The internet is starting to be overpopulated with posts and vlogs about how you do not need expensive gear to take good photographs. That is true to some extent. You can produce good photographs with cheapo equipment but the scenarios where you will be able do so will be more limited than when you do have “fancy” gear. The important thing to remember is that you need to have equipment that matches the specifications of the shoot you are going to do and the resources available to you.
Commercial medium format cameras and the high-end CaNikons (1DsMk3 and D3x) might be the culmination of dSLR technology but they will probably be poor choices for church/evening weddings and high school sports coverage.
Speed demons 1DMk4 and D3s might be the sports/press photographer’s soulmates due to their high frame rates and max ISOs previously unthought of but I doubt that they’re used to photograph luxury car ads for billboard use.
iPhone oh the iPhone. You’ve seen the vids and the sample images. Notice that most of the pics were shot in good light (lighting gear or diffused outdoor light)? You know those guys who photograph at the high-end nightclubs in Vegas? I’d love to see one do his job with an iPhone. You know those people who photograph deep sea wreckage or those glow in the dark fishes? I’d love to see those peeps do away with an iPhone.
I know of a guy who once said that ISO 12,800 is not needed . He was so damn sure of himself that he even challenged people to show him a good portrait shot at that ISO. Check this though. Suppose you’re part of the Bang Bang Club (conflict photojournalists) and you want a photograph of front line soldiers out in the field. You want head shoulder shots of all of them in a group while standing right next to each other. You’d probably have to shoot at landscape orientation with a pretty good aperture (f8 and be there?). You can’t shoot with flash without compromising safety because the flashing will give away your location to the enemy. Moreover, you want the group to be lit with nothing but the flashes of the mortar fire going on in the background. Oh and it’s new moon and cloudy that night so there’s pretty much no light until something explodes in the background. Would you use a camera that’s unusable at ISO 800 due to noise? Would you use a camera that hunts focus in low to no light?
Then again, you can be a medium-sized apparel retailer who just need clean photos for your eCommerce site. The biggest use of your photos would be 1024 x 768 pixels and you shoot at a studio 100% of the time. Do you need a D3x or a digital medium format?
The point I’m trying to make here is that it all comes down to knowing which situations that camera you have shines. There is no such thing as an absolute best camera because there are lots of different photographic needs out there and each of them can be very very specific. People speak as if equipment is not important at all. It is not that important when you just want to get a good image. However, when you have to deliver images to a commercial client who pays you top dollar, you better be using a camera that is able to address their needs. Good equipment is a must although the definition of “good” varies from case to case.