Opinion: Expensive camera equipment doesn't have to be 'earned'

Hasselblad CFVII 907X
(Image credit: Hasselblad)

'All the gear and no idea’. It’s a phrase that’s brandished about in almost every hobby. But is it really that silly for beginners to invest in the best equipment? I wholeheartedly believe that you can take an award-winning photo on any camera, and I do think that limitations can bolster creativity. 

However, if I was just starting out and somebody handed me a Hasselblad 907X 50C I certainly wouldn’t turn it down! 

• Read more: Best professional cameras 

I recently fulfilled a childhood dream of owning a Gibson guitar, but as I opened the case for the first time I felt a nagging sense of regret. How could a living room guitarist appreciate a pro-quality instrument such as this? I tentatively strummed my first chord and breathed a sigh of relief. 

It’s the best guitar I’ve played and more importantly, it inspires me to play every day. I am, of course, well aware B.B. King could have made a three-stringed ukulele from a car boot cry, just as Joe McNally could wow critics with a shot taken on a waterlogged Nikon D90 with a dodgy shutter... 

We all know the camera doesn’t maketh the photographer, but I doubt Joe would be happy to adopt that D90 as his main companion either. Some people evidently believe high-end gear should be earned, but here’s the thing. A camera isn’t a qualification, it’s a tool. And good tools are desirable, because they help make tasks more enjoyable. But what constitutes a good tool doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with how much it costs.

If you’re happy spending £300 on the best camera for beginners and it inspires you to take photos and enjoy your hobby, it’s a good tool. If you’re happy to spend £3000 on a Nikon Z7 II and it inspires you to take photos and enjoy your hobby, it’s a good tool.

We all have different budgets and priorities in life, but we all have one thing in common: photography. An observation I often hear is that some people don’t understand how to use their high-end camera. But it really doesn’t matter whether you’re shooting on a Nikon D3500 or a Nikon D850, both cameras are made for so much more than, say, Auto mode. Instead of scoffing, why not impart some of your knowledge? I’m sure it’d be appreciated.  

You can’t judge a photographer by their camera. Enjoy using the equipment that speaks to you and don’t worry what anybody else thinks. Whether budget is a concern or not, we all have the ability to take great photos. If you’re inspired to pick up your camera, you’ve made the right choice.

Read more: 

Hasselblad 907X 50C review
Nikon Z7 II review
Nikon D3500 review
Nikon D850 review

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Mike Harris
Technique Editor

Mike is Deputy Editor for N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine, and brings with him over 10 years experience writing both freelance and for some of the biggest specialist publications. Prior to joining N-Photo Mike was the production editor for the content marketing team of Wex Photo Video, the UK’s largest online specialist photographic retailer, where he sharpened his skills in both the stills and videography spheres.  

While he’s an avid motorsport photographer, his skills extend to every genre of photography – making him one of Digital Camera World’s top tutors for techniques on cameras, lenses, tripods, filters and other imaging equipment, as well as sharing his expertise on shooting everything from portraits and landscapes to abstracts and architecture to wildlife and, yes, fast things going around race tracks.