The Great Debate. Does gear really matter?
I think this debate comes down to two sides or two positions: Beginner and Professional.
Every photographer you talk to will give you a different answer.
Most times they will say it’s “yes” or “no”. They won’t elaborate to back up their claim, even if you ask them. Here are a few reasons as to why I think yes, gear matters, and why I think no, gear doesn’t matter, but it also depends on some variables. So find out what will benefit you, by reading more!
Disclaimer: This is not the end all be all. This is based on what I have experienced on my own, and have seen in the industry over the past 8 years of being a professional photographer.
I don’t think for a beginner that gear really matters. Don’t get me wrong, great gear can help aid into great work.
But as a beginner photographer, you should start out with “beginner” camera equipment and work your way up.
You don’t want to grab a $3,000 camera body, and pair it with a $1,500 lens, because what is the chance that you’re not going to want to pursue photography anymore at one point and then you have just wasted a ton of money.
Most of the photographers out there that have advanced gear, have put a lot of time and thought into what they were going to purchase for a specific reason, because of the cost of equipment.
Each item in someone’s kit, has been purchased, more times than not for specific reasons in mind, not just to purchase.
Professional grade gear can get pretty pricey, and beginners shouldn’t worry about that, until they learn their camera first.
You don’t need to have great gear to get extremely cool shots.
I have seen someone take a Go-Pro, shoot, and come back with great images.
With that being said, I do believe if you’re a beginner you should learn the Exposure Triangle.
This knowledge will help you expand and grow your knowledge of cameras and more importantly help you get shots you can’t get on “automatic” modes, but rather manual settings, which is how I get all of my shots, because I am in full control of my camera settings and have specific shots in mind.
If you’re a professional, or a self-proclaimed professional, I highly stress that you’re using professional grade gear.
In my opinion, if you are making a profit from having clients, you can call yourself a professional.
There’s a lot of other factors I look at when deciding if someone is a professional photographer, but mostly I’d say profit is the largest contributor to my decision.
When I determine how or what is professional gear - I’m talking about the aperture of lenses, and the glass that is used.
This involves using a constant aperture of 4(f 2.8 preferred) or larger opening for lens quality!
This will create the most desired background look, bokeh. Bokeh is what makes the background of images the most creamy and pure tasty.
When I look at an image, and see one that is shot at f/5.6 or higher, I know more times than not, the most value in a lens is not being used if it’s one of these more professional lenses.
This f stop or aperture number will determine the crisp or blurry look in the background of an image, determined by “depth of field” in portraits.
You can find the value of the f stop on the opening around the glass at the end of the lens you are using.
I have a 70-200mm Sony f/4 (my action lens), and a Sony 90mm Macro f/2.8 (my Portrait Lens & macro lens).
Both of these in my opinion aren’t the “most” professional lenses in the market, but they are pretty good for Sony’s Mirrorless line, next to the G Master lens line for my budget.
The G Master lenses run anywhere from $1,500 on the low end, to $4,000+ on the high end, per lens.
This price is pretty steep, but are the reason some photographer’s prices are a little higher than others, along with other reasons to go along with their prices.
I believe in tons of research before I purchase a lens.
Yes, you can rent gear, but if I’m going to spend money to rent gear, I might as well do extensive research to begin with, and save a few dollars in the long run.
This will help ensure that you’re getting the most bang for your client’s buck.
If you’re still shooting with a canon rebel XS, you’re not using the best gear for your clients.
A Rebel XS is a crop sensor body, which in my opinion, is not the best for the job, depending on some things and what your shooting.
Until you understand what the difference is in a crop sensor and full frame sensor and their pros and cons, I think you are still a “amerture”.
A crop body sensor is providing half or a “crop factor” to your lens, and in the end, allowing less light to enter your camera, then a full frame does.
I didn’t notice the difference until I started actually using a full frame body with the same lenses focal length.
Do research, when deciding which is best for what your going to be shooting.
Full Frame is better for low light scenarios.
I believe in giving my clients the best opportunity for quality images, which is why I have the most professional gear that works for my needs.
Professional bodies, come and go, and are outdated within a few months, generally.
The most invested photographers are invested in their lenses, if they want to be successful.
A lot of questions are built around the mirrorless market, currently, and I always ask an inquiring photographer how invested you already are before making the switch.
I had one “pro” lens when I had my Canon gear. So it was relatively easy to make the switch.
I would have never made the switch to Sony, if I didn’t think it would be better than the gear I had already had for Canon.
I think techniques a photographer uses, and their eye, is better than any camera body specs.
As long as you understand what your camera body can do and is capable of, you should not have a problem capturing what you want.
Some of the beginner cameras I had found were not as advanced as my skills were becoming, which is why I had made the switch to Sony in the long run.
I think there is a lot of knowledge that is helpful in determining which camera you should buy, and if you should have the most “professional” gear starting out as a beginner.
With that being said, some bodies are just not capable of what some photographers try to do with them. It’s just a proven fact.
When selecting a camera or any camera equipment, do your research and a lot of it! It will save you so much money in the long run!
So which is right for you? A beginner quality camera, or a professional grade camera. The choice is yours!