In one of the most respected photography forums for professional photographers I saw this question being asked as I’m sure we’ve all seen it asked 1000 times before:

If art is the goal, does equipment matter?

 

art1

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS  @F4  1/320th  ISO 100

 

I don't think you can separate equipment and 'art' when it comes to photography.  As much as some try.

The fact is, photography requires equipment.  You cannot produce a print without a long list of equipment.

So obviously gear matters.   In matters in a multitude of ways, from user satisfaction to photographic capability.   It matters in the way a skilled carpenter maintains the sharpest set of chisels possible, or a draftsman his instruments.

I ask you this.. Is medicine art?   Surgery?   I know some medical professionals who think so.   If you required a major surgery, would you want the surgeon to have the best tools and equipment available, or perhaps only what was available 100 years ago, or the cheapest set made in India?   Before you go off and say the quality of the surgeon is more important than the tools.. consider that's a given.   But also consider there will be some surgeries which can be done better by a lesser surgeon with state of the art tools, than a better surgeon with lesser tools.

Photography is this way.  Of course gear matters.  It just doesn't matter for ALL aspects of the photographic exercise.

The photographer sets the priorities.  Perhaps its the most captures in a set amount of time to document, perhaps it's being able to shoot in the lowest light, maybe its the most detail..  Whatever his/her priorities..  he/she looks in his bag and selects the best tools (equipment) to serve his/her artistic priorities.   He/she does it, we do it.  Photographers do it.  We'll always do it.

As better tools become available, they'll inspire greater visions which we didn't think possible yesterday.   But now that they're possible creative juices flow and and we see photographs today, we didn't see yesterday. 

With video now commonplace in still camera bodies.. how soon will it be until we can shoot full resolution images at 60-120fps?  Movie or still?  It's only electronics which will make this possible and it will become possible soon.  As the electronics develop we'll be able to take more frames per second, more resolution per frame, shoot in less light, record more details, and achieve higher image quality than ever before.  It's just a matter of time.

If you haven't already considered and desired some of these possibilities then you're way behind others who have.  Equipment is only part of the equation, another part is vision.  Envisioning that which we can't yet achieve and working towards it.. is an entirely different level.

The "does equipment really matter" debate/argument is limiting, boring to those who can think.  It's like asking "does water matter?"  "Does food matter?"  Lots of things matter.  And depending on the vision different subsets of things become part of the equation.

Better to ask "Define your vision and submit your equation."  Think about it..