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Gear & Apps

“It’s Not About The Gear” | What This Video Misses Is Important

By Wendell Weithers on June 13th 2017

The fundamentals of photographic technique are the firm foundation upon which you build your creative vision. Without it, that vision will collapse faster than a house of cards regardless of the equipment in your hand. This is a notion that is often preeminent amongst all others when considering what camera gear to buy. After all, you can’t buy skill or creativity. The video below has the shooters at Mango Street show us why this is still true.

[REWIND: Take Better Golden Hour Portraits | Simple Natural light Photography Tips]

Looking at these images, you’d be hard pressed to discern which camera produced the respective images. This proves that even the most basic cameras are highly capable instruments in the hands of the right person.

Can you see the difference?

Shots on the Canon 5DM4

Shot on the Canon T3i

[REWIND: An Introduction To Photographing Men’s Portraiture]

This test does demonstrate the importance of technique and creative vision, however, it’s not perfect nor entirely encompassing because it does not highlight how the more advanced features help photographers bring a vision to life.

The environment and the pace for the shoot did not appear to be demanding enough to make those features necessary and the settings listed on the images demonstrate that the limitations of the budget camera were not tested. For instance, had the creative vision of the photographer called for more control of the ambient light and therefore the use of High-Speed Sync, the rebel would have been a hindrance to executing that shot, but the Canon 5DM4 would have been well-suited to the task.

It is true that there is no substitute for skill, but the reality remains that camera gear is catered to the needs of the people who use them. There is a reason some gear costs more than others. There is a positive correlation between the evolution of advanced camera features and the expanding creative expression of photographers. So when you hear this notion of less expensive gear being enough, believe it, but understand that it’s incomplete.

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Wendell is based in Atlanta where he shoots events, portraits, and food photography. He also supports his wife Andrea as she runs their cake design business, Sweet Details.

Instagram: Wendellwphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Matthew Saville

    That was my comment on the other sites which shared this video. The environment, lighting and subject etc, could have been shot on an iPhone, and still looked good. So, it was neither a good exercise for showing the differences between the cameras, nor the photographers themselves.

    What WOULD demonstrate an amazing difference, I bet, would be an uncle bob and a veteran pro at a WEDDING, a rough one, in which the lighting is extremely nasty all day long, the subjects are uncooperative, the schedule is running late, etc. THEN, you would see the immense difference between a pro and a beginner, both in the quality of each shot captured, AND the sheer volume of moments captured / missed between the two shooters.

    You could do this comparison with the same exact gear, and still see a huge difference between the final results. Or, you could do the same experiment, but in half-decent light and overall conditions, …and give the pro photographer nothing more than an iPhone or a Sony RX100mk5… and the difference in results would be similarly dramatic.

    I volunteer as tribute, against any beginner who wants to accept such a challenge!

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    • Kyle Stauffer

      I agree with everything you said. Shooting with a giant window letting in loads of natural light and white walls in all directions is as good as it gets. A wedding reception lit dimly with varying shades of tungsten is a much different scenario for gear and photographer. 

      To add to it, their processing technique can make it harder to determine if pro gear was used. 

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    • Wendell Weithers

      I’d love to see that challenge answered and the post processing most certainlydidn’t help demonstrate the differences between the two cameras.

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