We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Just about any camera, regardless of how good or bad it is, can be used to create outstanding photographs for magazine covers, winning photo contests and hanging in art galleries. The quality of a lens or camera has almost nothing do with the quality of images it can be used to produce.
Would you shoot that wedding with a Holga? You're going to have to pass by a lot of good scenes for that one (maybe) perfect "art" shot. And does anyone consider a disposable camera a good choice for sports photography? I'm not saying you can't pull extraordinary photos out of the light with a toy camera, but the right equipment makes a difference even if you're an accomplished artist. The wrong equipment is mostly an obstacle to achieving your vision. But hey, if vignetting is your vision, shoot the bad lens!
Agree w Jephnol, although I re-read that Ken Rockwell rant every time I am tempted by the latest fancy lens...And superstitiiously check his opinion on things I am considering buying...
To KR's comments I would add that:
Amateurs who do not have professional photographers' natural talents and practiced technique can be helped considerably by good cameras and lenses. In particular, things that do automatically what a pro can do by instinct after years of practice. Makes it possible for an amateur to get a non-blurry snap of a once in a lifetime pic. Convenience and ease are good. Photography should not be a guild craft that only people with years to spend on it can hope to be any good at.
People on meds or with health conditions or length of days that make their hands shake can be helped a great deal by vibration reduction technology on camera bodies or lenses
Women with small hands and people unused to lugging phallic mega zoom lenses can be helped by vibration reduction technology on said lenses, and by shoddy plastic construction that make a camera and lenses manageable to carry and aim for long periods of time.
There are many places where a tripod is not allowed or would be a pain to lug.
In many ways, choosing camera equipment is like birth control: what works is what you are willing to use
A pro and a camera snob may sneer at newbies and enthusiasts, but my view is that the placebo effect can be great for inspiring confidence in new photographers. For years I never took pictures beyond baby snaps because photography snobs would tell me I was doing it wrong, etc. A high end point and shoot gave me confidence to try and I got some amazing pics with it. Only then did I venture into the DSLR terrain.
It's fun to buy a few toys for a new hobby. So why sneer at people who like buying cool cameras and lenses? It employs people, it improves the confidence of the new photographer.
Millions of people with cool cameras spell an end to professional photographers' monopoly of "the best" pictures. It is democratic. I hate posed portraits by pros, and stock photos. I like spontaneous pictures taken by people I know with heart and personal connection to the things they photograph.
"I even had a veterinarian friend in Africa who specializes in elephant care send me some phallus hide from the Loxodonta Africana (known for its flexibility and grip when wet) which I then had a local taxidermist apply to my camera in place of the original rubber. It took a lot of paperwork with the U.S. Dept. of Fish and Game but at least it doesn't peel off on my D1H as the rubber does."