Expensive Equipment Alone Does NOT Make a Good Photographer

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Expensive Equipment Alone Does NOT Make a Good Photographer


Have you ever been taking a photograph with your camera and had someone come up to you and say something similar to this, “Oh, you have an amazing camera.  So that’s how you get such great photos.”

Well I am hear to go on the record with my opinion.  Yes, good equipment (a quality SLR, professional series lenses, external flash, etc) – THEY DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.  Sort of… They make a difference if you know how to use them.

A person who does not understand light, focusing, depth of field and metering could have a Canon 5D MKII and an 85L lens and get way worse photos than if they just used a point and shoot.  Even my husband (he may not like me saying this) will get better results from our point and shoot than my SLR.  When he uses the SLR and takes a photo of me, guess who is blurry?  Me.  Background may look perfectly sharp.  But give him a point and shoot and he does great.

On the other hand, give a professional photographer (who knows what they are doing), an entry level SLR (like the Rebel series) and a kit lens, and they can often turn out works of art.  Sure, if you give that same photographer the Nikon D700 or Canon 5D MKII and a professional or L series prime lens, they will be able to get shallower depth of field and allow the subject to pop more. The color likely will be a touch more vibrant.  And the subjects may appear a tad sharper as the focusing “should” be a tad more accurate.

So what am I saying with this ramble?  Practice with what you have.  Learn your camera, learn your lens, learn to see the light, focus your camera, etc.  Once you do, if you can afford it, sure – get better, more expensive equipment. You will notice your photos get even better.  But I have seen too many photographers who are “not there yet” get the most pricey gear and wonder “why do my photos not look like ______ (fill in the blank).”

Of course I have not even touched on the “after” part using photoshop.  But that is another topic for another day…

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  1. May 28, 2009 at 10:54 am —

    Love this Jodi! I agree 100%. It makes me nuts when people say what a great camera I must have. They have no idea about the knowledge that is needed to get that shot they like so well.

  2. May 28, 2009 at 10:50 am —

    Really good stuff!!!!

  3. May 28, 2009 at 10:46 am —

    LOVED this post!!! It was very encouraging! Thank you for sharing your opinion…because it was very well said!!

  4. May 28, 2009 at 10:45 am —

    Great post Jodi and so true! I have no idea who originally wrote this but I love it: The real difference between an average photo and an amazing photo, is the photographer, not the camera.

  5. May 28, 2009 at 10:43 am —

    It took me getting a D40 and really LEARNING it to fully understand the truth of this – and to understand how offensive it is to say to a photographer.

    Here’s my question . . . I’ve heard photographers advise to start with an entry level camera and use that until you “outgrow it” and you feel you can no longer take the pictures you want to with the equipment you have. How do you know you have outgrown your equipment?

    I can’t wait to read your thoughts on editing/processing. Before I really learned some basics of photography, I would take crappy pictures thinking, “Oh, I’ll just fix it in PS.” Now my goal is take better shots so I need to do as little post-processing as possible. Not that I don’t like editing, I just don’t have TIME to edit poorly taken shots. Looking forward to hearing more on this!

  6. May 28, 2009 at 10:10 am —

    Oh so true. I love when people laugh at me when i shoot with my 50mm prime lens
    cause its not HUGE looking. But when they see the photos they are always amazed.

  7. May 28, 2009 at 10:05 am —

    SO very true.. I always get ..wow if I get that camera can I take pictures like yours? And I wish it was that easy.heck I am still learning .. great post.

  8. May 28, 2009 at 9:55 am —

    Great post Jodi. I just stepped up to the 5dM2 and while I absolutely love it, I still feel great pride in the photos I took with my Rebel when I was just starting out. Good equipment is essential, but so is a great eye, patience, and solid technical knowledge.

  9. May 28, 2009 at 9:51 am —

    I agree totally! I don’t even have a Canon or Nikon…mine is a Sony alpha 300!! I didn’t want to invest a lot of money when I started out last fall and I thought if it didn’t work, that at least I’d have a decent camera. Well, I have learned it and I enjoy it, but at some point I will invest in a Canon and learn it too. So, point, the best equipment doesn’t always equal the best photography! Even mediocre equipment has worked for me, for now! Thanks Jodi!

  10. May 28, 2009 at 9:45 am —

    I just heard that from my brother in law the other day. I didn’t really appreciate him attributing my “better” photos to a camera upgrade! Ah well.

  11. May 28, 2009 at 9:42 am —

    In this time of “Anybody Can Be A Photographer, Just Buy A Good Camera,” the ONLY thing that will distinguish you as the best will be what you do with your camera, and whether or not you know how to use it. This is a post that is so full of truth! It really touches on one of my pet peeves about photography—people who dump a ton of money into expensive equipment, expecting that the investment alone will make them a good photographer. You are right, Jodi–a great photographer will be able to create art with any level of equipment, because it’s the talent and the knowledge combined that will create the art. Not the camera.

  12. May 28, 2009 at 9:41 am —

    Well said Jodi…

  13. May 28, 2009 at 9:41 am —

    Amen sister! I started out with a point shoot and wanted desperately to be a photographer. I got amazing photos on my point shoot. Then..I stepped it up and got a 40D. NIGHTMARE! I literally had no clue what I was doing. Hence..my hunt to educate and start doing workshops. 2 years later…I’m proud of myself for seeking out workshops and learning from the pros. I can’t say enough about going to workshops and learning your camera…2 words: MANUAL MODE! Thanks for posting!

  14. May 28, 2009 at 9:39 am —

    Absolutely correct thanks for posting this!!

  15. Linde
    May 28, 2009 at 9:33 am —

    Amen to that!!! I HATE when people say “wow, that is a nice camera, I bet you take good pictures”.
    So, I took this picture and posted it on flickr.

    • May 28, 2009 at 10:06 am —

      That is awesome – thank you for sharing. LOVE IT!!!

  16. May 28, 2009 at 9:14 am —

    Absolutely!! So true Jodi!

  17. May 28, 2009 at 9:12 am —

    Very good point. I am struggling right now wanting the d700 and a 70-200mm lens…but I’m trying to hold off till fall. Thanks for reminding me that I do have some learning to do before I upgrade! 🙂

  18. May 28, 2009 at 9:07 am —

    You’re so right! Thanks for the reminder Jodi! (Although, I’m dying to get the 5DM2!)

  19. Katy G
    May 28, 2009 at 9:06 am —

    Great advice…I recently got the MarkII and the pictures were good, but still didn’t know how to use it to get proper exposure manually until reading a book you recommended to me. So thanks! Now to convince my husband I NEED those L series lenses. 🙂

  20. May 28, 2009 at 9:04 am —

    PREACH ON, SISTA!!!! LOVE this article-#1 pet peeve of mine! #1 hardest time to bite my tongue!

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Expensive Equipment Alone Does NOT Make a Good Photographer