If that was really true, why did he use the best equipment available?
Perhaps because by the time he got really famous, he gets the goodies for free? I don't suppose anyone of us really believes Michael Jordans talent was in any way related to his Nikes?[/font]
[font color=\'#000000\']Oh, c'mon, is there really anything to debate here ? I agree with someone who said that the opinion that talent is inversely proporitional to gear is probably someone who has neither. There's simply no relationship.
As for the basketball analogy, sneakers are no more a 'tool' than your underwear is for photography ... and yet, I'm sure every good basketball player still chooses his sneakers with intent. And if anytihng, your analogy disproves your earlier post - how is it that Michael Jordans talent isn't "in any way" related to Nikes, yet photographers talent *is* inversely related to their gear ? (Answer: photographers talent is NOT related to gear, inversely or otherwise - the gear just lets the talent produce better results).
Look at any craft - the more visionary artist produce more interesting works; the more talented craftsperson produces better crafted works; the artist/craftsperson with more/better gear at his disposal can produce a wider variety of pieces, and produce them more efficiently. Argue all you want about the relative importance, the fact is, at any stage of craftsmanship/artistry, I'd rather have a better selection of gear at my disposal ! And the goal of any photographer should be to improve on his artistry and craftsmanship and to have at his disposal the tools needed to get the results he wants.
It's really all about the right tool for the job, and the better artist will make a conscious effort to choose the right tool, instead of suffering with limitations and whining about how living with limitations makes him the better artist.
As for the importance of the tools, it's critical if you want to be able to achieve the results you want; not so critical if you're willing to work within limitations. If you're willing to restrict your subject matter and enlargement capabilities, then fine, call yourself a superior artist and have fun shooting street scenes with your 70's era SLR and 50mm lens. Console yourself with your elite status when your buddy takes his 500mm lens out to shoot wildlife, or shows you a gorgeous pano taken with an Xpan.
Personally, my photography and my gear have all gotten progressively better over the last 10 years - my own take on it is that as I've grown, I've exposed the limits of my gear, and that's when I've traded up.
And I know the stereotype of the amateur with "more money than brains" is popular among those who choose not to spend more money on gear, but by & large (with only a few exceptions), I've found that the photographers I've run across (friends, acquaintences, working pros) who produce the best work are using what I consider high end gear, and those using consumer level gear aren't good photographers. Again, one doesn't depend on the other, but good craftspeople realize the value of good tools.
Now that I've just wasted 10 minutes adding to a debate over something that, IMO, isn't up for debate, it's back to work ...