Not that long ago I was shooting with an entry level Nikon camera and a cheap kit lens. I think I was able to capture some good images. The first shot above was taken in the Valley of Fire State Park in 2006 with a Nikon D50. Handheld, harsh midday sun, JPEG processing straight out of the camera. I was back there again in 2009. This time I had a much better camera, the Nikon D300. I was shooting with a tripod. And I was using a pretty good piece of glass, the 12-24 f4 zoom wide angle. If you click on the images for a larger picture, you will probably notice some differences in image quality. But candidly, I wonder how much of the difference is associated with better technique and more creative skill behind the camera. Both images are pictures of big rocks. The first one seems a bit flat to me and the second one seems to have made better use of the light.
I really have to remind myself when I travel that as much as I might debate the choice of camera body and the lens, or lenses, that I might take along with me, that a good photograph is so much more than the equipment in hand. Yes, I would love to travel with my full rig but I cannot carry all of that gear when I fly. A decent body with a couple of primes is likely all I need.
But I am still looking at which lens to take to Europe this summer.
At least I have three more months to decide.