Skill or new camera?

On a forum I’ve had a conversation about “how good is good enough”. In silver based images the print was the final test of how good a camera/film was. Today some judge cameras only on how what do the pixels look like at 100%, while some like me still use “does the print look good at normal viewing distances for its size”. I believe that most of today’s or even cameras from 3 years ago produce extremely good images which are only made better with post processing. Which is more important – Skill or new camera?

While I love to look at slides shows on digital monitors, including large TV’s, the photographic print is still my concept of photographic art. I like images to be as large as the file/film will allow while still capturing the intent of the artist. A large print of a bad image will still be a large print of a bad image. But a large print of a artistically good image with be art. Someone once said “you can’t buy game”, and in photography in my opinion too many people try and buy game.

The industry for the last 10 years has been a cycle of new cameras every 2 or 3 years. It takes me 2 or 3 years to know a camera well. Perhaps I’m a slow learner. But this cycle is now slowing as the consumer who is not a hobbyist appears to be using cell phones instead of cameras and hobbyist are finding that cameras are offering less and less must have features. I personally think that this will be good for photographic artist and the focus once again will be the Compositional and Processing skills rather than “I need a new camera”. Many good photographers have fallen to the “new is much better” and for a while that was true. I don’t think it is any longer.

I recently bought a new camera, but I’m also using my 7 year old one as well as my 3 year old one. I’m done buying for the next 4 to 6 years. And in that time I expect to become a much better photographer and as I learn my new cameras strengths and weakness. For the majority of the images I take my 7 year old camera take images good enough for the customers I’ve had. The newer cameras have video and that is a new art form for me. If I had to chose between my skills learned over 40 years or new equipment I’d take my skill set every time, after all you can’t buy game.