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Why Gear Doesn’t Matter: The Short Answer and The Long Answer

Before smartphones were the “inferior” format, before point and shoots, before the APS-C vs full-frame debate, there was large format vs 35mm. If the history of photography has taught us anything, it should be that gear really, in fact, does NOT matter.

If you’re like us, you’re pretty sick of people asking and answering “the gear question.” A quick Google search will reveal hundreds of blog posts, editorials, and in-depth breakdowns about why gear does or does not matter. But in this video, Ted Forbes of The Art of Photography actually offers a fresh and refreshing perspective on the question.

Instead of focusing on quality, he focuses on capability. Just like 35mm film revolutionized photography because the increase in convenience and portability made the loss of quality over large format totally worth it, the smartphone is revolutionized photography because of its connectivity.

What Forbes is getting at, ultimately, is that quality is always going to take a back seat. It took a back seat to portability and convenience with 35mm film, it took a back seat to connectivity and interaction with the advent of the smartphone, and it will always take a back seat to the thing that really matters: does this image speak to you?

The medium should not matter. There are advantages, disadvantages, and limitations to every type of camera you pick up—be it a digital medium format camera, an analog large format camera, or that phone in your pocket. Your responsibility is to make the most of the gear you have and build your skill as a photographer to the point where you can make great images on whatever light-proof box is placed in your hands.

This argument, in all its nuanced glory, is described much better by Ted in the video up top than we can do justice in this summary, so we definitely suggest you carve out 12 minutes of your time today to listen to what he has to say.


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