Usually, the first thing you may think of when you hear the word “blog” is a lot of words on a webpage. While this may be true, some of the best blogs often have compelling visuals that help illustrate points and keep the reader reading with a striking visual burst. Even if you’re a wordsmith in the fashion, food, or music/concert blogging space — great, original photos of your subjects can help set the tone for your piece and help give your blog its own brand feel.
As a photographer, I get asked for camera recommendations all the time and, unless someone is trying to break into a niche area like wildlife or sports, my answer is pretty consistent. For the purpose of this article, I am assuming that:
- You are not trying to break the bank and
- This may be your first foray into the world of DSLRs
First off, you have to accept that there is a learning curve and the payoff is worth it. If you don’t want to learn how to use a proper camera, don’t try to cut corners and buy a digital point-and-shoot, just use your phone. Seriously, your smartphone has comparable technology and it has one major advantage; it is always with you. A lot of photography is about capturing moments and your camera phone makes that a lot easier.
Tips for Buying Your First DSLR
Okay, now that we have that established let’s talk about DSLRs. Full disclosure, I am a Nikon man, but when it comes to recommendations I am agnostic. Stick with Nikon or Canon and you won’t go wrong.
It’s Not the Camera… It’s the Lens
The main thing you need to remember is that the camera is not necessarily the investment… The glass (lenses) that you acquire over time are the investment. Camera bodies come and go and the moving parts have a shelf life just like an automobile, but a lens that is well cared for will last you a lifetime. When you buy a camera and start to buy lenses, you are committing to that brand’s lens ecosystem. Lenses are not swappable between brands. The availability of used Nikon and Canon lenses is huge, so I would definitely stick to one of these brands.
For your first DLSR, I would look at used models on Amazon as they will be covered by a basic warranty. As of the time of this publication, you can get great starter models for under $350. For example, the Canon EOS Rebel T5 is listed as low as $320 used with a lens.
For a little more money you can get increased image quality with the Nikon D3300. It is listed currently at $395 used with a lens.
In Your Blog Photography Prime: Why You Want Prime Lenses
The lenses these cameras come with are okay, but what really makes these cameras shine is a nice prime lens. You know those portraits you love with the subject nice and sharp in the foreground and a blurry background? Those were taken with a large aperture prime lens and you can get one at a very reasonable price. The Nikon 35mm 1.8 lens can be bought used for $155. These lenses offer the shallow depth of field I mentioned earlier and the added bonus of performing much much better in low light.
The combination of your new DSLR and this lens will allow you to create the images you have been drooling over on your favorite foodie blog. The kit lens the DSLR comes with will be okay but a nice prime lens will ease a lot of frustration.
What DOESN’T Matter?
You probably noticed that I didn’t spend any time talking about specs and megapixels. They really don’t matter. A decent DSLR, a nice lens, and practice is all you need to create amazing images.
Have you taken your blog’s photography to the next level? Are there any DSLR and lens-buying tips you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!