I knew how I wanted this portrait to look before I shot it, so I used the right camera and lens to produce the result I wanted. Without a clear sense of what I wanted, I would get an image like this only by accident, if I got it at all.
Years ago, when I got serious about learning to play the guitar, I decided to take fingerpicking lessons at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, California. McCabe's was and still is something of a mecca for acoustic guitarists. Classes were held in the main guitar showroom, lined with wood paneling and guitars of every brand and type. The showroom also had a small stage that allowed it to function during weekend evenings as a venue for small acoustic acts.
The first class began with us all seated in a circle, guitars in hand, introducing ourselves and explaining what we hoped to get out of the class. In my case, I had my eyes on a Martin 000-16, small-waisted, with a well-balanced tone perfect for fingerstyle playing. The Martin had a solid mahogany back and sides and a solid spruce top. I certainly wanted to play better, but I was sure I would also sound better if I owned a better guitar. I said all this while holding the guitar I actually owned, a cheap but sturdy Yamaha dreadnaught constructed of plywood.
The instructor was David Zeitlin, a stocky, gray-haired, jovial fellow in his mid-60s. David asked if he could play my guitar to evaluate it for himself. I handed it over, he tweaked the tuning a bit, then started playing a ragtime blues. I could hardly believe my ears. The tone and dynamic range were astonishing. It was as if he was playing a completely different guitar. David must have seen the incredulous look on my face, because when he handed it back, he said, "Listen man, it ain't what you play (he pointed to my guitar), it's what you play (he mimicked playing a guitar)." In other words, it was more important to be an excellent guitarist than to own an excellent guitar.
And now, for something completely different. I could have gotten this with practically any decent camera, including the one in an iPhone. The important thing was to see the picture and have a camera on hand, which in this case was a Nikon V1.
You can probably tell by now where I'm going with this: It's more important to be an excellent photographer who knows how to express himself or herself with a camera than to own an excellent camera and have nothing of significance to express with it. It's especially true these days, when impressively good cameras and lenses (and guitars, for that matter) can be had for almost nothing.
This doesn't mean that the camera and lenses you use is of no significance. You're likely to use a small, lightweight, 12 megapixel camera much differently than you'd a big, sturdy camera that produces 36MP files. What I'm saying is that if you have no real goal, purpose, or vision to your photography, the results will be the same no matter what you use: boring images.
So use whatever you like. Use whatever you want. Just use it. Use it until it becomes like an extension of your mind, eye, and arm. Use it until it has no choice but to bend to your will; to do what you want it to, and to the absolute limit of its abilities.
The process goes both ways. You will adapt as much to your camera's limitations as its capabilities--and that's okay, because there's no such thing as a perfect camera; there are just cameras whose limitations are irrelevant to what you're using it for. To paraphrase the title of this post, "It ain't what you shoot with, it's what you shoot."