March 27

5 comments

I’ll Say it Again: Photography is Not About The Gear

By Dan

March 27, 2012

Yesterday I read a short  post by travel photographer Phil Hill that was posted over at Light Stalking, called Why Good Photography Isn’t About The Gear.

In his article, Phil went out and shot landscapes with his girlfriend’s entry level DSLR and f/5.6 kit lens. His intent was to prove that learning how to effectively expose for your scene with Manual and Aperture Priority modes is far more important than just buying more Megapixels.

And you know what? He’s right. He got some perfectly nice photographs, even with a nearly ten year old camera that only has a 10 Megapixel sensor. Compared with the latest offerings from Nikon and Canon, 10 Megapixel seems so… oh, I don’t know… so .

But here’s the deal:

The D800’s 36 Megapixel sensor has enough resolution to produce 6-foot prints. However, most of us will NEVER make a 6-foot wide print. Ever. And even if you do, you won’t look at it from four inches away, you’ll look at it from across the room, or across the trade show floor, where the thing is hanging over 100 feet away. At those distances, you’ll never see grain and pixels, even from an image that was shot with a point and shoot.

The reality is that most photos that are shot these days end up on the web, no bigger than whatever size limitations that Facebook sets. Even if you put them on your website and view them on your 27″ iMac, they’ll still look awesome. And new iPad? Sorry, its super high resolution 2,048 pixel Retina Display still only equates to 3 MP. These days, just about every decent camera, lens or accessory will get the job done.

Don’t get me wrong, I love buying the latest camera gear. So do you. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with buying gear, but there is something wrong with raising your overhead to unrealistic levels, putting yourself in debt and forever spending more than you make on your photography. Even if you’re an enthusiastic amateur and you’re not trying to make money with it, you can still go off the deep end.

So, go out and buy gear that you want, based on careful research and consideration. Just make sure that you’re not buying stuff because you think you need it. Chances are good that you don’t. And even if you do need it, be smart about your purchases, because in the end, the money that you save can likely be put to use on something really useful, like a plane ticket to some faraway land where you take some totally rad photos with the gear that you already own.

And, if you missed it earlier this month, here’s my own original post about why Photography is not about the gear.

Note: If you happen to be a rich retired doctor or lawyer who had taken up outdoor photography as a hobby, please go out and buy ALL of the fancy new cameras and lenses. This will make you an astoundingly better photographer. Don’t listen to this dribble above, you know that photography is definitely all about the gear. The rest of us thank you for helping keep prices down.

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About the author

Hi, I'm Dan Bailey, a 20+ year pro outdoor and adventure photographer, and official FUJIFILM X-Photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.


As a top rated blogger and author my goal is to help you become a better, more confident and competent photographer, so that you can have as much fun and creative enjoyment as I do.


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