"I am uninterested in the notion that a good photographer can make good photos with any gear. That's NOT THE POINT!!"
That's the whole point right there but gear makes the job more convenient.
No, that's not the point. It was never anyone's point. Its been YOUR point, but you've been ignoring everyone elses' point.
I'll try one last time. Lets see whether you succeed or fail at this test.
You see a Western Grebe off the sandy shore you are standing on. You are standing right at the waters edge. The Grebe some 65 feet off shore. The water out there is 10 feet deep. You have at your disposal a supercheap $109 Canon PowerShot A1400, and a 5D III with a 600mm f/4 L lens. Which camera will take the better photo?
And I don't mean something that is more convenient. I mean, BETTER PHOTO. Sharper detail. Less noise. Thinner DOF. Brighter exposure. No blur from camera shake. BETTER FRIKKIN PHOTO!! Which camera?
Let's do one better, I'll get a better shot from the A1400 wading water getting the shot closer than you will with that 600L you have.
RLP: I was reading this thread and sort of tracking along with you when you said something like 'photographer is more important than equipment' till I reached this post. I fist - palmed and shouted "HOW DUMB" so loud that the neighbor came to check if all is ok.
I also see that 99% of people have the whole point simply fly over their heads.
The point was a great shot from a A1400 is equal or could be better that said shot from $$$$$ combo. In the end, light, composition and subject make a photo. To claim that the only great shots could come from $$$$$ combo is quite haughty. If you got a great shot of said subject from either camera is equal in what makes a good photo terms. Its a 1000x more inconvienent to do so, but in this hypothetical brainstorm, the end products would both be valid.
That is not a point, it's an assumption. Your trying to turn into fact, without any actual evidence, the IDEA in your head that a photo from an A1400 could equal or (laughably!) "better" said shot from a super pricey combo. In the end, composition is a composite of factors...including depth of field, background blur, perspective, etc. You cannot achieve all of that with any old gear...you need the right gear to get the most flattering or intriguing or otherwise interesting shots that also achieve nuanced artistic aspects.
You assume that the A1400 is just as good as (or "better" than ) $30,000 worth of equipment explicitly designed to maximize your potential in perfecting all of those nuanced artistic aspects in your work must be tested. Your still providing anecdotes. No one has missed the point...it hasn't flown over anyone's heads. It's clear from the weed comments flying around lately that the point has smacked everyone in the face just one too many times (BTW, I thought the "weed dance" comment was pretty darn good! LOL ) The problem is that your argument has no basis in fact...it is an anecdote. If you want people to believe you...you need to prove your point. You need to provide some actual physical evidence that people can evaluate.
I'd do the same...I'll point you to Art Morris blog "Birds as Art" (http://www.birdsasart-blog.com/) who's photography is all done with the Canon 1D X and EF 600mm f/4 L IS II lens (w/ 1.4x and 2x TCs), or Alan Murphy's "favorites" (http://www.alanmurphyphotography.com/favorites.htm), which are made with a Nikon D3x and a 600mm f/4 lens (often with teleconverters, according to his eBooks.) Both of these men, as well as many other men and women whom I could link if necessary, are the top professionals in the world in the bird photography niche, all of whom have years, even decades more experience than RL, myself, or probably the majority of members on this forum. The most ubiquitous kit among them? Nikon Dx series or Canon 1D series with a 500mm f/4 or 600mm f/4 lens, sometimes the EF 800mm f/5.6, frequently with 1.4x and 2x teleconverters. That is quite literally the best equipment money can buy these days, and their photography clearly demonstrates the power of a highly skilled photographer in conflation with best-in-class professional grade equipment.
Sadly, I don't have any resources to provide that show any such high quality photos made with a Canon A1400 and its ultra-wide to normal angle built-in lens....(not for lack of looking, though...)