Fundamentally... new gear is only important when it's holding your vision back but also new equipment brings about new opportunities. Spotting and taking advantage of those opportunities can give you a business boost. Or it can give you nothing.
Very well said The gear vs. technique debate is a touchy subject indeed. The "it's not about equipment, it's all about technique" remark is thrown around so often that it's become cliche. I dislike blanket statements and generalizations, but while there's some truth to that old cliche, I don't agree with it entirely.
IMHO, at the beginner level, it's 99% technique and 1% equipment. An experienced pro with a point-and-shoot will easily produce better images than the typical soccer mom with a Rebel. At the pro level, it's still mostly about technique, but I'd say that equipment becomes more important, since those that lack basic photography skills have already been weeded out. It's tough to put a number on it. For pros, perhaps its 90% technique and 10% equipment, or 80% technique and 20% equipment, but any working photog with any dignity will strive to push the envelope and eventually hit the limits of their equipment. These days, the limits of equipment are extremely high, but it doesn't mean they don't exist.
I'm not much of a NBA fan, but I've noticed photogs are now rigging cameras up behind the backboard, and triggering them remotely to create a unique perspective as players battle up near the rim. How on earth would this be possible without today's technology? Now sports shooters can cover a game from multiple angles simultaneously without cloning themselves
Likewise, for portraits, the combination of ETTL technology, radio triggers, and high-speed sync flash guns has opened the door to creative effects that were once difficult, if not impossible to pull off. Furthermore, back in the day before autofocus was invented, motorsports photographers would zone focus at one particular part of the track, fire off a bunch of frames as a car approached, and hope that the timing of one of the frames happened to coincide with when a car crossed the focal plane. Every now and then you'd get a good shot, but most of them were soft piles of junk. Those are just a few examples that come to mind, and this post is already running long.
Just because you can get a shot with lesser gear doesn't mean it's always practical, especially when there's the all-important time invested vs. revenue earned metric that everyone running a business must deal with. Soooo, while the "gear doesn't matter, it's all about technique" cliche is true most of the time, to say that equipment never matters isn't entirely accurate.
Once on the sidelines a few people swapped equipment. There were two each of beginning amateurs, experienced amateurs and pros. It was xxD vs 1 series bodies. They were all paired with super-tele L lenses.
The pros when stuck with the xxD still easily out shot the beginning amateurs even when they were paired with 1 series bodies.
BUT the pros (both had only used 1 series) and the one experience amateur who had been using one series for a while all said they instantly had worse results and worse take when they switched to the xxD bodies.
And the beginners and advanced amateurs all said they instantly had a much better take when they used the 1 series bodies.
In the end it was clear that natural talent mattered a real lot, experience mattered a lot to a real lot and equipment matter a fair amount.
Poor talent and very little experience were the most detrimental but equipment was not something to laugh off. Shooters, at ALL levels, instantly became better or worse depending upon which body they shot with. The difference was quite clear. And the ones going to the better camera were instantly better despite not even having time to settle into how to even use it the best.
Contrary to many claims there was no such thing as the equipment being 'too good' for a shooter. Even the least talented and least experienced instantly had a better take with the better equipment. All the talk about needing to improve yourself before you improve your equipment is just nonsense. That said improving yourself certainly IS very important and it does make the greater difference overall in many cases.
Both of the pros had hoped to get away with getting an xxD body but after the trial swap they were all like umm yeah.... no way in heck, my take rate instantly went down, equipment matters, definitely matters. And all those who hadn't used 1 series before were suddenly lusting after better equipment and complaining about how no small bodies from Canon had decent AF.