Does gear really matter?

Dec 10, 2017

Lee Herbet

Lee Herbet is a visual storyteller.He is the founder of Capture.ink, which has helped some of the biggest brands in the world tell their stories.He runs workshops all over the globe sharing his knowledge on visual storytelling. He also writes for a number of online sites on the topics of video production and editing.

Does gear really matter?

Dec 10, 2017

Lee Herbet

Lee Herbet is a visual storyteller.He is the founder of Capture.ink, which has helped some of the biggest brands in the world tell their stories.He runs workshops all over the globe sharing his knowledge on visual storytelling. He also writes for a number of online sites on the topics of video production and editing.

Join the Discussion

Share on:

Does the gear you use matter? Well, as with most questions, yes… and no.

As someone who makes their living from using a camera should I be worried when I see how easy is it for “normal people” to take amazing photos?

We live in a golden age for people who love using cameras. I think it would be hard to get a camera these days that takes a bad picture or video in even semi-decent conditions. Even my iPhone produces amazing photos and video considering how small that lens and sensor is.

I was recently at an Australian Cinematographers Society meeting and I got talking to another, more mature, cinematographer and a young film student.  The film student was telling us that he had a really great idea for a story to shoot, but he couldn’t do it because he didn’t have the money to rent a fancy camera. Almost as one, both I and the other cinematographer asked him if he had a camera on his phone (and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t these days). Both of us told him the same thing: take the camera you have and go shoot your story.

Of course, with the fancy camera and lights and microphones and all the gear that film student could have probably shot his story a lot faster and it would have been a lot easier. There would have been some scenes and shots that wouldn’t have looked the same if he had shot them with a $10K Fs7 with a $5K Cine lens, but his vision and his story is still there.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I love my gear, and I suffer from constant NATGS (Need All The Gear Syndrome), but I also believe that no matter what gear you have, you can tell a great story through photography and video.

Sometimes it can even force you to be more creative. Sure, that might make things harder, but it also often leads to new found skills.

Let me give you an example.

I know that for most of you this may seem really obvious, but I only worked this one out a few years back so bear with me! I was on a product shoot and with only a few shots left to do I had a major gear failure. I got an error message on my camera that I had never seen before and no matter what I did, I could not get rid of the error. And before you ask, yes, I did try and turn it off and on again.

I knew that if I just had some time to look online or phone a friend I could work out what was wrong and get my camera up and running again. But I didn’t have the time on this shoot.

So I thought “Let me just take the shot with my iPhone and I’ll add some blur in post to get that nice shallow depth of field.”

To get the best I could get from my iPhone I got as close as I could to the product, tapped on it to focus on my screen and you know what? It didn’t look half bad!

So in case you haven’t tried this yet, if you want to get as much of the “shallow depth of field” look from your Phone camera, get really, really close to your subject and focus on them, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by your result.

You would be amazed how many “professional” product images in print and billboards out there have been done with my iPhone. Not many, but I bet you couldn’t pick which ones are.

So, am I worried? It’s not so simple but if you want the short answer: no. And I don’t think you should be either. Sure, my mother-in-law takes cute photos of my son with her iPhone but I can get a lot more out of the camera than she can. A camera is a camera – the story you tell is yours and how you tell it is more important than the gear you use. So take the camera you have with you and tell YOUR story.

 

Filed Under:

Tagged With:

Find this interesting? Share it with your friends!

Lee Herbet

Lee Herbet

Lee Herbet is a visual storyteller.He is the founder of Capture.ink, which has helped some of the biggest brands in the world tell their stories.He runs workshops all over the globe sharing his knowledge on visual storytelling. He also writes for a number of online sites on the topics of video production and editing.

Join the Discussion

DIYP Comment Policy
Be nice, be on-topic, no personal information or flames.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

19 responses to “Does gear really matter?”

  1. Randy Kasal Avatar
    Randy Kasal

    your

    1. Adrian J Nyaoi Avatar
      Adrian J Nyaoi

      Ha ha

    2. Panos Kalafatis Avatar
      Panos Kalafatis

      apparently grammar does not matter

      1. Lee Herbet Avatar
        Lee Herbet

        Sorry, terribly embarrassing. It’s been corrected. Thanks :)

    3. Lee Herbet Avatar
      Lee Herbet

      Oh the shame.

  2. Chris Stivala Avatar
    Chris Stivala

    The answer is 42.

  3. Michele M. Ferrario Avatar
    Michele M. Ferrario

    You are gear. Pretty depressing but true.

  4. Jordan Stanhope Dean Avatar
    Jordan Stanhope Dean

    *your

  5. Bruce Kinnaird Scott Avatar
    Bruce Kinnaird Scott

    No but 42 is a better answer than mine

  6. Matthew Pleasant Avatar
    Matthew Pleasant

    3 hours and the shame hasn’t hit them yet. #allgrammarmatters

  7. Tronn Hansen Avatar
    Tronn Hansen

    Another one of the “shoot with what you have” rants. Jesus. Yes, gear fucking matters. I can now shoot in situations I could not have gotten usable results from before, and that challenges my creativity, because it sets a new set of limits, with far greater possibilities than say my cell phone.

    1. Lee Herbet Avatar
      Lee Herbet

      I feel that calling it a “rant” is a bit unfair. I agree that it certainly isn’t a new concept. But having that conversation with that film student who wasn’t going to shoot because he felt his gear was insufficient showed me that maybe it was worth looking at the concept again.

      Also gear is constantly getting better and cheaper (in some cases) so I think this also won’t be the last time this conversation is had. Thanks for reading. :)

    2. Tronn Hansen Avatar
      Tronn Hansen

      Granted, maybe rant was a little harsh, for that I apologize. It wasn’t personal, as much as my growing disdain for a narrative that needs nuances. Take it as a challenge to adopt new views, more than criticism.

      I argue the exact opposite all the time; gear matters. Limited gear limits creativity. I lived with all kinds of limitations for a decade, before finally investing in proper gear, and my process changed drastically, as better cameras, lenses, and accessories opened for shooting scenes that I was unable to shoot before.

      Understanding the capabilities and limitations of your gear, provided you understand the inner workings of photography in general, can allow you to plan and shoot in ways that were not possible 5 years ago.

      We live in an age where photography is more accessible and more popular than ever, and as you pointed out gear is getting better and cheaper, so I want people to challenge themselves in a new way. Take photography to the next level. We are seeing shots that were not possible before, I think that calls for a change in perspective.

    3. Lee Herbet Avatar
      Lee Herbet

      Tronn Hansen I suppose it depends on your definition of “creativity”. When I was starting out I had to be very creative to get the results that I wanted with the gear I could afford.

      I tried to build a slider out of plumbing parts(it didn’t go well) ?

      I think you’re right that gear does matter if you want to do the job “right”. But what I wanted to get across here was that you shouldn’t hold off on a project because you can’t afford the gear that would be best to do it.

      Unless it’s a microphone, I can’t watch anymore YouTube videos with bad audio. ??

    4. Tronn Hansen Avatar
      Tronn Hansen

      This particular reference to creativity, is using gear with capabilities that previously were not commonly available, to shoot in scenes and situations where it would have been impossible to get a good image. Look at how astrophoto is flourishing with the availability of cameras capable of good high iso performance, trackers, faster and better glass, and how about in-camera perspective correction, as well as a growing number of specialty lenses for perspective correction, selective focus and many other things, and these are only a few of many examples where gear helps.

  8. Taylor Maduro Port Avatar
    Taylor Maduro Port

    Yup. As an analogy try hammering a nail with a wrench.

  9. Lee Herbet Avatar
    Lee Herbet

    I am sorry about that. The way the system works is that the social media heading is written in a small window seperate from the main article.

    I am going to blame autocorrect for changing the word, though I am totally at fault for not noticing. I do have a 2.5 year old who doesn’t sleep well, can I blame him too? ;)

    I corrected it about 5 minutes after the article went up, but it seems that won’t correct it here. So alas I will have to live with the shame forever.
    Fortunately I have very little shame so that shouldn’t be too much of an issue. :)

    Sorry again, and thanks for reading.

  10. Jason H. West Avatar
    Jason H. West

    Your absolutely correct, Karin. This is some bulshit.

  11. David Liang Avatar
    David Liang

    Oh is that time again to ask this question, has it been a month?