• Derek

My gear- what's it to you?

In the photography industry (and more widely, the tech industry), a lot of people seem to have an obsession with gear. Are you a Mac or Windows, do you shoot Canon or Nikon, and even are you Nike or Under Armour? In reality, these questions are meaningless and, in most cases, have no impact on the thing your produce.

As a professional photographer, I'm often asked about what camera or lens I use, as if that determines what images I am able to produce. Other colleagues, hobbyists, and even amateurs, all have an opinion as to which system is better, and why I could do better with a different brand. They seem to care more about the gear I use than their own ability to make quality pictures. I don't care about what gear they use, so I am amazed at the amount of interest and comment about my stuff.

If you really care, I am a Mac guy. I shoot Sony most of the time (with some adapted Canon lenses), and I'm OK with all sporting brands- it just depends on the particular product / style. I use "standard" pro lenses, some prime (35, 55, 85, 100) and some zoom (16-35, 70-200). I use Profoto as my off-camera flash system. And now that you know, what are you gonna do with that information? You could easily use the same stuff, but why not seek out your own style and use the gear that is suited to that?

The proof is really in the pudding. If your images are legit, it doesn't matter what camera you shot it on, does it? Start caring about your pictures and how you can get the best out of the gear you own.

And when it comes to clients, I don't book them because of the gear I use. They care nothing about my equipment or how much it costs- they care about the result that they're getting, and making sure that they get the best value and service they can. They don't care about some piece of paper that says you belong to some society or institute either. They look at the images on your website and your social media, and decide with that as to whether they want to book you or the other guy.

Buying thousands of dollars worth of camera gear does not make your eye "see" better, but I do have to admit, having good gear makes it easier to get the image you do see. Technological advances like Eye Focus (I love this feature on the Sony), optical image stabilisation, makes my job so much easier, especially when you shooting with shallow depths of field, or in low light. Somebody with a beginner's DSLR (irrespective of brand) and a kit zoom lens will not be able to get the background blur that I can with the 85/1.4. But you have to decide for yourself whether the expense is worth it (ie. will you use it enough, and can you make more money from it, if you're shooting professionally). Don't ask me, because I can't tell you that.

Online reviews are great in terms of giving you facts, but not so good in terms of the rest, because they are subjective. The famous YouTube reviewer doesn't know you or your needs, so they are just telling you what they think. And if you listened to everybody's opinion, you will be so confused that you might not actually get out there and start for yourself.


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