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Author Topic: Do you feel your photos have improved proportionally to the cost of your gear?  (Read 13361 times)

canon816

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Interesting question you pose.

I believe that as my photography has improved and I have utilized more and more camera features that I have outgrown cameras of my past and welcomed newer more technologically advanced (and expensive) models that in turn have allowed me to accel.

I continue to learn and grow as a photographer in both technique and technical application.  I shoot stuff now that I could never have gotten with my old Rebel.  Being able to shoot in lower light with faster burst shutters and higher resolution have certainly propelled me along in my growth as a photographer.

While I am by no means well off, I save my money and work hard so that I can afford high end camera equipment, and in the end don't consider it as a typical expense when I buy a new lens or upgrade a body.  Perhaps it is an obsession or addiction, but when I create an image that makes me feel proud to be a photographer.... thats when without hesitation I will say that my photos have improved well beyond the proportional cost of my gear.  I can't put a price on the feeling I get when my heart is pounding with excitement as I click away peering at the world through my view finder.. knowing that my gear is fully capable of doing the scene justice as long as I manipulate the controls adeptly. 

But I will always be humbled by the fact that the camera does not make a great image... it is the photographer who does.   

Happy shooting.

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rpt

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At First, no. There were wild swings while I grappled with the complexity of the camera since I upgraded from a 300D.

Now I'd say YES! I am able to shoot under conditions that I could not earlier. So as an earlier poster said, it gets the creative juices going...

That is the short answer.

K-amps

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Hella yes!

However it does not mean that you give a monkey a 1Dx with a f1.2 85mm and expect him to perform miracles...   Tricks yes.... miracles no  ;)
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CharlieB

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Nope. 

I look back... a long time ago... one Nikkormat FT2 and a 50mm f/2.0 Nikkor.  Thats it. 

I think my eye was much better back then.  I went from having to use my brain for exposure and focus and composition... composition...  to what we have.

Pssst... one reason I love my M Leicas is that they force me to think, slow down, be deliberate, and see.

Today, I often feel like my photography is more reportage than creativity.   Maybe my muse is gone, I dunno.  I can shoot a wedding, a convention, and not miss a shot.  But there's no spark...

Sometimes I just grab a lens, turn everything to manual, and try to recapture it all, but todays cameras dont lend themselves to manual shooting as well as those from years past.




jdramirez

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1. From P&S to crop = yes
2. From crop to FF = yes

x1000 better? maybe not. However DSLR is much faster in AF = more keeper. plus much more flexible with lens choices & features. NOT just IQ, but over all.

I have to say that what I have noticed is my ability to play with Depth of field... which my p&s didn't do.  Though I will say that I have 1000X more crappy photos because I just take sooo many more photos at 6 shots per second.  Where as with the point and shoot, I have a 5 second delay between shots which is an eternity.

Also, no flash.  I just bought a speedlite and before that, maybe .5% of my shots were with flash and consequently washed out.  I know there are differences... but every day my lenses collect dust because I didn't go and shoot something, seems like a bit of a waste of an investment.
Upgrade  path.->means the former was sold for the latter.

XS->60D->5d Mkiii:18-55->24-105L:75-300->55-250->70-300->70-200 f4L USM->70-200 f/2.8L USM->70-200 f/2.8L IS Mkii:50 f/1.8->50 f/1.4->100 f/2.8L->85mm f/1.8 USM->135L -> 8mm ->100L

jdramirez

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Pareto principle might apply. You could have achieved 80% of your shots in the same quality with 20% worth of your gear. Spend 900$ to get 80% of your shots, for the rest spend 3600$ more ;-)

I hated the kit lens, but I did make do for a LONG time with just an XS and a 50mm f/1.8. 
Upgrade  path.->means the former was sold for the latter.

XS->60D->5d Mkiii:18-55->24-105L:75-300->55-250->70-300->70-200 f4L USM->70-200 f/2.8L USM->70-200 f/2.8L IS Mkii:50 f/1.8->50 f/1.4->100 f/2.8L->85mm f/1.8 USM->135L -> 8mm ->100L

jdramirez

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Excellent question !!! Same with golfers. You're always after the latest equipment thinking it will improve something. And you always meet the other guy, playing an old second hand set, who trashes you without mercy. Passion ! A very demanding mistress. Expensive stuff won't improve my skills and talent.  But. The feeling of holding beautifully crafted pieces of engineering entices me to go out more, to take much more photos and, out of respect for the gear, pay more attention to what I am doing. Improving by numbers ! Yes, expensive gear makes me a better photographer. Somehow.     

I golf... badly.  Fortunately I'm a better photographer than I am a golfer.
Upgrade  path.->means the former was sold for the latter.

XS->60D->5d Mkiii:18-55->24-105L:75-300->55-250->70-300->70-200 f4L USM->70-200 f/2.8L USM->70-200 f/2.8L IS Mkii:50 f/1.8->50 f/1.4->100 f/2.8L->85mm f/1.8 USM->135L -> 8mm ->100L

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jdramirez

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I like that question!

If I go back and see my first pictures, the ones now are seriously better, but I think that has something to do with general photographic knowledge, not the gear to an absoulte.

That being said I would without ANY doubt say , because it's a fact, that most of my pictures today couldn't have been done with anything else. How do I know that? I have bought new gear because the old didn't do it right. I've been through; 350d, 400d, 1d3+5d1, 1d4, 5d2, 5d3 and now the 1d X and I must say, the 1d X takes it all to a different level. In the short time I've had it I've gotten more funny and unseen moments, (in my pictures) than the others put together. That blows my mind.

But as we all know, that is only the body. I have no idea how many lenses I have owned, sold, traded over the years, but it is around 35-40, and my current setup is the only set of lenses that have kept up with the 1-series advantages imo. And although I can sure as hell take a good picture of my daughter (9 months) sitting on the floor with pretty much anything, but to do it at the superclean 1600 iso with the 1d X and have the 85 L II (that now has fast enough AF) makes that image something more than a snapshot, it's now a keeper, and a fun memory due to the burst of 6 images (at 12 fps) I had one with a funny expression. It's the little things.

And then I can go out, shoot a surfing contest and come home with all tack sharp images and can pick the precise moments.

For me there has been a significant step up for each lens and body, and a BIG step when combining them.

But what has made the most impact on my images is actually something else. It's a book called "Light, Science & Magic" and the "Lightning 101" over at www.strobist.com. It's when I went with wireless lights I really starting to have fun and get images like the one I saw on the "internets" and got a whole other undestanding for what it takes to make a great image.

And you'll also get a more and more trained eye and that combined with knowledge makes it very annoying (for me at least) to use gear you know could be better. If you get the images you want with what you have, that saves a lot of money.

It's when you buy your first L-lens it all goes out the window ;D

I need to pay more attention to lighting.  Since I got my XS and 50mm f/1.8 I've almost fanatically been averse to using flash photography.  But I know I should use soft bounced light onto my subject, but I REALLY don't like posed photos.  So taking a candid shot really prevents me from setting up a flash because I don't know where the shot is going to be coming from.  I've bounced light off the ceiling and it's good... but I wouldn't quite call it pro-level. 

I've owned (even if it was just for a few days) the 18-55, 75-300, 55-250, 70-300, 50mm f/1.8, 50mm f1/4, 70-200mm f/4L USM, 100mm f/2, 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro, and I'm no where near done.  I almost feel compelled to try and make some money using my equipment otherwise I just have a really expensive hobby. 
Upgrade  path.->means the former was sold for the latter.

XS->60D->5d Mkiii:18-55->24-105L:75-300->55-250->70-300->70-200 f4L USM->70-200 f/2.8L USM->70-200 f/2.8L IS Mkii:50 f/1.8->50 f/1.4->100 f/2.8L->85mm f/1.8 USM->135L -> 8mm ->100L

jdramirez

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Nowadays, there's not much I *can't* take a photo of, be it wide angle, long distance, low-light, long-exposures (ie with ND filters), tilt, shift, macro, action, you name it. So my lens-buying habit has sort of died-down lately, there's not much else to buy to expand possibilities. So for me, there's only one thing left to do, is ditch the crappier lenses and buy "better" ones. And that's something I haven't started yet, because for me, the fun is in just being *able* to take the photos, not how *good* they print (because, well, i rarely print)

I think I have a touch of obsessive compulsive in me.  I like to find something new and just suck the life out of it until I have either mastered it or grown bored with it.  I've done that with video games, golf (started by buying a crap driver and crap irons with surprisingly OK putter).  Then I upgraded the irons... then I upgraded the driver, then I upgraded the putter, and somewhere in there I got a sand and lob wedge.  So when I was finally done collecting pieces to complete the set, there wasn't anything else for me to do. 

So if we extrapolate that to my camera gear... I basically need a fisheye, a wide angle, a full frame, a long prime (400 maybe), and a 70-200mm f/2.8 IS mkii.  So that's about 10 grand away... so I'll have plenty of time to save... but again... I'm not sure if I just bought a macro lens because I needed one... or simply because I didn't have one. 
Upgrade  path.->means the former was sold for the latter.

XS->60D->5d Mkiii:18-55->24-105L:75-300->55-250->70-300->70-200 f4L USM->70-200 f/2.8L USM->70-200 f/2.8L IS Mkii:50 f/1.8->50 f/1.4->100 f/2.8L->85mm f/1.8 USM->135L -> 8mm ->100L

jdramirez

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I feel that I have certainly improved. When I got a 24-105L to replace the kit lens on my 550D I started seeing improvements in my photography with the extra reach and constant f-stop. Was it proportional to the cost? I'm not entirely sure but my shots before the L upgrade all looked like they were shot with a point-and-shoot.
With that being said I did get start getting lessons on the basics at almost the same time (Photo student) but I do think that it's the confidence that came with getting new gear that pushed me to shoot more.
 I'm sure a lot of people might berate me for that but I do believe that there is a bit of truth in it. Now that I have moved to a 5D, I can visibly see that my photos and style of shooting have improved. When I started with the 550D I shot with the greenbox  :-[ for a month or two, with the 5D the first thing I did was to set all the buttons to my preferred functions knowing very well what I wanted. I still have a lot to learn though.  ;D
Oh and the 61 autofocus point is amazing  8)

I never used the viewfinder in my p&s... it was always the LCD.  But when I got the XS, shooting in live mode was just slow and weird... which forced me to use the view finder.  And that certainly was a blessing in disguise. 

I had a crappy 1.3mp Olympus as my first digital camera... and I look at those photos now and they are so blurry.  I guess I just couldn't tell the difference.  But in 2003, I couldn't imagine spending a ton on a camera...
Upgrade  path.->means the former was sold for the latter.

XS->60D->5d Mkiii:18-55->24-105L:75-300->55-250->70-300->70-200 f4L USM->70-200 f/2.8L USM->70-200 f/2.8L IS Mkii:50 f/1.8->50 f/1.4->100 f/2.8L->85mm f/1.8 USM->135L -> 8mm ->100L

helpful

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Yep, I agree, this question has to be one of the greatest philosophical photography questions posed or posted by anyone here at Canon Rumors.

Just in case anyone changes the title of this thread, I'm going to repeat it here: "Do you feel your photos have improved proportionally to the cost of your gear?"

I would have to say, "Yes." But not at first, the moment of ownership. It takes awhile.

For instance, using my 1D X for the first time at a sport that I have long experience with was almost like being a beginner again. I was very frustrated. I had forgotten how much of photography is a fine art like playing the violin or hitting a baseball. Timing and handling and not half-pressing the shutter at the wrong time.

But once I get acclimated to the new level of equipment, I have to say that it's worth it.

Perhaps even more so.

It's not the expense that matters, but the fact that some expensive features really do matter to enabling creative vision.

You can have a great idea for a volleyball setter superimposed on the school's logo... but if the camera won't focus fast enough, or its noise is too high, then it's just impossible to accomplish your vision.

And the same truth is valid for landscapes, portraits, and probably any time of photography, just with different parameters (i.e., focusing speed isn't necessarily the limiting factor in a landscape photo).

But the photographer has to learn his expensive instrument well enough to "play" it like a violin.

As far as vision goes, though, I would have to say, "No," except that the capabilities of an expensive camera can often stimulate our vision... like telephotos w/ shallow DOF, etc.... to go beyond its initial conception.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2012, 01:46:56 AM by helpful »
5DIII, 5DII, 7D x5, 6D, T2i, T3, 1D X, 10-22mm, 16-35mm II, 18-55mm II, 18-135mm IS x2, 70-200mm f/2.8L II, 24mm f/1.4L II, 50mm f/1.4, 50mm 1/1.8 II x2, 85mm f/1.8 x2, 100mm f/2 x2, 135mm f/2L x2, 200mm f/2.8L II x2, 1.4X III, 2.0X II, 60mm f/2.8 Macro, etc. only had room to list a few Canon items

celliottuk

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I have to say "Yes" - with one massive point on the curve which doesn't fit the hypothesis.....

 I actually gave up photography for over 10 years because I couldn't afford the type of kit that took the photos that inspired me. It was so frustrating.

Those were the days of film, and my first "Wake up call to come back to the fold" was when I got my first Digi Point and Shoot. This reset the price / performance graph!!. Suddenly, the quality had gone through the roof, but the price had gone down! That inspired me. Purely as a result of that inspiration I started taking a lot more shots. More shots=more practice and more experience=better shots.
When I got my first digi SLR, the curve came back to the hypothesis, much more money, much more performance. Everry upgrade in bodies and lenses sits nicely on the curve, HOWEVER, a sub-hypothesis looks like this..... If a new camera has features and functions that inspire me, I spend more time using the camera, and I really do believe that it's the time put in, the experience gained, the shutter count, the challenge of new circumstances that has the major impact.
So, finally, Yes I agree, BUT, it's really about the shutter count!

Lawliet

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Just adding up the retail value of my gear ($4500), I'm not so sure that I'm 22X a better photographer than I was.  [...]... but I think people take me more seriously because of the size of my camera than the relative improvement of the shots. 
 Do y'all think the gear has substantially advanced your product?

I don't think that the money invested and the quality of the pictures have a linear relationship - its more like a step function. Can you take the picture (and get the required technical quality)? And can you do it reliable. The latter gets important once you work not alone&just for yourself. If yes, then every cent spent in addition is wasted, if not one has to find out what the weak link is - ideas, skill, gear, mise en scene? - depending on the answer money can fix it. Being taken more serious because of technically unnecessary/overblown gear  might even be a valid way if it buys you access to resources you need but wouldn't have otherwise, your subjects predisposition for example.

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Zusje

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YES!!! I didn't realise how much until I'm forced to go back to a compact! I started with film point and shoots, my 1st digital was a 50D and I have the 5Diii and 1D IV and recently purchased a 1GX because of its small size so I always have a camera handy, but everytime I take it out, I'm really wishing that I had one of my Dslrs, because the compact is so slow, no easy access to some manual functions and the shots disappoint alot if they're not missed altogether- very frustrating!

Mark1

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For me, the biggest jump in quality came when I started using fast primes. I'm not sure you'd have to spend a lot of money to achieve that though. The difference between shooting at f5.6 and f1.8 is immense regardless of the sharpness of the lens and cost of the body.

I have a 5D2 and 2 L lenses. They are beautiful pieces of equipment which I sometimes just like to admire and polish them. They are marvellous pieces of engineering but if you want to improve your photography, get into fast primes is my advice.

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