What camera should I buy for my blog?
So, you want to start a blog. Or you have a blog and you want to up your photography so you can start attracting your dreamy audience and reaching farther through your social media. Your question is probably what camera do I buy for my blog?—or more likely it’s what camera do I buy to get THAT exact photo? What camera is SHE using? What camera will give me outfit shots like THAT?
Well m’dear, this post is to help give you some clarity around what camera you should buy for your blog. It might not need to cost the arm and a leg you’re expecting. And it might not mean you’re committing to learn 50 buttons and to carry around 10 lbs of camera.
Already know it is a DSLR you're looking for?
What type of camera should I get for my blog?
DSLR, although the most popular decision, is not the only decision.
When you’re upgrading your blog photography from smartphone camera, you’re upgrading for two reasons: image quality + control.
Image quality: We’re talking about a lot more than megapixels. We’re talking about the ability to take beautiful photos that draw you in: photos that can show details, blur backgrounds, stay sharp + noise-less, and give you dreamy colour.
Control: Control over the exposure, the colours, the focus, and more.
How-to choose a camera type
Factor #1: Portability
If your blog/social media is built around showcasing your everyday life…
you’ll need a camera that’s going to be there in your everyday life. "The best camera is the one that's with you." –Chase Jarvis
If you’re okay with carrying a (I recommend padded) camera bag and some extra weight everywhere for the sake of photography…
A DSLR is still on the table for you. Keep in mind, entry level DSLR and lenses are a lot lighter in weight. But as you want to upgrade your camera, it is likely only going to get bulkier and heavier.
If you’re not sure about the added weight + bulk, but want a DSLR…
CSC's are an in-between option. These are lighter, more compact, and some are even full frame sensors (not sure what that means? we come back to it here.)
If the thought of never being able to carry all your favourite little handbags again makes you squirm…
Point-and-shoots + smartphones still hold potential for great image quality (although with less control) and are compact enough to fit in a clutch.
Factor #2: low-light performance
If you shoot indoors (flatlays, restaurants, etc.)…
A DSLR or the top-end of CSCs will give you the best light performance (you know, when you take a photo inside and it’s NOT grainy and orange? Full frame DSLRs and CSCs will be the best photos with the smallest amount of light.
A good point-and-shoot still does better than an Iphone when it comes to low light photography.
Factor #3: video
If you just need to film some video…
Any of the camera options will work!
In a point-and-shoot look for one that shoots HD video. Some models will also have an external mic port.
If you want high-quality video where you’ll be talking + not moving…
A DSLR works great, with a manageable learning curve, for video where the subject isn’t moving around. For things like tutorials, clothing/beauty hauls, webinars—when you can set the focus at the beginning and not touch it again—a DSLR with the right lens will work perfect.
If you want to film video where something or somebody will be moving around…
A CSC is a really great option if you’ll be changing the focus while you’re filming.
For home decor, travel, outfit videos—where your focus needs to keep changing—a CSC will be fast + skilled enough for the auto-focus to keep up with the moving subject.
Factor #4: how you edit
If you want to use, or already use, Photoshop to edit your photos…
A camera that shoots in RAW format will give you a lot more possibilities when editing.
This feature can be found in DSLR’s and CSCs, as well as some affordable and pocket-sized point-and-shoot cameras. With a camera that shoots in RAW, you can dramatically change almost everything from the brightness, to the white balance—and even things like changing your blues to teal. Shooting and editing in RAW lets you do all this without damaging the quality.
If you plan to edit your photos in VSCOCam or another app……
A smartphone is obviously the most convenient option (bet you didn’t see that one coming!) but know you can edit the photos from any camera in phone apps.
Factor #5: room for growth
If photography is something you want to keep doing yourself…
A DSLR provides the most room for growth and long-time use. Particularly with a Canon or Nikon there is almost endless options for lenses to achieve different looks and types of photos—at a range of price points.
The other great thing about DSLRs? Lenses in particular don’t lose their value. For the past decade, you’ve been able to sell any lens for about half of what you paid for it years and years later. This is amazing, and likely not something that is going to change soon.
If photography might be one of the first things you outsource as your blog grows…
A CSC, point-and-shoot, or a smartphone will all get your photography where it needs to be while you’re still a team of one without as big of an investment in money and time spent learning now.
Factor #6: budget
Guys, this is the hardest section to put together—because here’s the thing, you can get each type of camera for at a huge range of prices. Each type of camera ranges from low to high end, and there’s always second hand models available at retailers and on kijiji/craigslist.
Your budget is important. At the end of this post, you’ll have an idea of what cameras you think would best serve your blog, and your homework will be to check if it fits in your budget.
The cost of a new camera ranges from:
– DSLR (most expensive)
– CSC (comparative to DSLRs, but the best CSC is significantly cheaper than the best DSLR)
– Smartphone (although we all know they are way more than just a camera)
– Point-and-shoots (start at the cheapest price but range as high as smartphones)
If the above has you leaning away from interchangable lenses
…And into a smartphone
You just want the best in camera + phone. Check out this list from DxOMark that does an awesome job of comparing smartphone cameras.
…And into a point-and-shoot
With a point-and-shoot there is some factors to consider—like portability, HD video, shooting in RAW for editing, and your budget. This article from PC mag is a great overview of what to look for in a point-and-shoot.
Still interested in diving into bodies + lenses?
Read on! And you can grab the DSLR flowchart I put together ⤵
What camera body should I buy for my blog?
There are 100+ selling points for each camera body—speed, battery life, resolution… but as a blogger, we rarely need any of these.
As a blogger there are two things worth focusing on when buying a camera body:
performance in low light + full frame vs crop sensor
If you shoot in low light for your blog (low light = basically indoors): ISO
Have you tried to take a photo indoors and ended up with something really grainy and orange? That is what we don’t want. The solution is in the performance at high ISO settings.
DSLRs and CSC’s let you adjust the ISO and when you’re shooting with lower light you’ll need to put it up to anywhere from 200 to 1600. All of them will let you do this, but what you want to look for is a camera body that performs better with less “noise” on the higher ISO settings.
How much “stuff” are you fitting in the frame: full frame vs crop sensor
Full frame cameras are more expensive—and probably bigger in size as well. Let’s understand them to be the “normal” camera.
Crop sensor cameras are made to be more affordable or smaller in size. But they don’t want to just make a mini version of the normal camera (for some non-important reason.) So instead they’ve just made one part of the camera smaller—that part is the sensor. This means that when you shoot on a crop sensor camera the photo will have the edges “trimmed off”. It doesn’t change how the lens behaves, or change the megapixels of your photo, but your final photo is just more “zoomed” in than if you were standing in the exact same space with the exact same lens, taking the exact same shot with a full frame camera body.
So what does this mean if you’re style, travel, or home decor blogger?
It means to get the same shot with your crop sensor camera, you or your photographer has to stand farther away—which can actually be a bit of a disadvantage when trying to fit a lot of stuff in the frame.
If you’re a blogger who often needs to “fit” stuff in the frame, you are probably better off with a full frame.
What does it mean if you’re a beauty, d.i.y., food, or lifestyle blogger?
If you are shooting things up close, like someone’s face, or a yummy meal the “crop factor” is not as much as a disadvantage—in some cases it might even be an advantage as it leaves you more “zoomed in” without needing a zoom lens.
If you rarely have issues with “fitting” everything in the frame, than a crop sensor camera will probably be okay.
Remember to keep this crop factor in mind when you're finding the best lens for you (especially if you're looking at lenses with longer focal lengths)
What lens is best for your blog?
All bloggers: you want a prime lens
When choosing a prime lens over a zoom lens, you’re choosing quality over variety (and laziness!) As a blogger, you likely have a niche and are shooting the same type of photos 90% of the time. For your blog, your best off to choose the best prime lens for that type of photo you take most often.
If you’re a fashion or style blogger…
You want a lens that lets you “blur” the background. There are 2 thing to look for in your lens to get this fashion-y look:
1) You want a low aperture or f-stop
When looking at lenses, the number that has the “f” in front of it is the aperture/f-stop. And the lower this f-stop number is, the more you can blur the background.
For a defined subject and a blurry background you want a lens that will go as low as f1.4, f1.8 or, f2—these are known as the blurry (or bokeh) background makers.
2) You want a longer focal length of the lens
This is the number that will be followed by “mm”. If it’s a zoom lens it will be a range (like 18-55mm) and if it’s a prime lens it will just be one number (like 50mm).
And for blurring the background this works the opposite of the f-stop: the higher the focal length, the more background blur. So a 70mm lens will blur the background more than a 35mm lens. If you have, say a 70mm lens, you can get some background blurring without going to a f2, but instead on a f5.6
For reference: I shoot with a 50mm f1.4 lens. You can see I get noticeable background blurring with it, but not as much as some other bloggers who are shooting on a 70mm, 85mm—or even 135mm!
If you’re a travel, architecture, or home decor blogger…
A wide angle lens allows you to to photograph a big scene (like fitting an entire building in the frame), and for the photographer to stand close to the subject. These lens distort objects—which can create some cooler-than-life looks—but are not flattering for portraits.
A 50mm lens is what’s thought as closest to the human eye—and for that reason it’s really great for capturing scenes more candidly. It’s still short enough to work indoors, or capture things without having to step far back.
If you’re a beauty blogger…
A short telephoto—or portrait lens—(85mm - 135mm) will allow for the most flattering portraits (which you may want if you’re consistently photographing yours or someone else’s face. I love to show people this comparison when we get down on ourselves for thinking we look bad in photos. It really is the camera’s—or more accurately, lens’s—fault!
The downside of these lenses, is that you’ll need a little more space between the camera and the subject than with a shorter focal length.
If you’re a lifestyle, d.i.y., or food blogger (or you just want a versatile lens)...
A 50mm lens is what I’ve found to be the most versatile—especially when it has a low f-stop (f2 or lower). It has a candid and honest feel, and it has the photographer standing within a comfortable distance from the subject.
Your next steps
The only thing left missing from this is you. Your budget, your needs, your personal shooting and aesthetic preferences.
This guide is your jumping off point—and now the researching begins!
Layout your budget + rank your priorities
—is it blurring the background? Is it something small enough to fit in your clutch?
Then visit your local camera to talk to an expert + feel the different cameras in your hands.
If this was all a little overwhelming—or if you want specific model recommendations—you can download the flowchart I put together for my inner circle below! ⤵⤵⤵
Your photos don’t need to be perfect—they just need to be shared.
With love + camera,