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Why are professional photographers so afraid to admit it's mostly their equipment

Discussion in 'Digital Photography, Home and Portable Electronics' started by death_samurai, Jan 13, 2015.

  1. Thug

    Thug Ancient Guru

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    Not had chance to read all the posts, but I see where your train of thought is and you are slightly correct, but mainly wrong.
    It all comes down to knowledge and skill and the camera is just the instrument to record that.
    I agree you cant take a great photo with a mobile phone, by professional standards as it wont have all the functions to let your creativity out.
    You can however take rubbish photos with the most expensive of equipment.

    Think of this analogy, you jump on a MotoGP bike and race Rossi on a road Honda CBR600. Who do you think would win? I would put my money on Rossi, despite him having inferior equipment.
    It doesn't matter what you have, you need the skills in which to use it.
     
  2. MrDre

    MrDre Member Guru

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    I dont understand what the fuss is all about? Shouldnt everyone just take their photos the way they like it? Its an artform after all and OP doesnt seem to be satisfied with his own work. If you are a hobbyist keep learning until you're satisfied withn your own work, if you want to be a pro, keep learning until other ppl want your work. This may however involve the use of software....

    I also think something that separates the wannabe's from the good photographers is a feeling for composition. That's something no software could fix. If you can't capture that emotion/drama in your shots, even with some skill and good equipment your photos would still be boring.
     
  3. brunopita

    brunopita Banned

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    Not reading everything. But RAW is the deal. Anything else is a joke for a professional work. And Photoshop is the equivalent of the revealing/printing process in the digital era. If you think that's for amateurs...I'm sorry. Just look at SebastiĆ£o Salgado's work.
     
  4. Mr.Bigtime

    Mr.Bigtime Ancient Guru

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    i thank u all for this topic
     

  5. uberdruid

    uberdruid Active Member

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    Look, I am pretty new here but reading through this forum generally, it feels like you have asked this question in every possible way. Will you only be satisfied when someone agrees with you? The fact that they haven't and that you continually keep asking the question seems to suggest the problem is your own inability to accept the answer for what it is.

    Universally the answer has been that no, owning quality equipment does not make you automatically a good photographer. Owning quality equipment may help improve the photo and in some cases, allow you to take a photo that would have otherwise been impossible with inferior equipment.

    I should say that I am not a professional photographer although I enjoy photography and have been slowly learning more and more over the last 9 years when I bought my first cheap DSLR. I currently own a Canon 6D and have made (make) plenty of mistakes even with a full frame sensor now.

    My wife, as a present, booked me into one of those walking tours a while back. The tour focussed entirely on composition. The guide intentionally left his DSLR behind and was sporting a Samsung compact to show that the size of the gear didn't matter. It was about knowing your gear and understanding principles of composition that was important. We photographed buildings, graffiti, lane ways, concrete on the ground, wood ... I thought I was going to be bored but it was rather enlightening and basically proves the point that you can work with what you have and generally can get good photos however, there are some circumstances where the kind of gear you have will make a difference to what you are trying to capture/ create.

    Still, no matter how much money you have, there is no such thing as a camera that will pick the time of day it requires, drive itself to a location, mount itself on a tripod, frame the picture, decide to insert/ attach filters to control the exposure of the photo, take the photo, pack itself away, drive home and upload it to your computer.

    I recently took a trip to Iceland and while some photos were taken on my Canon 6D, others were taken on my iPhone 6.

    The main reason was that in some cases, the panorama mode on the iPhone made sense to what I was seeing and enabled me to capture it. On one beach where there were icebergs on the beach, I used both as I was interested to see the detail being captured on the iPhone and I knew how it would handle DOF in relation to it's physical placement to a subject. With plenty of light and working on a wide shot both performed well.

    In other circumstances the Canon 6D made more sense like when trying to expose a night photo or when shooting the aurora.

    Especially in these circumstances, I found RAW to be indispensable.

    As for the photo in the op, any modern camera capable of a timed exposure and possibly with the ability of mounting a filter could achieve it without the need for major photoshop work.

    If you understand the relationship between ISO, Aperture and shutter speed (google it), and your camera (+tripod) gives you those types of controls, in conjunction with understanding how filters can assist in controlling shutter speed, you will most likely have in your hands the ability to create an image like the one above.

    Finding the location, composing the shot and not complaining when it doesn't work the first time is a whole other area though.

    My advice would be to join a club or find someone like minded who wouldn't mind spending some time with you to show you some basics first. Some people can learn through google, others require some first hand tutelage.
     
  6. ibitato

    ibitato Ancient Guru

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    You explainded this better than I did, but this is the minimum knowledge you need.
    relying simply on good hardware , takes you anywhere
     
  7. Thug

    Thug Ancient Guru

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    What a great reply and soooo true.

    Equipment is important, but not as important as having the knowledge on how to use it correctly and how to set up and time a great shot.

    In my spare time I also play the saxophone. I had a fairly cheap one and wondered why I wasn't as good as some of the greats who sounded more 'rounded and smoother' than I did, so I bought a better sax. I was still no where near as good, so I bought a better mouthpiece. Guess what? I am still rubbish in comparison.
    There has to be a point where you have to admit its not the equipment that's holding you back, its your ability.
     
  8. Andrew LB

    Andrew LB Maha Guru

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    I'm not so sure about that. Go turn a novice loose with a Canon EOS 1D-X and an assortment of fixed focal length L series glass and don't allow them to use auto mode of any type. They'd go crazy within the hour.

    I recently convinced my uncle to let me use his 1D-X for a few hours and I was happy to be rid of the damn thing, and I'm nowhere near a novice. My 7D is a much more comfortable spot for me.
     
  9. eclap

    eclap Banned

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    Knowledge is king, I can take a beter pic than the one in the OP with my phone. Gear becomes important once you start shooting certain things. Macro, you'll need a good macro lens, for sport, again, you'll need a fast telephoto lens.

    But still, a top photographer will produce better shots simply because he knows his way around camera settings, he'll know exactly what mode to shoot in any given time, even shooting manual, he'll be very close to perfect results using manual mode.

    To technically nail a photo, you need to learn the relationship between shutter speed, aperture and ISO. Everything after that you can only learn with years of practise.
     
  10. boodikon

    boodikon Ancient Guru

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    Image over quality was a debate I have had also some of the old photos taken years ago give feeling and purpose of that moment, one of the photos a friend of mine took up mount tidy I thought was the best and he took it on his HTC m8 and the rest on a full frame DSLR OK I looked at them on his phone but the one I liked came from his phone, for me it's capturing a moment and it could be chance or not bb takes beautiful shoots and I honestly love looking at them whatever way there produced.
     

  11. JxL

    JxL Ancient Guru

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    This topic has made me come out of what seems like many years retirement from this Forum.

    Now, having been working for the past 5 years as a Digital Operator for some of the best photographer's in the world - I can tell you that gear does not mean everything. There is so much more behind the scenes that you simply can't comprehend (I'm mainly talking about advertising & fashion), the research, the development of ideas between Art Directors & Photographer's, then the input of the rest of the crew - from lighting assistants, digital technicians, stylists, models, MUA's etc... To say its all about the gear is insulting.

    I regularly work with Phase One IQ series when budget allows, from 50mp CMOS sensors to 80MP CCD's, and believe me, sometimes I see nicer images coming out of 5D MK II's. They won't be as big, or detailed, but for the size they end up most people could never tell. It's all about how it's executed, the light, the models, the concept etc.

    Even if you talk landscapes, take a look at Julian Calverley #IphoneOnly. Beautiful images, like most people here could never take.
     
  12. Black_ice_Spain

    Black_ice_Spain Ancient Guru

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    I would say yes.

    However if I had that equipment, I would'nt know how to start
     
  13. Thug

    Thug Ancient Guru

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    Some very nice shots, but some are WAY over processed (and I usually like over processed).
    They are like taking a standard Renault Clio and ripping it apart and changing ever single bit over to British Touring Car (or WRC) race spec, but still saying 'its just a Clio'.
     
  14. eclap

    eclap Banned

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    Yeah, some mostly terrible shots there. Also, they're all small resolution so it's really hard to imagine what they would look like fully blown.

    Again, landscapes are pretty easy to shoot on phones. You don't really need expensive glass/body to achieve good results. My phone shoots as low as ISO 50, shoots RAW and allows for manual mode, where I can set shutter speed and ISO independently. Aperture is locked at f/1.8.

    This allows for great landscape shots no matter what time of the day, including night shots (tripod needed, of course). I can get clean shots even at low light that would look great on A4.

    Try taking macro, sports, portraits, arty shots with a phone camera (or compact) and you'll fail. You'll need good equipment. That's why you always see a lot of big lenses (white and black) at events. It's because that gear is needed for those situations. Shooting at top level, you will use the best gear available.

    EDIT: Example of how clean modern phones can shoot nowadays (well, the LG G4, anyway)

    [​IMG]

    Ignore compo and stuff, but look at how crisp this looks, no noise, sharp focus. So yeah, inferior gear can beat high end gear, in certain hands, in certain conditions and certain types of photography. Again, gear is essential for the types of photography I mentioned above.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2015
  15. 0blivious

    0blivious Ancient Guru

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    It's always the photographer, in my opinion. The limits/capabilities of his or her equipment notwithstanding, the photographer chooses the framing, the angle, the lighting, the foreground, the background. So many little details are all about who's behind the camera.

    Give a professional a decent, easy to operate camera and a list of things to capture on film. Give a novice/hobbyist that same, decent, easy to operate camera and a list of things to capture on film. That's not even a contest, is it?

    Can the novice user take really good photos these days? Sure. It's easier than ever to snap a nice looking picture. Does that mean the novice is rivaling professional level? No.

    I don't think this is really even debatable. It's borderline insulting.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2015

  16. uberdruid

    uberdruid Active Member

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  17. sirrith

    sirrith Ancient Guru

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    I agree. Imagine going to a restaurant, having the best meal you ever tasted, then saying to the chef: your pan makes amazing food.
     
  18. eclap

    eclap Banned

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    that's a bit stretched. a good chef will create amazing food no matter what pans he uses. A good photographer will never take a passable photo without the right gear, to a certain degree. Get assigned to do a macro portfolio and you'll need a macro lens, you will never achieve the shot without the gear. Same goes for wildlife, you'll need a long prime lens for certain shots in the wild, you will never capture them with a compact/bridge/phone.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2015
  19. bballfreak6

    bballfreak6 Ancient Guru

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    but sirrith's point stands, the chef still needs the appropriate tools to prepare the dishes that requires it, no different to photographers needing appropriate tools to get the photos they desire, but it's not the tools that makes the food/photograph, it's still the chef/photographer, (not that i know much about racing) but are you expecting Riccardo to win F1 in a Toyota Camry?

    and no one ever thinks about the time spent developing techniques and learning to understand and read light or learning about the subject (wildlife behaviour, astro, etc), nor the preparation it takes even days (or more) ahead just for that one shot (ask any landscape photog)

    take this shot of the Spotted Pardalote, one of the smallest bird in australia i got few days ago

    [​IMG]Spotted Pardalote by Tony, on Flickr

    easy to say "oh that shot is easy because he has an expensive camera and 600mm lens", but what people don't see is the hours i spent looking for the bird, and the patience to wait for it to appear, even with a 600mm lens i had to get within 3 metres of that bird to get a shot of that quality, do you know how difficult that is with small, skittish birds out in the wild? then there is the part where my lens and camera adds up to ~4kg but i've spent time and developed good shooting techniques where i hand held that combo and managed to get a perfectly focused and sharp shot at 1/125 shutter speed even at 600mm and getting exposure spot on because i am playing with highish ISO due to fading light

    i would love to see the OP with the most expensive camera and lens and give me entry level kit lens and body and i'll bet every last dollar i have i'll still get better shots
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2015
  20. eclap

    eclap Banned

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    What I said is that to get certain photos, knowledge alone isn't enough. I mentioned wildlife above, you simply can't get a shot like yours without appropriate gear, no matter how good a photographer you are, the gear will limit you indefinitely until you hook up a proper lens. A kit 55-200mm lens will never take a pic like that.

    I know about shooting small, skittish things, I shoot macro, so trust me, I know everything about how hard it is.
     

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