The ever popular question of “Hey Lawrence! Which camera should I get for awesome Instagram pictures?” First, let me start by saying, I am in no way a professional, nor have I invested enough time with all camera types to provide a complete answer. This blog post is my personal opinion, through my experiences, and is meant to assist those with limited knowledge of cameras, particularly those using it for blogging and instagram. I will also cover the more intriguing topics of camera settings and lenses in future posts.
Most people want to buy the camera that everyone else is using. Ask yourself, how many people do you know with a DSLR stored away after a couple of months of use? That have it set to auto? That only have the one kit lens for their camera? That … well you get the point. If you want to literally point and shoot, then use anything; but if you want to grow your skills, invest some time and money then let’s get started.
With that out of the way … what should you get? Most bloggers/instagrammers usually have the same need … SIZE. If you don’t want to carry it, you will not bring it out with you. Therefore my recommendation is to look at the mirrorless market, such as Canon’s EOS-M lineup.
Take a look at this basic pro/con list of camera types. It should help you understand why I recommend mirrorless cameras.
Smartphones are awesome! We all know that. They’re always connected and very easy to use. They fit in your pocket or purse and if you pass it onto a friend they will learn how to use it in seconds. Since you are likely to have it already, it is considered a staple and perfect to grab those shots you need in an instant or where pulling out a huge DSLR may be too much. Smartphones are perfect for food, coffee, FWIS’s, and selfies; therefore a must have.
Things to look for in a Smartphone camera is a wide angle lens, a low aperture (most are at F2.0 or lower these days) and optical image stabilization. Aperture is the amount of light a lens lets in – the lower the better. Optical image stabilization will help keep images sharp and make it easier for those one-handed shots (note: digital image stabilization is not the same thing – get ‘optical’).
Mirrorless cameras are my recommendation for bloggers/instagrammers on the go. Here’s why. From what I have seen from where I stand (SCORE!) portability is an absolute. It has to be small, easy to use, and fit in her bag. Mirrorless cameras used to have poor sensors and very few lenses. Now mirrorless cameras come in full frame and cropped APS-C sensors which take fantastic images along with compact lens choices and adapters to add classic DSLR lens.
Mirrorless cameras also come with a ton of features that DSLR’s are still catching up to. Things like Wifi, tilting screens, touch screens, and faster shooting are now common place with mirrorless. They can also come in pretty colours (if that’s your thing). By the way, mirrorless cameras are essentially that – DSLR’s without the mirror mechanism. By doing this we save on the size and weight. Therefore, we can have the same great images from a DSLR in a small mirrorless body! Hugs and kisses all around!!!
So why do we need DSLR’s? Lets get rid of them grandpa!
Settle down now kids, it’s not so simple. DSLR’s are going to be around for awhile. For me, DSLR’s allow me to shoot longer, use better lenses, faster and better auto-focus, real-time and clearer previews through the viewfinder, feels and fits great in my hands, and of course looks damn cool. Since mirrorless cameras are smaller, their battery packs are also very small, which means you need to carry a bunch of extra packs to get you through the day. On my Canon DSLR, I can shoot for 2-3 days before I need to charge the battery. Mirrorless cameras also use power hungry features like wifi, gps, bluetooth, NFC, and a touchscreen that is constantly on.
Mirrorless cameras have a very limited selection of lenses. There are adapters out there that allow you to use DSLR lenses but they usually make it slower and can look quite awkward. DSLR lenses are large and when attached to a small body it’s just unbalanced for shooting and looks weird.
There are countless lenses for DSLR’s and for every budget. The DSLR has a mirror which allows me to view my subject the way I see it in real life. I prefer this over the electronic viewfinder on mirrorless as those have a lag and look very grainy. When taking editorial shots for the blog, I use DSLR lenses to get that dramatic pop in my pictures. I also need use a DSLR with a full frame sensor, and currently only Sony offers a full frame mirrorless (that is just as expensive as a DSLR). Once you put a DSLR lens on a mirrorless body it is almost the same size as a DSLR. For me, I like the stability, grip, and performance of a DSLR. I would recommend a DSLR for the Instagram-husband or the behind the scenes photographer where size and weight may not be as important. When shooting Tee, I feel like a tourist if is use a small mirrorless, where a DSLR gives it more of that photoshoot feel. Again, these are all personal preferences.
It all really comes down to costs. Always have your smartphone with you. As a secondary camera, which will be used for OOTD’s, grab a mirrorless camera (but try and get one that is APS-C or full framed). These are the sensor sizes that are in most DSLR’s. Anything smaller and you might as well stick with your high-end smartphone camera. Tee takes her Canon EOS-M with 22mm F2.0 lens (APS-C sensor) everywhere. Mirrorless cameras come in a bunch of different models with different features but you only really need the best image quality for the price. Don’t worry about the extras unless they are must haves (like a tilting screen for those high above food shots).
If you need those killer editorial shots with creamy background blur, you need to grab an amazing lens. Some are fairly priced and will work well with mirrorless adapters (like the Canon 50mm F1.4 or 85mm 1.8), but a DSLR may be the better choice if you are looking to get those amazing shots from a high end lens. These lenses can be very expensive and most bloggers would prefer to get a new Chanel bag and a cheaper priced lens instead of the one high end lens. For example, the king of lenses for bloggers is the Canon 85mm F1.2 L II. That alone will put you back about $2000 USD (in Canada we’re looking at just under $3000). That’s not even with a camera body, which should be used on a full frame DSLR to get the most from it, and that will be a minimum addition of $2000. OUCH!
Keep in mind, camera body technology comes and goes pretty quickly (3-5 years). But a good lens can last a lifetime. So if you are starting out, get something cheaper for a body and a good lens. Not only will your pockets be happier, but your pictures will be exceedingly better. Camera bodies have a bad resale value but a good lens is always sought after.
Believe it or not, I stripped out a lot of detail so I don’t lose too many of you. (Differences in sensors, mega-pixels, brands, lens types, camera features etc…). I also showcased a lot of Canon and Samsung products, this is only because that’s what i own and love. Nikon, Sony, even Olympus and Panasonic are all great brands. Now that you’re on your way to buying a new camera, lets learn how to use it instead of relying on those filters.
Here is what I like to use.
*I know i didn’t talk much about the sensors sizes but I will have a future post to explain the differences and why certain sizes are desired.
Please let me know what you thought of this post, what you would like to see in my next blog post, and if you agree or disagree with anything. Thanks so much for reading!