Amateur Photographer With Pro Gear Vs. Pro Photographers With Amateur Gear

We have certainly talked about this before, but it seems Gear Acquisition Syndrome is forever waiting in the wings to try to convince us that that new camera will help us make better images. This is a great reminder that skilled photographers with basic gear will do a better job than someone with a nice camera.

Coming to you from Mango Street, this video shows the team in their studio, during which they give a friend a Canon 5D Mark IV paired with the 35mm f/1.4L II lens, while they themselves go with the six-year-old entry level T3i paired with a kit lens. Granted, this is a controlled studio environment that is not taxing on either the sensors or the autofocus systems, but even so, it's easy to see that while the images from the amateur with expensive gear are certainly not bad, those from the pros with cheap gear are plenty sharp, show stronger posing and composition, and generally have better model engagement with the camera. And while gear certainly makes a photographer's job easier or enables more technically difficult shots in more taxing environments, storytelling and skills typically take precedence over the equipment. 

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Why is it annoying to be asked what camera you used? Some cameras are better in low light than others. Some cameras have a faster burst rate. Some cameras are weather sealed. Some cameras allow an image to be blown up bigger than others. What is wrong with asking what type of camera you use? Of course, technique and knowledge of posing are important, but to say your gear doesn't matter is like saying there's no difference between a Nissan Versa and a Tesla. Yes, both are cars and both will get you to Los Angeles, but the experience of getting there will be very different. I get the point that consumer gear in a pros hands can yield good results, but likewise, an amateur with pro gear can also get good pictures too. In your comparison, the amateur got at least one good shot, and that good shot can probably be blown up a lot bigger than the picture the "pros" shot. A more telling stat to me is how many great pictures did you get out of the total pictures taken. The girl is taking picture after picture when the subject isn't even really changing positions. That doesn't necessarily show any sophistication or skill. Gear matters to the extent that you need the right tool for the job, and I'd say that's pretty often.