Digital photography has mostly eliminated the use of film, but it hangs on and even thrives as part of an artform. One of these areas is 20x24 inch Polaroid work. Alan notes a company that acquired Polaroid's old film stock and their film production process. Years ago I saw an exhibit of 20x24" Polaroid photography and can only describe it as stunning. Part of it is the nature of the film and the camera, but probably a more important component was the fact that only seriously good photographers attempt this and the shots tend to be very thought-out and deliberate.
There are so many times that I've seen wonderful photos taken with "terrible" equipment and terrible photos taken with the aid of state of the art and very expensive kit. The trick to good photos is you need to be a good photographer, you have to have a camera with you when the potential for a photo exists, and you need a bit of luck and skill picking the time and place for a good photo.
The camera only has to be good enough to capture an image given the conditions. Expensive kit can extend the range of photos that can be captured, but often at the cost of availability - the camera might be too heavy to carry or too difficult to easily adjust.
It is bad enough that camera specs often have little to do with final photo quality. Megapixels is a very counterproductive measure - and beyond crazy in smartphones. On the other hand, a camera in a smartphone can be very useful as it is usually with you most of the time.
Unless you have a specialized need (like available light photography of difficult subjects or printing large enlargements), it may be that a minimal camera is sufficient. There is a school of thought that living under the restrictions of such a camera, in the hands of a good photographer, leads to excellent photography and that learning with restrictions in a good thing and perhaps optimal.
Pros, of course, know how to find interesting images. There is a lot most of us can learn with nearly anything and the combination of the low image cost of digital photography combined with the portability of a very small device that travels with you can be powerful.
Now if I only had the discipline to learn the art properly... A friend noted that her high school had a fine arts requirement for graduation - everyone had to take one term of a music or art class - she took photography and it shows. This happened about 20 years ago - it probably couldn't happen in a contemporary public high school with the obsession on testing and a very limited number of subjects.