Camera Gear: Style vs Substance

The 21 megapixel sensor of the 5D Mark II

The 21 megapixel sensor of the 5D Mark II. Beautiful, isn't it?


Q&ADoes size really matter? A reader asks about photography equipment in relation to professionalism as a concert photographer.


I have a D90 and my only concert-capable lens is a 50mm 1.8. My question is, at all the shows you cover on assignment, do you ever see professionals using “crop-sensor” cameras instead of full-frame DSLRs?

I finally started getting some photo passes and I want my equipment to give the proper impression. Any thoughts or experience on this? How much does the camera/lens really matter as far as “professionalism” goes?


Hi Taylor,

In my experience as a concert photographer, “professional” shooters are simply the ones who get the job done and deliver the best results. As to the means to that end, that should be a non-issue for all parties concerned.

No one is whipping out the tape measure and looking under your shutter to gauge the size of your skill.

The Role of the Camera

I'm not going to say that the gear doesn't matter; shooting in a photo pit is as demanding a situation as any photog is likely to face, short of a warzone. Low light, strobes, thrashing rockers, and a limited timeframe will put any shooter – and their gear – to the test.

Having cameras that deliver high performance image quality, AF, and speed in low light conditions will always be valuable for concert photographers. Simply, these factors are why I use the cameras and lenses that I do.

That said, having the latest and greatest gear only helps facilitate technical proficiency; it's not a substitute for talent, skill, or vision.

Style vs Substance

At best, the most sophisticated equipment will allow an inexperienced photographer to make technically competent images of perfectly unremarkable subjects. Using the right tool for a job simply makes the task easier. No more, no less.

The most significant reason to upgrade gear is simply when your current equipment starts holding you back and fails to deliver the performance you need to execute the images you want to make.

Regarding “professionalism,” only your conduct with other photogs, your dealings with bands and their representatives, and – most importantly – your images really matter. It's on the basis of your work that photographers will respect you and that clients will hire you.

Now, if you start dancing in the phot pit? That's another story; I'll find you and personally take away your photo pass.

Have your say, concert photographers!

How much does gear matter? Do you judge photographers based on the cameras they use?