Wednesday, April 10, 2013
New Camera = Better Photographer?
The original poster didn't mention what kind of new camera the photographer obtained. And certainly that could make a difference. If the photographer upgraded from, say, a cheap point-n-shoot to a good dSLR, his or her photography might become better -- the notion of the best camera being the one you have with you aside -- at least in terms of the technical elements of his photographs. But that's about it. No guarantees beyond that.
The thread settled into a pretty good discussion debating the pros and cons of upgrading cameras, and some humorously sarcastic comments punctuated the responses:
"I got a new Fender Stratocaster today! Now I'll be able to play all those Stevie Ray Vaughan tunes!"
"I should go out and buy new pots and pans....I'm already a great cook but dang I'd like to be a chef now!"
"I'm heading out to buy a 1D-X in a few minutes. Then I'm off to shoot a project for National Geographic. Turns out my old 40D was holding me back."
"My friends tell me that my dinners are much better now that I have a new stove."
What this subject turned out to be is a question of expectations as much as it was a discussion regarding the relative worth of upgrading one's camera, i.e., whether buying a new camera will truly make a positive difference in terms of helping someone become a better photographer.
Personally, I think it depends. And it depends on a number of things.
First off, if you buy a new camera and that new camera is a major leap forward from the camera you've been shooting with, you might become a better photographer. But that's assuming you take the time to learn how to use your new camera really well, you experiment with many of the new (to you) capabilities your new camera possesses, and you creatively and artfully apply those new capabilities to whatever it is you are pointing your new camera at. If you do that, your new camera may indeed help you become a better photographer... or not.
If you believe your new camera will make you a better photographer simply because it's newer and more advanced and has many more capabilities -- yet you don't work hard to learn how to take advantage of some of those new capabilities suddenly held in your hands and pressed to your eye -- you'll likely be disappointed. That's because the only gear that will truly make you a better photographer is the gear you were born with-- the gear that's housed in your noggin! The camera is merely a tool. While better tools may make you a more efficient photographer with more options, they won't necessarily make you an overall better photographer.
Sometimes, a new camera will take your photography to a few new levels. For instance, upgrading a dSLR to one with a full-frame sensor will mean the glass you're using will suddenly behave as it was intended. That's because your 50mm prime lens, as an example, wasn't intended to be automatically cropped (in every photo you use it to capture) by a factor of x1.6. It was intended to capture a 50mm's field of view rather than mimicking an 80mm lens's field of view. Other factors a new camera might include which might take your photography to a new level are things like higher ISO/less noise, faster focusing, and more. But none of those things make you a better photographer. Again, they simply make you more efficient with more options.
The only way to become a better photographer has little to do with the camera you're wielding and everything to do with what you learn and how often you practice what you've learned. That goes for any camera: new, old, analog, digital, high-tech, low-tech, and any level of tech in between. It's not enough to capture a technically perfect photo -- and I'll admit there are cameras which help you do just that -- because technically perfect photos can still be totally boring photos. A good photo is one that eloquently communicates something to its viewers. And it communicates with light, composition, environment, emotion, story, and more. All of them being things which have little or nothing to do with the camera you're using.
The gratuitous eye candy at the top is Allie. (Click pic to enlarge.) She's easy on the eyes, no?