There are a multitude of different ways to divide the photography community
Canon vs Nikon
Mirrorless vs …mirrored?
Cropped Sensor vs Full Frame
Zoom lenses vs Prime
The list goes on
For as long as I have been a photographer, I've struggled with the labelling that is automatically attached to the camera you shoot with because all of it is dripping with that word we all love to hate: Privilege.
When I started out, my first camera was an Olympus 35mm that my tutor let me use until I got a second-hand canon SLR that had been hanging around gathering dust in the loft and when I finally got a digital camera, it was a little Minolta compact thing that took only tiny pictures but worked well enough. It wasn't until I started university that I managed to get a DSLR with my loan (canon because I already had a lens from the SLR body). It was a Rebel XTi and I used it for YEARS.
None of my photography equipment decisions came from a place of endless choice. I never found myself standing in a camera shop with a bunch of cash burning a hole in my pocket saying 'hey, just take whatever costs the most and that will be the best one for you'. I never woke up on Christmas morning with a surprise top of the range DSLR waiting for me from a wealthy benefactor who could spare the cash and I never had enough disposable income from my day job (when I had one) to be able to spend my wages on photography, because well… Council tax and stuff. I used what I had and what I had was what a teenage student living independently could scrape together while still being able to eat.
As I got older, my equipment gradually grew with me, but it was a painstakingly slow process and each bit of gear I got had to be meticulously researched and selected so that every piece served an essential function that would radically enhance my photography on a shoestring and as I read these articles about the top 5 (5!!!) essential wedding lenses or how you can only be a pro if you can afford a body worth more than a car I started thinking that maybe they were right.
I mean they must be, right?
So when I'd shoot weddings, with my second-hand 40d semi pro body from 2007 (a very generous Christmas gift from my husband the year our daughter was born, which was nowhere near 2007), with my xti as a back up and with nothing much more than a kit lens and a Nifty Fifty, I'd notice all of the looks I'd be getting from the Uncle Bob's with their Mk III's and their L series and I'd cringe when they'd want to chat with me about our gear. I'd feel like a fraud. Like they were laughing at me (because they were laughing at me) and I vowed that one day I WOULD have a full frame camera, but that I'd only pay for it with money earned from photography and that if I'd ever made enough to be able to afford that, well then I could know that I was legit.
So I started saving up my earnings. Every job I'd put a little aside to put towards that full frame body that once I finally owned would really make me the pro I always wanted to be. I scrimped and I saved and I took photography job after photography job until I finally had enough money to even entertain the idea of researching what body I might want.
And by the time I could afford one, it finally hit me.
All these Uncle Bob's with their thousands and thousands of pounds of 'professional' equipment paid for by their non-photography related day jobs were using it all to shoot as a hobby and I with my 'hobbyist' equipment, was the one getting paid. And sure, their cameras were undoubtedly better than mine, but my skill was greater than theirs, my knowledge was greater than theirs, my photos were greater than theirs, and honestly, the people who are paying don't give a damn what your camera's called or what it's made of or how many autofocus points it has, they just care what you can do with it.
Shooting with a full frame camera doesn't make you a professional photographer. It makes you a person who can afford a full frame camera.
Shooting with a full set of prime lenses doesn't make you a professional photographer. It makes you a person who can afford a full set of prime lenses.
Ultimately, what makes you a professional photographer, is getting paid for taking pictures. That's it.
So about a year ago, when I'd finally got together enough money to upgrade my 40d to a full frame I researched for weeks and week the sort of camera I should get that would do all of the things I needed it to. And I still chose a crop sensor. It wasn't until a year after that, that I finally settled on the full frame camera that could benefit my camera bag. And I didn't blindly go for the most expensive one. I went for the most appropriate one for me. A 6D.
I chose wifi capabilities so that my clients can see the images as I shoot them.
I chose portability so I can use it in tandem with my 70d when I shoot weddings (which is the only reason I got a full frame at all, to give me that significant boost in low light)
I chose fewer autofocus points because I only use one of them anyway
I chose the 'baby sister' to the Mkiii's 'big brother' because the image quality is almost exactly the same for a significantly cheaper price.
I chose 1 memory slot over 2 because my years of being thrifty have supplied me with multiple little memory cards instead of a few large ones and I shoot weddings with two bodies anyway.
I chose a 2013 body over 2017's revamp because from what I'm told, there's a not whole lot of difference between the two and by spending less on the body, I can buy a couple (a couple!!) of new lenses with the money I'd save.
There are so many factors that make a camera model different from the next one, and until you know exactly which things are going to help or hinder you because of your own specific requirements, you can't say that any one camera is better than another. Just because a camera can shoot a hundred thousand frames a second and use its 70 million autofocus points, 200 megapixels and impossibly high iso sensitivity to track a shooting star across the sky, doesn't justify it's million dollar price tag if you're shooting stationary subjects in a well-lit room to sell the digital files for use on social media.
A camera is just a tool, in the same way that a pair of running shoes is a tool. And sure, having a really expensive pair of trainers might make you run more comfortably, but they aren't the only factor in winning a race. The only one, surefire way of being the best you can be, as with all things, is to train.
And while I still plan keeping my old faithful 40d, I've got to admit, this new toy of mine is pretty cool :)