There Is Hope – Even If You Can’t Afford A New Camera!

Pelican Photo by Scott Bourne

There Is Hope – Even If You Can’t Afford A New Camera!

It seems that the email I get comes in droves – not in terms of the quantity – but in terms of the subject.

I got a particularly heartbreaking email from a guy trying to sell me all his camera gear. He said he was giving up.

I asked why, and he said “I can’t afford any of the good, new camera gear.” I am on social security and I won’t ever be able to afford that gear so why bother?”

This is really sad. I see it as one more reason why the Internet and social media can do more harm than good sometimes. I get many similar emails and social media contacts. Sometimes people lash out at me when I review new gear and they get defensive because they cannot afford it. I don’t take it personally, but I do grieve for them. I can’t stop reviewing new gear just to appease them. I won’t. But I can try to dispel the myth that you need the newest gear to make a great photo.

The notion that you need the best camera to make the best picture has been discussed in depth. But yet, people still fall into this trap. So I apologize for bringing it up so often, but if there is pain out there over something so utterly ugly as this, I want to try to stop it.

I know it’s easy for me to say don’t worry. I always get to use the latest and greatest gear. And I am not saying that it’s not helpful to have good gear – but the one thing I can do to combat this is show pictures from the old days when – maybe the gear I was using was the best FOR THE TIME but would be laughed at today. Yes – laughed at.

Pelican Photo by Scott Bourne

This pelican picture can serve to illustrate my point. It’s been licensed by three different entities and earned me about $1500 in income. Not a big deal but definite proof that it’s a good image. I made it with an older camera and a third-party lens that would be considered unworthy today. There is no doubt that if I brought that camera and lens to the flight line today at Bosque for instance, people would look down on it – and me. So?

The people who licensed and paid me money to use this picture (like every other client I have ever had) didn’t ask me what camera, what lens, what aperture, what size sensor, what ISO, what shutter speed, etc. The truth is – that the audience who pays for pictures doesn’t care about that stuff.

The lesson is simple…

Keep shooting with whatever you have and don’t listen to the noise. The people who would ridicule you because of your camera/lens choice are almost certainly NOT good photographers. And absolutely not good humans.

I’m going to keep talking about this as long as I see evidence that it is still a problem.

For those who cannot afford a new camera, I regularly post content at that you can use to improve, regardless of camera. I’m rooting for all of you.

If you like my work here at Picture Methods, please consider supporting it by purchasing prints and gifts made featuring my images at

4 Responses

  1. While I am always delighted to use newest bodies and mighty lenses, and their capabilities are impossible to deny… I can’t ignore the fact that the most popular image from the crop taken at a recent outing has been taken with original E-M1 and 50 years old Takumar SMC 56/1.8. Whatever I got on that walk with E-M1X, 12-100/4 and 7-14/2.8 was decent but more on a trivial side.

    Maybe it was a specific character of that lens, or maybe it forced a different vision, or just a coincidence – but the fact is, gear “newness” did not determine a winner. Sure, new capabilities widen the range of images we are able to take, and make it easier to take them. I am not a Luddite by any means. Just trying to maintain a balance, and slapping a vintage lens on a modern camera is a good way to do that. Actually, I kept mkI mostly for this exact purpose 🙂

  2. Great post Scott! Even though I am fortunate to have an EM1 Mk II, I still shoot with my “old” original EM5 too. I’m afraid this is a topic we’ll need to be reminded of time and time again.

  3. Amen! I will covet your E-M1X until the day you finally get distracted at the wrong moment and leave your truck unlocked. But I’m just as inspired by my first-generation Google Pixel phone camera as I am with my E-M1.

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