Myth #2 – I Need an Expensive Lens to Create Great Images

By Lane Erickson

“If I have any ‘message’ worth giving to a beginner it is that there are no shortcuts in photography.”– Edward Weston

Weston’s quote is awesome, because it sums up and applies to all aspects of photography. It even applies to gear. How? Well, if you believe that you would be a great photographer if you could only buy the latest and newest pro camera or expensive lens . . . you’ve been duped. Why? Because even expensive gear isn’t a shortcut to becoming a great photographer. 

An Expensive Lens Will Not Make You a Better Photographer

In my first installment on the myths of photography, I talked about the #1 myth, which is that you have to use an expensive camera to create great photos. This second installment has to do with lenses and why you don’t need expensive lenses to be a great photographer.  

Now before I get accused of being anti-anything, I hereby fully disclose that I own top quality cameras and lenses. There is nothing wrong with the good stuff. Professional quality cameras and lenses are a joy to use. They are designed with precision and durability. Additionally, they can withstand abuse and bad weather. 

When it comes to lenses, the best ones can be used on that brand’s camera regardless of whether it’s a professional quality camera or not. Good lenses keep their value, and work for decades. 

But, what if you can’t afford pro lenses? What if all you can afford is a kits lens or only an inexpensive 50mm lens? Are you doomed to a lifetime of creating mediocre photographs. Good news: the answer to these questions is NO. An expensive lens will not make you a better photographer, if you don’t already know how to be a great photographer, and even an inexpesive lense won’t stop your creative genius when you are a great photographer.

Don’t Look for a Shortcut

Even if all you have is your smartphone, or a point and shoot camera, or just about any modern digital camera and lens combination, you have enough hardware to create outstanding images! The question is: do you have the right software (a/k/a photographic skills).

Don’t get sucked into the never ending blackhole known as GAS (gear acquisition syndrome). Rather, spend your time, and more importantly your energy creating great images instead. There are no shortcuts. 

If you don’t know how to begin, start by reading my earlier article about the Simple Formula to Awesome Photography. After that, the very best thing you can do is create photographs. Then create more photographs. Then create even MORE photographs! There is no shortcut to learning photography, but the formula listed above can help.

Each of the photographs included here were taken with inexpensive lenses, either an 18-70mm “kit” lens or a 50mm f/1.8 lens that was 15 years old.  Also, the cameras used were all older 10mp or 16mp models that are considered obsolete based on current digital technology.  (Click on an image to make it larger.)

Don’t buy into the gibberish that you somehow have to use an expensive lens to create great photographs. Use the lens you have. Learn with the lens you have. Create awesome images with the lens you have. If you can’t do it with the lens you already have, it’s unlikely you could do it with a more expensive lens.  

As always, feel free to comment, critique or criticize.  Thanks for reading. 

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