This is not going to be one of my usual posts but something that has more to do with a general observation about photography and photographers. The more time you spent on photography – especially as an amateur, the more you realize that it is not about the photography gear but more about your own skill and creativity.
This is very evident, for example, in a project by Neil Creek: „It ain’t what you got“ that encouraged photographers to take the most inexpensive camera gear they could to take pictures. The results really show that it really is not about the gear.
But that is a realization that comes over time and probably only once you have the experience with a lot of cameras and have seen a lot of photos taken with small cameras that just take your breath away (the Flickr Camera Finder is a great place to find such pictures).
Maybe serious photographers only want to believe that because if it is the camera, than they are not needed – anybody can click a button, right? But it is about so much more that clicking a button. It has a lot to do with skill and creativity and also learning… That’s why I also get a strange look on my face when someone tells me I have a great camera… Seeing how this was also a topic on my favorite comic strip „What the Duck“ I guess I am not alone with this:
Why am I writing this? Well, not to point out the obvious – but because while I also believe that it is the photographer and not the gear that make a photo great, I can’t fight the believe that the camera can make a difference. For one thing there is the objective quality of the photo – a point & shoot just does not have the same level of noise cancelation, for example… But the main difference a camera can make is motivation: If you have a camera you feel confident with and that you believe takes great pictures, you’ll be likely to go out more and shoot more pictures. I observe this at the moment with my Mom. She has always liked to take photographs but mostly only took pictures during vacations. The last few years she has had to live with my increasing passion for photography (this includes her having to view all my new photos). When I got my DSLR camera I gave her my former camera: a canon multi-zoom camera. She seldom used it, even though it is a great camera, but it just didn’t fit her needs. After a while I also bought a small point&shoot for my semester abroad in Kentucky. After I got back she mostly used it – but this one, a very small, stylish Sony, had the problem that you had to wait ages for the photo to take the photo. Again, not an ideal match for her (especially since she saw what I was doing with my camera). Her main area of photography at that time was taking pictures of our dog, especially when she was meeting friends from an internet forum who own dogs from the same breed. For this a slow camera is just not a good match. So I decided to buy her a new one – yeah, I wanted a good p&s for when I need one… We decided to go with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3, that is a pretty small camera but with a 10x zoom, so it’s very versatile and takes great pictures for the price & size of the camera. (Yes, I am coming to my point…) Since she has owned that camera, most weekends she’ll send me at least one link to new photos she has taken: Not only of our dog but also of flowers and landscape. Now she is talking about the new DSLR Panasonic is introducing – the one without a mirror – I thought she ment for me, but she was talking about a new camera for herself: because she is using her camera almost daily now that she has one that fits her needs and takes „great photos“ as she reminds me often – which for her means that the sharpness, color etc. of the pictures is a lot better than before.
So what am I trying to say? For someone who loves photography, the camera does not make that much of a difference – phorography to them is an art, they know what makes a good photography, from a style perspective. But for a novice or someone who takes photos two times a year? The camera will make a difference, at least in their motivation of taking a picture. But that is not to say that you need a DSLR for that – a good p&s that fits your needs is all that it takes.