Does Equipment Give You An Edge In Stock Photography?

Posted Friday, 3 August 2007 by Chris Garrett in Photography
One phrase that often irritates me when I show people my photographs is "You must have a great camera" This implies the camera did all the work, I hardly even needed to turn up!
Camera gear
Camera gear
It's a popular belief though that the equipment maketh the photographer. Just look at any photography forum or club and see how much bling is flashed around, how much discussion is about gear and the mental ranking that people perform looking around for beige lenses sporting red stripes.

Look at the EXIF of some stock photographers you admire and you might see some trends. Some expensive and disturbing trends. Heavy on the 1Ds and D200 caliber DSLRs and light on the pocket point and shoots.

Are they top photographers just because of their expensive equipment? No, obviously they have buckets of talent and not just the best gear, but how much does your equipment affect your stock photography sales? 

At the bottom end of the scale, a camera could theoretically rule you out of the game before you begin.

A cheap camera can, well, take lousy photographs. They are intended for quick snaps of your kids and pets doing something cute, or your friends getting up to no-good. Poor quality lenses, over-compressed JPEGs, over/underexposure, tiny resolution and lack of any decent low-light performance, slow reaction time leading to shake. There are any number of ways a camera can let you down. 

Photography Equipment Helps, But You Need Ability

It's more often true though that good gear gives you more flexibility and choices. A kick-ass photographer with a 10 year old 4th-hand film SLR can blow away any photograph that would come out of the latest and greatest in the hands of Mr or Ms Average.

Decent equipment though will allow you to learn what you need to know, give you options you might otherwise not have and will not hold you back. Of course the rest is up to you.

If you are in the market now?

If you are looking to equip yourself right now my recommendation would be to get a decent entry-level DSLR. While bridge cameras are very capable and cover much of the ground of a DSLR, you are stuck with its current lens capabilities.

With a DSLR purchased you can then upgrade with lenses and lighting, these two areas will allow growth in both output quality and technique possibilities. Given a choice between spending on the body or lenses, I chose a ho-hum camera (Canon 350D) and started my lens collection. In most cases a resolution of between 6mp and 12mp is sufficient. You can grow into the top-end after making some sales.


Of course if your budget allows then invest in the best you can get. A top quality lens matched with a high end sensor is going to give you a competitive edge. If you can produce very high resolution images with a mind blowing quality then you will have access to sales and markets I could only dream of with my much loved but more humble consumer-level gear.


 We will cover more about photographic equipment in future, the things to focus mind right now are to own and buy gear that opens up possibilities rather than holding you back, and to learn and practice well what you buy. Gear sat in boxes and bags is not going to help anybody!

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By Spanishalex on Thursday, 9 August 2007 8:15 PM
Wise words; invest in glass not megapixels!
Dissagree slightly
By Native666 on Sunday, 18 November 2007 7:02 AM
no matter how good of a shot you are if the picture is so small no one can use it whats the point.

EXAMPLE: i took some stock with my moms old 3 mgp, point and shoot a few years ago. They were good pictures but they are so small that i cannot use them for half of my work.

That and stock pictures are all about focus, normal point and shoots don't allow easy manual control. YOU NEED AN SLR. For professional stock. Other wise the quality is going to be so low it wont be able to be used. That and if you have a quality camera and set up. You can easily make HUNDREDS of stock images. And its very likely that people will find purposes for them if they are high quality, and you have a broad range of work.

Here is a very good link that helps describe this.
By adyjak on Sunday, 25 November 2007 6:59 PM
Yeah, but it works vis-a-vis ;) I mean even if you're good photographer but you don't have good camera your photos will not be good (even if they technically (mean proportion, perspective et cetera) are good).

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