If you’re into photography - which I assume you are - then you’ve probably heard of the term “pixel peeper”.
Pixel peepers is a term used to describe anal photographers who look at every single pixel of a digital photo and agonizes about whether the photo is “tack sharp”.
Sound crazy right? Well not really, pixel peepers are very common particularly with hobbyist and amateur photographers. Pixel peepers usually demand the very best lens and camera equipment money can buy and will settle for nothing less. If they do settle for something “less”, then they will always be saving to upgrade their gear.
Now this type of equipment snobbiness (for a lack of a better word) is not only limited to photography. Whether it be sports or some artistic endeavor, there will always be those group of people who want the absolute best equipment money can buy. This usually gives them a feeling of being “pro”. Other times, it just about keeping up with the Jones’.
As a guy who loves the latest and greatest photo technology, I too have been guilty of being a pixel peeper at times. However that side of me quickly took a back seat when I started being a professional photographer. When this happened, the only thing I cared about - in so far as equipment is concerned - was whether my existing camera setup could do the job and whether my client would pay me for it, and 99 times out of 100 it could. When I turned professional, I quickly realized that most lay or normal people aren’t pixel peepers. They not going to hold up your photo and use magnifying glass to examine every single pixel and corner vignette blemish. All they care about is whether you got the shot they wanted you to get, and if it looks and meets their expectations. Now for some clients their benchmark can be lower than others - e.g. National Geographic would have a high threshold to say something like a paparazzi tabloid magazine.
Am I saying that you can do okay with a cheap lens and camera? Thats exactly what I am saying. I have certainly used my point and shoot camera for professional shoots with wonderful results only because I knew how to use it and its limitations. Equipment and gear is secondary. Being able to see and frame the shots is the most important skill to develop. Once you acquire these skills then feel free to go drop your hard earned cash on some beautiful Zeiss prime lenses and latest and greatest camera body. They will deliver performance which will not disappoint. But the question is, is your skill set at a level where you can use all of its functions rather than just pressing the shutter button in auto mode.
To summarize my somewhat very long whinge, good photography equipment definitely produces better images - but only in the right hands. If you don’t know how to use the cameras features to its full potential, then you’re better off sticking to an iPhone or a cheap point and shoot.
Glass and equipment don’t make the photographer. That is something the photographer needs to find his own and develop his own style. Every time I have the urge to pixel peep, I remind myself these few things - does my client care? does it really affect the mood and feel of the picture? have I got the correct angle for this shot? In most cases clients don’t care what equipment you use, its whether you can deliver the shot.