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Don't be limited by the camera gear you own

Any camera can take a great picture. The above shot was taken with an iPhone. You can shoot a magazine cover with a mobile phone or an award winning photo on a $10 plastic point and shoot. Never feel inferior to other photographers because they are sporting a $10,000 lens.

When I first started shooting professionally, I shot with an entry-level Canon Rebel and one lens. Early on, I was invited to cover a nature photography workshop in Jackson Hole. Everyone had a giant luggage bag full of the very best gear money could buy, and I was there with my tiny Rebel and a $19 tripod. The other photographers joked about my crappy tripod and the fact that I was shooting a dramatic landscape with a 50mm lens. “You really can’t get nature shots without spending a bajillion dollars on this camera and this lens and this Gitzo carbon fibre tripod. Feel how light it is!”

I felt horrible. I confided about how I felt to +Steve Simon a legendary documentary photographer and one of the mentors at the workshop without a ton of gear. During the workshop, Steve toted around his Nikon and one lens in a small canvas shoulder bag. He didn’t shoot the landscapes, but instead focused on the people taking the photos. He was interested in the faces and the moments, rather than the landscape that had been shot a million times by Ansel Adams. Steve taught me that you don’t have to be limited by your gear, but rather shift your focus to what your gear is best at capturing. If you really need that $2500 70-200mm IS L lens, you can always rent it for $30.
Jerry Nettik's profile photoMohamed Shahwan's profile photoLay-lay Womack's profile photoGarfield Callens's profile photo
that's what I like the moment
Tammy W
right now I'm working w/, and selling imgs from, a Canon Powershot A580...

but there are still limitations to less sophisticated gear
I wish I could afford an iPhone ;-)
Well really it's not so much the phone as it is the data plan that make you buy to get it
Exactly!!!! That is exactly how I feel. A camera is just a is the talent in the photographer that makes the photo art. People are continually surprised at what I do with my little d40x and kit lens. But it is all in how you work with your tools.
I really like this photo, I can feel the rain - makes me wanna go for a trip down town, haha!
Lots of common sense in this post. BTW, didn't this same post run a week or two back? BTW#2, still using a Rebel XT.
love this photo and your words are very inspiring!
the way things should be with a camera basic shot that moment of the year
I was at my local camera club meeting tonight and we were looking at some of the images from the members that won photography competitions and the guy beside me kept asking what camera they used to produce the photos. It made me pretty annoyed, its not really a relevant fact when looking at photography. I use a Rebel and I'm proud of it!
I shoot a lot of photos with my iPhone 4. . .oh how I wish I had the 4s with the better camera. ;-)

Another great post, +Lisa Bettany.
Xin Yi
This is nice 
Thank you so much for posting this +Lisa Bettany. One of my friends that I shoot with looks down her nose at me because I shoot with a 6 year old Rebel XTi, and she shoots with a 7D. You know what I have found? I understand composition better than she does, and (in my humble opinion because I am my own worst critic) my images look much better than hers. I think it's the eye behind the equipment that brings the most success, not the gear. Oh, and my friend? She has a G+ profile, but has told me she "doesn't get it." Well, I do! :)
+Thomas Schmid No I definitely wouldn't say so. It has a normal dynamic range and no tell tail signs of HDR.
Wow, Lisa, totally agree))) My 5DMkII broke just before vacation in France. So left with light bag and T1i with 50mm lens on it. That's all))) So I decided to shoot details, faces - instead classic shoots. That were the best photos I ever made, because it forced me to look for a better composition and find the story behind the image)))
This is a great post. I've spent almost two decades as a professional video producer and editor for television. That industry learned long ago that inexpensive gear can be a powerful storytelling tool. Production managers are hesitant to send $50,000+ cameras into harm's way, but a $2,000 camera? Let it go into a war zone or to the X Games.
Google needs a Year of your basic one eye captured moments
I'm tempted to create multiple accounts just so I can +10000 this. I was still an infantryman when I started shooting, and as such spent plenty of time deployed. Combat pay isn't too shabby when you're a single male, so I did in fact blow a ton on gear just because I could. A few years later I got bored and decided to see exactly what I'd been shooting. Sorting through all of my photos in Lightroom revealed that my 50mm lens got used substantially more often than anything else I owned. When I did use my 24-70 2.8L, it was at 50mm or 70mm and cropped. Sometimes I used it at 28. Well, I already had the 28 1.8, so I did what made sense and bought the 85 1.8 to go with it. The 24-70 2.8L and 70-200 2.8L IS (which I used for a total of 300 frames in the five years I owned it) got sold and paid off my credit card and funded my darkroom build.

People obsess about their gear and lose the ability to, literally, see the light.
Good advice. Most cameras today take pretty good picture, and using a photo software program you can make they look even better.
My brother was saying not to log ago that he wanted to buy a better camera so he could take better photos. I tried to tell him its more in the eye of the shooter than the camera saving the image. Don't think he got the message :(
I am very glad to read your post +Lisa Bettany as it is not necessary to have a great (expensive) camera to take great pictures. The pulitzer price the year of the Oklahoma bombing for example was won by a clerk working at the bank in front of the building who walked out of the bank encountering a firefighter who was carrying a child in his arms.
It is better to be at the right place at the right time with a shitty camera than being on top of the world with an expensive one without a real good subject to shoot
Google should have a year of a camera under $400 for a good cause
Agred! I've even used the camera on my Asus tablet to capture something passionate.
When we first moved to Canon's, we bought Rebel XTi's as our "test the waters" cameras. Later, we "moved up" to 40D's, and I sold my XTi (my wife held on to her's). My wife ended up using the XTi far more than the 40D. Lamenting the sale of my XTi, I bought a Rebel T1i. We've since sold both 40D's. We found the Rebel's to me more usable than the "better" 40D.

I did my last two commercial shoots with the T1i. My clients were perfectly happy. They don't hire me for my gear, they hire me for my work and my professionalism.

I'm in the midst of switching over to Sony, my choice being the entry level SLT-A35. My wife is taking over my T1i and several lenses. And, we couldn't be happier (except I need to buy some more Sony A-mount lenses...)
Thanks +Lisa Bettany for reminding those of us with passion but not all the gear that passion and putting yourself in the position of getting a great shot -- is all that!
Agreed. I was once a "Rolling Stone photographer" at Coachella with a Canon PowerShot Elph.
Ah I love this. I dont own a camera, although my boyfriend has an Olympus something or other, when im out and about I only ever have my android phone, a little Xperia mini pro......with the amount of editing and touching up that can be done nowadays you dont need all the expensive equipment, leave that to the professionals and people who make a living out of, im happy with my phone camera....for now
everyone needs to add one person and have a affordable fun getaway capture the moment photo year
I started (digital) with a $150 Fuji Finepix and progressed quickly to Canon's first "Digital Rebel" 300D, then to the 20d, 40d, 5D, 5D MarkII and bought my wife an xti. I also use my iPhone (sparingly) and my Aus tablet. I don't know what my next camera will be but it will definitely be a creative tool, not a symbol of (dSLR) zealotry of recent past.
Very well said! Love this shot!
a through away camera the best shot of the year gets it
I agree with you. Sometimes, I think that a small point-and-shoot camera or a mobile phone can take great photos than the those taken by expensive gears.
Google could make there own camera and sell it to enter
But to be sure a camera phone is useful. However it cannot catch many things that even a simple Canon point and shoot can. What is important is familiarity with your camera, being able to produce it quickly, and Never leaving it at home, or in the car.
This is something I really enjoy about your posts. There's a lot of photographers that will tell you, gear doesn't matter but they'll only show photos taken with top of the line gear. I enjoy that you also show great pictures that you've taken with entry level equipment.
Very true Lisa. In my experience the advantage of good gear over average gear is only experienced approximately 10% of the time. 90% of what I shoot could be done on consumer gear. Unfortunately most of my best work has been done in that 10% territory - where ultimate camera control and speed of workflow is so essential. Good (not neccessarily top of the line) gear does have it's advantages.
Agree. I like to compare this with playing golf or skiing. There is some great and expensive equipment you can spend money on each and every season. But as long as you haven't mastered the basics in and out, there is no real point in skipping this level and trying to master it with new, more expensive equipment.
I love this picture, it captures so many well-blended colors, and it's great. As for not feeling inferior to other cameras, i own just a simple digital camera, nothing too fancy, and my sister has a 14 mexa-pixel or whatnot camera, but i often feel my pictures turn out as good quality as hers.
agreed!!! I staretd off with my Nikon D70 + kits Lens in 2004.... and it still holds some of my best photos till date...!!!
YES, and couldn't agree more. I still recall my Sony Ericsson K750 handphone and the joy of taking pictures with it.
So what most of you seem to be saying. I think I can sum up like this.

Having that 3,000 camera is like a technician having a set of micro tools. Sometimes they are absolutely necessary, but most of the time, a #2 and #1 are all that is needed. :)

By the way, Lisa, it's not always the the gear that makes us lesser photographers feel inadequate it's the snobbish attitudes of those who own the gear. If you don't know their gear then your a nobody. They need to stop for a moment and remember what it was like for them starting out.
Well then this photo is irrelevant because the cameras in an iPhone are freaking awesome. Apple all the way.
Well that was pretty unthoughtful of those people to looking down on you because of what you had.
I agree, +Lisa Bettany. I have obtained some great photos with a little Point-and-Shoot, my great Pentax Optio 750Z. Heck, I even had a few receive awards at a local photo contest, which led to selling a couple of them (not bad for an amateur, lol!).
But unfortunately, sometimes you also need to "play the part", otherwise you may not land the gig you may be hoping to get. :-(
Thanks for the insight...I'm using a point & shoot camera & being pestered by my DSLR toting mates.. ..i suggest i just change my focus & interest instead of my gear.....
I do lug around a lot more equipment than I used to years ago. I have "upgraded" to the higher quality gear, but I cut my teeth on Powershots and the Rebel Xti as well. I wouldn't go so far as to say that gear doesn't matter, but I wouldn't tease anyone shooting with a less expensive camera- because it could still end up producing the best shot of the day!
Thanks for such a beautiful & encouraging post +Lisa Bettany. You are really the "Master" !!! :-)
I was just say remember Ansel Adams. He has gotten me through all those times that I have been mocked at. Remember, the best anyone can do is follow your heart.

thanks for sharing your point of view on this. I love taking pictures, (candid, nature, crowds...etc) but because I don't have an adequate camera (actually I don't have a cam, LOL) I've been hesitant to involve myself in photography. I feel like I HAVE to have a fabulous cam. But I'm gonna save and get a Rebel EOS... I was working with a Olympus digital compact but was stolen. I look forward to getting out and taking photos again.
This is excellent advise. Thank you for sharing.
+Mark Bienvenu : Probably because the people with thousands of dollars worth of gear have had much, much more experience shooting than people with just a $10 point-and-shoot.
Ye Sean
How to name the picture style?
Spectacular commentary. Gives us all something to think about as we voyage into new technological realms.
That's photo looks fantastic. My husband has all sorts of Nikon gear. He loves it but I am really excited about the iPhone camera. I love the spontaneity plus I don't have much interest the tech side of photography. Then again someone with your talent could shoot with any camera and get good photos.
It's the eye behind the equipment, not the gear.
Fantastic picture! ;-) I've seen people take amazing pictures with a wind up cardboard camera. And if you put a $1,500 SLR in my hands, you're likely to get blurred fingers and cut off heads. :-D

Anyway, I enjoyed the read, and definitely enjoyed the picture.
I love this and it's absolutely true! My recently uploaded photos were taken with my little Galaxy S II (phone) and a tiny GoPro camera. A little bit of photoshop work and they come out pretty nice.
nice quotes... its not the camera but the person behind the camera thats important.
True, but a few choice bits of gear can make a big difference.
Ace E
Very inspiring. :-)
+Bryan Hanna I'm new to iPhone photography. When do you suggest I use HDR and when do I avoid it?
Im totally agree with your comment, im a photography student i really like your work
I got asked to shoot a wedding today and this is such encouragement. As a new professional level shooter. =]
Dev Sen
hmmm right....what matters is who is doing and when...!! :)
Thank you very much for such supportive words.... We amateurs really need them.. :).. Superb snap.
do you ever shoot with any vintage cameras like Zeiss,Agfa, etc?
I got a canon sd880 for 5 dollars lol
Hey, I have a cheap $5 plastic point and shoot, and I loves it.
oh wow! Really nice...I need to learn some settings I still dont understand in my pocket camera... thanks for the inspire +Lisa Bettany :-)
S Nair
I liked the color impressions
I'm working with a Canon PowerShot G12. There are limitations, but I am quite happy with many photos I am able to take that turn out very well. I really agree with what you said +Lisa Bettany . I am not doing anything professional right now, just amateur photography, but maybe someday if I gain more experience and confidence I might try to get into professional photography.
My words! I hate people that run around with big L lenses and shot a sunset with Flash. Why are these guys buying so expensive tools if they don't even know the basics of photography!!! Photography is art and in some states selfexpression, so it doesn't only rely on the tools you use it's more how you use them! I also can't afford expensive lenses. Just have the standard canon lense and a 55-250mm. But I'm going to by the 50mm 1.8 cause it's under 200€ and the picturequality of the lens is good.
I always hope that a rich guy will give me all his L lenses cause he wants to switch to a compact camera :D
Who cares about camera? It's the pictures that matters.

There are cases that you need a big expensive cameras to take good pictures, but besides these cases there are also many interesting subjects too. If you don't have the tools, just look for something else, with patience & creativity.
The camera, lenses and other things are only tools. I knew a photographer in college many years ago with the most expensive and up to date gear, yet he could never get a photo that was sharp and decent. I had gear that was less expensive and produced very clear images, which were very strong visually. It is the photographer who creates, the camera merely assists.
I own a D3100 and I'm quite happy with it. When I have been shooting sport events with it, I have been borowing a 70-200/2.8 from a friend and the result it great!
However, a little now and then I would like to have built in support for off camera flash, now I'm limited by a cord. As you say +Lisa Bettany I can always take the pictures that this equipment allows me to take, and that is really a lot... but when I look at all the great pictures here I really get an urge to take some other kind of picture. So I agree, that you shouldn't just spend money for the spending but learn to use the equipment. But sometimes it is fun to get new gear, just make sure you know why you buy it.
wow thats like a pro pic i like it...
Nice story, Lisa! I certainly agree that you don't need the most expensive gear. But when I look at the photo above, I have to say: Get something better than an iPhone! A cheap entry-level DSLR will suffice.

But a mobile phone just won't cut it if you go for high-quality photos!
I only have old point-and-shoot Olylpus C-170 camera. Only a couple years and few thousand pictures later I started to understand what I was doing. And you are absolutely right -- the camera rarely matters. Or, rather, amateur cameras have more range than amateur photographers.

I should, probably, start sharing my better photos here, btw. G+ people recommend it.
Very sound advice, albeit - often to deaf ears when preaching to photographic communities.
Eitherway, there's always a few items that give the "average joe interested in photography" better creative options, which invariably lead to better results, but things start going wrong when you think in terms off upgrading the 50 1.4 to that lovely 1.2...

Lately I try to preach the following:
Use what you have, and make sure you can use what you have before buying better stuff.
I like that last bit about renting. It's way more affordable that actually owning lenses you use just once or twice!
i like the photo, an iphone? amazing, am inspired
+Lisa Bettany Thanks Lisa, this comes right on time, because i am thinking of buying a camera set right now. I am just asking myself if it should be a Nikon or a Canon. Can you advice ?
Looking at your work, you have an AMAZING sense of capturing the beautiful! Excellent work and enjoy the 2012 shooting! Cheers...
Thanks. Now I can confidently start snapping away with my already outdated Nokia C3-01's 5.0 mpx camera. Photographic stardom, here I come!
I have a nice Canon digital camera, but I use my old iPhone 3GS for most pics. They come out just as nice as a digital camera pic.
what a nice view .......just missing this moment
Such a very very a beautiful & amazing picture captured....
I simultaneously agree and disagree. I agree in that a good eye for scenery, aesthetics, lighting, colour and just capturing the moment will serve you better than any fancy equipment.
I strongly disagree, in the fact that, all else being equal, a few thousand dollars of camera equipment will serve you a lot better than a quick phone snapshot.
+Lisa Bettany you are so right:) it's definitely the person behind the camera and how they view their world, not always the camera:) of course, there are shoots that require much more than that, but sometimes, timing is everything in photography for sure:) Rock On!:)
sometimes its just the moment and luck to get that great shot
grand sulut............................
The wonderful thing though about a digital camera is that you can now keep taking the same picture till you get it right!!
Great shot that excellently proves your point.
really nice , i like the story
Hey Great Shot! I mean, great Eye, and great Filtering! ;-)
Love the app you made and is the 1st one I recommend to friends. Congratulations on the App success. Happy for you : )
Thanks for this post. These are my feelings exactly. I try to remember this everyday. I will also add that this includes getting hung up with the software and photoshop tricks. These are all important to know, but can be intimidating to the point of preventing getting out there with whatever camera you have and shooting.
Thanks for sharing that, Lisa. It's much appreciated.!
I'm actually about to enter the DSLR world with one Rebel t31 and a single lens, and was sitting here pouring over reviews and articles in search for additional lens' that I "thought I needed". Because everyone carries the variety pack for the various "perfect moments" I believed. Or so it seemed at least.!
The reminder and reinforcement that one can do wonders with whatever lens they may have, is exactly what I needed to hear right now, and takes away some of the concern about embracing a hobby that has attracted me for a very long time. ~smiles~
Thanks again, and best wishes on photo's to come.!! :-)
Awesome, +Lisa Bettany! I'm one of the guys with all the gear money can buy and what you're saying couldn't be truer! An encouraging post, for sure. : ) (Sorry for stealing you comment +Ryan Lynham - it just fits both ways so well!)
Wait! Are you saying I can't blame it all on a cheap camera? Pout :)
Is it the gear or the skill of the photographer? This argument has been going on for ages and honestly, I'm on the skill side of the argument. You can have the latest gear with a bajillion mega pixels and more buttons on the camera than you have fingers and toes, but if you don't know how to use the gear or how to compose a photo, it's a waste of time and money.

I'm not a professional photographer and I won't claim to be one of the best amateurs, but I think that if you have an eye for "the moment", you can capture the best shots.

Not to toot my own horn here, but these shots were all taken with a Nikon Coolpix S4100 and some post processing using an iPad app:

Again, I'm not a professional photographer, but tell me this. Is it the gear or the artist?
"The above shot was taken with an iPhone."... and I can tell, and so can every other person who has any idea on what it takes to make a great photo. Lame.
Thank you for the encouragement Lisa. BTW, I think Jam Bra should give up photography and be a professional hater...
I like the color 我喜欢这张照片的颜色
i so agree with u..i've taken awesome shots with my mobile phone
Very true. Like an expensive microphone is useless if you can't sing. That said, if you can afford, expensive gear lets you do the job easier and quicker I think.
Like a impressionist painting...beautiful =)
Very true especially if you are on a tight budget
So true. I wanted to go all out and purchase a nice camera for my blog, but with today's technology, you can make nothing look like something special. Great photo.
No Lisa, you can't rent 2500$ for 30$.. it is only in USA or EUR ... in Brazil you need use what you have! Does not exist a really descent lens rental here.
hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii lisa
Been through this more times than I can count. Though it was me giving myself a hard time about the equipment I longed for and what I could afford. Still working with a point-n-shoot and happy to do so until such a time...sigh!
Imti B
A great looking image, capture by only an iPhone? Wow that looks really nice. I am a budding photographer by no means expert but someone who is starting of, I don't have any fancy equipment and I am just looking to Shoot and click photo's of general interest, and I can't make my mind up on what I would like to focus my iPhone photography on, if anyone have any ideas, please 'Circle me' on Google+ and send an introduction. +1 for the capture image, looks great.
I agree completely that there are no bad cameras. Not only that, the limitations of say, an iPhone, can actually be a blessing, as in this shot, which would not have the same nice feeling if it had been taken with a DSLR.
Beautiful light and reflection.... your words are so true. I went on safari a year ago and felt impotent compared to the big wig photographers yet we all ended up with very similar photos!
we see the world through lens, at this moment, lens is a part of our body.
Hello Friend,
How are you? I am also fine. I would like to make a friendship. Happy New year 2012. Your photographs are so nice.Are you photographer? Thank you & best of luck!
Hi Lisa ... I have always loved photography and I just started photography seriously ...I use a canon 550, to shoot would love to recieve some feedback from you on my photos .... and tips if possible... i have always admired your potrait shots and am setting up an infiniti white background in my house pretty soon so hope to upload some nice shots although i cant seem to get the kind of clarity you bring in your photographs .... a few tips or comments would be most appreciated ... I have also noted that you are an avid traveller and take this opportunity to invite you to india as my guest for photography.....
That is amazing. I just stared at it for 23 minutes unknowingly.
+Lisa Bettany 1: It's not what you've got - it's what you do with it that counts! ;) 2: It doesn't matter if Ansel Adams shot a particular landscape a million times - it's your unique interpretation of it that matters. ;)
Lisa - Love your work, Love your tips and advice, but this post "Don't Be Limited by the camera gear you own" which is a common thread of your "Photography Philosophy" has been the most inspiring for me. That guidance has pushed me to learn more about my camera (Nikon D50) than is covered in the manual and push it to the edge of it's capabilities. Thank You!
Nice Nice Nice (*_*)
I totally agree with you, not always the expensive equipment makes a quality and unique photo, the feeling, the eye, and the perspective of the object are more important tools to develop an amazing picture
i like these snaps really it nice work KEEP IT UP
Thanks for the advice and for sharing this amazing photo!
Great great shot and an inspiring story! Thanks for sharing that.
you bring a tear to me eye, i wish that every aspiring photographer/artist could read this Lisa :)
Great great shot and an inspiring story! Thanks for sharing that.- i like your potogaphi...........awesome Shot!
thanks for this post, Lisa. You are vvery vvery right! And what a great shot indeed!
Look COOL...feel COLD....RAINY day
YES! I perfectly agree with your idea. You froze the nice moment for the above picture. You Good!
I agree.... Take the Bull by its HORN!! Nice pix's.... I too love taking pix's on my BB
+Lisa Bettany I agree.

I have been working with a Canon Rebel and a few lens for several years (part time) and still have not mastered them. I would like get a full frame camera, but $2000 is a lot of money for an amateur like me.

Love your work, btw.
Inspirational and reassuring at the same time.
Wonderful shot! (I got here via a share from +Robin Griggs Wood...)
Thanks for bringing this up. Reminds me of the popular joke about the comment "you must own an expensive camera!" when people look at a nice photo.
Most of the photos I have in my portfolio here on G+ were shot with very modest point and shoot cameras, even less powerful than the Rebel...
So when people ask me what's my equipment, I always answer - My eyes!
how do you use iphone and camera together?...but nice work i like this one..
Sometimes it is the limitations of a camera that forces you to be more creative. You need to think in terms if the device you have and think whether to try to compensate somehow or simply change your photography style to take advantage if it's limitations. 
nice picture, look like after heavy rain.
Love the contraste between the lights and shadows, great pic.
Hello, Lisa. Good Gooli! Mooli! You are a Very, Very, Very Beautiful Woman! You take

some Great Pictures! Thank You for sharing your Life with the World. :)
Big truth. Too much focus on gear is usually is detrimental to focus on taking good photos. Photo magazines support this by including majority of content to equipment than to photos and photographers.
Hey Lisa you know i started shooting with my friend mobile nokia n8. now i try to buy good cam, anyway nice pic.
That's a killer picture!  Sets the mood and makes you want to be there and live in that moment.
defenatly right, the way you see things make the shot
Hello Lisa,

Happy New Year 2013!

Wow! Lisa that is a Very Beautiful Shot!

You are definitely an Outstanding Photogragher/Artist! :)

Warm regards,

Garfield Callens
even on rainy days you make everything look soo beautiful
Hello Aleena,
How are you?
Wow! You take beautiful pictures and you have a beautiful family.

Grace and Peace!

I won 'best of show' one time in the 1980's with a photo of my twin daughters taken with a Kodak Instamatic 126 point & shoot!
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