Don’t Get Hung Up on Photography Gear


Technology has progressed photography faster in the last ten years than over the last 100.  Over the last ten years, photography has gone from a somewhat misunderstood, often thought to be overly complicated hobby to something nearly everyone takes part in.  Auto-mode settings, advancements in facial recognition in cameras and red-eye reduction built-in have made just about anyone who points a camera in the right direction a photographer.  During this ramp-up in interest, more gear has become available then ever before, both good and bad for photographers and budding hobbyists.

Having the best photography gear does not mean you will get the best photographs.  This has been proven time and time again with the so-called mega-pixel race for those thinking the more mega-pixels something has, the better it is.  Sure, it's true that at a certain point, having a better piece of gear will yield you a better shot, but only if you understand how to properly use it!


Cameras, lenses, filters, flashes and all the accessories that go along with photography are nothing more than tools, tools which allow you to manipulate light and capture moments in time.  Before you start to make a really significant investment in any new gear, ask yourself what it is you're trying to accomplish and how this new piece of gear will really help you.  Can you make something yourself that would give the same result?  Can you rent or borrow the item first to ensure it's what you really need?

Gear itself does not make you any better or worse of a photographer, better gear only enables photographers with knowledge on how to use it and a creative eye the abilities to take different photographs.  Ever show up at a family picnic with a DSLR and speedlight and have someone say to you, “Wow, I bet that thing takes great photos huh?”  The reality is, modern point and shoot cameras are capable of taking stunning shots, so don't assume bigger always equals better.

Mike Baird by Ron Adkins - mikw-w-600mm-by-ronald-adkins-2007-03-19 064

Photo by mikebaird

Having an eye, continuously learning and always shooting will, in the end make you the photographer, not the gear you carry around.  Gear envy and the so-called upgrade-itis syndrome is easy to fall into, but it won't help your photograph any if you aren't already using what you have to the full capabilities.  Before you invest in more gear, invest in knowledge.

About Author

is a professional photographer. See his site at Mike Panic Photography.

Totally agree. I have two Canon 5Ds and was tempted to upgrade to the MKII or Canon 1Ds but at the end of the day, decided that the old 5Ds were actually better for my particular style and workflow. Besides, I’m less upset now when babies (i.e. my clients) drool on my equipment.

Reading this led me to wonder how many people out there are walking around with wasted megapixels. i.e. having a camera that can take 10 bazillion megapixels, attached to a lens that can’t actually focus the image well enough to make the high resolution noticable… and how many cameras, especially point-and-shoots and those on mobile phones are being manufactured with a sensor that takes photos of a higher resolution than the lens can actually resolve.

And I wonder how many of these people, when they blow their photos up to the size that that megapixelage is ‘supposed’ to be capable of and see that they look kind of blurry react by going out and getting more megapixels.

I can’t say that I do neccessarily agree with this viewpoint.. You should strive to improve your knowledge and technique, that goes withoiut saying! However, if you were to turn up at a shoot with gear made out of ‘sticky back plastic’ and the like,
you would end up being a laughing stock. People’s perceptions are governed not only by your skill and knowledge, but also by how professional YOU look as well as the gear you carry. If you go no-where and see no-one fine!, Think also about YOUR image and how to present yourself to others, if you want people to take you seriously.

Good points, John, but what you are talking about is more a business consideration rather than a pure photography consideration. 🙂

I agree, as a professional photographer I still use a nikon f4s film camera as one of my backups. It took great pictures then and still does, all for around 30x cheaper second hand than a d3x.

Its all about knowing how to use it.

I agree. Unless you know what you’re doing and what you need the equipment for, the chances are you’re not going to use it to it’s best capabilities. Specific tools do specific things – bigger or more expensive doesn’t mean it’ll necessarily do a better job – you don’t use a wrecking ball when a hammer would suffice, to create a metaphor 😛

I never buy anything until I really feel I need it – that is, to the point I feel limited as to what I can do to the best of my ability because I need a certain piece of kit. Or, if I realise having a certain bit of kit would make my life easier in the long run. I don’t talk myself into it, it’s just something that happens as my work progresses.

For example, I recently shot my first wedding party and realised that an 85mm prime would be very useful, along with the Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 I was already thinking of getting. I let pieces of kit reveal themselves to me based on my needs, and it hasn’t failed me yet.

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