My Gear – And Why You Don’t Really Need It
So, when people see my photos, the number one question that seems to come up is, “Hey, what kind of camera do you use?”
Now, I’m going to spill the beans here pretty quick, but first…
Keep in mind that it’s not the gear; it’s what’s sitting four inches behind it that really matters.
Think of it this way – when you see a fancy new house go up, do you ask what kind of hammer the carpenter used? When you have an incredible meal at a fancy restaurant, do you think, “Wow, that cook must be using a pretty nice pot!”
Part of the perception that “it’s the camera that makes the difference” stems from people with $30 cameras noticing that when they spend $100 they get better photos – and the same thing happens at $200. So, it almost DOES seem that the nicer the camera, the better the photos.
However, gear only gets you so far.
For the most part, ANY DSLR style camera can get the kind of shots you see here on the site (and quite a few point & shoot cameras can too).
How do I know? Well, when I’m out with people sporting so-called “lesser gear” shooting the same scene, their pictures look similar to mine if they’re taking the same care and using the same techniques.
I’ve also suffered some pretty tough competition in contests from people shooting cameras that are a fraction of the cost of mine.
80% of the quality of any shot is the person behind the viewfinder, not the camera.
The biggest trick is setting yourself in the right place at the right time – and using the best techniques with the gear you have. Those things are FAR more important than the name on the front of your camera or how much your lenses cost.
Yeah, I can pretty much guess what you’re thinking – then why buy expensive gear at all?
Simply put, you eventually reach a place in your “photographic development” where basic gear is holding you back. When you find yourself missing shots due to autofocus that’s too slow, glass that’s not up to par, or gear that’s not rugged enough, it’s time to upgrade.
Better gear – ONLY if you know how to use it – tends to work WITH you to get the shot. It’s more responsive, it’s faster, and it generally gives you more creative options and settings.
It’s important to note that, in and of itself, better gear will NOT automatically get you better photos if that’s the only change to your arsenal. YOU have to be able to use the new gear in a way you weren’t able to use your old gear.
If you want to test this, just get yourself a pro and an amateur and have them shoot for a week. Give the amateur $10K in pro gear, the pro a $200 point and shoot camera. Guess who’ll consistently get the best photos…
I suppose my point here is that, although gear DOES matter, it’s not nearly as important as people make it out to be.
So, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t feel like you need to go out and go broke buying the items you see below. I’ve collected them over dozens of years, done lots of trading up, and well, can justify the cost since I do this professionally.
OK, enough already huh? Here’s my basic kit (as of Aug 2012)
Primary Landscape Camera: Nikon D800e
Primary Wildlife Camera: Nikon D4
Backup: Nikon D800
Primary Lenses (this isn’t a complete list, just my most used):
I also have a few specialty lenses that I pull out from time to time, but that’s the main kit – for now!
Again, keep in mind that I have shot a LOT of photos I’m pretty proud of with MUCH lesser gear.
Remember – YOU make the photos amazing, not the camera!
PS – Also, please note, the photos above are stock images. My gear sort of looks like that, just WAY more beat up
This tip is filed under: Gear Talk