Does Gear Matter in Photography?

One of the most fundamental questions in photography is does gear matter? This question, unfortunately, doesn’t have a clear and concise answer. Ask this question to as many photographers as you can and you’re bound to get split opinions. Mark from Analog Process elaborates:

For some, this might seem like a direct video response to a recent video from The Art of Photography on why gear doesn’t matter. Mark clarifies that this is in no way a direct response to that video.

Gear Doesn’t Matter

The common argument for those who don’t believe that gear matters is that when you look at an image you don’t look for the megapixel count, or what camera it was shot with, or which lens, or for that matter what paper was used to print it. What you look is whether the image is interesting or not. In other words, the medium and the means do not matter. What matters is the final image.

Gear Does Matter

An image such as Jeff Wall’s Dead Troops Talk (1992) would seemingly not have the same effect had it been shot on the 35mm format.

gear does matter

On the other hand, images such as those shot by Chinese photographer Ren Hung, which are mostly shot on a Contax G2 (35mm rangefinder), wouldn’t necessarily have the same effect had they been shot on a medium or large format camera.

A cheap camera is not even relevant. What’s relevant is that the medium is what makes the image possible. In that sense, yes, gear does matter.

An image’s impact is influenced by the equipment and the format used to create the image. The wrong gear can easily result in unsuccessful creations. Here, the medium itself is the message. As such, an image that could have had a striking impact, had it been shot on an iPhone, doesn’t have nearly the same impact if it is shot on a medium format camera. Again, there are images which could never be possible without a medium format camera or thousands of dollars’ worth of lighting equipment.

So, the fundamental truth is, yes, there are situations when gear matters. You need specific gear to shoot specific photos. As a photographer, it’s your job to evaluate the situation and then make the decision to use particular gear.

What’s your take on this topic?

Like This Article?

Don't Miss The Next One!

Join over 100,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current:

2 responses to “Does Gear Matter in Photography?”

  1. Wendy says:

    Does gear matter? It depends on what you’re shooting. Daylight street photography? Almost anything will do. Astrophotography? You better have something that will take a long exposure and a nice, heavy tripod. Product photography? You probably need a whole studio of gear.

    Does gear matter?
    Your answer doesn’t really mean anything unless I know what kind of photography you’re answering from.

  2. Dan says:

    I think gear matters if you know how to take advantage of that gear.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New! Want more photography tips? We now offer a free newsletter for photographers:

No, my photos are the best, close this forever