There are a number of phrases often heard like: "Gear doesn't matter", "More gear won't make you a better photographer", or "You can take great images with a crappy camera" and I'd like to explain my perspective because these phrases are both at the same time, right and wrong.
Let's start with an analogy: Food is great with good ingredients, while true that doesn't mean if you don't mix/cook/tend to those ingredients correctly, even with good ingredients, the food will be crap and so it is with images. Given the latest camera technology and if the ingredients (aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc) aren't combined in a meaningful way the resulting image often, will be crap.
So does gear matter? Yes, with the condition of knowledge, otherwise no. Without the technological knowledge of how the camera operates and the artistic knowledge or vision gear does not matter. Gear only matters when there is a limitation that needs to be addressed. For instance: To date (as of 2022-03-11 at least) all my wild life images are made with a Nikon D7100, not even a full-frame sensor. I would like to upgrade to the new z9, but why?: 1) D7100 has a very low light limitation 2) D7100 frames per second are slow about 7 frames per second compared to some 20 and 3) D7100 has shutter noise where the z9 is silent. These reasons address limitations I am currently faced with, so knowing the technological deficiencies of the device I can address the issues with "Gear".
The second example is my large format cameras, they are in their 100's of years old and while they do work I have found a number of limiations that have me investigating a new camera system. The main issues are around stability, accuracy in movements, and flexibility. 1) As the wood cameras age their precision lessens and this affects both stability and accuracy. 2) The flexibility comes in by using different film sized back 4x5 on an 8x10 and using a 90mm lens. Few camera systems allow the range of movements necessary for a wide angle on a 8x10 camera.
So again upgrading/better gear comes on the knowledge of limitations. And in that regard, "Gear" certainly does matter.
Ok, ok talking gear I finally pulled the trigger on a Rapid Rectilinear style No7 Wollensak Voltas f/8 11x14 made between 1914-1936, that I've had my eye on for some time now. This should cover my longer focal lengths in one lens on 8x10 with tons of movements even though it's stated as a modest quality lens when compared to the Velostigmat. Again however, it's all about the limitations. I don't have any lens that covers these lengths so it fills a gap.
As a brief overview, actually, there's very little in the way of gear I use but that doesn't mean I don't have bits to fiddle with.
As of Sept 2022, I have finally upgraded my large format to a brand new Keith Canham Traditional 810 camera, including the 5x7 and 4x5 backs so now I have a three in one platform. While I am fond of the Agfa's, I have since traded them for a couple longer focal length lenses, a Schneider Symmar S MC 360mm F/6.8 Lens in Copal #3 Shutter (Caltar II-S), and a Nikon Nikkor Q 450mm F/9 lens in Copal #3. This new camera addresses the limitations I've had with the Agfa's. It is an amazing camera and one that will last a lifetime!
My two main large format cameras Agfa/Ansco Universal, a 5x7 and 8x10 that were my main camears have since been traded as noted above. These Agfa/Ansco Universals were made for about ten years between 1925-1935; a bit fiddley but given their age and condition they do work.
On the lens front I'm still working with different lenses to get the feeling and quality I'm looking for but I do like me a good Voigtländer to be sure. Along side are experiments with some of the Wollensak within which I do like the Versar, 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 View and Portrait Lens while it's designed for a whole plate (6 1/2 x 8 1/2) format, it will cover 8x10.
My main digital is a Nikon D7100. I love the feel of the Nikon, it just fits in my hand and it has been a real workhorse for the last several years. I really like it for wild life but really can't stand it either as well. On those good days the extra reach of the crop factor is great but in low light it has a pretty hard time which is why I'm looking at the new Nikon Z9. I'll lose the reach from the crop factor but the resolution and I will be able to adapt my current Nikon F mount lenses to it makes it a great upgrade.
What do I use on this camera? The birding/wildlife lens is a AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR and I have to say it's pretty nice though I'd love to see it's performance on that Z9 Nikon Z9. Beyond that the AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G gets a lot of use as well. And a general use kit lens AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR for things that aren't terribly critical. Also can't go without mentioning a couple peices of vintage glass: NIKKOR 105mm f/2.5 and NIKKOR-Q-C 135mm f/2.8.
Odds n Ends
The main bits here are the RC-5570 Vantage Series 3 Carbon Fiber Tripod, Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head with Screw-Knob Panning Clamp, Osprey Manta 34 backpack and kesslercrane - kwik-stand
Of course there's a ton of other little things, Allen Spring Creek Fishing Reel & Gear Bag. This thing works great for the large format lenses and fits really well at the bottom of the Osprey Manta 34 backpack. f.64 FH4X5 4x5" Film Holder Case. And then there's a Wine Country Camera filter system.