Very often, someone just starting in photography has questions about what camera or lens (or both) they should buy. If they ask a salesperson in a photo store, they may get great advice or they may get advice that serves only to help the store's bottom line. If they ask an established photographer, they may get advice centered around whatever brand of camera that photographer shoots with.
But in almost every case, that newbie photographer will hear something like this --
"It doesn't matter what you shoot with. It's not the gear that makes a great photo."
And that is true, for the very simple reason that if the person behind the camera doesn't know what they are doing, doesn't understand the basic concepts of photography, if they have absolutely no sense of style or taste or composition, then it doesn't matter if they are shooting with the latest, greatest, most expensive gear out there -- their photos will still not be good.
By the same token, however, a truly excellent piece of equipment can make all the difference in the world when it comes to capturing an excellent photo.
For example, when I shoot for any of my clients, I need the resolution I get from my 36mp Nikon D810 and the clairity my Nikon lenses give me. There is just no way around that. I need the quality in my photos that the higher end gear gives me.
Several days ago, a friend who is a realtor here in OKC called to get some advice on cameras. He has been doing his own home shoots for his real estate business, and wasn't happy with the results he was getting with his camera (which wasn't a Nikon) and his lens (which was made by a 3rd party).
I suspected that he had simply outgrown the camera and lens' capabilities, but agreed to discuss the matter. Of course, I took one of my Nikon D810 bodies and my Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens to the meeting.
As we talked, several things came out, not the least of which was the fact that virtually every time I said, "this is how I do it," his response was, "my camera won't do that." Additionally, it was obvious from looking at his images that his 3rd party lens suffered from some pretty serious barrel distortion -- straight lines that look curved in the final image.
We hadn't talked very long before he decided that enough was enough, and it was time to upgrade. His budget was pretty tight (the reason he shoots his homes himself instead of hiring someone), so he wasn't able to afford a D810 or one of the upper end Nikon lenses, but we were able to find something that would still represent a huge leap forward -- a Nikon D7200 DX body and a Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED lens.
Armed with this information, he headed off for our local camera store, and made his purchase. A couple of hours later, I received an interesting text from him --
"No comparison between this and the old camera! Not even a conversation! Definitely the right move. Thanks again for all your help! I owe you one."
Needless to say, the quality of his photos has skyrocketed, and he's one happy camper.
So really, there are times when the gear does matter. Sometimes, you just have to have better gear to get the better shots.