Good technique trumps expensive equipment every time!

November 7, 2012

There is a prevalent idea going around photographic circles today that good photography is all about the purchase and use of the latest and greatest camera equipment. Well, hopefully I can debunk that myth for you now. As a photo enthusiast, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding a new camera’s release, or be envious of the fastest, longest or widest piece of new glass. I contend that, while those things are not necessarily bad, that we should instead concentrate our efforts more towards increasing our skill levels with the equipment we now have.

Photographer David duChemin has repeated said the following, “Good technique trumps expensive equipment every time!” I agree wholeheartedly!

Liberty U. vs. Wake Forest football night game shot from field level with a Nikon D3 and 500mm (f4) telephoto lens. Total equipment cost of around $13,000.

I have been using the same camera since I started in digital photography back in 2006. Well over 90% of all the photographs I have taken over those years have been with a Nikon d80. I did much careful research before buying my first digital camera and felt that the d80 gave me the most bang for my buck. Plenty of new cameras have been introduced since that time, but my budget seems to never allow an upgrade (must have something to do with having four children, all between the ages of 10-17). Also on top of that, most of my photographs have also been taken with the stock “kit” lens that came with my camera.

Now and then, I will borrow some exotic piece of camera gear or rent a lens or camera body from a local source, to shoot a specific job with. I have shot with mostly Nikon equipment over the past 6 years. Here’s a partial list of camera bodies I have used over those years: Nikon d4, d3, d800, d700, d300s, d200, d7000, d5100, d90, d80 and d70. Here is a partial list of exotic lenses I have used: Nikon 24-70 (f2.8), 24-120, 70-200 (f2.8), 85 (f1.4), 200 (f2), 500 (f4), 200 micro (f4), and most recently the Sigma 150-500 super zoom. While I do achieve great results when borrowing this equipment,  there is a learning curve for every new piece of equipment you try, and sometimes by the time you figure out how to properly use a piece of equipment, its time to return it.

Liberty U. vs. Charleston Southern football. Shot from the grandstands with a Nikon D80 and Sigma 70-300 zoom lens. Total equipment cost was $1,400 brand new ($500 present used cost).

Bottom line is this…Most of us have limited photography equipment budgets. We can only afford to spend so much of a percentage of our personal budgets on new photo gear. Be informed, study the specifications, look at reviews, see what other people are saying, save up your money and then go out and make the best purchase your life situation will allow.

However, don’t forget about the other half of the equation…your ability! This is an aspect of your photography that is not so much controlled by your pocketbook. You can always improve your photographic knowledge and skills! Read photo blogs, magazines, books. Take a new photography class. Join a local club or photo group. Signup for a photo workshop or tour. And finally practice, practice, practice. There is no substitute for just getting out and photographing with your camera! So get out there and “just do it!”–MR I


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