How can I do good work if I don't have good equipment?


The biggest issue I run into with those newer to the biz is their feeling that the amount and quality of equipment determines whether they can do a good job.

My answer to them is always the same.

You have to know how to do the job with less than perfect equipment. The quality of the product, which to me is determined by content and not flashy effects, is what counts most. Not having the latest model number on your camera, computer or other support gear. ;)

Latin Lens

Well-known member
Interesting thread.....but I am sure lots will be said on both sides of this issue, it just depends on your mindset really.

While yes, top level equipment will ease the whole news gathering process...not every station has the equipment to buy the best you will find that you will be asked to use whatever they have to go out and gather news stories and it should look good.

Knowing how to use a camera....ANY camera is the best skillset you will ever learn...the fundamentals will remain the same no matter what. Dont ever be embarrased of your your best job with whatever you got.

Case in point...I shoot on a Panasonic HVX 200....not the best ENG camera out there....but it does have a good picture....and I have audio it allows me to get the job done...other stations in the market have full-sized ENG I should be over-matched right? Or atleast thats the theory...but because of what I have learned over the years from experienced photogs has made my work easier no matter what camera is in my hands. This is a fun industry....lots of work though, but its'll see and do lots that make this job worthwhile even though the pay isn't that great.

Have fun...learn all you'll be a better photog in the end for it.


Well-known member
Hmmmm makes me remember....

When I first started in this lovely industry...that is an endearing term, no sarcasm intended, I had 4 guys who mentored me and made sure I knew what I was doing before they turned me loose. Everyday, my RAW video was critiqued, I was grilled on shots, color temperature, F-Stop (thats my iris setting for you newbies) and natural sound. Looking back, it was grueling, there were days I prayed to God to get me out because they were sooooo hard on me. I know now why they were.

This industry changes rapidly, equipment affects picture and sound quality ONLY. If you don't know the basics of camera operation, your color temperature, shooting, and nat sound gathering, you might as well go home. Editing in the camera, using cuts only (I was not allowed to touch our NLE for daily turns. It was tape to tape baby! You had to know how to shoot to get around a jump cut!

Part of me thinks the newer generations are being dumbed down too! NLE has crippled potentially story telling...on the other hand, it has also increased it. Technology will change, the basics or our foundation will last forever! If we build on that foundation then the next generation of story tellers will be forever changed the same way that 4 photogs took me under their arms and said this is how you will do it...for now. It was only later that I developed a shooting style that makes my editing so much easier!

Freddie Mercury

Well-known member
I would like this thread better if someone was actually asking the question. I'm not sure anyone really feels that way. They haven't mentioned it here yet if they do.

Good work and good equipment are subjective things. After my early experiences with cameras that didn't hold registration, batteries that only gave me less than 10 minutes and umbilical cords that fritzed out so I had to manually roll the U-matic deck hanging at my side, I have a pretty low standard for good equipment. If you are able to concentrate on shooting your story and not nursing your gear through the shoot, you have good equipment.

Now maybe you are talking about extras, like wireless mics (though most places have them), powerful lenses, fast/agile tripods, tricked out light kits, etc. These things are good tools, but are not necessary to do good photography.

It's already been said, but I'll voice my agreement that what makes a good photographer is how he/she uses that gear. It's the angles. It's the use of light. It's working your mic to get the intimicies of the sounds around you. It's knowing what will add to the story and what won't. It's putting down the camera and talking to somebody before scaring them away. It's picturing the story in your mind while your'e shooting it. It's the ability to see what others don't.

It's a poor craftsman that blames his tools.
One of the best still and video photographers I've ever met actually had very little equipment when they started out; basically borrowing from others and in some rare instances renting. You'd also be suprised what one can find that happens to be used equipment; but be careful of video hardware with too many hours on it.

An example; whom really needs an 8k Nikon dcx when something half the price will do as long as it can shoot in the raw format. I've also noticed many video units which border upon prosumer which can hold their own quite well against just about anything else.

Latin Lens

Well-known member
Don't mean to speak out of turn

I would like this thread better if someone was actually asking the question. I'm not sure anyone really feels that way. They haven't mentioned it here yet if they do..
I think Lensmith was jumping the gun a little (but in a helpful way) to get a thread started for the Newbies to read and see the responses.

Entry level threads are for the entry level photographer and thinking back to your early days you can symphatize with their fear of "asking a dumb question". So Lensmith I think was just getting a dialogue started for their benefit to read because so many of them are in this particular situation.


Well-known member
The equipment is only as good as the photog using it.
Only up to a point. Being the best cameraman in the world doesn't help you if the camera is noisy, or can't handle even a slightly dull room without looking like mosquitoes have invaded.


As a newbie, I can understand the "lousy equipment, lousy work" argument. At my last job (also my first job, in market 100+) I was burned way too many times than I'd like to remember courtesy of lousy equipment. The cameras recorded video just fine, but getting audio was awful, absolutely awful. Sometimes it would record audio, sometimes it wouldn't... and that's being hard-wired in. I won't even talk about wireless.

But now, at my new station, a monkey could run our cameras. I don't mean that negatively - these cameras are new, small, and practically idiot-proof. Now that I have the good tools/toys, it's the time to show my actual skill set.
Yeah.. I always see video from rival stations where they use shaky raw video, yet the picture looks great. While P2's can deliver a great product, they don't tell a story on their own.... Just my .02...
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Well-known member
Can it be done? YES, is it practical? NO

Everything is possible but I’m a firm believer that in order to be successful in this business (making money) you need both, the right skills and the right tools. During our careers we all had to get resourceful, but this is a business, quality is as important as speed. Any day when I said to myself, “I wish I had that” because it would make my job easier, better and faster; be sure that the same evening I’ll be on the computer ordering whatever it was I wish I had few hours before.

I run into this problem often when other shooters tell me that the reason that I get a lot of good jobs is because I have a full compliment of gears, well, which one came first, the chicken or the egg. Having everything that you need doesn’t necessarily make you a better photographer, but on the other hand unless you are wealthy and have money to waste, why would you buy additional gears if you don’t know how it will improve your work. The right tool is required by the corresponding skill.

It always amazes me when people ask me what light kit should they buy. My answer always is, "buy whatever you need to do a good job", that's when I get the confused look back. The problem is that they don't know what they need to do a good job, they haven't got that far into their learning process yet and think that what they need is a good light kit to be good.

The High School I attended in my native country (sometime before electricity) was an Art Vocational School. We had to learn lighting from the very beginning. The first step of the process after lengthy classroom hours and spend endless time in museums, was to recreate the work of master painters, both lighting and composition. In one large empty room we had one large window, white sheets to use as diffusion or reflectors and black cloths to get negative fills. Weeks later and only after we mastered these techniques we moved next door to a real studio where they had real lights. Amazing how much more difficult it was at first shifting to real equipment.

To do a good job without good gear takes even more skills than when you have everything available to you, not only you must know what you need but you have to be handy and resourceful to create something with something that you don’t have. But let’s not forget that this is a business, having the right gears will expedite the process. Try to do a job in front of a client without the right gears or try to put something together with pieces of white cardboard and gaffer tape and you’ll never hear from that client again, no matter how good the end result is. Confidence in the photographer is what creates long lasting working relations. In the eyes of the client if you can not afford to buy the right tools means that you don’t get hired enough and don’t make enough money to get well equipped.

There are also many times when the right equipment will allow to work in situation that otherwise would be impossible, try to do good work outside without HMIs, overheads and reflectors.

The success in this business is accomplished when you are able to always say to a client “yes I can do it”, no matter how complicated the request is, meaning you have the skills and the gears to do it no matter what it is. This is how you build long and profitable working relations.