Why the Best Production Gear Won't Help You

The barriers of entry for all aspiring filmmakers are incredibly low. Never has it been so easy to acquire all the gear necessary to shoot and edit a good-looking film. But, as Walter Murch points out in his book In the Blink of an Eye, the ease of access to the technology doesn't negate the importance of learning the craft. Consider what he writes on page 116 of his book.

The hard truth, though, is that easier access does not automatically make for better results. The accompanying sense that ‘anyone can do it’ can easily produce a broth spoiled by too many cooks. All of us today are able to walk into an art store and buy inexpensive pigments and supplies that the Renaissance painters would have paid fortunes for. And yet, do any of us paint on their level today?
— Walter Murch

I've heard and read similar observations from cinematographers over the years when discussing the latest cameras and the incredible images they produce. Selling points like unbelievable low-light performance can lead would-be directors of photography to believe that all they ever need for any scene is practical lighting. And if they believe this to be true, then they never spend adequate time learning and practicing the basic principles of cinematography.

In the following video, two professional photographers argue that the quality of the work is not dependent solely on the quality of the equipment. Put in the hands of a professional who knows his/her craft, a cheap kit can produce better images than the more expensive equipment put into the hands of an amateur.

Also consider this video from DSLRGuide where he compares a Canon T3i with an Arri Alexa Mini.

What are your thoughts? Agree or disagree, or just have something to add? Be sure to join the conversation in the Comments below.