
    • Affordability (I'd love to have a Phase One system, but that ain't gonna happen!)
    • Quality of output
    • Flexibility
    • Portability
    Notice that the opinion of other photographers is not on the list. In other words, I don't care that you don't care.
  26. no working photographer will invest time and effort only in discussing equipment​
    I think you will find that people of all types of career/job/interest will discuss equipment. Guitarists always talk about guitars and amplifiers, painters discuss brushes and paints and carpenters may talk about saws and chisels.
  27. no working photographer will invest time and effort only in discussing equipment
    Is that clearer?
  28. JDM, Life is all about romance. People blush at the artwork I collect.<g>.
  29. People blush at the artwork I collect.​
    Maybe you'd better not go into more detail about that...
  30. I don't think there is anything wrong with an enthusiast, whether pro or amateur, who likes a finely-made camera to work or play with. I don't buy lottery tickets, but if I did and I won a jackpot, I'm sure one of the first things I would do would be to go out and buy what I've wanted since the day I got my Pentax Spotmatic SP1000 35 years ago... or it's current equivalent. But it wouldn't be to get better pictures than with the camera I use now.
    What I dislike is the constant camera namedropping on photo forums about this camera being better than that camera, but wait, this other one does that better, bla, bla, bla, bla.... or the put-down artists with comments about this or that being an "entry-level" or a "beginner" camera. It's all so idiotic. The differences are ALL marginal at best except in very specific circumstances.
  31. Thaaaank you! :)
    I use what I use because it's what I like. If or when I choose to upgrade is my choice. It does not mean I'm any less or more of a photographer just because "you" upgrade every chance you get.
  32. I can't stand the constant equipment namedropping either. However, I feel like there's a sort of anti-intellectualism
    spreading within the photo community. It seems to be a popular opinion that discussing technique and equipment is a
    distraction and a sign of a lesser photographer. I think this is a mistake. It deters many beginning photographers from
    learning about the tools of the trade and educating themselves on technique.
  33. Andrew, I don't know if anyone is against learning. Many of us are in fact so anxious to help beginners that we jump to lay down our tuppence worth of wisdom almost before questions are asked. The objection is to such things as the endless discussion, on Leica forums, of the relative merits of the Summiturd and the Craponar.
  34. I know there's no shortage of photographers more than willing to share tips and advice. These forums alone are full of them. My issue isn't even with topics like this as I agree with the sentiment. It just seems like there's this view, not the only view, mind you, that real photographers wouldn't waste their time concerned with technical specifics and certainly have no interest in equipment. People talk like professional photographers transcend the physical world and are only concerned with some vague concept like the "final image" or whatever else.
  35. I suppose the entire issue is a bit like having sex with a beautiful woman who is totally frigid. On second thought, maybe this analogy doesn't hold up too well. GJ
  36. I guess I am going to just shoot B/W film from now on. I like B/W a lot. The thing with that in regards to gear is all I need is just a couple basic 35mm camera's. Nothing to brag about or expect folks to go "Wow" over. I like a camera that is compact enough to carry in my bicycle bag or just over my shoulder while hiking or going places. I might pick up a M6 sometime and they cost a bit but once you buy one you are good for decades of shooting. They are well worth it and have an excellent resale value.
  37. Clearly one can overdo the fixation on gear. Sometimes it does not matter. Sometimes a cheap camera/lens can produce better results than expensive ones.
    However, there are pictures you simply cannot take, unless you spend a lot on gear. They do not charge you several thousands of dollars for high end gear just because people think it is fun to pay that much. High end stuff serves a purpose.
    Those of us with limited wallets adapt our photography to what we can afford, and those who are good can do stunning things with cheap gear - however, they cannot take all the pictures one can take with high end gear.
    I'm sure Yehudi Menuhin could have played wonderfully on a toy violin, but he could not have played Sibelius violin concerto.
  38. I made some family portraits for Thanksgiving today. When we got home, my darling wife posted some on Facebook. Within minutes, a friend posted, "Wow, great photos. What kind of camera did you use?" I guess she thinks that if she buys the same camera she will get the same result.
    Truth is, if she uses a simple point and shoot, she will probably get a nice picture. If she uses the DSLR, Pocket Wizards, light stands, remote shutter release, flash units, etc., that I used to make the photos she probably won't get even one picture.
  39. bmm


    I'm a bit surprised by this discussion, the more I come back to it, because I think we are trying to make blanket judgements about an activity that is highly individual. I just don't see why any one of the many types of enjoyment that individuals can get from photography is more or less credible than any other. If one dude wants to be a camera clicking hermit with his 'oh so cool and minimalist 60yo manual kit with a normal prime so banged up that it can only do f/16' then thats cool. If another gets his/her thrills from collecting all kinds of latest gear just to look at and maybe shoot test patterns with for use in online argumentation, then equally cool. Who am I to judge why each person gets into this awesome but illogical little passtime and what they get out of it... and why would I want to judge anyway as long as each individual is happy.
    PS: I'm very strongly with Andrew on the idea that there is a kind of intellectual/arty snobbery that is easy to fall into. It surprises me a little as lateral thinking 'artists' should be ok with the idea of non-conformist fulfillement - including that which comes from materialistic aspects like aspiration and status. To me its bleedingly obviously that these facets are one side of any technically-oriented hobby, but their acceptance seems to be a bit 'taboo' I find. I also don't think that we are looking at an 'either-or' model here. Indeed, for me (and again this is totally individual) camera equipment is a tool and an end in itself.
  40. Many people on here, other forums, and some well-known websites talk a good game about it "not being the camera", but then, they clearly own the latest model expensive cameras, and even more expensive lenses. Not too much credibility there.
    If there was less obsession about D-this and that-D, and L-whatevers, there would be less need for Photoshop and Lightroom.
    This past summer, I was out having fun with my little Beirette VSN 2. It's a cheap plastic 35mm camera with full exposure controls. It's all manual and focusable, but no meter or rangefinder. I happened to come upon a little street performer festival of some kind. I couldn't get close enough for a good shot of anything, I thought, but there I was, standing beside a guy who had 2 DSLRs hanging off him, both with big honking zooms. I didn't think I could get a useful picture from where I was, and certainly, not compared to the big zoom guy. But I raised the Beirette to my eye anyway after making sure that the lens had not slipped off from the hyperfocal I had set earlier, and I shot one single frame while big zoom guy was fiddling with his buttons and menus, probably trying to decide what autofocus mode to use.
    I wasn't even going to take that picture, but it turned out to be among the most interesting pictures I've taken since I first clicked a shutter in the 1960's.
    On the other hand, equipment does matter to a minor extent. The Beirette has a little light leak that shows up intermittently, and the leak did creep onto the left edge of this picture. If I had taken it with the 1969 Nikkormat Ftn I left at home, I might have the same picture but without the light leak. But D-this, that-D, and L-whatever would not have made any difference at all except ensure the sunny highlights would have been blown by the high-tech, zone-system applying multi-segment metering.
  41. A master chef can cook a fabulous meal on the cheapest cookware. However, high quality cookware can drive inspiration and yield better results for those who are serious about their cooking passion.
  42. Continuing on with cooking, even if a master chef could cook a fabulous mean on cheap cookware it is not much fun to do so. I love to cook and have from time to time been asked to cook at other people houses, I really hate to cook when the gear is not good. My biggest problem is with knives that are incredibly dull.
    The same is true with photography, can you make a great photo with a cheap camera, sure, is it as much fun as using decent gear, not even close. I have a number of camera the two I use the most are a small point and shoot and a DSLR, in bright light I can get good shots with either but the DSLR is way more fun to use.
  43. For many people there is a kind of "toy" factor in photography. They enjoy the art and craft of photography, and they also enjoy the gear itself. It's similar in a lot of fields. To a car lover a car is more than a machine to get you from here to there. Car lovers can talk forever about this engine or that gearbox. My ski loving friends love to talk about this ski or that boot.
  44. A master chef can cook a fabulous meal on the cheapest cookware. However, high quality cookware can drive inspiration and yield better results for those who are serious about their cooking passion.​
    Great analogy because it demonstrates perfectly the schism we've got here. Taking up on it a true masterchef gets his inspiration not from his tools but from the different ingredients and spices and what not to create great recipes. No serious photographer that I ever met got inspired by the tools at hand but by his subject and what he could do with it.
  45. Mark, that's true. One difference, though, is that nobody (I hope) thinks that owning a particular gear box makes them a pro-quality racing driver, whereas there seem to be a fair number of people who think that buying a more expensive camera will make them a better photographer (or make other people take them more seriously as a photographer).
    I don't think anyone denies that high-quality equipment has technical advantages over consumer-grade equipment. A good picture with minor technical defects (noise in the shadows or corner softness, for example) probably could have been a little better with a newer or higher-end camera or lens. However, a bad picture remains a bad picture no matter how much money the photographer spent on his equipment. The real issue for me with people obsessing over hardware is that they often seem to be focusing on equipment because they have no ability to make art. Furthermore, the communal obsession with hardware encourages newbies to focus on hardware too rather than devoting their attention to learning how to take good pictures.
  46. Craig, you make sense. Obsession with equipment is specially damaging when tools are seen as the end and not as the means to the end.
    One further factor needs to be considered. Often people like to believe, and to tell others, that they have "the best", or that the Y they have is "better than" the competing X. In such situations, typically, there is no pictorial evidence in sight.
  47. I think it is a pretty big mistake to assume all photographers are trying to make art, I for one am not. I use photographer to capture the people and events in my wife an my lives. To me a good photograph is one that gives a good sense of the time and place, of what it felt like to be there. In many cases to do this does not take anything more then a cheap point and shoot camera, in other cases it requires a lot more capable gear. The higher end gear might not create a great photo, but in many cases with out at least decent gear I would miss the shot completely. And as I have said before using a good camera and lens is a lot more fun then using a not so good camera and lens.

    If someone else only see photograph as art and does not see the need for a good camera then I have zero problem with that, and I really would hope then would not have a problem with me wanting a good camera.
  48. I used to cater Renaissance dinners. Most of the time I was stuck with whatever gear the church kitchen (or wherever) had. (I did bring my own knives and thermometers.) There is no question that I could do a better job when the site had a professional mixer and a vertical chopper and a good selection of pots and pans. But it really and truly wouldn't matter if the mixer was a Hobart or a Gem or a Kitchen-Aid commercial. You can also saute a heap of mushrooms in a half-pan stuck over two burners if you know what you are doing. No absolute need for All-Clad.
    Having the gear you need and like is fine, as long as you are getting the end result you want. It's the gear-obsessed who miss the joy of photography. Once you are caught on the endless 'upgrade' treadmill, you are lost. Edward Weston made many of his best images with a lens he bought for five dollars in Mexico; his friends told him he overpaid. If you look at one of his prints with a pixel-peeper's eye, you will note some corner softness. In sixty years, no one has cared. What matters is the emotional and artistic effect of the final image. In the cooking analogy, what matters to the diner is the use of good ingredients in correct proportion, the use of correct technique, and the final visual presentation of the dish. Sounds valid for photography as well.
  49. Use whatever you want to use. I've personally spoken this year while waiting in line, with an amateur Dad at Disney World who was burdened on a terribly hot day with Nikon D3, a 24-70 lens, plus a huge Billingham full of lenses, all to take pictures of his wife and child in the land of King Rat.... and with pros who were carrying only an LX3.
    If owning the latest and greatest makes you happy, go for it. Or carrying a 50 lb backpack full of gear, or a tiny P&S in a coat pocket. I think what's truly important here is to focus on how you work, not how others work, though there is much to be learned from them.
  50. Seeing a father at Disney World with not only a D3 and a 24-70mm but also "a huge Billingham full of lenses" would make me wonder if he really knew what he was doing, or if he was just trying to fulfill some abstract ideal of what he thought "serious photographers" do. I mean, sure, it's his money and his perspiration and he can do what he likes with them, but really, what's the point? How much fun can you have while toting all that stuff around? If having the D3 and the big bag of lenses is itself "fun" (independent of whatever he actually does with it all), then does it really have anything to do with photography, or is the equipment just a prop that makes him feel like a real photographer whether or not he actually understands how to use it well?
    (Or maybe he's just Irish. The essential quality of the Irish was once defined -- by an Irishman -- as "a form of anti-art", "a way of posing as an artist without actually being one." I say this as an American of largely Irish ancestry.)
  51. Our Ann Arbor Area Crappy Camera Club had an assignment in the fall where participants used a cheap, disposable camera loaded with Ilford XP-2. Some of us are working pros, others hobbyists, and some in-between. The range and quality of the images was amazing. Rather than go the exhibit route afterward, we compiled a small book, which is available on Lulu.com. Just go there and search for "Monochrome In My Pocket." The dummy behind the lens is the biggest factor, whether you are wielding a Hasselblad or a Brownie. The rest is just details.
  52. The last time I went to Disney I took my D200 and a 28-105 lens. It was the only camera I owned and after 12 hrs or so walking around I was beat up pretty good. I cannot imagine carrying a D3 and lenses. I am headed to Disney again Dec 26 but this time I am taking a lightweight 35mm camera with the same lens as before.
  53. For me, I just like playing around with different formats, cameras, lenses, etc.. Most of what I shoot are family and friend photos, and my goal in photography is to use the different equipment, since that's what I enjoy. I'm not on some quest to get a perfect image, or even necessarily develop any particular skills...I like the gear and for me that is the end, not the means.
  54. Notice how the "I don't talk about equipment" threads tend to be some of the longest?
  55. In defense of the Disney World Dad with the D3 and the big sack of gear, maybe, just maybe Disney was only one stop on their vacation. Maybe he had other uses planned for the big bag of gear but didn't want to leave it in the hotel.
    When I travel I take only as much gear as I can carry comfortably, because I would NEVER leave it in a hotel room for a day.
  56. The real issue for me with people obsessing over hardware is that they often seem to be focusing on equipment because they have no ability to make art.​
    Well, art is a subjective measure. If your assignment is to capture clean, no flash photos of indoor sporting events for publication, something like a D3 isn't really a luxury even if you are not making what most people would call "art."
    Furthermore, the communal obsession with hardware encourages newbies to focus on hardware too rather than devoting their attention to learning how to take good pictures.​
    Now here I agree completely. Gear discussions probably suck in considerable numbers of unsuspecting newbies and enthusiasts who have not yet realized that results come more from working on technique than from gearing up. The most pernicious discussions are those where an obvious neophyte asks what camera they should buy to photograph their kid's dance recital/basketball game, and someone suggests a D3 and fast lenses. That's remarkably irresponsible, IMO.
  57. I'd just like to point out that photo equipment includes more than just cameras. For a photographer interested in learning portrait lighting, for example, the "equipment doesn't matter" approach becomes highly impractical.
    I'd go so far as to say that, for the most part, the choice of camera is the least crucial link in the chain. Lens, lighting, modifiers, etc all have a more direct affect on the end result.
    Notice how the "I don't talk about equipment" threads tend to be some of the longest?​
    People love controversy. You'll find just about any controversial thread to be pretty active.
  58. I'm a little late to this post but I thought I'd throw in an opinion anyway. Everyone above is correct. Normally I don't need to know what equipment was used to create an image. However, if an image is unique and doesn't look like something I could replicate with my existing equipment, I become real interested, real quick, in what equipment was used to capture the image. This tends to happen with images created with extreme telephotos, extreme wide angles, and macro lenses.
  59. I understand both points of view. Many great shots were taken with not so great equipment, That's because the head behind the camera REALLY knew what they were doing. For THEM, equipment doesn't matter .... as much. However, good equipment makes things a lot easier. Good knives and pans make the chef's job easier and the results are what he/she expects. A professional driver cares about the engine and brakes and suspension of their car. True, they could do fast laps with an old car, but they would prefer NOT to.
    I suspect good equipment matters to more people than would admit to it. Few professionals still have the camera they used 15 years ago, and use it as their primary gear, right ? If gear DIDN'T matter, they would still have their old stuff and film would be used a lot more. Gear matters, and photography is a gear evolved hobby or profession. There are shots you just can't get with cheap , plasticy low end stuff. You can't get that narrow DoF with a lens that won't open up larger than f5.6. It's a gear related result.
    I have had people look at my camera, and say, " I bet that takes great pictures ! ", because it a big looking Nikon F4. It LOOKS professional, so it must take professional pictures, right ? Umm...No. It's just me telling it what to do and where to point. From that, I can understand the frustration that some have, when people attribute a good shot with the equipment.
    Another aspect is that I really appreciate precise , well crafted stuff. But, I have trouble getting that same feel for modern, light weight camera bodies. So, I do like the gear, for just being nicely made.
  60. I don't typically mention the gear I use. I leave the EXIF data intact so that if someone is curious they can have a look for themselves. I have to admit, it doesn't bother me when people do mention the gear they used. I'm a carpenter and when I see a beautifully crafted dovetail or tenon, I certainly appreciate knowing the tools used to create them. It doesn't matter to me if they used something they picked up at Sears or a Yashiaka Kondo Dozuki, but it is nice to know. One person may find the tools irrelevant while the other finds it inspiring. Either way, why omit data?
    There is something to be said for the exclusion of equipment information. It's like a magician not telling their secrets. I am challenged by their results when I don't know what they used to achieve them. I'll have an image in my head of what they did and try to replicated it with what I have. I've always enjoyed the challenge of figuring things out. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. When I don't, I just blame it on the equipment ;)
    I find it a little ironic that someone would start a thread about their dislike of equipment discussions and then list the equipment they use, though :)
  61. My gear is always evolving, but not very fast.
    Currently, if I'm shooting a public / social event, I'll carry 3 cameras: a dSLR with a couple zoom lenses, a waterproof digital point-n-shoot, and a Widelux. That will take care of any image from ultra-wide groups, to snagging an athlete in action at a distance.
    Some of the above is brand-new, some is over 50 y/o, some is film and some is digital. Does the gear matter much? Not much, but it matters some. Basically I'm carrying 3-4 different brushes, to paint the scenes with, in my kit above.
    Oh, prior to the digital cams above? Medium-format twin-lens Rolleis. The change didn't change the quality of images producted, it did slightly change the flavor. Mostly it chopped out scanning time and film costs.
    A good photographer will make good pictures, almost regardless of the gear he has to work with.
  62. In the immortal words of Ansel Adams...
    Knowing what I know now, any photographer worth his salt could make some beautiful things with pinhole cameras.
  63. A good photographer will make good pictures, almost regardless of the gear he has to work with.​
    No one questions that. Being good means being capable and being able to produce quality consistently in all circumstances.
    But if all that "good photographer" has to use is an iPhone, he or she is limiting their potential. They won't be able to blow up their prints past a certain size. They won't be able to get the best results in shooting conditions that demand a high ISO setting. They won't be able to control depth of field to the degree that anyone with even an inexpensive Canon Rebel would. They won't be able to focus on fast-moving objects. They won't be able to correct for perspective in camera.
    Why limit your potential with inferior equipment just to make some macho boast about how "good" you are?
  64. Dan South: all good points. Granted that good gear is easier to use, and more versatile. But many of the things that the camera manufacturers have convinced us we need, we need only rarely.
    Case in point - about 6 weeks ago I photographed my 80 y/o father, and step-mother. I had great light, and used a modern digital SLR. Once I was sure I had great shots with the modern gear, I also used a 1920s press camera, for the big neg and different look. A camera that cost about $125, compared to $900 for my dSLR. It had more than enough capability to do a good job, that day, in that light, and I actually prefer the image produced with that camera over the modern digital images. Photo attached.
    In theory, this shot should be awful. Lens was too short, and not fast enough. Camera is clunky and heavy and hard to focus. But.... it doesn't appear I was limited in that case, by an 80 y/o camera that looks like it's on its last legs, and which isn't easy to use.
    The choice to use the 4x5 wasn't for bragging rights. It was simply to get another flavor of photo, than what I would get using just modern gear.
    I also draw, and there I use old and new techniques, pencils and papers and markers, and sometimes an electric eraser. All are just tools, like the cameras above. A pencil can be limiting or liberating, it just depends on what you do with it. Same as the cameras.
  65. Really, this could be simplified. For the amateur photographer, equipment doesn't matter. It's a luxury, because photography is a luxury. It's recreation. A hobbyist has the luxury of working within the constraints of their equipment (equipment meaning lenses, strobes, modifiers, triggers, etc not only the camera).
    However, unlike hobbyists, paid professionals don't have the luxury of working within the limits of whatever equipment they have. They are hired to to get the shot, be it a formal or editorial portrait requiring lighting equipment at the very least, it could be a wedding where fast lenses (on top of a list of other equipment highly recommended for any photographer wanting to shoot a wedding) are an absolutely necessity if staying in business is a priority, it might even be a photojournalist shooting in a not-so-camera-friendly environment where the ruggedness and weather sealing of a pro body is almost as indispensable as a fast zoom.
    For an amateur looking to crossover into paid work, investing in the right equipment should be a priority. It is irresponsible to risk the quality or ability to get the shot a client/employer/person paying your mortgage hired you for. I'm not belittling the work of amateurs, there's a number of hobbyists with work on par or surpassing that of more than a few working professionals. However, the ability for an amateur to get an amazing shot with limited resources at their convenience, ideal conditions, and good lighting doesn't make equipment unimportant. Professionals have to get that shot, regardless of any inconvenience , harsh conditions, or available light. Equipment that allows for that is a necessity for professionals and anyone looking to become one.
    Does that about cover it?
  66. My guess is that most iPhone users, just like Polaroid users who began generations ago, are not interested in blowing up their photos. They get what they get. They are interested in using the tools they have, not what their tools can't do. Photographers don't all have a singular purpose, to get big, sharp prints. Some capture a fleeting moment that looks and feels like something to them and are happy to express that and move on, even if it remains a small screen image. iPhones, like every other format camera before them, will create their own aesthetic to those, like Doug Grosjean suggests, who see possibilities rather than limitations, limitations which are usually imposed by those who are stuck in a mind-set of what photography is rather than what it can be. The suggestion that one uses a certain type of camera in order to boast about something seems to apply to those who care about having the latest and most expensive gear as much if not more than those who don't.
  67. People have different ideas on what they want to do. You have professionals shooting wars, weddings and all sorts of things. The camera they choose will be much different then a teenager who is very happy with his cell phone camera. Myself I like a camera that is durable and light enough to take cycling, hiking. I also like a camera that has a good re-sale value. I am much more likely to purchase a Leica M6 then I am a Nikon D3 because of my needs. Other folks would just flip that choice around. Fine with me.
  68. Doug, that's a great shot of your father! Excellent choice of film, lens, and lighting!
    I shoot 4x5 film, too, and I love it. But I wouldn't use it everywhere. I wouldn't use it for a wedding or a football game. I wouldn't attempt to use it inside a museum or on the corner of 42nd and Broadway at rush hour. For all of those instances, I would choose a more suitable tool like a DSLR with image stabilized lenses.
    For studio, landscape, or architectural shooting when lighting is good (or controllable) and a tripod is feasible, a 4x5 with a nice lens and the right film is hard to beat. On the other hand, I would NOT use a camera phone in ANY instance unless the moment were spectacular and the phone was all that I had with me.
  69. To Fred Goldsmith: agreed on aesthetic. As an example, I was just browsing a page for a Go-Pro camera, waterproof, mounted anywhere, apparently triggered remotely. And that aesthetic is so different and unique: photos of kayakers heading into a huge drop (shot from the tail of the kayak), pics from the wing of a hang-glider, or horizontal boom of a sailboat. Here's a link: http://www.goprocamera.com/photos
    To Dan South: Thanks on kind words for shot of my dad. We're probably not on different pages. I didn't break out the 4x5 until I knew I had good stuff already shot, and was willing to gamble some more time / committment to shoot a frame of 4x5 film. I normally carry my waterproof Olympus Stylus Tough on my belt in a pouch that also holds my cellphone. With 12mp, I'm not very limited, and it doesn't take up much room, and isn't much trouble.
    Andrew West really nails it, too. End result matters a lot, and that end result affects what equipment we buy / use.
    For one more example of the gear affecting the aesthetic, here's a photo I took in Life Drawing class in college a couple weeks ago. That camera is so different, that it affects framing, composition, everything. And because it is so different, and presents such a unique view, that's why I carry it on most photo shoots.
  70. I totally agree. I get frustrated with the concept that clients think my camera produces the images not me. While the camera deserves some credit-SO DO I- I WORK HARD! I've been constantly asked what camera body I have and what lenses I am using. I do think lenses matter to a degree IF YOU KNOW HOW TO USE THEM- same with the camera. And as many experienced photographer's know- they can- more often than not- take a better picture on a point and shoot than an average consumer can take on a dslr.
  71. Blanket statements tend to smother more than inform. What matters is what you choose to make matter in any given moment.
  72. My opinion, for what its worth, is that equipment only becomes an issue when it limits you - technically or creatively. If your equipment isn't limiting you then there is no real need to upgrade, it's like replacing a car with a top speed of 170 mph with one that does 190 mph - the difference is purely theoretical. Once you have the gear you need, that's only a small (albeit important) part of the equation. The rest is up to you and that's where the difference between awful, boring, generic snaps and original, vibrant, captivating images (and everywhere in between) is made.
    Having said that, I understand pride of ownership and that camera collecting and technology is an interest in its own right. That's great too, it's no-one else's business how those cameras are used - if they are making their owners happy that's wonderful.
    Photography as a hobby and profession has more than it's fair share of snobbery - both the minimalist, sneering at excess, crowd and those who feel superior for having purchased the latest and greatest. Anyone who feels irritated or put down by either faction needs to concentrate on what makes them happy and worry about their own images. These issues only become bones of contention and arguments if you decide to pitch in and care enough to pick a side!
  73. A Casual Enthusaiast don't even know the difference (equipment, as I would hazard to guess 99.9% of the casual noobs buy the newest consumer cams/kits lenses from Canon & Nikon). However, once you take the next step into photography then equipment should matter a lot. it's the same way for serious cyclists, whether your are a roadie or mtn biker-- equipment does matter.
    The End Results however are the most important matter. As a cyclist: how strong and fit your are? As a photog -- how good are your end results? Also, I really like & appreciated the analogy about cooking with cheap equipment or using the wrong wine glasses to appreciate wine. The means and the ends are not always that separable and nor should they be. Inspiration!
    Getting to that end result is important as the result itself -- if your equipment impedes you (esp. the USE OF your equipment: bike, camera, lens...) then the whole end result is imperiled.
    Equipment matters a lot to those that know or want to know (and improve). Disclaimer: this mostly applies to DSLRs and less so to 35mm SLRs.
  74. Ken, just curious, but why the difference between 35mm SLRs and dSLRs? FWIW, I think SLRs attract the widest range of talents, from none to gifted, because they look like what people expect a pro camera to look like. I suspect the larger formats don't attract the posers / beginners nearly as much.
    Related: I'd love to know what percentage of SLRs never get shifted into Manual mode during their entire lifespan. As a photographer, I'd probably be shocked. As a designer, I'd probably just shrug and think: "That figures...."
  75. Ken, just curious, but why the difference between 35mm SLRs and dSLRs?
    Because DSLRs are specialized computers (and have a mere 4-year generation gap; i.e, they age quickly so equipment matters a lot) and SLRs are "light capturing devices" for film. With computers the sensor is a KEY aspect, whereas in 35mm SLRs, you can can swap out film and retain the body -- the equipment is therefore less important as all the resolution is captured on the Kodak or Agfa film. Plus, 35mm SLRs are no longer made so its "equipment-side" relevancy is fading.
    I'd love to know what percentage of SLRs never get shifted into Manual mode during their entire lifespan.
    Answer: 97% (+/- 0.75%) I've owned 6 SLRs and all have been in the M mode at various times. However, M mode is not the defining mode -- Av and Tv are just as "advanced" as M mode. I give you though, M is slightly more pro than pure Av and Tv. ;-)
  76. Related: I'd love to know what percentage of SLRs never get shifted into Manual mode during their entire lifespan.​
    My FM2n has never been out of manual mode.
  77. Sorry I've been away so haven't been able to reply to this thread since starting it. To clarify, I'm not saying gear doesn't matter. I'm not saying go out with a phone cam or a point and shoot and expect great results. I was referring more to gear taking priority from a photographer's viewpoint. An example was obsessing over minor differences in sharpness. What this does, in my opinion, is put you on the road to mediocrity. If you spend more time discussing lenses than using them, perhaps the priorities are wrong. What I was saying is: use the gear that works for you, but really USE it. And using it means using the six inches behind the camera more than anything else.
  78. I'll drink to that. I don't know who wouldn't, really.
  79. I'd love to know what percentage of SLRs never get shifted into Manual mode during their entire lifespan.​
    Most of my cameras are permanently in manual mode. The only mode they have.
  80. bmm


    John Bellenis - well put, especially your second and third paras. Thats exactly what I was trying to say albeit less elegantly than you.
  81. I don't think Turner cared much about that he got only a couple of brushes and a few tubes of color left. He was still painting. :)
  82. Before forgetting about your gear, know it.
    It helps making the pictures you want to take - or you are able to take.
  83. I find this funny. I do enjoy talking about my gear just because when it comes to my LF cam im a bit of a nerd! I think it is a bit naive to dismiss any technical considerations as many great works from photographers use the technical aspects of photography as the conceptual framework of there projects. Think Bernd and Hilla Becher, Micheal Wesley ect
  84. Please read the original post a bit more carefully (and the recent clarification post). I am not dismissing technical considerations, or forgetting about gear. In fact, the original post said Of course the tool matters...
  85. A sharman is someone who can perceive what others cannot. Give a sharman a camera and he's likely to achieve awesome results. "Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder"- some people are only interested in tits and bums, others appreciate mastibating green bugs. Technology is twofold, firstly its the hardware you use and secondly its the knowhow. For example, a hammer is hardware, but hammering involves knowhow. Many older photographers, including me have experienced a steep learning curve in photography, going from film to digital and from mechanical calculators to laptops and photoshop. Give me a good camera and I'll do my very best to really learn how to use it.
  86. A sharman is someone who can perceive what others cannot.​
  87. If I cared about technics and gears than probobly would have missed my best images. :) it's not like you have a right camera at the right place with you all the time but you take an image anyway.
  88. Whoops! A Shaman is someone who can perceive what others cannot. Well done Steve for spotting my deliberate mistake. Hope we get to meet in that other dimension!
  89. In essence, I agree with your thesis. Novice photographers, especially, make the mistake thinking that gear plays a bigger role than it does in successful picture making.
    Generally, I find cameras a necessary annoyance. Compared to my eye, they are crude, clumsy devices. I want to spend my time making pictures, not debating features or futures or, the pnet favorite, IQ. I want to explore ideas and express feelings. As much as I enjoy a well made gadget as much as the next guy, at the end of the day I want to create images but others are fee to enjoy the various aspects of this hobby as they find enjoyable. I disagree with your ascertain that "and you should too". The hobby is too broad to lump everyone into the "photographer"group.
    However, even when I'm in my most creative space, the reality is at some point, unless I pull out a brush and tubes of paint, I'm going to need one of these little annoying light tight boxes. It doesn't matter if you are creating art, doing a commercial assignment or making family snapshot. At some point you need the box! The last I checked there were over 40,000 or so different types of cameras out there both new and vintage. And the newer ones! Have you seen the manuals on some of these? As thick as a phone book and quite complex. So whats a person to do? How does one decide and choose from this staggering ocean of equipment, accessories and technologies. You can't try everything so you talk to others that have. You talk to others that shoot similar types of subjects and situations and find out what they use. You ask for help. This sharing of information is the bread and butter of the equipment fourms and it serves a real need. Many of these discussions don't interest me so I stay out of them...and you should too!
    Gear chat is a great social equalizer,too. I doesn't matter if you've been a photographer for 60 days or 60 years. I doesn't matter if your photography skills are world class or novice level. Gear chat allows folks from both extremes, and all those in between, to come together and share a common bond . Although all have different primary interests, the photographer, the camera tech, the camera enthusiast, the camera/lens collector and casual observer can all communicate on the same plane. It helps create a sense of community.

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