Let’s talk about gear

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One of the questions I get asked the most, besides “when can I see the aurora, will it be there on Thursday at 8.30pm?” is about which camera I use.

I always answer, of course, but what I really want to say, and sometimes do, is that it doesn’t matter.
Yes, an expensive pro camera will probably give you more resolution, maybe a bit sharper pics, maybe shoot a few more frames per second but ask yourself if you really need it.
None of my cameras are considered professional level by the way.
I’ll be honest, I love Nikon (nope, they haven’t sponsored me in any way) the Nikon gear I own is all amazing, I like the menus, the placement of buttons and gears, the design and most importantly the results I get.

That’s my honest opinion BUT I realise that this is largely because the first proper DSLR I bought happened to be a Nikon (D7000) and I learned the menus, buttons, dials and got comfortable with it to the point where I can use it for my astrophotography in complete darkness without having to see the buttons.
As the years went by and it was time to get a new camera I decided that I wanted to step up to full frame and of course it needed to be a Nikon.
By this time I had acquired lenses for the previous camera and I really didn’t want to sell all those and have to learn a new system.
This is how it goes for many of us.
As I said, I do love it, it does the job and it does it incredibly well! Even though the Nikon I use now is almost 6 years old (D800).
Not to mention that it works great even in -40°C weather AND survives being forgotten out in the yard overnight while it’s snowing (don’t try that at home, it was not a nice surprise to wake up to).

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Shot at -42°C with the Nikon D800

The thing is, no one has mentioned a change in quality in my images when I switched cameras (I also use a Sony a7s), not followers on social media and not magazines, newspapers or anyone else who has published my photos through the years.

Even back when I first started, when I used the cheapest camera I could find, an entry level Olympus pen, I got comments from people saying “wow, you must have a great camera!”.

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Shot with the Olympus pen

And that’s my entire point.
No, you don’t need the most expensive pro camera when you’re starting out. Let your gear grow with your needs. Sure, if you’re shooting mainly fast paced sports events you will need a camera that can shoot more frames per second. And yes, it’s great having a full frame sensor when shooting astrophotography but the image is created by you.
You’re the one making that photo, whether it’s with the most expensive camera on the market or your phone.
If I give my camera to another photographer and have her shoot the same scene I just shot, our pictures will still be different from each other.
If I have Ami Vitale shoot a scene with her phone while I shoot the same with my DSLR, I’m willing to bet that her phone pic will be a million times better than my “real” pic.

Maybe I’ve just been reading too much in the various photography groups on Facebook lately and this gear obsession isn’t that common? I don’t know. I just wish that we would stop pixel peeping so much and focus more on the images.

2 Comments on “Let’s talk about gear

  1. The gear obsession, the equipment snobbery, has been around as long as I’ve been shooting and that’s over 50 years.
    Results are what matter, and what doesn’t matter is how you get them. 🙂

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  2. Hej Mia,

    I very much agree with you, in the sense that the person behind the camera is more important than the equipment.
    It’s the person behind the camera who decides on the photo, the composition, the ‘story’.

    However, I do feel that there is case to make about teaching people the basics of exposure, i.e. the trade-offs between film speed (ISO), aperture and shutter speed.
    Because, I do see that a lot of people only ever take pictures with their cameras on ‘auto’, and do not understand/used any other options, or even modes like ‘portrait’ or ‘landscape’.
    Ok, modern advanced ‘auto’ modes incorporate these camera modes, but I still find that people can get way more out of basic cameras, or even phones, if only they understood the basics.

    Still, like I said, the person taking the picture is ‘telling a story’, which I find more important/interesting and therefore more important.
    But, a more interesting or beautiful picture can be taken, if the average photographer understands the photography better.
    … maybe we are saying the same thing, just in two different ways(?)

    Just my two cents…

    Take care!
    Jos

    Like

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