I don't have a lot of camera knowledge, but I have seen a lot of crappy photos taken with very expensive photographic equipment (99.9% of my own photos).
A camera is just a tool. A good or smart user knows how to use the tool, exploit its capabilities. A better paint brush will make the job of painting easier, but it's not going to produce the Mona Lisa.
Yes, you have to have a competent camera, but most point-and-shoots, and smartphone camera applications allow you to tweak exposure and white balance, which help photographs immensely, but not as much as a tripod and good lighting.