Wow! You must have a great camera!

Is this something you’ve been told before? Or are you guilty of saying it to someone else?

I was scrolling through my news feed on Facebook today when I came across a beautiful aurora photo by a local photographer. I started reading the comments and came across one that said this: “Wow! What a camera you have that gets such beautiful aurora pictures.”

I know that the people who say this always means it as a compliment but it’s really not. It’s a bit like telling someone who’s just built a beautiful house that they must have had a great hammer.

You can take amazing photos with the cheapest, most basic camera and you can take horrible ones with a brand new D850. The camera is your tool, you create the image. The reason the woman on Facebook got a great photo is that she has spent a lot of time learning how to use her tool. She’s practiced for years, developed her artistic eye and figured out how to best use her camera to create the best image.

And let’s kill the misconception that you need a pro-level camera to capture the aurora. Here are a few examples from my journey.

This first one was shot with a Nikon D800, a great FF camera that was pretty much top of the line back when I got it and still going strong! Yes, you can get awesome photos with this camera but you don’t necessarily need a camera like this in order to get great shots.

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The next one was shot with a Nikon D7000, a DX camera i used before getting the D800. Also great but very much cheaper and not aimed at the pro market. Still great photos when you know how to use it!

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Let’s go even further back in time to one of my very first aurora shoots. Back then I had my very first DSLR, an Olympus E-pl1. This was their most basic camera in the PEN series if I remember correctly, and the cheapest. Back then I still shot in jpeg and I was learning by trial and error which settings to use. As you can see, this exposure was way too long and I got startrails but I still love it! 🙂

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And finally a photo I took this winter but not with a DSLR at all. This one was shot hand held with my phone, a Samsung Galaxy s8. Because apparently phones can do this now. 🙂

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My point is this: You can get great photos with any camera so don’t feel the pressure to get something “better” and more expensive if you don’t need it. Get to know the camera you have and use it, a lot!

And if you see a great photograph and you want to compliment the photographer, then do just that. Don’t compliment their camera because the image you’re looking at was created by the person behind it.