Is “Does gear matter?” the most pointless argument in photography?

Mar 30, 2021

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Is “Does gear matter?” the most pointless argument in photography?

Mar 30, 2021

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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The question “Does gear matter?” probably ever since photography became more widely available. Some swear that it does, some that it doesn’t, we’ve heard it all before. But photographer Robert Hall takes a different approach to the topic. In his latest video, he discusses the argument itself, wondering if it’s the most pointless argument photographers keep having.

YouTube video

According to Robert, the gear argument is the most pointless one we can have. The problem with it is that new photographers can’t take anything from it, it doesn’t teach them anything, it can only confuse them. I agree with Robert that this argument is essentially pointless, but I’d like to share some of my thoughts on it.

I tend to be in the “Gear doesn’t matter” team. However, I speak from a perspective of a hobbyist who never has and most likely never will become a professional photographer. If you’re a hobbyist, especially if you’re just starting out, gear really does not matter. If you notice the beauty in the world around you or want to tell a photographic story, a simple phone camera could be enough to learn and explore this wonderful medium.

Still, once you advance, you may start to feel limited with the basic gear that you have. And even if you’re a hobbyist like I am, it’s okay and even desirable to upgrade your gear as you upgrade your skills. I’m not much of a gearhead, and even I upgrade my cameras and buy new lenses and filters as I progress. I do it very rarely and slowly, but I still do it when I feel that I’ve made the best I could from my current gear. It’s worth noting, though, that buying better gear will not make you a better photographer per se, so don’t get too carried away. :)

Finally, if we talk about professional photographers, gear does matter. This goes especially for genres like wildlife, sports, concert, or astrophotography, as well as weddings. You still don’t have to own the best of the best, but your smartphone or a DSLR with a kit lens probably won’t cut it.

So, does gear matter? It depends. To whom it matters? It depends again. And precisely because it’s very subjective, it’s an argument that we should drop.

I will always say to new photographers that gear doesn’t matter. This is because they’ll never start shooting if they wait until buying the best gear. In that context, I think that you really should just go out and shoot. But in every other case – it’s entirely up to you, your photography level, and the genre you shoot whether gear matters or not. Would you agree? Should we finally drop this argument?

[The Most Pointless Argument in Photography : Does Camera Gear Matter? | Robert Hall]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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7 responses to “Is “Does gear matter?” the most pointless argument in photography?”

  1. David Ludwig Avatar
    David Ludwig

    it varies.

  2. Adrian J Nyaoi Avatar
    Adrian J Nyaoi

    Anyone who said it does not matter can send me their gear in exchange for my old D7000.

  3. Justin Case Avatar
    Justin Case

    I like old furniture and I’ve got a bit of it. My dining chairs were made around 1860 and we use them every day. They were very competently made using many tools that a modern furniture-maker might avoid. The point being that the capability of the craftsmen, while limited by the tools, was none the less able to produce something that was not only valid but has continued to be of value.

    Yes, more modern tools allow the user to employ more modern, and perhaps easier, methodologies, but that does not diminish what was achieved with less evolved tools. It seems that the talent of the user shines though regardless.

  4. Trevor Avatar
    Trevor

    Many gear fanatics invest thousands that they’ll never get their money back on and take boring photos to boot.

  5. Steven Naranjo Avatar
    Steven Naranjo

    Gear doesn’t matter… until it does.

  6. Les Cameron Avatar
    Les Cameron

    once upon a time I was watching one of those “home improvement shows” (probably “This Old House”) – and the host at the time had a short interaction with one of the “professional contractors” that ended with “well, the tools do the job”

    which is how I feel about photography gear – will buying all the gear in the world transform “bad eye photographer” into a “National Geographic” pro? no, of course not

    … but that “National Geographic” pro couldn’t get the shots they get with a cell phone. Sure the “pro” could get great pictures with a “cell phone”, but the “gear” lets them do the job better.

    the same idea carries over the editing software – will “expensive software” make someone a better photographer? nope. BUT is “expensive software” a good investment for the pro? sure.

    As far as “advice for beginners” – if you are trying to get “better,” then what matters is practicing with whatever gear you currently have …