When I first started my blog seven and a half years ago, I used an old point and shoot to take all my photos. And you can tell! I look back at old posts and part of me wants to re-do them immediately, and the other part of me wants to keep them around just to remember how far I’ve come. I didn’t even have a phone with a camera, which would have probably been an upgrade compared to what I was using! Even though I’d always been really interested in photography, I knew nothing about it, but I really wanted to learn and improve my photos–not just for my blog, but to capture quality photos of my children.
Finally, a few years ago I saved up enough to buy my first DSLR, and my life changed. I don’t claim to be a professional, but I am light years ahead of where I was when I started, and I’m learning more every day. I LOVE photography, and I’m excited to see what the future holds. I was lucky enough to have people share their tips with me, and then it was just a bunch of trial and error. I also always liked to know (and still do) what other photographers have in their camera bags, so I thought I’d do that here…plus my opinion on the best equipment for beginning photographers.
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Are you interested in photography? Are you a blogger that wants to improve your photos? Photography is expensive, so I think it’s a good idea to start out small–a good camera, but one at entry-level, so you can try it out and make sure it’s something want to pursue before spending a lot more money on extra lenses and equipment. I’ve learned I just have to be patient in growing my inventory, and buying the most versatile lenses and equipment to start with, as I save to buy more.
It definitely has a learning curve, but I highly suggest if you buy a DSLR, you start shooting in manual mode from the very beginning if you can. That’s what I did, and it was totally trial by fire, but I’m so glad I did. I have never used the auto mode on my camera, and I know that I learned much, much faster because of it. You can totally do it! Read the manual, search tutorials and info online, and practice, practice, practice!
Here are the things in my camera bag…
I use a Nikon d7000 (current version is Nikon d7200), and love it. I’ve used it for several years now, and it’s the camera I started with. It’s a little higher on the chain of entry-level cameras, more of a mid-level DSLR, but that’s what I needed for the pictures I was going to take. It’s also a crop sensor camera, DX (as opposed to a full frame camera, FX) which is probably what you want as a beginner. They’re much less expensive, and generally easier to use for a beginner because they have less features to figure out. An entry DSLR will still take beautiful pictures, and allow you to learn as much as you can before moving up. I’m super excited for my next camera, the Nikon d810, which I will be getting very soon! Can’t wait!
I’m a Nikon girl, but Canon cameras are great too. Here are a few really good options for entry-level DSLR cameras, and GREAT for beginners!
Nikon d5500 (next step up)
You can certainly buy a camera kit that comes with a lens, but if you can, I recommend buying the camera body separately, and then a lens to go with it. You can add more lenses as your budget and needs allow.
Here are the lenses in my camera bag:
Otherwise referred to as “The Nifty Fifty”, it’s the most versatile lens I own, and the one I recommend to anyone and everyone. I use it the most, and it works well for so many things. I have the 50mm 1.4, which is more expensive because of the aperture, but a 50mm 1.8 is totally fine to start out with, and a great lens. This is the first lens I owned, and the one that I think is awesome for beginning photographers!
I use this lens for my close up shots of food and product. It’s a newer lens to me, but I’m so glad I have it. I don’t use it all the time, but it’s worth it to me to have it when I need it.
This is a wide angle zoom lens that’s great for landscapes, portraits, sports, and more. It’s wide enough for me to use to capture interior rooms as well. I really want the 24-70mm lens, but at $1800, it hasn’t been in the budget quite yet. I’m saving for it though!!
Other lenses on my wish list are:
Things to Consider When Buying a Camera Lens:
Always check to make sure the lens you want to buy will fit your camera. If you have a cropped sensor camera (DX), you can still use some FX (full-frame) lenses, depending on the camera you have. However, an FX camera cannot use a DX lens. I bought all FX lenses, and I also checked to make sure they would work on the camera I wanted to buy next, so I wouldn’t lose out on the money I spent for them.
*The number on the lens (35, 85, 50, etc.) refers to its focal length. If you have a cropped sensor camera (and if you have a entry DSLR, that’s mostly like what you have) you need to know that it affects the way lenses function on your camera. For example, a 50mm lens on a cropped sensor doesn’t actually act like a 50mm lens. Cropped sensor cameras have a magnification factor of 1.6x (Canon) or 1.5x (Nikon), which means if you times the number on the lens x 1.6 or 1.5, you will find the focal length it’s functioning as. For example, a 50mm lens would actually be functioning as a 80mm lens on a cropped sensor camera.
I know, it’ so technical, isn’t it! But you have to make sure you know that when you buy a lens, so you can not only buy the right type, but understand what it will look like when you use it. There are a bunch of sites out there that explain it in greater detail, and when I first started, I read a million of them, trying to understand and learn. They’re worth looking at to find out as much as you can!
Every photographer needs a bag for their camera! It not only protects it, but gives you a place to keep lenses and equipment as well. I’ve used the Jo Totes Missy camera bag for several years now, and I still adore it. It’s big enough to hold my MacBook (13 inches), all my lenses, hoods, cords, backup batteries, plus my wallet, phone, and keys. It has lots of pocket that are adjustable to the sizes you need, so it will accommodate lenses of all sizes. And…it’s SUPER cute! I love the mint color, and it has a long strap and shorter handles. It’s comfortable to carry, and I get compliments on it all the time. So happy with it!
Okay, so technically it’s not IN my camera bag, but I consider it part of my necessary equipment, so I included it here. I don’t always use a tripod, but it’s really helpful in many situations, both at home and on location. It’s especially important when I’m using a really slow shutter speed, because one tiny movement by me (if I’m holding the camera), makes the photo out of focus. This is a heavy duty tripod that holds the weight of my camera, and doesn’t tip over. Love it! Oh, and a remote makes it even easier!
It’s been said that every photographer should have an external flash, and while I don’t think you have to have one in the beginning, as you get better, they can definitely come in handy in many different situations.
I know photography can seem really overwhelming. There is A LOT of information to learn, and I know I’ve only just scratched the surface. But when you learn and practice and start to see improvement, it’s so exciting, and makes it easier to keep going.
Whether you’re using your camera to capture your family, for your blog or photography business, or as a hobbyist, it can be so rewarding. GOOD LUCK!!!