Nikon says “A Photographer Is Only as Good as the Equipment He Uses”

You’ve probably heard the expression “It’s the photographer, not the camera”, but apparently Nikon — or at least one of its PR people — hasn’t. A few hours ago the company updated its Facebook page with,

A photographer is only as good as the equipment he uses, and a good lens is essential to taking good pictures! Do any of our facebook fans use any of the NIKKOR lenses? Which is your favorite and what types of situations do you use it for?

Needless to say, the post was met with quite a bit of disagreement in the comments.

Here’s a sampling:

Because a chef is only as good as their sptaula? and a musician only as good as their guitar… wow Nikon.. sad you said this

BTW, to the person who posted this… You are an insensitive, unthoughtful, unthinking, stupid intern to posts stupid things without Thinking of what your writing. But hey, congrat’s on the cool Marketing School. Doubt sales will increase because of your stupid post. My 02

I am really disappointed in this post, Nikon. Come on, this pretty much teaches people that they can just buy and expensive camera and lens and suddenly become a photographer – the reason why the market is so incredibly saturated right now. It’s about a person’s artistic eye and ability to work their gear properly.

Nikon why did you post this dumb question? I purchased the best lenses and camera that I could afford. If my pictures are crap then I know its my fault. The masters can take stunning images with a box brownie and the best camera is the one that you have with you at the time. There I feel better now

Please tell me you meant to say that the equipment is only as good as the photographer. Please. You meant that, right?

Cameras take, photographers create

Somebody should get fired for this very unfortunate statement from a reputable brand like Nikon.

I generally use my eye. It’s manufactured by my parents and can be a little iffy with the reds/greens, but it gets composition just right!

If you’re a marketing person at a camera company, this is a good lesson on what not to write on your company’s Facebook page.

(via Pixiq)

Update: Nikon has responded by updating its Facebook page with this message:

We know some of you took offense to the last post, and we apologize, as it was not our aim to insult any of our friends. Our statement was meant to be interpreted that the right equipment can help you capture amazing images. We appreciate the passion you have for photography and your gear, and know that a great picture is possible anytime and anywhere.

  • Jamie Weir

    The problem is that people are reading this as “A photographer is only good with the best, most expensive equipment.”.

    There’s no question that it’s very poorly worded, and I think the biggest problem stems from the use of “only”, to make it seem so limited.

    The notion holds true though.  If you want to be known as a tilt-shift miniature style photographer, you’re not going to get very far if you don’t have a tilt-shift lens, or software to fake it in post (which still qualifies as equipment).

    For people shooting back at them (on facebook) saying “What about my little Holga, are the pictures with those suddenly not good enough?” they are missing the notion that it applies to a Holga as well.  If you want to do that photography, but you have a nice crisp DSLR that doesn’t have the same qualities as Holga style, then your hipster photos aren’t going to turn out well (unless you fake it in post, which just…).  You need that kind of gear for that kind of picture.

    Some have made empty claims of saying they will/should switch to Canon, which depicts a wonderful notion of a person who is angered by the misunderstood notion of a company saying “base your work on the best gear”, and takes a stand by suddenly opting to base their work on the gear of whichever company has the most agreeable facebook presence.

    And for the people pleading that they hope Nikon meant to say “A camera is only as good as the photographer”, as pleasing a notion as that is, and one I strive for, that’s a horrible stance for the people that make the cameras to take.  That is basically marketing their products as “We have great equipment, but you will do just fine with the base level stuff, so don’t sweat it.”

    They need people to want and buy their good stuff, remember?  You won’t see a slogan for the Double Big Mac saying “In all honesty the regular Big Mac should be filling enough for you.”

    Again, I think the wording of their comment was very poorly done, but I think the over the top reactions to it are much more pathetic.  That’s the internet, though.

  • Guest

    I’ve seen terrible photos taken with expensive cameras… i am more impressed with someone who can take a cheap old camera and make something beautiful with it.

  • Dnguyen

    Haters are gonna hate.

  • James Whatley

    Veterans don’t make rookie mistakes? Not true.

  • Jamie Weir

    Dear Jamie:  Look up some synonyms for “notion”.  Jeeze, man.

  • Anonymous

    You’re right, but in this case, I think it would be an incompetent veteran to make this kind of mistake.  This doesn’t look like a case of being misinformed, being completely ignorant and lazy would do it.

  • Felipeo65

    That´s totally true, of course for people who doesn´t know anything about photography and need a better camera than their eyes. Nikon dissaponit me in this effort for selling more, don fuck photography nikon.

  • kendon

    exactly that. sadly, expressed like nikon did, it becomes a dumb marketing statement…

  • Wuorinen

    Gear don’t take pictures. Photographer takes them. If you don’t agree with me on this, then make a test. Leave your camera to your livingroom table for a night and see how many pictures your camera has taken while you slept.

    Nikons statement was like saying “carpenter is only as good as his axe”. Tools are just small part behind good results. Usually not even the limiting part. Photographers want good tools because it is easier to get desired results with better tools. (Ok, in some specific fields some special tools are needed.)

  • Wuorinen

    “otherwise why would the Hasselbladline even exists.”

    Because different tools are needed for different jobs.

    Cartier-Bresson took many great images while he was active. But on current standards his tools are outdated and poor. Same applies to Ansel Adams.

  • Jamie Weir

    Leave your camera at home and see how many pictures you take while you’re out.

  • Jack Kennedy

    -Sniff sniff- Is that bullshit I smell?

  • amando96

    It’s true though, I dare anyone to charge $300 to shoot a wedding with a point and shoot.

  • Kay O. Sweaver

    The “appology” isn’t even very good –

    “We… know that a great picture is possible anytime and anywhere.” …as long as you’ve got a good camera and lens right Nikon?

    Its like a spouse getting caught cheating and trying to twist and squirm with excuses and diversions instead of saying “Oops. I screwed up.”

  • charli

    and yet we are all talking about nikon and nikon and nikon….what if it was only a BIG marketing action to make people talking about nikon ever more? and think about spoiled young people…they all think the same and will buy nikon cameras and lenses!

  • Richard

    Thank you for this post. I agree that the statement isn’t wrong at all.

    Leaving everything the same (camera body, photographer, etc.) and putting a better lens on will probably produce a better image.

    The fact that people got all worked up over this means they’ve turned “it’s not the gear, it’s the photographer” into a mindless mantra.

    Folks on Facebook (and in some groups on flickr) are notorious for this and some in this very comment thread seem to be doing the same.

    No doubt the reason people are so quick to judge on things like this is because they went through a personal process of learning the “right” way themselves. Many if not all of us have bought better gear thinking it would improve our photography and in some cases it did, if for no other reason that we loved the gear and spent more time taking pictures and learning.

    No doubt all of us held our cameras and lenses the “wrong” way for a while before a more experienced photographer showed us the “right” way. But, to then turn around and snark at people holding cameras the wrong way, even in advertisements sounds infantile.

  • Richard

    Well said, I agree. It’s people with with their own insecurities who tend to be the first to jump on others when they smell blood. The internet is the ultimate lynch mob arena and it’s rather sickening to watch.

  • Richard


  • Richard

    Note quite true: Cartier-Bresson shot with a Leica body and Leica 50mm and 90mm lens. Those tools are still high end by current standards and in their time, they were at the top of the heap. People are still making excellent images with the same Leica body he used and the same lenses.

    Adams used a variety of view cameras which were of excellent quality and his lenses were also very high end. I carried his 4×5 kit for him for a week in Yosemite during a workshop, it was good stuff. Most of us would find a view camera cumbersome although Joel Meyerowitz used a big one to shoot his documentary shots of ground zero which are spectacular.

    Neither of these tool sets were as automated as current tools but in their time they were very high quality and still make images that are as good or better than the most modern tools. Posting to instagram from a view camera is tough though… there’s no app for that.

  • Roy Warner

    Man, speak of being worked up. You’re trolling more comments in this thread than I’ve ever posted on PP.

  • Mxyzptlk

    Interesting. I agree the post was a mistake. Not because it was wrong, but because the perception of readers could easily have been anticipated. Hey, I take pretty good pictures with a point and shoot. The point of the post was whatever the skill of the photographer, the better the equipment, the better the image will likely be. It didn’t say that any photographer will be great if (s)he has the right lens.

  • Bill

    Someone could probably get away with it with enough talent, the reality is that the images would be better, and creativity expanded with great equipment. If it wasn’t so no one would have wasted time to develop it.

  • Bill

    Same talent – crap camera or Leica you would be a better photographer with the Leica. Wheres my Leica please!

  • Bill

    There is more truth in that fact than you think. There are so many technical factors that create a photograph that to act as if equipment dosen’t matter is silly. can you be great without it yes, could you be greater with it yes.

  • Laura Palmer

    Im more upset by the ‘he’ remark personally…

  • Ize Onyu

    Although the original Nikon post was perhaps phrased sloppily, a lot of the comments here are rebuttals to a claim it does not make.  (There are a few exceptions, such as Jamie Weir.)  For example, one of the early comments says, of the Nikon post, “Come on, this pretty much teaches people that they can just buy and expensive camera and lens and suddenly become a photographer.”  No.  That is not at all what the post implies.  Nowhere in the Nikon comment is it ever implied that a good lens is *sufficient* to ensure a good shot.  The suggestion is that it is necessary for taking a good shot.  You may disagree even with that, but it does allow for the obvious:  that skills, and composition, and an eye for lighting (etc., etc.) are also needed to take a great picture.  The only point is that with all those qualities and poor equipment, there will be limits on what you can accomplish.  Also, there may be an expression that says, “It’s the photographer, not the camera,” but that doesn’t mean it’s correct.  And really, you all think equipment is completely irrelevant to image quality?!  Really?  People say that “birds of a feather flock together” and  they say that “opposites attract.”  People say a lot of things.  But they’re not all true.  Anyway, I’ll put more stock in the thinking of the original Nikon poster than I will in the smug, simplistic reasoning evident in many of these comments.

  • Macpartsguy

    I wouldn’t shoot a wedding with anything for $300

  • ryan

    Regardless it was in the name of Nikon 

  • jes

    …only as good as your equipment huh…..well thank God for my Canons and my Pentax, Holga, Aviva and my Kodak, then because obviously God given artistic talent, hard work, practice, and dedication dont mean anything… must be my Canon that i should attribute my success to then (considering it is my most used piece of equipment), I am glad that I am now informed. Thank you Nikon for this important piece of information!!! lmao

  • Abacus

    If I had a nickel for every dollar I’ve spent with Nikon, I’d be a rich man.

  • Benjamin Kanarek

    Well, Well, Well…Some of the worse photographer on the planet have a 30,000 dollar MF camera hanging around their necks…