January 2019

Below are two photos. One was taken with £7,000 worth of camera kit, the other with £700  worth of camera kit.

The question is, can you identify which photo was taken with what camera?

You see, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter.

I guess you need to ask yourself which photo tells the best story or involves you, the viewer more.

I was prompted to pull this blog together based on a rather excellent article by Tom Mason which was published last December. In the article (It's you, not the camera), Tom pointed out the common trap people fall into in blaming the kit for their lack of skill or ability. You can read it here.

For what it's worth, both of the above photos are mine, and I've entered both of them in competitions because I think they are both good enough.

At the end of the day, it's about the photograph, not what it was taken with.

But before we get too far down the "Better kit means better pictures" road, let me be clear about something: lack of 'quality' kit should not be blamed for poor skills. In fact the more basic the kit the better, especially when you are beginning your photography journey, as this forces you to learn the basic fundamentals of photography, and will stand you in good stead when you do eventually upgrade your kit.

And when talking about starting your photography journey, I'm not talking about using smartphone cameras, that do everything for you. Use some kit that means you need to think about how you get the shot you want to get, and not have a device handle things like lighting control, depth of field and focus.

If you find yourself blaming the kit you have for poor photographs you are taking, then you might want to think again about your photographic skills, or the lack of. All too often I hear other photographers say "Yes well I could have got a better shot if I'd had a better/bigger/longer/more expensive lens/body, but with the kit I have it's just not possible."

This is lazy talk, and a lazy attitude towards photography. People in this situation need to learn how to use the kit they have, get to grips with photography principles, and not let the quality of their kit hold them back. The clue is in the word: 'photography' is all about the 'photograph', not the kit.

If your current kit won't let you get a particular type of shot, then think about how you could get that shot with the kit you have. Do you need to work in different lighting conditions? Do you need to get closer, or further away from your subject? Do you need to change your processing workflow? What can you do, with what you have, in order to get the shot you see in your mind?

The clue is in the word: 'photography' is all about the 'photograph', not the kit.

Better kit will help you get better photographs, but only if...

So with that said, let me put this out there:

Better kit WILL help you get better photographs, BUT ONLY if you have mastered the basic principles and understanding around taking photographs for the genre you have chosen.

The same is true for any activity: better kit will help you get the results you want. Be it wood turning, motor mechanics, painting, cycling, horse riding... you name it, basic kit will get you so far, but better kit will elevate you to the next level completely, BUT ONLY IF YOU HAVE THE SKILLS AND UNDERSTANDING IN PLACE TO START WITH.

Having the basic skills in place will mean you get more out of better kit too. You'll be using it more to its full potential because you know the basics of your craft already.

Like anything, jumping right into an activity with the best kit money can buy will teach you nothing about the basics of that craft. You must get them under your belt first.

We all have to start somewhere... my first digital cameras.

  • This Olympus C-765 was my first proper digital camera. A lot of kit for the money in the day.

    This Olympus C-765 was my first proper digital camera. A lot of kit for the money in the day.

  • Fujifilm S9600 bridge camera (fixed lens).  My loyal workhorse for a few years.

    Fujifilm S9600 bridge camera (fixed lens). My loyal workhorse for a few years.

But I hear you cry "That's easy for you to say, given the kit you shoot with is top end kit!" Well, yes, I do shoot with a lot of high end kit now, and this is because:

1) Photography is my job and like any professional I want the best tools for my job.

2) When I started my photography journey it was done using basic point and shoot film cameras (and I hated it, mainly because I didn't understand 'photography').

3) When I got into digital photography I started with a basic point and shoot, an Olympus C-765, eventually moving onto a bridge camera, a Fujifilm S9600 if you're interested

4) From there I moved up to an entry level DSLR with kit lens (Canon EOS 600D).

5) ... and the rest is history and I've moved on a number of times since, but learning my craft all the time with the kit I had at the time.

So if you are blaming your kit for the lack of fulfilment in your photos, then I would suggest you seek out some photography tuition.

The internet is awash with tutorials ranging from basic concepts to advanced techniques. Seek out the photographers who inspire you and try to learn from them. You'll be surprised that most professionals have had a long journey to get to where they are today, and in most cases they all realised it wasn't the kit they had that might have been failing them, it was their lack of skills.

Thanks for reading, and do get in touch if you'd like to discuss any part of this blog.

Best regards


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