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The Nikon,Canon, etc Debate
Old 01-06-2005, 12:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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This isn't really the Nikon/Cannon Debate all over again, so I started a new thread.

I've been coming to Garage Glamour for about 5 years.

When I started out, I had a Nikon N50 and a cheap 28-70 variable aperature lens, no flash, no lights, no other equipment.

I've gone from a an N50, to an N60 to an N80 to an F5 to a D1x. I have quite a few lenses, including a 300 2.8 Silent Wave, a 135 Defocus Control, a 50 1.4, an 85 1.8, the 105 macro, the 80-200 2.8 and th 28-70 2.8 S (you get the idea).

For lighting, I now have 2 SB-28's, an SB27,and SB80dx a couple of generics and a couple of the SU-4 wireless TTL controllers.

For studio Lighting I have 3 1000 W Lowel Hot lights, 6 Photogenic Powerlights, soft boxes, octoboxes (inlcuding a 7ft job) and all kinds of snoots, grids, barndoors, and wireless control.

I also have a set of Pro-foto Pack lights and a 1200 WS ringlight and a 24 inch Beauty Dish.

I have close to 20 light stands, a couple of booms, and more connectors and gadgets than I can shake a stick at.

I added it up the other day and am guessing I have over 20,000.00 in gear.

I don't shoot just glamour, but do landscapes, animals (like at the zoo) architectual, etc.

While my work has improved dramtatically over the last 5 years and while there are some effects that you can only get with certain equipment (a ring light for example or the bokeh of a 300 2.8) the honest truth is, if you gave me my N50 back, my 28-80 lens, a bounce board and one flash head, I could do just as well with most of my photography because it is about SKILLs, not equipment.

I agree that a prime 2.8 has advantages over a 28-70 variable zoom, and you can find specific issues or sharpness with certain lenses, etc. but at rock bottom, the underlying image is primarly the result of applying knowlege to the equipment you have.

The vast majority of mistakes or "bad shots" I see on the web would not have been prevented by holding a "nice" camera, a sharper lens, or more expensive lighting gear.

I have a buddy that works on the web under the name Fotopixels. He shoots the most fabulous bikkini shots with nothing more than a camera, a lens, one flash and a reflector. His only studio lights are a set of cheap (but good) Normans, and a couple of umbrellas. On the front page of GG is an "ad" for the Miss Caribbean Tan calendar, that's his work.

I constantly see these threads where people argue over the most minor differences in equipments, lenses, lighting, etc, and just based upon my experience, give me 10,000.00 worth of lighting gear, doesn't equate "magic".

You have to use your stuff carefully.

I've actually gone back to square one and in a lot of cases use less equipment rather than more.

I've watched other people shoot and have stood right next to them and shot the same model, in the same location, under the same circumstances, and have learned that two people standing side by side, all things being equal, can produce dramatically different results, by making minor tweaks, adjustments, and most importantly use of light.

I still have a lot to learn and don't think my work is better than most. But from the standpoint of having more equipment than just about anyone I know, I can tell you that nice equipment doesn't get you "great" results.

I don't reqret buying anything I have bought, and use most of what I have in different ways, but in reflection, could do without a lot of what I have (if that makes sense).

I compare it to my guitar playing, I have a lot of cool guitar gear, but am a horrible player. My little brother on the other hand plays at a recording artist level.
I can pick up a "cheap" guitar and it sounds like crap. My little brother picks it up and sounds like Eric Clapton.
Put a nice guitar in my hands and I still sound bad.

Yeah, a nice guitar is easier to play, has better pickups, has better fret work, etc. But the most important element is player SKILL, not the minor differences between a cheap guitar and a nice PRS.

So, for all of you dreaming that if you just had the next newest digital camera or a "better" lens, my advice is to learn to use what you have first.

I have a bunch of available light shots of Las Vegas from 5 years ago that are as good as anything I have ever shot.

If you sent me to Vegas today I would take minimal gear because I know I can get those exact same kind of shots with nothing but a camera, lens, film and careful metering.

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Re: The Nikon,Canon, etc Debate
Old 01-06-2005, 01:05 PM   #2 (permalink)
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And the crowd (or, at least, this member of the crowd) responds, "AMEN!"

Nicely put, Mark.
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Welllllll... yes and no
Old 01-06-2005, 02:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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After a certain point, you're right; it's the photographer, not the equipment. In film work, that's especially true. I can do almost anything with my 30 year old k-1000... I disagree with you when it comes to digital photography though. I am at the very bottom of the GG community when it comes to equipment, and while I'm damned proud of what I accomplish with what I have, there are a LOT of shots I flat out can't take with what I've got. Not because of my skill or lack thereof, but because the camera can't do it.
That said, you're right; once you've graduated past the P/S digitals, it's a bit of a different story. I've just been hit upside the head with the fact there really isn't that much difference between the major brands comparing specific cameras at a given price point, and I've come to the conclusion that, given my modest needs, it's a little silly to get worked up about it...
Shot with an Olympus d520 2MP camera and a 1000w halogen light stand, with a "tinker toy" diffuser in front of it:

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I agree
Old 01-07-2005, 01:46 AM   #4 (permalink)
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While I do enjoy the hot lighting and special tech toys, some of my all-time favorite shots were taken on a beach, at sunset, with the sun over my back, the model sitting in the frame of the camera, and a load of Astia or Kodakchrome (you all remember Kodachrome, right?) in my Nikon F100 (or before that, an FM2) and a 105mm or 180mm lens. I love those shots. People are always amazed at how much of a non equipment-geek I really am.

Karen McDougal at Cabo San Lucas, 1997 (poster)

Andy Pearlman
Andy Pearlman Studio
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