Equipment Matters (that's what she said)
There are plenty of photographers out there who will say “equipment doesn’t matter, many great photographer can take a great photo on an iPhone”. This is partially true, partially huge bull. HUGE BULL! When you look at gorgeous photos they are almost always taken with superb equipment and know-how of how to use it. While a skilled photographer can take good pictures on any camera, a terrible photographer can get incredible completely pro looking photos sometimes by accident with the right equipment.
What kind of Equipment to Buy?
Depending on what level you are at will dictate what kind of equipment to buy and what kind of money you should be spending. If you love taking photos and just having them for personal use you don’t need anything expensive or fancy. You can take quality well composed shots that you’ll cherish for years to come. Perhaps you love taking travel photos, you just want nice family shots, or you’re that “guy/gal”. You know, the one who if the unofficial photographer for events, parties and outings with friends. For any of those options any entry level DSLR will do you nicely. Even with a kit lens on automatic mode those cameras will take very nice pictures most of the time. I don’t care what people say even those snaps will be better than a point and shoot or phone camera regardless of your level of skill. That is because cameras today are so sophisticated they can do most of your thinking a majority of the time. You buy a decent DSLR camera you will have pretty pictures most of the time. You can essentially have a bulky slightly more expensive point and shoot camera, however it will still take better pictures. Now this is where that “doesn’t matter what camera you have to take amazing pictures” thing comes into play. With that same entry level DSLR you can take great pictures even MORE of the time. I say more because you can’t do everything with that camera regardless of your knowledge and skill level. Definitely enough to take awesome pictures for 85% of people out there (yes that is an official statistic).
Using Advanced Controls on Your Camera
If you want to go a step further you can have more creative control if you know how to adjust the manual controls properly. You can take greater advantage of that “okay” camera to get more of the shot you wanted. This is where a lot of photographers say you can get the same pro images if you know how to use those correctly. This is where I will disagree. And I will preface this by saying what people consider a good photograph can range drastically. For some it is more about the concept, others the use of artistic principles, and I would say many about image quality. So for the sake of argument I’m not going to talk about those magically artistic photos that makes you feel whatever art school feelings when looking at it. I am talking about clear crisp beautiful images, photos where you can see if your subject used a deep pore cleanser that day with eyes so clear and vivid you can see into their soul. You can’t take those pictures with ‘okay’ equipment. They may be well composed and well lit, but they are not appearing on the front of any magazine. I would argue with a lower end camera manual controls allow you to try and control the elements around you. When you are in a tricky lighting situation your camera can get confused and make weird lighting choices. This is where your knowledge of lighting and controls allow you to make the override decisions to be able to take the photo. The most important part of any photo is proper exposure. If you tell your camera to expose the situation a certain way you can get proper lighting to get a good picture. I will again take a detour here to point out that a good picture for this article’s sake is a clear and properly exposed picture. There are gorgeous pictures that break the rules, are not exposed, etc...
In A Nutshell
My main point is, with a lower end camera you are using those controls to fight difficult elements to try and get your shot. You use your knowledge to get proper exposure when your camera can’t do it for you. Yes you can get some creativity and can create lovely pictures. But for many when they think “professional” photograph you can’t get that with a DSLR from Wal-Mart.
Taking the Next Step
In my next post I will talk about some equipment to consider. A camera and kit lens will not be enough to get some of those creative shots you want. Considering the type of photography you will be doing will help to guide you in what are your most essential pieces.