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10x More Expensive Doesn’t Mean 10x Better | Minute Photography

By Pye Jirsa on July 27th 2017

Welcome to our latest series, Minute Photography, where we explain photography and lighting tips & tricks, myths, and techniques. For more education and detail about this concept, be sure to check out our Photography 101 Workshop.

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In this episode, we consider the value of investing in education vs. upgrading your gear, and why owning expensive gear won’t necessarily make you a better photographer.


Professional cameras and lenses often cost five to ten times more than their consumer counterparts, yet for the most part, you are not getting five to ten times better image quality.

To capture the images above, we used a Canon T5i with the Canon 85mm f/1.8 ($800 at the time of the shoot) vs the Canon 5D Mark 3 with the Canon 85mm f/1.2 L II ($5400 at the time of the shoot). For both images, we used the sun as a hair light and a Westcott 5-1 reflector as the key light for the subject. The image quality is nearly identical, which reveals that it’s the photographer’s use of composition and lighting that really has a stronger impact. You can learn more about how to elevate your photography and make the most of your camera gear in our Photography 101 Workshop.

Considering the marginally better images you can capture for the money you spend on higher end gear, the benefits of owning such gear are limited:

  • Improved resolution
  • Better low light capabilities
  • Increased dynamic range

While advanced professionals can justify the high cost for a marginal improvement, most amateur photographers will never reach the full potential of their gear, whether they’re using point-and-shoot cameras or smart phone cameras.

[REWIND: how to visually change your white balance]


Professional images have much more to do with who’s behind the camera and how he or she chooses to light and shoot a scene rather than what gear is being used to capture it. It is our experience and our knowledge that helps us capture images in unique ways. This is why we created SLR Lounge Premium. We believe the best place to invest is in your education, not in your gear.

Stay tuned for more simple & effective photography tips & tricks in our Minute Photography series!

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Founding Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography and SLR Lounge.

Follow my updates on Facebook and my latest work on Instagram both under username @pyejirsa.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Asheesh Chopra

    While having the ‘Best Gear’ doesn’t make anybody great photographer, but not having Pro Gear would definitely hold you back from getting technically best pictures …so as I see it, both are required; but on the whole whats behind the viewfinder matters more for sure!   :)

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  2. Ralph Hightower

    I’ve been using a full frame camera since 1980. 35mm film is the original full frame. I’ve been using my Canon A-1 since 1980 and I still use it. Kodak APS-C film wasn’t even available at that time.

    In 2011, my wife wanted me to go digital. When I found that her budget was a Canon T3i, I talked her out of it. I figured that this would be the last DSLR that I would get; after all, I was using a 31 year old camera. As a consolation, , she bought me a used Canon FD 28mm f2.8. The 28 became my favorite lens since I hadn’t shot wider than 50mm.

    As I researched APS-C versus full frame, I learned that wide-angle on full frame isn’t wide angle on APS-C (28mm is 45mm). Sure, I get to cheat on the telephoto side.

    July 2013, I bought a used Canon New F-1 with the AE Finder FN and AE Motor Drive FN so I could share lenses and also use B&W and color film without having to burn frames to change.

    But I started researching DSLRs and I built a spreadsheet with features of the A-1 and F-1 that I wanted: full frame, 5 fps. The closest match was the 5D III. December 2013, she found a deal on Amazon for a 5D III package.; she asked for my opinion. “You’re buying me a 5D?” She answered “Yes”. I responded “Let me check B&H”; I found a similar package for $500 less. I thought that APS-C  was the only camera in our budget.

    Call me a “full frame bigot”, but I want 28mm to be 28mm and not 45mm.

    Books and magazines were the only resources when I bought my first SLR. There was no internet.

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  3. Marshall Barth

    Now when one has the knowledge, the investment is more than worth it !!!!!!!

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  4. Mircea Blanaru

    Pure truth!!!! If you’ve just bought a multi thousand camera and after that you are looking for the Auto or Intelligent Auto button or something like that you bought this camera almost for no reason. Better buy a more standard gear and start learning from the books, from the Internet or so on how to properly use it. I ensure the beginners that taking pictures is not as easy as it sounds. Without knowledge and practice no one can achieve nothing. Even the great Einstein had to go to school first…

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