You can have the most expensive gear known to man and still not be a great photographer. It's not the gear, but the constant learning, shooting and honing your skills that matter in the end.
Yes, there are some things that you can do with some gear that you may not be able to do with others, but you don't have to have the latest, greatest to be a better photographer. Understanding lighting, all the controls on your camera, composition, working with a subject, editing and more are all things that you need to be good at whether you have a $5,000 camera or a $500 camera.
The problem with gear is that it is never ending in photography. For me, I shoot with the Canon 5D Mark III, but there is talk of the Mark IV being released in 2015. My mind automatically starts thinking about upgrading. Will the Mark IV make me a better photographer? NO! Will it make me more money by bringing in more clients? NO! OK, you may be thinking, but David, you have the Mark III and should be happy with that. I only have the T3i and would love to have the Mark III. Trust me, if you had the Mark III, there would come a time that you would want to upgrade to the newest model which as of this writing the Mark III is still the latest Canon model at the price point it sells for.
Here's another thought for you. I really want the Pentax 645Z Medium Format camera that is around 10K for the body and lens which is a steal in the medium format world. Do I need the 645Z? NO! Do I want it? YES! Will I actually get it anytime soon? NO! Should I stop thinking about it and focus on getting better with the gear that I have? YES! Do you get my point yet? I hope so!
A friend of mine has the Canon 70D and although I can out shoot him in low light on the 5D Mark III, there is a minor difference at best on a computer monitor of a shot taken in full sunlight outside lens to lens, body to body with no unique adjustments. It's really hard to tell a difference in just a basic shot when viewing at 600 x 900 on a monitor. Grant it, I could do a lot with technique to outshoot him, but I could hand him the 5D Mark III and take his 70D and likely get a better image because I understand settings, lighting, composition and a few other things better. Then, adding Brenda' editing, wife and full time editor, my 70D image vs. his 5D III image would likely be far different. It's the knowledge in this case not the camera.
Had I rather shoot with the 5D Mark III instead of the 70D? YES Would I use the 70D for my photography if that was all I could afford? YES. It's about doing the best you can with what you have without stretching your budget or credit card limit overboard.
Focus on shooting more and honing your skills. If you are on a tight budget, only buy the gear that you can comfortably afford. If you have 1 body, 1 lens and 1 speedlite, learn how to master those three pieces of gear and gradually get more gear while making your primary focus doing the best you can with what you have. FYI, you cannot shoot hundreds of images and burn them to a CD for $99 expecting to upgrade your gear anytime soon.
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