I’ve seen a series of photos taken by a photographer using a cell phone that are superior to the majority of DSLR shots I’ve seen on Flicker and related sites (note the baffling intrusion of subjectivity). One might retort: Yes, but in general, would you choose a DSLR or a cell phone? Depends on what I’m trying to achieve; what I am NOT trying to do is be defined in terms of averages or submit to mainstream expectation unless it conforms with mine.
(By the way, I’ve invested a good amount of money in this hobby, and it is not in my self-interest to see some guy using a cheap-ass cellphone to pummel my output, but so be it...I have only my skills and vision to blame.)
My creativity is a function of my mind, not my gear. True, the gear helps facilitate the manifestation of this creativity, and in this sense, gear is important (hell, you at least need a camera). The mistake, though, is to assume that it must be high-end gear or more technologically developed. For example, if you need a wide angle lens, a cheap one is going to benefit you much more than the most expensive of L telephotos. Sufficiency can overlap with quality, but not always, and if a person happily achieves their objective using a Holga, then arguing about upgrades grossly misses the point.
If a photo is boring, it will be boring; sharpness, contrast, color accuracy, low distortion, low chromatic aberration; all of this is inextricably irrelevant if the photo sucks.
Many photos, particularly in the field of photojournalism, are not as reliant on technical perfection as perhaps in other fields; this is a difficult one for some POTN members to grasp, especially those who contend that, all things being equal, the sharper photo always wins, when in fact, in many cases, it just doesn’t matter, since there are other elements of the photo that are far more compelling and important (and nor am I referring just to intentionally blurred artsy shots).
If better gear equals better photos, then we must conclude that Canon’s and Nikon’s current top end cameras (or better yet, Leica’s and Hasselblad’s medium formats) are, in the hands of excellent photographers, producing better photos than all previous cameras since the mid-19th century, irrespective of the photographer. Of course, that’s absolute crap, and as I’ve noted several times on this site, many of my favorite photographers operated during the 1920s-1930s. This period is well before my time, so nostalgia has nothing to do with it, so let’s just keep this pathetically lame and egregiously overused counterargument out of the discussion.
In the end, pushing technological perfection for all only breeds unwanted homogeneity.