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Every once in a while, a fellow blogger or an IBC reader will ask me what type of camera I use. Although I’m not a professional photographer or an expert on photography, I thought I’d use today’s post to answer that question and share some of the other photography gear that is essential to my work. Welcome to A Blogger’s Guide to Camera Gear.
Now, before we get into the actual gear, I have a few notes and disclaimers.
First, I’ve been taking photos for IBC for nine years. When I started, I was just using a point-and-shoot camera. Since then I have upgraded my equipment at least four times. I’m not going to talk about every camera I’ve owned, but I will let you know about my two most recent ones.
Secondly, even if you go out and purchase all of the products listed below, it’s unlikely that your photos will look like mine. That doesn’t mean that your photos will be bad (or that mine are great). It’s just that photography is a creative endeavor. Yes, good gear and technology help, but the true art of photography lies within each individual. If you are new to photography or new to blogging, invest in the lower-end gear at first and work your way up to better gear over time. Depending on where you live (There might be online sources, too.), I recommend renting camera equipment to test things out before you buy.
Also, after shooting in my house these many years, I’ve discovered which locations, times of day, angles, etc. work best for me. I’ve taken thousands of pictures that have never been published on IBC. They are long gone in a digital trash can far far away. As with most things on the web, you only see what I think is the best, or in some cases, good enough.
Finally, as I said above, I am not an expert. This guide is intended simply as way to share information with those who’ve asked. Even though I have years of experience under my belt, I’m sure that a professional would cringe at some of my practices. For example, I take a ton of pictures. To put together a post with 15 images, I shoot 150-200 photos. If it’s a house tour with 50 images, the number of photos can be around 600. My guess is that most photographers take far fewer. Even though this process can sometimes be tedious, it seems to work for me, so I don’t mind. Either way, do your research before making an major purchases. This is just the gear I use and love.
Okay. Now we’re ready to talk camera gear!
Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
I’m currently using the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. I purchased this camera this past November. Despite its cost, it was an impulse buy. I was getting ready to work on a big collaboration and “needed” a new camera. But things turned out well, and I couldn’t be happier about this purchase. This camera is kind of “top-dog” for bloggers who use Canon.
It’s reliable, strong, and sturdy. It also has a touchscreen and Wi-Fi capabilities. The reason that this camera is an upgrade (and priced higher than most) is because it’s full frame. That means you’re able to capture a wider area in your image. This enables you to get better image quality, especially in low-light situations.
Prior to this purchase, I used the Canon EOS 70D*. I loved this camera and still do. To me, its best feature is a touchscreen that can be flipped around and viewed when you’re facing the camera. If you are looking to create video or you do self-photography, you’ll want this feature. My current camera doesn’t have it, and I miss it.
*Canon just released the Canon EOS 77D. It’s an upgrade on the Canon EOS 70D. This latest model has some great technology features that make me totally jealous.
For the past year, I’ve been sticking to the following three lenses 98% of the time. Please note: when you’re looking to purchase a camera lens, do your homework and ensure that it fits your particular camera. When I upgrade to my full frame camera, I do have a few lenses that I can no longer use.
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L – This lens is my most recent purchase. I use it for full-room shots at home, and I take it with me when I travel. It’s versatility and flexibility makes it great for traveling. It is a bit large, which is a bummer, but I don’t mind. I find the quality of the images, whether close up or at a distance, to be excellent.
Canon EF 100mm f/1:2.8 Macro – You’ll notice that I like to do a lot of close-ups and detail shots. I’m not sure why, but these are my favorite photos to take, and this is my favorite lens to use when taking them. Because of that, this is probably my most cherished lens. This lens is also the one that I’ve had the longest so I’m super comfortable in using it and knowing how it works.
*If you have a full frame camera and are looking to purchase this macro lens, I recommend this one HERE. I purchased my lens before I had my full frame, so I chose the one that fit my camera.
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 – This is the lens I find myself using the most. It’s great for anything from photos of my home to food photography. What I especially like about this lens is that the focal length (f-stop) can be adjusted so that it’s very low. This puts what you’re taking a picture of in focus and blurs out everything in the background. I used this lens to get this shot of my coffee cup. My only complaint about this lens is that you can only get so close to an object before the lens will no longer focus on it, thus not allowing you to take a picture. (That’s when I grab my macro lens.)
In my opinion, a quality tripod is essential for crisp and beautiful photos. For the past several years, I’ve been using the Manfrotto MT055 XPro3 Tripod with the Manfrotto Light Grip Joystick Head. (Yes, you need both pieces.)
Editing: Photoshop Lightroom
The only edits I make to my photos are to adjust lighting, shadows, and clarity. To be honest, I have no idea how to use Photoshop, which is both a blessing and a curse. Photoshop Lightroom, on the other hand, is a fabulous tool that allows you to adjust your photos to make them pop. I find it helpful for brightening images, adding or removing warmth from photos, and, in general, making things look crisper.
I rely solely on natural light for my photography. (Meaning, I use no photography lights, just the sunlight.) Therefore, when conditions aren’t ideal or I’m trying to snap a shot as the sun is going down, Lightroom is essential for helping me fix darkness or shadows in those images. Lightroom is also what I use to add the Inspired by Charm watermark to my photos.
A lot of people use Photoshop for this, but I don’t have that knowledge (yet), so I stick to what I know. While it’s not ideal (It has its quirks.), iStudio works for me. I’ve been using it for over six years now, so I’m comfortable with it and aware of its limitations.
And that’s it. I think that covers everything. As you can imagine, there are a variety of settings and modes to play with on the camera to achieve “the perfect picture.” I’m not going to get into all of those settings here or when and why I use them. If you’re new to photography, you can find some videos on YouTube and tutorials across the internet that will teach you how to use your new camera, lens, or editing software. I’ve spent many a night watching videos and reading tutorials to increase my skills.
I hope you found this “behind-the-scenes” post helpful and interesting. If you’d like more posts like this, let me know in the comments. I’m not exactly sure what those posts would entail, so leave some suggestions as well. Thanks!