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Pro vs. Amateur Photographer Using $30 and $7,200 Cameras


When it comes to photography, it can be easy to blame our bad images on our gear (or lack of it). The truth is, while gear can make your job easier, there is no substitute for the time and effort spent on learning to perfect your craft.

About a year ago, we set out to demonstrate this idea with a video we titled “It’s not about the gear. We shot with cheap cameras to prove it.” In that video, we shot a model with an entry level DSLR (a Canon Rebel T3i) and asked our pal Justin (who is familiar with photography but doesn’t shoot professionally) to shoot the same model in the same location with a much nicer DSLR (a Canon 5D Mark IV). By doing this, we hoped to demonstrate the importance of photography basics like composition, understanding light, and directing the model over the importance of simply buying a more expensive camera.

While a lot of people were encouraged by a video that didn’t pressure them to upgrade to the latest and greatest gear, some people took issue with the way we went about the experiment. So, we decided to do it one more time with their feedback in mind.

This time around:

1. We selected a much, much cheaper entry-level camera. It was about $30.

2. We also chose a $5,499 Canon 1D X Mark II and a $1,699 Canon 35mm f/1.4 II for the more expensive camera, making the gap between the two cameras a lot greater.

3. We all shot with both cameras so that viewers could compare the amateur’s cheap camera photos to the amateur’s expensive camera photos (and do the same with the pro photos as well).

4. We shot in and out of our studio in the middle of the day. By doing this, we created a greater challenge for our amateur photographer because of the variable lighting conditions outside.

You can watch the shootout in the video above. Here’s a closer look at the photos:

Cheap Camera: Amateur

Cheap Camera: Pro

Expensive Camera: Amateur

Expensive Camera: Pro

In the future, we plan on creating a followup video where our amateur edits his own photos, and we analyze them closer.

About the author: Daniel Inskeep and Rachel Gulotta are the professional photographers behind the popular YouTube photography channel Mango Street. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.