…I’ve read enough from people in forums on the Web who have convinced me this isn’t a good shot because….

  • (a) It was taken with a 6-megapixel consumer camera (the original Canon Digital Rebel) back in 2006
  • (b) I shot it with the cheap kit lens that came with the camera
  • (c) My camera was set to JPEG mode
  • (d) It was taken on a $14.95 tripod (I forgot mine at home so I had to buy one at Walmart)

I’m going back there again soon on a family vacation, but this time I’m taking:

  • (a) A Nikon D800 36-megapixel camera or my Nikon D4
  • (b) A 14-24mm f/2.8 lens that along costs more than the camera, lens, and tripod I shot the image above with combined.
  • (c) I’ll shoot in RAW mode and post-process the image in Lightroom 4
  • (d) I’ll be using an Gitzo Carbon-fiber tripod with a Really Right Stuff BH-40 ball-head and I’ll have a cable release this time

But with all that cool gear and technology, I am pretty darn certain I won’t get nearly as good a shot. There’s a lesson in there somewhere. ;-)

Have a great weekend everybody, and here’s wishing you great shots no matter what gear you’re shooting with.

About The Author

Scott is a Photographer, bestselling Author, Host of "The Grid" weekly photography show; Editor of Photoshop User magazine; Lightroom Guy; KelbyOne.com CEO; struggling guitarist. Loves Classic Rock and his arch-enemy is Cilantro. Devoted husband, dad to two super awesome kids, and pro-level babysitter to two crazy doggos.


  1. great post, remember to bundle up, gets cold there!

  2. thank you for posting this!! it’s about the shot! NOT always about the equipment!! Your camera is just a box used to record an image. You don’t need the latest and greatest.

  3. Sweet shot. I’ve some rather amazing 6MP shots done in JPEG back then too!

  4. I like the photo! I really don’t care what camera was used. Great shot! Look forward to more Scott. Although either the D4/D800 with a 14-24mm should produce a great shot, also.

  5. If the print meets your own standards then a,b,c,d are irrelevant.

  6. Somewhere there’s a Nikon rep quietly sobbing.

  7. Thanks for sharing that story. There are always people who think that the means are more important than the end. I remember reading that at 6mp, dslrs attained the resolution of 35mm film cameras. Hope you change someone’s mind with your post. Thanks for all you do, Scott. And have a great vacation.

  8. I am utterly surprised, Scott, that you would post such an inferior shot made with now-obsolete equipment. Where’s the shame? ;-)

    Kidding of course. I like it!

  9. Those clouds and the lighting will never be the same again, no matter what gear you use. Here’s to kit lenses and being in the right place at the right time!

  10. Hold on a sec, Scott, you don’t have a RRS TVC-33 yet??? :). (Love mine)

  11. I think it’s a good shot no matter what! It is about being in the right place at the right time and even being somewhere as magnificent as that to capture what many people aren’t able to see themselves.

  12. It’s like a painter can only make great paintings with expensive paint.

  13. the old question – who takes the shot? the camera or the photographer?

    wishing you a nice weekend too! :)

  14. If only I had the same camera at the same spot and shot it at the exact time!! The best camera you have is the one on you. :) great shot Scott!

  15. Scott your sponsors are not going to be too happy with thr post:)

  16. Love the original photo, just goes to show you can have all the expensive kit in the world but you can’t buy the weather!
    I forget who’s quote it is but “the best camera in the world is the one you have with you when you need it”

  17. A good shot can be taken with a pinhole camera too. Never mind the nay sayers. Have a great time on the islands.

  18. Thanks a lot Scott. Thank God I saw this before my wife had a chance to read it. I’ll distract her. :)

  19. Good plan Scott – LR 4 should be able to get rid of all that distortion around the edges!
    Great shot – good luck on getting another. Have fun.

  20. Amen. It’s not always about the gear.

  21. Right place at the right timp trumps all

  22. Great shot. Yes, as mentioned by someone else, it is about the image. When I hear those kinds of criticisms, I have to remind myself that this is America and everyone is entitled to their own opinion no matter how wrong they are. :)

  23. Enjoy your time with your family while on vacation.

  24. Great post!!!!!

  25. AMEN!, Scott. Enough said

  26. I love this shot, Scott!! It looks like your on the road to Heaven! :) I need to purchase this print and hang it in my office! Just gorgeous!

  27. its not always the stuff. great stuff wiithout vision is like calling yourself writer without knowing more than a 1st grade vocabulary.

  28. To take back-to-back pictures with a new camera and an “obsolete” camera and compare them would be an interesting experiment on The Grid. I’m sure a good discussion would evolve. Thanks for the reminder that it’s the photographer, not the gear, Scott.
    Have an awesome vacation (whenever you go)!!

  29. Amazing shot! I love it – it’s so unique.

  30. This photo is horrendously aweful, Scott! Shame on you. Now, how do I get an autographed copy? ;-)

  31. Camera never matters, only the photographer ;-)

  32. I think its a great photo. Rule number one is don’t listen to what other people say.

  33. I don’t suppose you’d be going in July? Because that’s when I’m going and I know I’ll be on the lookout for you now. Can’t wait to see what you get.

  34. The best camera is the one you have with you. But you knew that already. ;)

  35. Well, it can’t be a good shot if you use a Gitzo instead of a Really Right Stuff TVC-33. You may as well stay home now. :)

  36. One of the first things I learned in college while getting my degree in photography is the fact that the 3 primary elements were necessary for a great photography. Inspiration, dedication and good light. Not a single mention of a great camera. I am like Matt when someone says, “You must have a really expensive camera!”. I used to get mad about it, but his remark during the Grid about a month ago became my new mantra. “I taught it everything it knows!”

    Beautiful shot, Scott!!!

  37. Thanks for starting my day with a smile. I keep my Nikon pocket camera with me always…

  38. While quality gear helps in tough situations, It’s about the photographer and their vision. Give a guy like Scott an iPhone, and an average Joe a D4 and see what happens. :0)

  39. For real? You’ve got to stop frequenting DPReview…. :p

  40. The lesson being …. don’t forget your tripod!

  41. Hi, Scott. It looks as if you put two pics together, one of a winding road and one of what looks like clouds or the tundra on the top that divides the pic into two equal halves. My attention is drawn to the bright band of light at the top of the pic and then to a road aimed at the vertical centre. The scene just didn’t make sense to me.

  42. the only bad photo is the one you didn’t take

  43. Beautiful! You must have been using “The Best Camera” The one that’s with you. Is there an app for that?

  44. It blows my mind that people would criticise your photograph for the reasons you listed. That’s our community at its very worst. In 2023 the same people will be laughing at kids shooting on old D4s!

  45. hah…if I had a dollar for someone judged my work by my camera, I’d probably have more money than Bill Gates. Well, not really. But the truth is that I shoot with a Nikon D80 (still). I’d love to upgrade my camera, but I haven’t found a need yet. So when someone – another aspiring photographer – tries to tell me that my photos “lack the quality” of a “better” camera, I remind them that my D80 has earned me a good deal of money (which I use to buy the stuff that really matters: Flashes).

    Good lesson, Mr. Kelby.

  46. All good points, Scott! It’s NOT about the gear. It’s about light, and timing…
    Thank you for sharing.

  47. The image is everything. How you got there does not matter.

  48. It’s a fine image, for sure. Just to be a “devil’s advocate”, however, I’ve heard Matt and you, on the grid, say, to paraphrase, it’s not a bad photo for a seven year old camera….. ;-).

  49. The photo gods always want you to quote their #1 rule: The best camera to take pictures is the one you have with you. What does it matter if you have a Canon Rebel or an iPhone v1. The only exception is Matt trying to take a picture of the Golden Gate bridge.

  50. Love the tongue-in-cheek humor, Scott!

  51. Scott, that’s like saying that Michael Jordan was a great basketball player because he wore Nikes. Fabulous shot, and I don’t care if you took it with a disposable camera.

  52. Wait a minute. Did people actually say these things? Honestly, there’s a very strong humblebrag flavor to this post…

  53. Personally, I think the photo speaks for itself. Great shot Scott!!!

  54. Very well said Scott!! It is always the Photographer and not the Camera that makes the shot great!!

  55. Hey Scott, it makes an awesome day trip to ride UP that road on a bicycle, then shoot the sunset (with your wife carrying all the supplies in the car, enjoying the day in her own way, or course). The area around the Observatory looks like something out of Star Wars with all the clouds beneath.

  56. “This can’t be a good photo, because…” I didn’t do it! :-D

  57. Great photos are the ones you get with the equipment you have while you’re in the moment. There’s no such thing as a great “come back later” photo. F8 and be there.

  58. Scott-
    Who give a Rats A*# what people think. Good job! Besides the most important thing is you had fun riding the bike down (I am just guessing)

  59. I’m quite sure that your shot with your new rig will be much better than this horrible shot you posted. Because we all know that the latest and greatest equipment captures much better images than older technological cameras–Just ask Ansel Adams! (sarcasm–just sayin’ because there will be one person that would take this too seriously otherwise; there always is!)

  60. A great ‘keeping it real’ message. I’m of the opinion many suffer from this ‘Buying something to become something’ phenom. I bought inline skates (yep, before they were called rollerblades) and somewhere in my head I thought ‘Dude, I’ll be so cool doing kicks and jumps and flying down the street’. 10 minutes and 10 bruises later they found a permanent comfy home next to the canister vaccum cleaner attachments in the back of the closet. I know this because in a National Treasure esque expedition I came across them last week. From time to time, I get those same urges with Photography gear………. ‘OMG, look at that new flash modifier’ … easy boy.
    You took a great photo, not because of the gear, but because of the discipline and skills which put you in position for the opportunity and let you take advantage of it.

  61. today i use yhe same camera (no job = no money) with a 28-135mm canon. i don’t listen pro photographers: they like only their shot and yours are…. great shot.

  62. Obviously you can’t recreate a moment in time six years later so surely the question is if you had taken the shot with the fist set of gear then immediately taken another shot with the second lot of gear which would be the better one? Perhaps better is not the right word, so which would be the keeper that you would have as a huge enlargement hanging on the wall?

  63. Great shot Scott!!!

  64. I must agree with all that has been inferred here. But sight must not be lost on the ‘what if’ factor. ‘What if’ Scott had his:

    (a) A Nikon D800 36-megapixel camera or my Nikon D4
    (b) A 14-24mm f/2.8 lens that along costs more than the camera, lens, and tripod I shot the image above with combined.
    (c) I’ll shoot in RAW mode and post-process the image in Lightroom 4
    (d) I’ll be using an Gitzo Carbon-fiber tripod with a Really Right Stuff BH-40 ball-head and I’ll have a cable release this time

    … as well at the time. I am fairly certain he would have selected this group of toys over ‘what was available to him at the time’.

    Actually, I find it somewhat difficult to believe that such a tremendous photographer would not have his “A-game” toys along on a drive like that one. I think perhaps it may have been a case of, “I’ll take this shot with both kits and play a game of “What if” with the inferior kit’s sample just to prove a very valid point on my blog”.

    Just in case the rest of us, who on occasion or seldom do, neglect to bring our “A-game” toys with us. For which I have been guilty of on more than a number of instances of which I do feel somewhat embarrassed, if not totally ashamed to admit.

    The message, however, is not lost on me. I totally understand the mindset and impression being presented.

  65. Love this!! You are so true…I have run into so many photography snobs, with that said, I love this post! :)

  66. What a great post! As a young (14) photographer, I get quite tired of all the people looking down on me and my shots because I use beginner equipment. Thanks for the encouragement!

  67. I still remember my mood when i read this post 2 years ago, it inspires me a lot.

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