Before I invested in a decent semi-pro SLR I bought a second-hand one from eBay. I did this for two reasons. First, it was cheaper than buying the latest and newest, and second I had to consider that maybe using an SLR wasn’t for me. I decided to be sensible and make sure I would use a SLR properly before I bought an expensive camera which just gathered dust!
Since I purchased my first SLR I’ve come to love taking photos. I love the ability to use the manual setting, edit RAW images, and generally love that the quality of the photos which are so much better than a point-and-shot. Something I appreciated before I bought my first SLR camera was being able to have a nosey at what other bloggers had in their tool kit – so I thought I would return the favour and share mine! I’ve listed the exact equipment that I use, and some really useful sites and resources that helped me understand how to use my camera properly.
Please keep in mind that my choice of equipment reflects my interest in food/craft photography.
Previous to purchasing my Canon 60D, I used a Canon 20D. The 20D produced great photos, and as someone just starting out, it was all I needed to get my head around the manual settings. However, the 20D has its limitations. One of the notable features I really wanted was the ability to film with a fully articulated screen. The articulated screen is important so that I can shoot overhead shots and still see what’s being shot (instead of tethering or taking blind shots over my head). Secondly, I can film and take photos of myself demonstrating a technique for one my my tutorials or recipes that I wasn’t able to do before without guessing what was being taken – or just not have it. Not to mention the general camera specs have improved tremendously between the two models.
It’s been said that the lens makes the shot – not the camera. I would to a large extent agree with this. At the moment I use a Canon EF 50, f/1.8 II. I chose this lens because it is a great lens for the price. It is a fixed lens which means you have to work a little more for your shot (no zooming), but it has a low f-stop which means you get the fabulous blurry background effect. Being able to use a low f-stop means you can be more creative with what’s in focus, creating a clear focal point for the viewer. (Here is my current dream lens! ~sigh~)
Before I got my Manfrotto tripod I was using a cheap basic tripod that could go up, down, and swivel around a bit. Now that I have this Manfrotto, I can’t believe what I was putting up with! I have to first mention that I was shocked as to how expensive tripods are. I was looking for quality and usability at the best price, and the Manfrotto tripod legs and ball head is what I came up with. I chose this mainly because of the centre arm that is able to go to a horizontal position making overhead shots an absolute breeze. Before then, I would try my best to stand over my setup, with my arms over my head and click hoping everything was in the frame – so glad those days are over.
Now, as I had to explain to my husband when he saw the price of this tripod setup, when you start looking beyond cheap and nasty, you have to buy both the tripod legs as well as a head. I bought the ball head because it gives me a lot of freedom to manoeuvre my camera to whichever angle I desire. For me, as someone that doesn’t make a living from photography this setup was a little pricey, but now that I have it, I could never go back to mr. cheap tripod! (Not knocking it, but you do get what you pay for).
As well as all the pricey gear, there are some things that you need to get great shots as well. These include props, backgrounds, something to diffuse light, and something to reflect/bounce light.
If you’re interested in food photography I highly recommend you make a small investment and read Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography and Styling by Helene Dujardin. Without this book I know I would be having a frustrating experience getting to grips with food photography. Helen’s book is technical, yet personal and easy to follow. Her book is not just theory, it’s full of beautiful pictures and examples! (Again, I highly recommend!)
These tutorials by Canon. Hat tip to the team behind these. They are clear, concise, and exactly what a beginner needs to know.
This video showing off the Canon 60D. I included this link so you can gawk a little at the Canon 60D. This promo video was shot at Sapa, Vietnam. I have fond memories of visiting Sapa with my mum and a friend. It was freezing, but the people and colours made for an amazing experience. (If only I had an SLR back then!!)
Here’s a clip for a little inspiration to push your camera and creative eye a little further. Canon hosted a competition in the search for creative entries using simple props they provided. This video shows the spectacular results. (It’s an oldie, but a goodie)
If you’re into making videos with your camera, Jewel Beat is my go-to site to download background music and songs for just .99c!
Be sure to bookmark this page as I’ll be updating it as good links and resources come into my view.
Some advice for newbies: For anyone just starting out – take photos! Play around with the settings and watch online tutorials. I went for a while just not “getting” it… then one day “it” clicked. I’m taking about using the manual setting on your camera. There’s a delicate relationship between the light, the speed of the photo, the sensitivity of your sensor and a few other bits that make up a great shot which requires no, or very little post-production. Once you get “there”, you’ll know it!