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I have loved the art of photography since I was a little girl with my teal green Vivitar 35mm camera. I would take pictures of my cats, and various scenes around the farm, and even entered a few photography contests. After high school I fell away from the hobby until I started an Etsy shop. Great pictures are a must for selling products, so I got myself a nice point and shoot Nikon and did a lot of experimenting with lighting and backgrounds. Once I seriously got into blogging, which can be very visual, I decided it was time to invest in a DSLR.
I did a ton of research before I finally purchased a camera, and then did a ton of research learning to use it. I’m not a professional photographer by any means, but I do feel that I have a good grasp on photography for bloggers. I get asked frequently for advice about what camera and equipment to purchase, so I thought it would be a good idea to condense it into a post.
What camera should I buy?
This is definitely the #1 question I get asked, and my answer may surprise you. Not every blogger needs a DSLR camera. As a matter of fact, its a huge waste of money for many. You can buy point and shoot cameras with GREAT lenses on them, that are much easier to use than a DSLR. I only recommend buying a DSLR if you want to learn to shoot in manual mode, and are willing to invest money in good lenses.
There are endless camera options out there, but the main players are Canon and Nikon. I prefer Nikon because I feel they are easier to use. I know professional photographers who love both brands, so I don’t think you can go wrong with either. I think the vast majority of bloggers, even though who want professional-quality images, would be well served by the Canon Power Shot G7 X Mark II Canon EOS Rebel T5i A few people I have recommended this one to have had a little sticker shock at the price, but this is an extremely high-end point and shoot camera that has the capability you might be looking for in a DSLR. This has a tilting LCD screen and can shoot 1080p video. You could easily spend $700 on one lens for a DSLR, so this is actually going to be much less of an investment than a DSLR camera and lenses.
If you are interested in learning the mechanics of photography, which can be a huge learning curve, then a DSLR may be the right choice for you. Keep in mind that the camera isn’t what makes pictures good, its the photographer, so buy a camera to suit your CURRENT skill level. The Canon Rebel line is perfect for those just learning how to use a manual camera, and the Canon EOS Rebel T5i is my recommendation. This isn’t their newest model, but I think it will give you the most bang for your buck. I actually shoot with a Canon EOS Rebel T3 that is 4 years old and just now feel like I know my camera well enough to upgrade.
I have run into a lot of bloggers who already have a DSLR but are using the kit lens and have no idea how to really use their camera. First off, the lens that comes with your camera is not the greatest quality BUT it is sufficient for a lot of blog photography. I use a kit lens in some of my photos, and I am willing to bet you can’t pick out which ones. However, you’re going to want to add a few lenses to your collection to really get the most out of your camera. The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens is a MUST have. It’s only $125 and takes tack sharp photos of everything from food to portraits. The 1.8 aperture will seem amazing if you have been using a kit lens. This one stays on my camera a majority of the time. The Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM lens is a great one for those who want to do video, or maybe have a small space they photograph in. This one is also a bargain at $149. Note that this one will not fit on full frame cameras. The Canon EF 24-70mm f/4.0L IS USM Zoom Lens falls into the splurge price range, but this focal length covers the other two lenses I recommended and then some. If you want to buy one lens and be done with it, the 24-70mm is the lens for you.
If you have phenomenal lighting in your house, maybe you don’t need extra lighting equipment. But most of us could use a little help in the lighting department. Since I purchased this soft box light, I am no longer rushing to catch some good light, or fighting grainy pictures when I am editing. I use this in almost every single picture on my blog, as well as for portraits. I also have this speedlite that I can use on my camera when hauling external lighting around isn’t practical. It has a bit of a learning curve, but it has completely changed my blog photography life! Rooms in my house that used to be too dark to photograph suddenly aren’t off limits any more. I used my speed light in this post.
It doesn’t matter if you are using a professional DSLR or an iPhone to take your pictures, you should be editing them! My favorite web-based program is PicMonkey. Its really easy to use and has some great basic features. What I use to edit is Photoshop. You can get the latest versions of Lightroom and Photoshop for just $9.99 a month. Such a good deal! Photoshop has a huge learning curve, but it is so worth it. I use Photoshop actions from Greater Than Gatsby that make editing a million times easier and faster.
Ok, this was a TON of info in a short post. Questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments and I will answer!