In Depth: Do You Need the Best Gear for a Good Photo?

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Are you one of those people that rush to the store the moment the latest gadget hits the shelves? Or are you one of those who stick to gear that works? There are just no two sides to the argument when it comes to gear because we all know here in the Community that there's a gray area where we all meet. Still, the question still burns (especially for those who collect cameras) — does your gear really matter when it comes to producing great content?

Credits: lostinthought68, lafilledeer & wildholzkamera

Upgraditis or GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) is real whether we like it or not. It's that urge to buy something newer, bigger, smaller, better, more advanced, more suited to our current taste. It's an itch that you can't help but to scratch. You just find yourself obsessing about that certain camera — doing research, cross-checking, and asking around whether it's a good fit for you or not. Or you just take the short cut and buy it on impulse. For once in our lives as photographers, we've had that feeling and sometimes if not often, we give in. The satisfaction lies in getting the camera or lens or accessory that you fancy, sometimes without worrying about the cost.

“I think it comes down to what you’re shooting. I think the right gear can absolutely make an image, but I don’t think having the ‘wrong’ gear is the end of the world, it just means you have to get a little creative in your approach.” — Aidan Klimenko

Getting infected by GAS or the constant urge to upgrade is somewhat connected to the belief that having the best gear with you gives you the best results. Of course, the performance of a $5 camera can't be compared to that of a $5,000 camera but the analogy stays the same. More expensive gear means it's the better gear to get, hence it will be giving you the best photos. Understanding that each camera has its strengths and weaknesses is important in choosing the right one for your shoot. It's the first step to learning what you can do with it and in turn, helps you become more aware of what you want to do.

Credits: hodachrome & pedros

We've interviewed a lot of skilled and experienced photographers and we love picking their brains. If you follow those interviews, you would notice that we ask them if they believe that their gear matters when it comes to capturing the mesmerizing shots we showcase in those interviews. All of them gave their own take on the matter and what they had in common is that they believe that it is the photographer that is the deciding factor. It's the photographer who dictates whether the shot is good or so-so. That's a good point of discussion because it gives more depth to the topic. It's up to the photographer whether the final frame is good or not.

There are a lot of examples of that idea blooming into full form here in the Community. Take the work of @hodachrome for example. We're no strangers to his artful use of his film cameras. He builds wonderlands out of ordinary scenery by injecting his skill and talent into the equation. His MX shots are a thing of legend here and it doesn't matter what camera he uses. He pulls it off. Of course, he's in a league of his own but if he can do it with whatever camera he has on him, why can't you?

“In a certain way yes, of course. But, I don’t believe you need the most expensive or state of the art gear to create a beautiful image. Some of my favourite photo’s I shot with a 30 year old Soviet camera.” — Rick Van Kruchten
Credits: camera-gas

Using gear that works for you can be enough to help you find your style or voice in photography. Having the best equipment that money can buy can't guarantee that you'll get the best shots. It does help if you're after a certain quality or effect but it doesn't necessarily translate to getting the best shots of your photographic career. Working on yourself and your skillsets are more important. You are the photographer, YOU are what makes the difference in the end.

Now, if collecting photo gear is what sparks joy in you then so be it. Make your collection grow and stay happy with your prized shooters. A good number of our Community Members love collecting different cameras. It has formed bonds between a lot of people here and that's a beautiful thing on its own. Always remember that owning a camera (and/or collecting a whole bunch of them) is supposed to be fun. Don't overthink it and just enjoy the ride.


What about you? Do you love collecting cameras and upgrading your arsenal? Share with us your thoughts and the setups you rin in the comment section below to get the discussion going!

written by cheeo on 2019-08-18 #gear #culture #gear #in-depth

13 Comments

  1. sirio174
    sirio174 ·

    You must have the RIGHT gear. A panoramic camera is not suited for portraits, like a great format one is not a great idea for candid. However, a Zorki works like a Leica if you are not searching an high reliability. If you are a war journalist or a professional you'll need professional machines (to reduce the risk of camera failure). But for your hobby there is very little differences. I'm happy with my LC-A, Zorkis and cheap SLR

  2. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·

    Great article 👌 talk about skill with bachelor's photo and an interview 🗾

  3. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·

    Shit my sucks phone change hodachrome into bachelor #typo

  4. eduardo5000
    eduardo5000 ·

    @sirio174 Of course you will not use a tlr for sports or birds photo but getting away from action have seen tlr photos that are better exposed than digital ones and is because is the user the one that controls the camera and if you know how to you can make great photos with any camera.

  5. sirio174
    sirio174 ·

    @eduardo5000 Sure, but you cannot use a super wide angle camera for portraits or a panoramic camera for macro! ;)

  6. belokkiri
    belokkiri ·

    My best gear is the one that I feel good with. The way I handle it, its weight, its flaws I learnt to deal with make me feel "secure" when I activate shutter knowing the result i can expect with its own capabilities. That s why I turned to analogic. In my eyes, best gear is a matter of feeling.

  7. flamingoid
    flamingoid ·

    @sirio174 You sure can use a wide angle for portraiture. And you should! Short focal lengths will help create a different mood when used at a different working distance. A 35mm lens for instance is perfect for a portrait from a across a dining table. It will allow you to include the surroundings for an environmental portrait, which you can't really do with a 135mm. And distortion can be fun or convey a message. For instance, Platon Antoniou made a now famous portrait of Bill Clinton for the cover of Esquire (issued in December 2000) using a rectilinear ultra wide angle (a 15mm IIRC).

  8. 24horas
    24horas ·

    I think shooting with different cameras can inspire you to take different/and or better results, but it's not guaranteed. I have a small collection of analogue cameras, none of which cost me much money to buy, but I'll only buy another one if it's in a format that I don't have in my collection (such as a TLR). I have a couple of p&s cameras, a broken SLR, and a couple of rangefinders...ultimately it's down to the person pressing the shutter button but you need to choose the right tool for what you have in mind.

  9. pmonroe
    pmonroe ·

    Great article! Definitely can relate. I’ve tried out many old SLRs and rangefinders over the last several years, and while I found a good reliable keeper along the way, it’s the “first-love camera” and its lens system and familiarity that I always fall back to.

  10. schwarzesauge
    schwarzesauge ·

    In my eyes it has a lot to do with ideas. When I get a new cam, I try it out, I get new ideas what I want to try next, what else can I do with this cam. With the time they are worn out... not really worn out, but new ideas are coming in not that easily and not that fast anymore.
    So I "need" (yeah GAS) new equipment from time to time, but it doesn't have to be best/most expensive one.

  11. paulrnzpn
    paulrnzpn ·

    @sirio174 Yes, but this is why we have a range of lenses. I have 5 lenses, but only one body, a Canon 600D. I make great images with my gear. I mostly use my cheap 18-55mm Canon EF-S kit lens and my Tamron SP 24-70mm 1:2.8 lens. I also have a Canon EF 100mm L macro 1:2.8, and a Tamron SP 150-600mm. That's 4 lenses, I know. I have 5 lenses though. I use them all! And just my old Canon 600D crop sensor body. I make all sorts - macro, portraits, fashion, weddings, events, street, boudoir and fine art nudes, landscapes, action/sports, architecture and more. Oh! I also use a (one) Canon Speedlite, and a reflector, and some other (cheap basic) lighting. I'd love a Canon 5D Mk4, but really, what matters most is the know-how, like the article states, and to have a Canon 5D won't make me a better photographer; it would just give me better quality, particularly in low light, and a few other things.

  12. paulrnzpn
    paulrnzpn ·

    @flamingoid Exactly. I'm with you there.

  13. stereograph
    stereograph ·

    Great article!
    Actually i had GAS but not with Cam's.
    But i owned a few so. And i really love optical devices, i trust my horoscope here.
    I want to downgrade, i rather fight with a holga, a sardina or belfoca
    then upgrade to something that make my photo life easier.
    i don't shot in a gear-ridden way,
    i.e. i can not shoot with any SLR or 2000$ Rangefinder because,
    it would ruin my way of shooting and the fun in it.
    I think a photo while aiming on the subject, adjust, shoot!!
    and i love the effect of surprise when the negs are ready.
    I'm not looking for flash, i hate pristine perfect shots.
    I like bad photos, to dark, light leaks, errors, charisma.
    Most of the time the cam chooses me for a while.
    Current crush Holga, LC-A & my beloved Sprocket Rocket.

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