New camera = better images?

Got that awesome Canon Rebel a few years ago for Christmas from Costco? Have you been taking snapshots of family gatherings and need better quality images? Do you want to own a camera good enough to take award winning landscapes? Do you lust after that new wide angle lens because that is the key to taking your photography to the next level? Are you ready to start making tens of thousands of dollars shooting weddings? Well then it is time to buy a new camera! There is no way that a 500 dollar camera could be capable of taking good shots! Wrong.

You have heard the old adage that it is the photographer not the camera that makes the image. The same can be said for painters – buying that super awesome 300 dollar fine art mink brush with gold leaf inlays is not going to make you a better painter, rather once you have that new emerald handled super brush you will be more motivated to paint, and therefore get better. Perhaps the problem is that you need to practice more with what you have rather than buy new gear.

This is true for everything but weddings. In the case of weddings, perception of your skill level and level of “pro” for the client is largely based on the size of your gear. A bigger camera means better images. So, if you are shooting weddings go ahead and buy that battery grip because a bigger camera means more skill, and a battery grip will get your Rebel looking bigger and better and not cost you the arm and leg of a new camera.

I started shooting back in the days of black and white film. In the old days the top of the line Canon or Nikon camera was not huge or flashy. If you wanted bigger then you needed medium format. Don’t let the perception of others roll over to you. I had several DSLR digital cameras, and the first Olympus digital which was a point and shoot with a whopping 1 megapixel of resolution. I shot with a Sony Cybershot DSLR but my first real DSLR was a Canon Rebel XSi. I learned every single mode, every single button and knew the camera inside and out. I honed my composition skills, and my digital editing. I made some of my favorite images with that camera, and it only had a kit 18-55mm lens.  Like a car, my Rebel was more than capable of getting me from point A to B, and after a few years with it I decided I wanted to move to a new camera not because I knew it would make my images better but because I specifically wanted some of the new features on the new camera. As a matter of fact I would say that there was little difference in my day to day shots with the new camera other than they were larger files allowing me to still get a large print from a smaller crop.

That new camera isn’t going to make composition better or make you more creative, it may operate faster – write files to the card faster and allow you more burst shots, but if you don’t know how to take good pictures with a 500 dollar DSLR you aren’t going to have a magic awakening when you buy your first 3000 dollar DSLR. Take the gear you have and learn it inside and out learn everything you can about photography, composition and editing and then if you are still finding things you can’t accomplish without a new camera then buy it. Remember, is it that diamond encrusted paintbrush going to make you a better painter or is it just going to motivate you to get out and paint more?

Get out there and take some pictures!