Does better equipment make a better photographer?

We all know the answer is no – well not exactly. First I’ll start with, you can pry my Nikon D700 out of my cold dead hands when the time comes. It is simply fantastic! I’ll follow that by if you don’t know what you are doing, pro equipment can actually make you a worse photographer. What will make you a better photographer is patience, practice and education. These are my photos taken with my camera and edited by me. I’m quite pleased, but thats only half the story.

Sarah - D700 1/125th f3.2 iso200 70mm (Nikon 24-70) Manual
Sarah – D700 1/125th f3.2 iso200 70mm (Nikon 24-70) Manual

The other half of the story is that its been a huge long adventure getting to a point where I can actually pull this off. It’s also a shoot that I didn’t set up. It’s not my lighting, it’s not my models and it’s not my imagination. This was a shoot set up by the wonderful people at SOPHA – especially Dave. This is the education and practice part. I can’t recommend them enough and what they do the for the New Hampshire photographic community. Every time I think my work is great, I look at Dave’s work I know I still have a ways to go, but I’m getting there and I know I’m getting there. All the hard work is yielding results.

Antietam MM15155 - D700 1/125th f8 iso200 42mm (Nikon 24-70) Manual(click to view larger)
Antietam MM15155 – D700 1/125th f8 iso200 42mm (Nikon 24-70) Manual
(click to view larger)

In terms of photographic equipment. There is a point where you need a base amount of equipment to make great photos, but for most people they never get to that point. I know when I started wielding my pro-lenses around I thought they would make me better overall. Instead I learned I had to now think about things that were a non-issues before. Shooting indoors in low light for example, I might be lucky if I had a focal length of f4 on my cheap variable aperture lens. Now my camera with a pro lens would just go to a shallow depth of field at 2.8 and my group shots would suffer with some people being blurry because of the shallow depth of field. I had to start thinking in terms of aperture, shutter speed, focal length and ISO.

Sarah - D700 1/100th f13 iso200 35mm (Nikon 24-70) Manual
Sarah – D700 1/100th f13 iso200 35mm (Nikon 24-70) Manual

Ditto with my camera bodies. My Nikon D40 was amazing to me. So simple, just shoot it in jpg and off I went in photographic bliss not knowing. Step forward a few camera bodies later and I’m thinking about Single Servo mode vs Continuous focus mode, which focus points are cross sensors and how high should I push my ISO. I’m shooting in RAW and making decisions based on what I know vs before where that was all done for me automagically.

Antietam MM15155 - D700 1/160th f4 iso400 70mm (Nikon 24-70) Manual
Antietam MM15155 – D700 1/160th f4 iso400 70mm (Nikon 24-70) Manual

If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time, you’ve seen a steady progression in quality. The equipment hasn’t made me a better photographer, but in my story it has helped. Its not a magic bullet, but its a total combination of things. Education, experience, equipment, training and software. The payoff in combination has been simply amazing, but don’t go thinking that equipment alone will make you better. It might help or it might simply make taking photos harder.

 

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