Does a more expensive camera makes better pictures?
To this question, I always answer this first : It is you who takes pictures and not the camera!
A camera is a tool, that's it, that's all...
Since many years, a paradigm is dictating camera market. Supported by the camera industry, we are all submerged in this myth, we are all convinced that the more expensive or recent a camera is, the better the pictures it will produce. This is totally false.
Here is a very interesting picture that proves that creativity is much more important than equipment. It was made with a Holga 120N, which is a medium format camera made out of plastic and that costs about 40$ :
This is only to demonstrate that the camera is not really important when you are creative.
Sure, cameras have different limitations, I woul'nt cover a wedding with a paint can pinhole camera... Mmmm, may be sometime? :-)
Sport and wildlife photography are probably the 2 most expensive cases in terms of glass. This is due to the fact that the more that your subject is far and the more it moves fast, then the more we will need to get it closer and the more we will need to stop it. This is done with long telephoto lenses that have big apertures. The perfect combination for a wild pricetag. It goes ridiculous...
The other case where equipment need can grow exponentially is for studio work. We can manage with less, but professionnal equipment goves some advantages like, time and... ... credibility.
For certain needs, equipment does the difference. For everything else, if you only knew how photography can be so cheap!
Which camera should I buy? I have a budget of this amount...
If you already have a budget for buying a camera, chances are that you will buy more than what you really need. I can tell you...
Orient you camera search in function of your need and not in function of your budget and you will probably save money, unless you need to show-off.
What is more important, the technical side or the artistic side ?
Since many years now, I came across many photographers that knows by heart equipment catalogues, but that are never able to produce a single interesting image. I also came across very good artists that did not knew how to properly use their camera.
A photographer that masters the technology is nothing without a good eye. And an artist waistes his energy if he does not masters the technology.
I did meet fantastic photographers that handle use their cameras like if it was the extension of their body, and with a tremendous artistic eye. These rare well-balanced photographers each have a style of their own and produce overwhelming images.
For example, this photo, even if it's far from being a chef d'oeuvre, is still interesting for the eye, with its soft background. The emphasis is well done on the subject, with the use of vignette and shallow depth of field.
To produce this result, I modified a Vivitar camera which has a 22mm f11 fix focus lens. I've disassembled the camera and permanently modified the aperture to f3.5. By doing so, I changed the depth of field. Like all fix focus lenses, it's adjusted to the hyperfocal distance. Here I've caculated it to be 4.75 feet. Depth of field is from around 3 feet to infinity. By modifying the aperture, I've changed the depth of field which is now from 4 feet to 6 feet. Before and after that, it's out of focus, or really soft like here. This is an example of the technical side helping the artistic side...
We could have done this with Photoshop? No. We could got a bit close, but it would never be like doing it for real, trust me.
You shoot digital, but why do you still shoot film sometimes?
Since a few years now, there is a real craze for film, a lot of photographers are coming back to film after tasting digital. There is a reason for this...
I love to use old cameras, they all have something to teach us. It is an immense pleasure to feel the mechanics of the Hasselblad, the shutter sound of the Leica, the viewvinder of the XPan, the Weight of the Holga, the ingenuity of the Spartus Miniature, I really could go on and on...
Shooting film is fun, there is the anticipation, the moment you seize, the wait for the processing, it's a workflow every photographer MUST experience at least for a while.
The act itself of shooting film is something that can only be understood when you do it. It's a universe of its own, both complex and simple. So to all of you that do not understand, I say : Go try it, and you'll feel photography!
Thanks for being there!
Eric Constantineau, small photographer in this big World