It is an on-going argument/discussion among photographers about what camera is better, what format is better, what light system is better, yadda yadda yadda. I have long been of the mindset ingrained in me by my first photography teacher, “A camera is just a hammer. It is a tool used to achieve a specific result.” The mega-pixel debate, the constant arguments about Mac vs. PC, Canon vs. Nikon are only appealing and “correct” to gear heads.

One of the current photographers I greatly admire, Jimmy D, posted in his recent blog (Is “Better” Better [contains nudity]) about a young man who tragically shot himself in the head with a small toy-like pistol. The 20 year old is in critical condition.

What does this have to do with photography? The point of Jimmy’s post, and a message I have tried to convey to new photographers for a long time, is that even “toys” can create a desired result.

Yeah, it is really cool that the Nikon D7000 will shoot full 1080ppi HD video. Will that make your composition better?

It rocks that the Canon 60D will shoot 18 mega-pixels on an APS-C CMOS sensor. Does that make your use of light more effective?

If you shoot weddings and portraits, do you need to shoot up to 60 high-res jpgs at 6 frames per second?

The fact is that most of us – a HUGE majority of us – who shoot for fun and occasional profit won’t need all the bells and whistles that the Big Two keep adding on to their flagship cameras. Sport shooters need fast frames per second. Wedding & event shooters can always use lower noise and higher ISO. But those enhancements don’t make “better” better. Only the photographer can make better better.

Hammers are used to drive nails. But if you don’t know how to swing one it won’t matter if your handle is oak, steel, or graphite, you’re still going to smash your thumb.

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