It isn’t ever meant to be an insult. You are trying to say something as a compliment and the first thing you could come up with was to focus on the thing we need in order to create the images. The issue is that it comes off as off-putting and misses the point of complimenting the work in the first place!
Before I start sounding like a hypocrite there is something that needs to be addressed. I do have a nice camera! I would be lying if I said the camera is not a quality tool as I currently shoot on a Fuji X-T2. It isn’t the best equipment out there, but it gets the job done for me. Owning a nice camera does not mean I automatically create better photos just like someone driving a Ferrari might not be the best driver!
It takes work and dedication to the craft to create better images and this doesn’t happen overnight. Switching from a basic camera to something like what I use has a steep learning curve. I have also heard a similar comment from people that say “Your photos must be amazing using something like that!”. I have seen plenty of people using very expensive cameras and lenses in the field and when I struck up a conversation I found out they are just learning how to use it! Don’t assume!!!
If you are going to compliment the camera then don’t make it about the photographer at all. Saying that the camera being good is some sort of prerequisite for having quality images is entirely false. If you like the photo you should be focused on the photo itself. What made the image was the photographer and the camera was the device that shot it. Notice, we photographers make images through various skills and techniques and the thing that shoots it is just one component of the creative path. We didn’t make the camera and don’t care to hear that you like the photo we took on it and then compliment the manufacturer.
You wouldn’t compliment a carpenter’s hammer after they build a house. You don’t say nice things about a baker’s oven while enjoying a slice of cake. It doesn’t make any sense and it insults the person who actually did the work to create what you are enjoying. Next time you want to say something nice to a photographer focus on the art and the artist not their brushes or in this case, camera!