Back in the 1970s, when I started as a kid reading every photo magazine and camera manufacturer's catalog I could, it became obvious that great photos were created through the careful selection and application of the appropriate lenses and accessories for each situation.
As a photographer, the most important choice you made was to select among the Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Minolta or Olympus 35mm SLR systems.
Professionals chose Nikon, famous athletes chose Canon, and amateurs chose the others.
Once a brand was chosen, photographers spent their time selecting the most appropriate lenses and accessories for the situations they would expect to encounter.
People like me agonized over what to get. Do I get the economy 50mm f/1.8 lens, the advanced f/1.4, or the fully professional f/1.2?
Do I get the 20mm, 28mm and 50mm, or opt for the combination of 24mm, 35mm and 50mm?
Do I use the 55mm Macro as a normal lens, or get another regular 50mm lens?
Once one's kit was selected, purchased and assembled, photography was trivial. Once on-scene, simply select the correct lens, focus and shoot.
Voilà, presuming you had the correct gear, incredibly rich, vivid and detailed professional-quality photos were the result.
If the photos weren't perfect, it was probably because you didn't use the best lens available. Did you use the 135mm f/2.8? You dummy; next time, use the 135mm f/2 like a pro.
The better a photographer you became, the longer and bigger grew your telephoto lenses, and the wider and wider became your wide angle lenses.
Reading Nikon catalogs made it clear that good photography came from the application of as many different lenses as possible.
Decades of experience has shown me that it's quite the opposite.
Photography has never had anything to do with a broader collection or selection of gear.
As I get older and smarter, it is extremely difficult to shake-off the desire to acquire and carry more gear, but the less I carry, the better my pictures have become.
Because the only thing that leads to great photos is thinking about the photo before you take it. I said thinking about the photo, not thinking about the camera.
Experience has show that thinking about the camera merely distracts me from the only thing that matters, which is the picture itself.
It's much easier to think that great photos simply come from owning a great camera, but that's the easy way out.
Camera companies screw with us by making a broader assortment of lenses and accessories than anyone could ever possibly acquire. In this way, poor photos can always be blamed on something like not having the best pro body, a better lens, the right optional lens hood, a viewfinder diopter or macro bellows, and thus one more simple purchase would be the answer. This never stops, since camera companies introduce more accessories as fast as anyone could ever buy them.
It's never been about wider or longer, no matter how many catalogs showed us pros with 400mm f/2.8 lenses.
As I've learned, it's all about learning to see a good picture, and once you master that, you can shoot everything with just one lens.
I'm serious. Today I never leave with more than a lens or two, and I make better pictures.
I've leaned that I don't need lenses that are too wide, and that long telephotos are for wimps who can't get close enough.
Learning to see is the only thing that matters. Worrying about, or carrying, more gear only prevents you from ever taking the time to start concentrating on what matters, which is the basics of what makes a great picture.
When you learn that, you'll discover that one lens, any lens, is all you need.
These articles are far more helpful learning to take great pictures than buying a new camera:
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