Does Gear Really Matter? 30 Mind-Blowing Images Taken With Entry-Level Gear

When someone tells a photographer that “their camera must be really good,” chances are the photographer will respond with an eye roll. The debate surrounding gear verses skill in the photography world is a tired albeit consistent discussion. Let’s not kid ourselves, gear does in fact matter. However, does a photographer need top of the line equipment to produce mind-blowing images? Take a look at this collection and decide for yourself.

Last week while I was in Puerto Rico, I met a couple who was familiar with my work. They asked if I would take pictures of their adorable ten year old daughter. I would have loved to take her pictures but to my luck, I decided to leave my gear at home in hopes of taking a real vacation from photography. They mentioned that they had a Canon t4i and an 18-55mm lens that I could use. At first, I dismissed the idea because I’ve been spoiled with my Nikon D800 & prime glass. But truth be told, the idea of the challenge was very appealing to me and let’s be real, I was having separation anxiety from photography. I agreed to take a few photos. Here's a few:

Untitled-2n

While shooting, I found that using lower-end gear can prove to be difficult to work with. Mainly, I had a hard time with the fact that I was using an 18-55 lens and the lowest F-stop was a 5.6 at 55mm. Additionally, there weren’t enough focus points for me to use. That being said, it did not stop me from using everything else I’ve learned outside of the gear department. After the shoot, I realized that skill is a crucial part of photography. I incorporated everything I knew about expressions, posing, composition and even post-processing to produce quality images.

The primary goal of this article is to give encouragement to go out and shoot without worrying about what gear is in the bag. As is with all art, photography is subjective. It’s important to remember that there is a huge range of gear between what is considered beginner and advanced. There is no way to draw the line between what is considered beginner and professional gear.

500pxcom3Joko d90 75mm

500pxcom3Joko 550D 55mm c

500pxcom3Joko 550D 55mm b

Tri Joko  Canon 550D - 18-55mm & Nikon D90 - 70-300mm ^

500px.com89205537525 d3100 50mm

Светлана Беляева Nikon D3100 & 50mm 1.8

500px.comAnnaTheodora t1i 18-55

Anna Theodora Canon T1i 18-55mm

Epic Sunrise at Nubble Lighthouse

Benjamin Williamson T2i 18-55mm

500px.comDaniloFaria t1i asigma 10-20

Danilo Faria T1i 10-20mm Sigma

500px.comhien1234 d5000 50 1.8

Hien Luong D5000 50mm 1.8

Moraine Lake Sunrise

James Wheeler D5000

500px.comLarsKorb d3200

Lars Korb D3200 18-55mm

500px.comLauraMar D3000 55mm

Laura Mar D3000 18-55mm

500px.comNico54 D3200 18mm

Nicodemo Quaglia D3200 18-55mm

500px.comPaulyP t2i 85mm 1.8

Pauly Pholwises T2i 85mm 1.8

500px.comRobertoInetti t3i 18-55

Roberto Inetti T3i 18-55mm

500px.comTimPalmanPhoto d3200 35mmm 1.8

Tim Palman D3200 35mm 1.8

500px.comvinduPhoto d5000 18-55

Vit Vitali vindu D5000 18-55

 500pxcomAzKarno D90 50 1.8d

Aaron Karnovski D90 50mm 1.8

500pxcomdiogopg t4i 10mm

Diogo Glovatski Canon T4i 10-20mm Sigma

500pxcomFlieg-e D3100 18-55

Marianna Roussou Nikon D3100 18-55

500pxcomharaldferber t4i 55-250 b

500pxcomharaldferber t4i 55-250 c

500pxcomharaldferber t4i 55-250 d

500pxcomharaldferber t4i 55-250

^Harald Ferber Canon T4i 55-250^

500pxcommandarmdeshpande t4i 18-55

Mandar Deshpande  Canon T4i 18-55mm

500pxcommankevichph d3100 50mm b

Ivan Mankevich D3100 50mm

500px.comgdphoto d3200 85mm 1.8

George Dikhamindjia Nikon D3200 85 1.8

500pxcomwxvelocity D90 35mm

Robert Edmonds Nikon D90 35mm

d70 28-80

Noam Galai Nikon D70 28-80

I'm sure there are many more amazing images out there taken with entrey-level gear, feel free to share a link to them below!

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168 Comments

Previous comments
Dani Diamond's picture

Yeup, I prefer to take the stress-free route and use high end gear.

Guest's picture

I shot many traveling pics with a Canon 350D 6mp when it was already way too obsolete, and I think they're fine. When using 7D, 5D, etc, I only notice significative differences with the lenses.

My 6mp pics> https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.117371518448531.1073741825.117...

Jason Myers's picture

cameras are simply tools of the person using them..this is true, but from what I see in this article, post production was awfully heavy handed in most all of the images. I'm not knocking the efforts but it's a little deceiving.

Bryant Coffey's picture

Shot with Canon T2i, Canon 55-250 kit lens. https://admin.shoptab.net/product_searches/167324935/mobile_detail

Bryant Coffey's picture
Arun Hegden's picture

ithekke eppo..;)

bmarkos's picture

It's all been said already - but how about showing some stuff straight out the camera or with just a bit of RAW processing?

Dani Diamond's picture

Next article.

Guest's picture

Haha entry lvl gear does matter if you remove the high end PS work from them!

Dani Diamond's picture

Would love to see your work! I'm looking to write my next article on SOOC images using pro gear.

Francisco Castro's picture

The ability to capture the light is only part of a photographer's tool bag. There is also being able to compose the shot, setup the shot, pose the model, setup the lighting, picking the right time of day to shoot, etc., all of which happen BEFORE the pro gear comes into play. After the shot, there's post editing. Can great images be taken using less than pro level gear? Oh yeah.

Thanks for a great article.

ChodeMcBlob's picture

Where are the pinhole cameras? These snobs are still using gear that costs more that $50.

Dani Diamond's picture

True, we need pinhole camera photos.

Aaron Lingenfelter's picture

They're forgetting to mention the use of ND filters and obvious lighting on a couple of the portraits.

I shoot mainly live music and in that field, gear is necessary. Try and use a Canon t4i with a kit lens at a small club without a flash.

Dani Diamond's picture

My iphone works well at concerts.

maryanne's picture

My portfolio is all shot on 3 different entry level Canon Rebel Cameras without overly Photoshopping much and I'm fairly confident in my work. The following self portrait was shot with a Canon Rebel XT 8 megapixel camera. I just got a Rebel T5i and it makes the process easier with the added ISO and such.

http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/photos/1683312/

Sterling Steves's picture

Would you mind posting a link to your blog/website? I'd like to see more! :-)

maryanne's picture

Certainly. My portfolio site is fount at http://www.neweyedea.com/ and my blog is http://maryannegobble.blogspot.com/ I should add I use a Tamron 17-50mm. It's a lot easier to get results than the kit lens.

christian lacasse's picture

Entry level gear perhaps... and a lot of processing in Post ;-)

Dani Diamond's picture

Yeup, better get your game on or you'll get left behind.

christian lacasse's picture

Title is misleading in my opinion. "Entry-Level" should not be part of this title. There is no point in writing an article about entry-level gear if there is so much happening in post. However it proves the point that most important thing is "go out and shoot"... whatever the gear. Cheers!

Anthony Woodruffe's picture

I've gotten more complements of my photos when I said I shot them with a D3100 (reaction is normally 'wow', To when I said D600 (Reaction 'Hmm no wonder') . Both entry-Level but differing expectations of quality of image.

Scott Mccusker's picture

D600 is entry level? You have a curious definition of entry level...

Anthony Woodruffe's picture

Many consider the D600 entry-level with it's half plastic body even Nikon themselves call it their entry-level FX. Granted; while in many cases you can get more dynamic range than a D4 with it, the D600 starts show it's weakness in low-light. Not because of noise at high ISO levels but because the AF system is not adequate. It's these cost saving measures that makes it an entry-level camera. However your comment underlines my point on expectations/assumptions of a D600 vs. D3100 ( naturally you made a good shot, you have a D600)

Scott Mccusker's picture

So I get the point of the article, that you can get great images with literally any camera. Thus, if you have a dslr made any time in the past 7 yrs or so and your pictures are bad, it's probably operator error. And for the most part I agree. But as many others have mentioned, there's some pretty heavy photoshop use going on with these images, to the point where you could rename the article "Photoshop is so awesome it can rescue images even from the worst gear." Don't get me wrong, I use LR and PS on every one of my images, but if the point is to show what entry level gear can do, then show that, not what heavy PS can do. Finally, some of the gear used in this article is far from entry level...most notably the 85 f1.8. Are there more expensive pro lenses out there? Sure. But I don't see that lens at best buy marketed at first time camera buyers either. This article is a great concept, but could be refined so, so very much.

Ahmed Gadou's picture

Photography is about your eyes and the message that you want to deliver., no matter what do you have or what do you use to deliver your message. equipment are getting more respect rather than talent.

My first camera i bought from my own money was Nikon D3100 since September 2009, i've been using it for more that 3 years with the kit lens and 50mm f1.8D ( manual focus lens ).
after that i got a second hand tamron 70-200 f2.8 ( which is a third party lens ).
after that i was working as a freelancer photographer and i used many professional cameras, they really do make things easier and i got addicted the technology and the performance of those cameras and equipment i used. few months ago i bought D7000 but i'm still using D3100.

Brandon Cawood's picture

Dani man I love your approach to your articles! Great right up as always!

Dani Diamond's picture

Thanks bud, I try!

Jordan Buckway's picture

Every image I have taken has been with a D5000. Of course I would love a D800 and I eventually will buy one, hopefully the D800s. But, for now I'm taking images I'm proud of with what I have. www.jordankbuckway.com

Timothy Jace's picture

I find these hard to believe. The dynamic range of lower end cameras isn't there and nothing in post that you can really recover.

Krishna Yalla's picture

Great article. We as business owners have to consider efficiency, dependability, durability, insuruance, etc. This is where purchasing more expensive gear with somewhat diminishing returns on image quality come in. It's more about us being able to consistently create a better image within more uncontrollable circumstances, which is where some of this expensive gear gives us this convenience.

tony pardilla's picture

i think photographer knowledge is more important than having the latest and fanciest new gear, a person who has a lot of experience (and knows use shutter speed, f-stop and how to use light to their advantage) can do more with a canon t4i and a 50 1.8 than a person who is a noob (no idea how to use their gear) and has 1dx and a 50 1.2

Mike Kelley's picture

ITT: People mad that $30k worth of gear doesn't make them the photos they want

Deirdre Ryan Photography's picture

I did an entire gallery of fine art colour prints using my then $12 Holga plastic cameras. I printed them in a colour darkroom that I was working at after hours, all 16x20's and I sold most of them. It's not the gear, it's the person behind it.

But as a pro you do need faster lens and cameras to get the job done no matter what the situation throws at you :)

Rocha86's picture

:computers:

Mage's picture

A lot of these are pretty good, but a lot of them also start to look really fake. I'm all for photoshop, but some of these are pushing it.

Leonardo Outeiro's picture

Amen!!

Leonardo Outeiro's picture

I use a Nikon D3000 and a 50mm f/1.8

Little editing with lightroom on raw files.

I'm no pro....but man.....I love a good picture!

Take a look and let me know what you think!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/111090416@N06/

Marcos Villaroman's picture

Enjoyed the images while not really caring about the camera gear used. I like how most of these images were in color.

I do wonder if we need to set a filter on post processing --- how many (if any) of these images relied on excellent post processing skills and maybe using the best software? Maybe show excellent images using entry level gear with only Photoshop Elements for processing.

IAM_THE_KGB's picture

Well this post must be the poster child for the most condescending post of the year...
My god people, you can actually take descent pictures with these (one step up from) junker cameras.
Thank you Dani Diamond for letting us know all is not lost any you, yes you, can actually take "mind blowing" photographs with such lowly cameras.
Fstoppers at its best here people, insult the most people possible in a single post.
Dani, you're a "________". I'll leave it blank, the "entry level" people can fill it in.

Thomas A Gorman's picture

Shot with a Nikon D60 and an 18-55mm

Chris Blair's picture

Thanks for the post, the basis of the article was spot on. Most photographers understand that "it's what's infront of your camera, not what kind of camera," but I do know some photogs that actually think a better camera will make their shots more interesting. Some of the comps were ok, but I'm not sure if they really support the article as much as really well-composed and lit shots with cheep gear would have. But keep em coming, I learn something new everytime you guys post something.

Ivan Stamato's picture

I did this one with my D90 + 50mm at F/1.8 (first) And D90 + 18-55 at F/7.1 (second) they're not "mind blowing" but i do like the final result.

Jon Snow's picture

The gear is almost irrelevent in todays world of photoshop and post processing tecniques.

Daniel Pryce's picture

Good light is all that matters. If you have quality light, you will get a great image.

Wil Fry's picture

I've noticed in my own photography, the photos that most people seem to enjoy the most were recorded using my cheapest lenses (neither of which I own anymore). It often relates to the subject -- a fire tornado, a tropical island seen from above, an explosion fireball at a chemical planet -- more than to what I did or what the gear could do.

(I don't mean other photographers, but laymen looking at my work seem to enjoy the images more because of the subject, even if I botched the exposure or used cheap gear.)

Tired Of Whiners's picture

Great images from consumer gear. Now get these people pro gear and we'll have exceptional images. I know that lenses like the Canon Nifty Fifty 50mm can capture a great image until the photographer turns and bumps into a tree or a person or ends up caught in a rainstorm, or needs a creamy bokeh wide open or needs a clean image lit only by candlelight and is shooting a T2i. I get it that gear doesn't make an image but promoting that it's OK to own if they are a serious photographer is a mistake. Tell that to the bride who's dancing with her dad who has a short time to live but was able to make the wedding that your camera busted because you collided with a waiter. Gretsky didn't skate on rental skates even though he could have if he wanted to. I got a great shot with my iPhone once. Who cares.

Donna Bailey's picture

I shot a friends wedding (yes it was a love job and I did ask if she would prefer someone with more experience, she said no she wanted me) with my D3000/D3200 and I have had plenty of people say wow they are great shots, due to the creativity of those shots (I have even had the bride in joyous tears over them) If people want to hire someone who is professionally built for that particular field of photography then they will, if people want less professionals to shoot for them then that is ok also. We all seem to forget to get to the end of the road you have to start from the beginning (and everyone starts there). By saying to someone that you can't shoot this or that because your gear isn't of professional quality no wonder so many people feel so criticized and less worthy O.o Saying that pro gear is for serious shooters is a bit silly in my opinion how else are we meant to learn if we don't start at the bottom and work our way up. Doesn't mean we aren't as serious as those who have the high end gear it just means it takes us a little longer to get there (I sure as heck don't have a money tree out the back of my place).

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