Expensive Gear = Better Photos?
I feel the most common misconception people have when starting out on their photography journey is that they believe they need all the expensive gear to get amazing photos. This is not the case what so ever. I remember I had a client where I took photos for them and they asked me a few questions during the shoot such as "How do you like it?", "What did you do to get started?", etc. I answered all their questions and even encouraged them to try it out if it was something they wanted to pursue. Within a week they were sending me cameras that cost thousands of dollars asking me if they were good. I did let them know that even though that they were great cameras, I recommend starting off small and learning more about how to take photos and practice editing. They ignored my recommendation and sent me photos of all their new fancy gear the next day. Don't get me wrong, I was happy for them pursuing what they wanted to do, but at the same time I knew what would come next.
About a week later they are sending me their photos and telling me, "I don't get how my camera is better than yours, but my pictures look nothing like yours do." While I ignored the slight diss towards my camera haha, I reexplained to them that the camera is not what makes the photo pop. It is the settings, the lens, and the editing that makes the hugest differences. I have seen people take a better pictures with a $500 camera than somebody with a $3000 camera. Yet again, they didn't quite believe me. The reason I told this story is because I want you to hear a real life example of the misconception many people have when first starting out.
So What Makes An Image "Better"?
So a more expensive camera doesn't make an image better, so what does? There are a number of things that go into having a better image, the first thing being is to learn how to use manual settings. These manual settings will allow you to customize the look of your photo before editing it. It will allow you to control the exposure, the bokeh (blurriness of the background), and noise (image quality). If you'd like to learn how to use manual settings now click here!
The next best thing comes down to the editing. Editing an image is what really makes it pop, it can make a picture go from, "cool picture", to, "wow that looks like a billboard". Below is just one example of what editing a photo can do.
As you can see in the images above, the RAW photo looks pretty cool, but you got cars in the background, the color of the car doesn't really pop, and the sunset isn't as warm as I would like it to be. This is where the magic of editing makes the difference. If you never learn how to edit, it will always just be a photo that looks pretty cool with cars in the background, with colors that don't pop, and a sunset that just isn't hitting like it should. Like I mentioned before though, if you want to get a photo like this then you must know what manual settings you need. If you want to learn how to take rolling shots like that photo above click here!
The last thing that I believe effects your image more than the camera body itself is the lens that sits on it. The lens is not only determining the quality of glass that you are shooting with, but also the focal length of the image that creates a certain type of setting and look in your image. As well as the aperture, that setting is what determines the amount of bokeh in the image that we all know and love. I guarantee you that if you have a kit lens and you invest in a new lens that goes down to at least f/2.8, you will see the biggest difference in your pictures. Now I am not saying shoot everything at f/2.8, but it is always nice to have the option.
What Gear Do I Have?
You may be asking yourself, well since you know everything Mr. Perfect what gear do you have? The truth is I have a Canon R5 typically paired with a Canon 15-35mm f/2.8L. This combo alone will run you about $6k-$7k. I sound like a hypocrite right? This guy over here saying don't buy expensive gear yet he has one of the most expensive mirrorless cameras on the market right now. Well the thing is, I barely started acquiring these things in the past year or so. I started off with a little $500 Nikon I borrowed off of my brother. After learning how to use manual settings and got the basic understanding of editing, I moved up a little bit to a Canon 80d, which is about $800 I believe now. I was with that one for quite a bit with most of my website probably having photos taken from that very same camera. It wasn't until I started taking photography seriously as a potential business that I decided to invest in purchasing the Canon R5 which I believe is about $4200 after taxes. The main reason I decided to go for the R5 is because of the features it offered such as the eye tracking and up to 8K video. There are plenty of other options that provide the same features made by Nikon or Sony, but I've always been a Canon guy. I can definitely see myself sticking with this camera for quite some time.
In conclusion there are many things that contribute to a great photo, and while a new camera may be a part of that, it is not the only answer. If you are just starting out and wish to ignore all of this advice then please go ahead, there is no right way to do things, you can still purchase a brand new expensive camera and learn on the go. The reason I just recommend starting off small is because not everyone stays in the photography industry, to some people it was just a phase or a hobby. These posts are just my humble opinion built on my experience. As always, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me and ask!