No, that camera in your pocket does not compare to a ‘real’ camera. Even a tiny Micro Four Thirds system can run circles around it without ever swapping a lens or breaking a sweat. But now that we’ve established reality, let’s get something else straight:

You don’t need a ‘real’ camera to take great photos. You don’t even need a ‘real’ camera to make money with your photos. Don’t believe me? Read on.

Better equipment does one thing for you, and that’s give you options. When you upgrade from a smartphone to a mirrorless MFT system, or from an MFT camera to a full-frame camera, you’re buying potential — nothing more, nothing less.

The photo below has made money for its photographer on 500px Prime. And why not?! It’s creative, it’s adorable, it’s exactly what a quirky ad campaign might be looking for in a photograph. It also happens to be taken with an iPhone 5. I’ll give you one guess which attribute the buyer didn’t care about.

Like the photo above, each of the images below were captured with a smartphone. Also like the photo above, they’ve sold on 500px Prime and made money for the photographer who took them.

There’s a lesson in that, and the lesson is worth repeating in bolded, italicized text: you don’t need an expensive or ‘real’ camera to make money with your photography.

During our most recent Prime Live Q&A (read the Top 10 insights from the Q&A here), the subject of what camera you’re using came up exactly once, when we were listing buyer requests and someone wanted photos of a family taken with a Canon. Beyond that it didn’t come up, because buyers don’t usually discriminate.

Is it clean? It is sharp? Is it well-composed and creative and original and better than the other photos that have come across their desk during their stock photography search this week? It is? Good. Consider it purchased.

Before the trolls come after me with pitchforks in hand, allow me to note that I realize the difference a ‘real’ camera can make. There are some photos you just can’t adequately capture with most smartphones — those options I mentioned earlier… that potential you purchase when you upgrade your gear.

But I’ll take a creative, skilled photographer with an iPhone 6 or a Lumia 1020 or a Samsung Galaxy S5 over a beginner with a 5D Mark III and $20K in Broncolor lights any day.

Will the pro be able to do more with the 5D and the 20K lighting equipment? You betcha! But she’ll capture a great, salable photo either way.