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Zack - your lowlight post was awesome, and I found it to be a great help, thank you. But there are still people who only ever use "crappy light" like Jeff Ascough. And thats why it still makes a lot of sense for wedding photographers to have 5d mk3 and the 1.2 lenses! Its one of the few forms of photography, other than sports and nature, which requrie expensive gear!

Agreed. There will always be photographers who get in situations that suck for photography and yet they pull something awesome out of it. Jeff is a good example of that.

Remember that the original question was asking about sharpness. As you can see in Jeff’s work, it isn’t always about absolute tack sharp images for him. He lets life blur in front of his lens and he’s a master at that. He has years of experience and while he may be shooting in crappy light at times, he’s great at composition, moment, and other aspects of photography. You could hand him a 1.8 lens and he could still do his job. Know what I’m saying?

Here’s a good interview with Jeff.

I’m NOT going to tell new photographers that they have to have the latest and greatest bodies and lenses in order to shoot great work. I’m going to say shoot great work with whatever gear you have and let your gear build up with your experience. The focus, in the beginning, CAN NOT be placed on the shoulders of your gear. 

I chased the gear for years and went into thousands upon thousands of dollars of debt doing so. I’ve met countless other photographers dying under the weight of credit card debt as they chase the gear. At some point that chase needs to end. You wake up one day and realize that 1.2 is an aperture, not a style. You’ll see a 16 year old shooting amazing work with a point and shoot. You’ll realize that you’ve been buying what people told you to buy. One day you wake up and realize… “Dang. It isn’t about the camera or the lens or the softbox.” 

So many people think cameras and lenses are getting better. They are. But cameras are stupid no matter how “great” they are. They know nothing. They see nothing. They don’t come with vision. There isn’t a DMI light in the viewfinder.* There’s no Avedon button on the back. The most important piece of gear for a photographer is their brain. 

Sports - Yes. You need long ass lenses for a lot of sports. You aren’t going to shoot the World Series with a 50mm 1.8. That’s a given. Many sports photographers rent those lenses or use pool/company gear if they are shooting for a wire service or large publication. Nature? You don’t necessarily need 300 2.8 lenses and up. Wildlife? Yeah, maybe. Probably. Note that 95% of the folks who read this blog aren’t trying to shoot a pride of lions in the heart of Africa. :) 

Most people reading this blog are jumping into weddings, portraits, editorial, and commercial jobs. They are either experienced in one genre and are thinking of transitioning into another genre or they are emerging photographers still trying to find their feet in this hobby / craft / industry / career.

I have a number of questions asking me that if it isn’t about the gear then why do I have a Phase One camera? Some think it is hypocritical of me to say stuff like this. I answered that here.

5d3 and 1.2 lenses? Gorgeous gear. It sure is. I’m not saying it’s crap gear and you shouldn’t buy it. I’m just reminding you that the gear isn’t the goal. The gear doesn’t make you who you are as a photographer. As duChemin says… “Gear is great. Vision is better.”


* Decisive Moment Indicator - Stole that one from Greg Heisler.  :-)

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