Nikon made a bit of a mistake yesterday when they posted this on their fan page:
“A photographer is only as good as the equipment he uses, and a good lens is essential to taking good pictures! Do any of our facebook fans use any of the NIKKOR lenses? Which is your favorite and what types of situations do you use it for?”
We all know that what they said was wrong but the important question is:
what makes it so wrong and why has it got us so riled up?
Firstly It would be fair to say that they’ve got things completely backwards, so much so that it could almost be a typo – the equipment is really only as good as the photographer using it, not the other way around.
The idea that everything comes down to the gear you’re using is ridiculous, even for a camera and lens manufacturer to suggest.
I think the reason it’s ruffled so many feathers is because a lot of good photographers have had something like this said to them, “wow, your photos are really good, you must have a great camera”, or overhead a statement like this, “look at the size of his lens, mine is bigger than that, his doesn’t even zoom”.
These statements never go down well.
For Nikon to suggest it too is pretty poor.
A good photograph is not the product of buying the best gear that money can buy, it’s about how you use that gear to your advantage.
A good photo stands up by itself without the need for special effects or editing.
More often than not, when I produced a good photo, it’s a result of good composition used subtly. The viewer can tell it’s good without having to have it explained to them, demonstrated in my photo below.
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But Aren’t They Kind Of Right?
Well no but, in a very twisted way… yes.
Let me explain.
There are certain things that budget equipment can’t do, such as take really good low light photos. In that way, they have a (very small) point.
Don’t get me wrong, I buy the best quality gear that I can afford but that’s because, from personal experience, I always end up regret buying inferior products.
I will buy top of the range Canon lenses and I absolutely love using them. I get some excellent results while I use these products but it’s not the lens that’s doing the work for me; it’s me.
When it comes down to it, it’s the photo that’s being seen, not the camera that was used to take it.
It would also be unprofessional to turn up to a photography job without the correct gear, which helps to produce a good photo, such as an external flash and low light lens for shooting indoors.
Taking photos on a job doesn’t make you a good photographer either. Even taking good photos doesn’t necessarily make you a good photographer; everyone gets lucky once in a while, it’s all about getting consistently good results.
So Then, What Makes A Good Photographer?
This is a very subjective question; it’s more a matter of opinion than anything. Someone I think is awesome, you may think to be rubbish.
You should only ever shoot for yourself; trying to please everyone will prove itself to be completely pointless and you’re unlikely to succeed. There’s always popular opinion on who is a good photographer but there aren’t rules to follow to take you there – it’s mainly down to practice.
“Your first 10,000 photos are your worst” – Henri Cartier Bresson
The quote above will ring true to anyone who actually uses their camera enough to take over 10,000 photos; the improvements you’ll make throughout this period are huge.
You can only go so far in photography if you remain ignorant to the elements required to learn how to take better photos. It’s likely that, if you’ve reached that many photos, you’ll have learnt something by now.
Practice really is the key and, when you compliment that with study of composition and photography, you’ll start to see your results improving drastically.
As cameras get better and better, the quality of the images improve, something we appreciate; this allow us to do things we couldn’t do before, providing features like improved dynamic range.
But that’s still not what good photography is.
The camera is not your tool. Your eyes and your mind will make the photos.
To improve your photography, I strongly suggest carrying your camera with you much more often. Before long, you’ll be thinking like a photographer.
So What Now With Nikon?
Nikon is a fantastic company and they make some really great gear.
They should not be thought any less of for the twisted thought process of someone in their PR department as, I assure you, there will be plenty of outrage within the company’s staff about what was said.
When it comes down to it, a sentence that was very foolishly said by one of the largest camera suppliers in the world.
It doesn’t make them look good but something very good has come out of this; photographers all over the world are throwing in their 2 cents on this matter and a discussion has developed about photography, and not just the gear that we use.