Maybe this article should be titled: Why Equipment Matters Even If It Should Not, but I think that it would be a bit too long and tedious.
I know that the heading might sound a bit unpopular, but stick with me for a moment and maybe you will agree by the end of the reading.
If you are into photography, I am sure that you have already watched some videos, read a few articles and maybe even bought a camera. I guess that you have realised that the photographic world is split into two quite opposite factions: the ones who love to have the very last piece of equipment and the ones who are good with their old cameras, lenses, etc.
The former will argue that only the latest equipment can deliver the best performance and they are even right to a certain extent. I remember using an old Nikon, whose maximum ISO was 6,400 – to be honest it was unusable after 800. This is ridiculous compared to modern cameras – especially compared to the latest Nikon, whose native ISO can reach 102,400. The more you read into articles that discuss the importance of gears, the more you get stuck in a negative spiral. By many this is called ‘Gear Acquisition Syndrome’ – GAS. You always need to stay up to dated, trade your old camera – that might just be 6 months old, to buy the latest arrival. You feel the urgency to upgrade from a smaller sensor to a full frame, from a full frame to an iconic range finder up to a digital medium format. This is both harmful for your bank account and for your creativity. You care so much about video reviews, articles, press releases to forget to take the camera you have, get out and shoot. This is natural, time is limited and if we use it to stay updated on the latest gears we cannot use it to be creative.
The latter faction will respond by saying that what makes a photograph is neither the camera nor the lens, but is the photographer and one’s creativity. I agree with this opinion as well. Indeed, if you have read the previous article I posted, you will know that photography is a creative act to me. However, sometimes your camera features are so poor to limit the possible applications. I remember struggling to use my old Nikon when shooting night street photography due to poor ISO performance. Of course this struggle can make you more creative as well. You will have to find new ways to get around the equipment technical lack of performance. If you do not believe me, have a look at the Pro Photographer, Cheap Camera Challenge videos by Digital Rev. However, in my experience it is very hard to achieve sustainable good results if you do not get along your equipment.
Good Equipment Empowers You
My point is that no matter what your equipment is, whether it is 20 years old or brand new; what matters is how you feel about it.
For instance, when shooting on the streets, I prefer to be as ‘invisible’ as possible. Thus, the smaller, lighter and more compact the camera setup is, the better. By making photographs with this kind of equipment I feel better and surer to be able to capture candid moments. Maybe I could do the same with a bulky camera but I would not feel as comfortable. So what is the point of doing something you love, using something you hate?
So, if you genuinely believe that only the latest camera can deliver the tech specs you need to be as efficient and as comfortable as possible, then the investment is worth the money. But do not get caught in the trap of pixel count, resolution, image quality, etc. This matter, it is true, especially if you are printing for advertisement campaigns – and I doubt that most of us would have that type of need.
If you do not trust me, just have a look at the two photographs on this article and let me know which is the one shot on an older camera setup and which is shot on a more modern one.