Equipment & Talent

As photographers we get asked the same question over and over again:

What kind of camera do you use?  

While this is a legit question I sometimes feel there is a underlining statement that says:

You have nice pictures because you have a nice camera.

Anybody ever feel this way?  Well yes I have nice pictures because I do have a nice camera but if I kept my camera on Auto my pictures would look just as good as shooting with my point and shoot.  My pictures look good because I know how to properly expose them.  My talent, not my equipment makes the photo.  HOWEVER, I do believe good equipment is a must.  You just need to know how to use it!

Lets think about what we are doing as photographers.  We are being hired, payed for, be these moms and dads, these couples, that want us to capture, to freeze in time the memories of what they see in front of them and have that photo stand up to a true life comparison.  We as photographers want to deliver.  It is our duty as professionals to deliver the best we can.  Now let me ask you.  If someone hired you to take professional photos would you bring your point and shoot to the scheduled session?  Of course not!    Would you feel fine taking a Rebel with a kit lens?  I'm going to say maybe if you're doing this for a friend and not getting paid.  But would you feel comfortable enough using that equipment on a wedding you're being paid for?

Canon Rebels or a Nikon D3000 are great cameras but they are not in the professional bracket.  If you're just starting and you have one of these cameras you are doing great!  Learn all that you can, learn every function of that camera and rock it out!  Look into getting a better camera?  If you're thinking about buying a camera you don't have to buy a kit at all.  I would recommend buying a camera body and a better lens separate.  A great starting prime lens that is on the affordable side is the 50 mm 1.4.   As you start to grow with your knowledge of your camera your need should grow too for better equipment.  If you want to take it in steps, look into getting 40D, 50D, or 7D and I think the Nikon equivalent would be D90 and D300s if I'm wrong please forgive me, I'm a Canon girl, but we want to outgrow our equipment.  I'm going to say it again, if you are still shooting in Auto do not upgrade or else your new camera will be like a big point and shoot.  Better camera does not mean better pictures.  A better more knowledgeable YOU means better pictures.

 And still these cameras are not full sensor.  A full frame camera has a sensor that is 35mm like original film cameras.  Cameras that are not full sensor are cheaper but you pay the price in quality.  Cameras that are not full frame have more vignetting, barrel distortion and the crop factor when shooting wide angle.  Now say you have a small sensor camera because that's where you're comfortable, maybe all you can afford at the moment, you can still take amazing photos with your camera coupled with a more skilled you and sexier lens.  Yes a sexier lens!  Some amazing lenses are 16-35mm 2.8, 24-70mm 2.8, 70-200mm 2.8 and they will all have the quality you want even with a Rebel!  But I suggest to you as a fellow photographer to work your way up to a full frame camera that is in the professional bracket, a 5D or 5D Mark II and up.  I promise you will see a difference.  Don't settle and in order to work your way up in equipment you need to work your way up in skill.  In this day and age everyone has a DSLR but not everyone can be considered a photographer.

Which are you?

Can you tell what camera I used?


  1. I am an "EVEN with a Rebel" girl (plus two nicer lenses) for right now and I've been pretty happy...due to having put in the time and effort to really learn my camera, but MAN would it be fun to try out a Mark II sometime! :)

  2. I have a Nikon D90. I love it! But it is my first and only DSLR camera so I have nothing to compare it to besides my point and shoot. Plus my D90 was the camera when I lost my training wheels (auto mode) and began to shoot under my own powered mind and not the camera telling me what to do. But I've always wondered what it would be like to move up to a higher model and how great of a difference I would find.

    Now my question is, is the D90 good enough to shoot wedding photography?

  3. Awesome. It's always so amazing to see what people can do with "lesser" cameras. It's not the camera that makes the photographer, for sure.

  4. Only photographers ask about equipment, I've never had anyone question my kit, bodies or lenses. FF digital is nice, but expensive, so I play with 35mm FF film ;-)

    I think even entry level stuff can do very nice work. Obviously equipment is part of it, low light work, grab a fast lens. But I've seen far too many high spec pro body shooters with L lenses, that miss the point. Nice stuff makes life that bit easier, it does not make better photos.

    Nice blog BTW, I enjoy reading it.
    Not to be too picky, but the highlights really blew out on the ist one, but nice work!

  5. You are so right. I have a Cannon 5D mark II and the pictures I took with it in the begining are no where near what I can get with it now that I know more about what I'm doing and have more experience. And I am still learning!!!!

  6. I'm a Canon girl myself also working with the Rebel. It is my first DSLR and I do see a difference, when it comes to things like post-processing. I have a nicer point and shoot (also a canon) that I used exclusively for a long time before I could afford the Rebel and to be honest, lots of my point and shoot photos were comparable to the Rebels. Granted, they aren't the same size files, but they are still good photos. Like you said, just know how to use it! I'm still learning my Rebel, but I'm loving every minute of it!

  7. I hate that I kind of took offense to this article, Leah, but I sort of did. I have a Rebel, because there is no way in HECK I can afford snything else right now, and I do get paid for my work (granted, I don't shoot weddings). I know that the Rebel is not in "the professional bracket", and yes I know the pictures my sister in law takes with her 5dMKII are a noticeably higher quality image, but honestly? Only to me, or another photographer. I know people who could look at a picture my SIL took with her 5dMKII and the same image I took with my Rebel, and the average person (aka a customer?) wouldn't say "oh that picture was taken with a better camera". I don't mean to come off as rude, or necessarily completely disagreeing with everything stated in this article. The core message I ABSOLUTELY agree with, get that camera off the auto setting! But I don't agree that a Rebel can't produce paid work...because mine does. Great pictures are more than just a camera! I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't think it's fair to group a photographer using a Rebel in the "non-paying" category...I may not be making what people like Skye Hardwick are making....but I'm doing alright for me, for now.

  8. Kristen as long as you have the confidence you can shoot whatever you want! But yes I personally believe the D90 is great for weddings! You also have video capabilities. Take full advantage of that when it comes to weddings. Brides LOVE videos!!

    Barry you must have great clients to not question you but it does happen and trust me it's annoying when Uncle Vito behind you is trying to out do you. That's where skill must come in! Oh and I LOVE my photos over exposed! Isn't that what's great about art? It's what you make it! Thanks Barry!

    Hey Amy. I'm so sorry you took offense to my article. I 100% agree that a Rebel can produce amazing photos with the right photographer and the right lenses, but people do outgrow their equipment. When that time comes and even a little before, a photographer should really look into upgrading. That was my main point in this post. Again I'm sorry you were offended!

    Oh and all those three photos were taken with my Canon point and shoot!

  9. I completely agree, Noelle (p.s. I didn't know it was you, I thought it was Leah, woops), that at some point (like when you start getting within 10 miles of someone like Skye Hardwick ;) you need to upgrade your stuff. And I COMPLETELY intend to...I will NOT be stuck with this Rebel forever (don't let me fool you into thinking I don't drool over a 5dMKII EVERYDAY)...I just didn't want other people to think the same thing that I thought for a moment....that you might as well just have a point and shoot if you're gonna buy a Rebel. (I should clarify too that I consider myself in "transition": I charge less than most photographers because I am still technically building up a portfolio, and because I know very well in my heart that my camera is just NOT up to snuff with the best out there. But I do get paid for what I'm doing, because my Rebel and a few great lenses ARE better than Uncle Joe Schmoe's P&S in the backyard ;)

  10. I was not offended, and I don't shoot with Canon either ;-) lol
    No people don't ask me what I have, it's up to me to have what "I need" to do the job properly. Obviously I'm not going to take a Fuji compact to a wedding.. I've been asked "how many megapixels" does my camera have, granted..but nobody has asked me what brand I use or lenses or bodies etc, before making a booking. I really think most people don't care, they just go on the results.

    I've just seen way too many users going out buying a semi pro or even pro level body..and some tasty lenses they just don't know how to use it. It's a real shame. But nope, not offended, we just need to put things into perspective, what really matters the end product.

  11. Amy! Totally get what you are saying. I actually didn't write that post. It was Noelle's post (I know it's confusing) but she's about the sweetest thing ever and I know she never would want to offend.
    We are each going to have a signature to add to our posts cause we get that people don't know who's writing what. I shoot with a 40D. I felt a little embarrassed about it going to WPPI. I knew everyone would be asking what you shoot with and mine would often be inferior. I learned that I'm gonna ROCK WHAT I GOT and be proud of it!! I also recognize that I have outgrown this camera. When I bought it it was bigger then me (sorta speak) but now I know where it limits me and that means it's time to go to the next step... as soon as I have enough dough!

    Bottom line. Rock what you got but always be pushing yourself cause you want to out grow that rebel just like I'm loving that I've outgrown the 40D! It means I'm pushing myself!

  12. You guys are fast with the comments! I started mine and now you all posted before I even finished. Sheesh! :)

    Barry - I so agree with you when you said, "I've just seen way too many users going out buying a semi pro or even pro level body..and some tasty lenses they just don't know how to use it. It's a real shame." It hurts the industry and if you love photography you have to respect those before us who have made it what it is today!

  13. You and Noelle both truly are the sweetest and it's shown best in the fact that you guys even have this blog up, you're here to help, and I know that. Honestly, last night when I first read this post, I was a little offended, and then the more I thought about it, I knew that wasn't what she meant (though you WILL find some places/people who DO mean that, and for me personally, their nasty opinions are almost enough to make me sell my equipment and give up =/). The only real reason I said anything was because I was afraid someone else like me might be thinking the same thing, and no one deserves to have their hopes and dreams crushed (even if you didn't mean it!)

    I am happy to say that I absolutely have outgrown my Rebel....a while ago. OH to have a giant photog budget! I'd have a brand new Macbook Pro with a 500gig harddrive, a Canon 5dMKII, and a shiny new 50mm 1.8 to room with my 75-300mm I got for Christmas =)

    Bottom line, I love both Leah and Noelle to death for all the hard work that goes into this blog, and for giving us all a glimmer of hope that the grumpies are WRONG and we CAN make it in this biz!


  14. I am a Nikon girl, and am soon to be upgrading from the D40. *Ugh!* I am ONLY looking at D700 and higher. I wouldn't even go for the D90. I think it is pointless to go from D40 to D60 to D90, etc, etc, etc. Upgrade upgrade!

  15. Kalli! Are you home? I wanted to run into you again at the airport!! You made your fight right? It was so great talking with you!!

  16. Amy thank you so much! Don't let grumpies get you down! Keep shooting. Your work is beautiful! That's awesome you got the 75-300 for Christmas. The things we ask for being photographers, right? I got an external hard drive for V-Day. Hahaha! No flowers for this lady!

    Kalli, Leah and I were JUST talking about that. It stinks when you spend money on equipment and outgrow it quickly! It's better if you save a little longer than getting something lesser right away. There's ALWAYS something...

  17. I really enjoyed reading this post. I am also shooting with a Canon Rebel and I love it. Of course I would love to upgrade but the money is an issue. As I get more experienced and start seeing more of a profit I want to upgrade my camera body. What camera would be a great one to upgrade to next? Anyone looking at selling theres. I would want an upgrade from the Rebel XSI.

  18. I'm shooting with a rebel with a dreaded kit lens and would LOVE to upgrade soon...

    BUT you can stretch a rebel. I've been published in two magazines, sold work in a couple art galleries and was part of a showing in a museum recently. And I have no connections or easy way into any of these venues. All photos were taken with the Rebel kit and tripod I bought at Walmart (which was junk by the way!)

    I've taken a break from paid portraiture and vowed not to jump back in until I can at least upgrade my lens. It was making me a wreck! I think it will speed up my work-flow and give me more confidence to achieve the quality I'm going for.

    So I half agree and am half offended (: