$5,750 Versus $500 Camera Gear: What Happens When an Amateur and Professional Swap Gear?

Composition, lighting, and use of colors: these are some of the major fundamentals that actually matter in photography. I'm assuming that many of you already know what's going to happen when a professional photographer swaps his equipment with an amateur. 

We've all probably seen videos where a professional photographer shoots with a cheaper system than they're used to and still manages to produce stunning results. The main reason for this is because experience and skill are what truly separate a good photographer from a bad one. There's no camera that I can think of that will automatically produce an incredibly well-composed image. Or know precisely how to light a subject. These skills tend to take time and lots of practice. Even still, I always find it interesting to see videos where a professional and amateur photographer swap their gear for a shootout. In a recent video from a channel called Henbu, they do precisely this. The equipment used in the comparison is the Sony a7 III with a number of lenses including the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 versus the Sony a6000 with the kit lens. In my view, I thought both photographers produced some great results. This goes to show how little the equipment was really impacting the overall performance. 

Of course, there are benefits to shooting with better, more capable equipment, but the most important aspects of what make a good image can't really be found in a sharper lens or a camera with more dynamic range. 

Check out the full video linked above to see how each photographer performs. 

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Timothy Turner's picture

These videos would be a lot more useful if the subject would spend less time walking around talking about themselves and more time showing side by side comparisons of the photos taken, then the video would be maybe 3 minutes instead of 9, not that 9 minutes is long.

Deleted Account's picture

Nine minutes IS long. Some say that any kind of written pitch, explanation, whatever must be on one sheet of paper. Busy people here. Three minute challenge to get your points across? Any takers?

Timothy Turner's picture

You make a very good point, I remember when I looking for my first job, I was advised to make my resume on one page, if a prospective employer cannot read your resume in 3 minutes or less he will reject it.

Mike Shwarts's picture

"The main reason for this is because experience and skill are what truly separate a good photographer from a bad one."

This is where your terminology (professional and amateur) fall apart. There are professionals only in the sense that they earn at least part of their income from photography. Yet many of us would agree their artistic skills (and sometimes technical skills) leave a lot to be desired. Likewise, we know of amateurs who consistently make photos that we "ooh and aah" over.

I wish the people who write all these comparison articles (found throughout the internet) would use skilled and experienced vs. unskilled and low experience.

Chris Fowler's picture

I enjoyed the video because I started this photography hobby 4 months ago with a Sony APSC camera and it gives me some level of comfort that the gear that I have is not the limiting factor to what I can learn from photography. I would be interested in a part 2 to this video if they used more than just the kit lens on the a6000 to see how the images compare.
But what I would REALLY like to see, is how much post production goes into the photos taken with the a6000 in preparation for comparing against a7RIII for the video.

Andrea Re Depaolini's picture

I guess that the amount of post-production is not related to the type of camera. I explain myself, a professional will spend time post-processing the picture regardless of the camera he used. I'm still an amateur but what I learned is that the camera is important only in very specific situations, the best camera doesn't help you choose the best composition, the best subject or the best light.

Ryan Luna's picture

They both took some decent IG snapshots.

Chris Fowler's picture

Yeah I saw the pics on Henbu's Instagram account. But, if it was for IG, they should have just compared the A7RIII to an iPhone and called it a day LOL

sam dasso's picture

First of all A6000 is a very capable camera and a kit lens on it is just fine for 24MP sensor. A7III is full frame but still is 24MP. It is better camera for sure, but not much of the advantage for most of the situations. I have A6000 and also A7RIV and I can definitely tell the difference between 60MP with GM lenses and 24 MP cameras with kit lens. I'm not so sure about A7 III vs A6000. As for pro vs amateur, modern cameras practically shoot themselves, you don't need any special skills any longer. All this talk about pro skills in lighting or composition it is all in eye of the beholder. I hate most of the so called creative images.

Usman Dawood's picture

Correct me if I'm wrong.

The point you seem to be making here is that if the less experience photographer has a much better camera like the a7R IV with a GM lens he could have produced better images?

Also just because a camera is difficult to shoot with or requires skill to operate due to how complex it is doesn't make you a better photographer. That just means you spend more time faffing around with inept equipment.

"All this talk about pro skills in lighting or composition it is all in eye of the beholder"

Therefore? What are you trying to say here?

sam dasso's picture

You are correct. I'm saying that I can give A7RIV to high school kid who never had anything but Iphone in his hands, set it to intelligent auto and kid would have better quality pictures than a pro with inferior camera. I'm also saying that for my taste most of the so call creative pro shots are garbage, I like images to look like reality to show natural beauty of the object being photographed (as an example your pictures of interiors on your web page are excellent) . I'm saying that pro photographers do not have any special skills that make them better, they just get paid for something anybody can do with proper modern equipment and perhaps couple of days with a good instruction book.

Usman Dawood's picture

Anyone with a paintbrush is Van Gogh right lol.

sam dasso's picture

I just knew that you or somebody else was going to bring Picasso or Van Gogh ! Yes, I do like old masters because their painting represent reality. I hate modern art, and don't think much about paintings that can be reproduced by the layman. As a matter of fact you can go to some studios in Denver and for $35 you can get canvas, paint and brushes plus a glass of wine and instructor will teach how to paint Starry Night and you can take it home to show your friends. Or if you are in insane asylum like Van Gogh was when he painted Starry Night, you may be able to create similar masterpiece.
And on serious note. Using brushes takes skills. Painting Mona Lisa takes skills and talent. Using modern camera at the wedding does not. Why do you think there are so many influencers now days?
In my opinion it is because it doesn't take much to take pictures people like.

Drazen Cavar's picture

What you say applies only to typical circumstances which can be effectively resolved by AI features of camera, and in that very circumstances smartphone will also do well, so with the same reasoning you are saying pro-camera AI works for itself you can say smartphone AI can be pretty big challenge to pro-camera in most of circumstances.