November 28, 2019

How Important is Your Equipment?

How important is your equipment?
Not nearly as important as you think!
I was recently attending a photography convention and got to see the new Fuji 102mp medium-format camera. One word comes to mind:
The Fuji rep let me take it outside for a spin and the images and resolution were incredibly impressive. Sharp beyond sharp!
I started drooling, and calculating, and rationalizing why I needed this camera.
But then I heard my own words echoing in my head: great images are rarely about sharpness or technical perfection. It’s about Vision, creativity, feeling and soul.
If I had to choose between the worlds best equipment and no Vision, or a Kodak Brownie and my Vision…I’ll take the Brownie. Why? Because with Vision even a Brownie is enough.
Of course equipment is important, but it’s not the key to a great image.
Ansel Adams said:
“There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.”
That “concept” or Vision is much more important than sharpness or technical perfection.
Look at my Old Car Interior above, it was created with an 8 mp sensor. Would it have been a better image if it had been created with a 102 mp camera?
It certainly would have been sharper, but I doubt it would have been better.
Harbinger No. 38
And then there is the low-quality, small-sensor cell phone. Increasingly I’ve incorporated iPhone images into my portfolios. Why? Because it was the camera I had at the moment of inspiration.
The Harbinger image above was created with my iPhone, as were these following images:
Peterhof Trees
Deep Snow
Everybody’s Got Something to Hide…
Community of Christ Temple
Snow on Steps
How good is good enough? Most of the cameras we use today, including the iPhone, is better than the equipment the great masters had in their day.
Creating a great image is not about having better equipment, it takes something more. I love this quote by Edward Weston:
“The fact is that relatively few photographers ever master their medium. Instead they allow the medium to master them and go on an endless squirrel cage chase from new lens to new paper to new developer to new gadget, never staying with one piece of equipment long enough to learn its full capacities, becoming lost in a maze of technical information that is of little or no use since they don’t know what to do with it.”
Because they don’t know what to do with it…
It’s not that I’m against better equipment, but I am against chasing better equipment with the false hope that it will improve my work. Only improving my Vision and creativity can do that.
How important is your equipment?
Not nearly as important as you think!

5 thoughts on “How Important is Your Equipment?

  1. Very important point Cole, thank you for reminding us. I’m too much of a digit head at times – needing to rearrange priorities and ‘focus’ on Vision!!

  2. True words. It is all about what you want to see and express not the million dollar camera.
    Ansel Adams also sad the he would be lucky to take 12 great images pr year.
    Excellent images you have on your side!

    1. My image “Old Car Interior” was created with a 8mp camera, laughable by today’s standards.

      Someday people will look back to the 2020’s and ask “how could they create good images with only a 36mp camera?”

      I wish someone would do an article about famous images created with “lower quality” cameras.

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