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There’s an unfortunate train of thought among many new photographers (and some not-so-new photographers) that there’s a correlation between the cost of camera gear and picture quality.
Mind you, I referred to picture quality, not “image quality.” I’m not talking about pixels and resolution here. I’m talking more abstractly about a good photo versus a bad photo.
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A good photo can come from a budget/entry-level camera just as a bad photo can come from a high end/professional-level camera. Whether a photo is good or not has far less to do with your gear than it does the individual holding the camera.
So if you’re a new photographer who is preoccupied with thinking that better gear leads to better photos, here is why you should squash those thoughts.
Your Camera Is A Good Camera
Here’s a question I get asked a lot (too much): “Hey, is the [fill in this blank with just about any make and model] any good?”
Because I don’t actually have to have hands-on experience with the specific camera someone is asking me about to know it’s a good camera.
It’s not 1994. Everything that comes out these days is “good.” Whether it’s the right camera for any given person is a different point of consideration, but there are no truly crappy cameras in production today.
The entry-level camera you’re using or considering buying will do everything you need it to do perfectly well and a whole lot of things you don’t really need it to do, but it’s fun to have certain features like WiFi, in-camera filters and 4K video.
The Kit Lens Isn’t So Bad Either
In fact, depending on the lens, it’s probably excellent. The problem is, the term “kit lens” has a stigma attached to it. People see the kit lens as a sort of a throw-away lens that exists primarily to make the camera buying process more convenient.
But there are some really good kit lenses out there. Fujifilm’s 18-55 f/2.8-4 comes to mind. I know plenty of photographers who happily held on to their Canon 24-105 f/4L even after upgrading to higher-end camera bodies.
It’s true that kit lenses have shortcomings, usually in the way of aperture and focal length, but you won’t find a better bang for your buck. So don’t sell off your kit lens the moment you unpack your new camera.
You Need Other Things
Starting out in photography involves a lot of learning, so instead of overspending because you think a higher-end camera is going to make you a better photographer, stick to the lower end gear and use whatever is left of your budget to buy other things that will facilitate your learning process.
Things like a tripod, extra batteries, a good camera bag, maybe a couple of filters (ND, circular polarizer), a few books. Any photographer who has been around long enough knows that there’s always going to be some random accessory to buy. Which is easier to do when you haven’t blown your budget on an unnecessarily pricey (at this stage) camera.
If you’re not happy with your photos, it’s not the camera’s fault. So don’t throw money at a problem that can be fixed for free. 99% of the photos you want to make can be made with the gear you already have. New gear or more expensive gear isn’t going to help you.
Your remedy lies in greater patience with yourself, a deeper commitment to learning the craft and an emphasis on upgrading your skills over upgrading your gear.
In time, after some honest reflection and self-assessment, you’ll know when you’re due for an upgrade.