Why Are Photographers Obsessed With Other Photographers’ Gear Changes?

It seems like there is always a video from a major YouTuber about selling his or her gear, and these videos can rack up hundreds of thousands of views. I’m not sure why that is.

Sometimes, a provocative headline can draw someone in. When I worked at Canon, the entire company was abuzz over Scott Kelby’s switch to its gear from Nikon. Yes, I found the cabinet at work where we kept his old Nikon gear and joined in the strange sense of pride in using his old equipment to test against Canons. 

In any case, I can’t help but wonder why switching gear is such big news in the world of photos. At the end of the day, they’re all digital boxes making pictures and video. I can’t appreciably say that the already talented Scott Kelby got better when he made the switch to Canon, for instance, or that there was any real difference in the style or tone of photography from others I have seen.

Likewise, in my own career, I started with Canon and was a die-hard loyalist who would fight anyone who spoke ill of “my” brand. But then, I worked at a school that got a consignment deal from Nikon, and I switched out of loyalty to the brand that showed my school the same. I was hooked on how good the cameras were, but objectively, I wouldn’t say the Nikon D700 I bought to replace my 5D Mark II made my photography any better. Really, that could be attributed to time, experience, and education. At that level of experience, though, I certainly thought the new gear made my photography better.

Since then, I’ve moved on to Panasonic, Olympus, and Fuji gear, and the biggest thing that using such a variety of gear has taught me is that it really doesn’t matter what you’re using. I’ve gone from full frame sensors to Micro Four Thirds interchangeably. A good lens and a halfway decent body (and in 2020, all bodies are at least halfway decent) will get you where you need to be. While I may rip on the finer points of something like the more affordable Canon EOS RP and its horrendous viewfinder, the truth is, just over a decade ago, I was shooting Panasonic mirrorless cameras with even worse viewfinders and enjoying it. There just wasn’t anything to compare to.

Perhaps the reason there is such interest in these YouTubers and their gear is the same reason kids watch that Ryan kid open up toys on video: envy — not for the YouTubers themselves, but for all the gear that they’re parting with. Perhaps it’s because there are many people in the world of photography where I was when I started, with a fierce, but unreasonable brand loyalty to a brand that doesn’t care about them one way or another.

It all comes back to something I always say about cameras when I have a friend or student thinking of jumping ship to another brand for what is essentially a lateral move: your camera never takes worse pictures than the day you bought it.

Happy holidays, readers, and remember to love the gear you’ve got.


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