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.
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?
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