What’s in My Camera Bag?

Have you ever thought that there was something wrong with your big nice expensive SLR camera? Your husband bought it for you for Christmas because you begged him for it…but it doesn’t work! You think  your shots are great only to come home and put them on the computer and see that they are not that good at all! Do you love your camera or is it causing you stress and frustration?

I really enjoy my camera and it makes me happy…now.

I finally feel that I have gotten to a place that I can get my camera to do what I want it to do. But that hasn’t always been the case. I remember the days of frustration trying to figure out what was wrong with my camera because I couldn’t get what I wanted. I even took it to the store to ask the guy behind the counter what was wrong with it.  Have you ever done that?

  • My photos were blurry
  • The color was weird
  • They were too dark

My motivation for this site is to help you overcome that frustration and help you realize that chances are, your camera is fine!

I think the most important tip when buying a digital camera is to be sure you get a SLR, in short that means that you can change the lenses on it. Most pros will tell you that your lenses (or your ‘glass’ as they say) is more important than your camera body. Just like you need the right pan when you are baking a cake, you need the right lens when you want a specific photo. Put your money in your lenses. If you need a point and shoot for  your purse as your  backup camera that is fine, but I recommend investing in a digital SLR for your main camera.

What is in my bag?

I’m a Conon Girl.

Either Canon or Nikon are great choices for sure but I personally feel that the Canon functions are easier for me to intuitively follow…but that is what I am used to. If you are used to Nikon than stick with that brand.  My tip here is to find a ‘photo friend’ who has the same camera as you so you can share pointers and ideas and learn a lot faster together.

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My camera body is a Canon 50D.  I started with a Canon Rebel and loved it too but wanted to get a higher ISO for my indoor low light gymnastics  shots so I had to move up.  The ISO (light sensitivity)  is a function of the camera body; the f-stop (blur) is a function of the lens.

Here is my Rebel which I passed down to my very talented  niece, it is a bit smaller than the 50D:

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These are my favorite lenses:

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far left:  50mm 1.4 (the 50mm 1.8 is a perfectly fine choice and is a little less at only $100) This is a fixed lens meaning that you have to zoom by physically moving further and closer to your subject. It doesn’t zoom but it has an awesome low f-stop (the no-zoom function makes it affordable).

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taken with my 50mm

middle: 24-70mm  2.8 (this is my favorite everyday lens) This is not a fixed lens, I have some ability to zoom in and out but it also has a wonderful low f stop.

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taken with my 24-70 but I could have used my 50mm fixed

far right: 70-200mm 2.8 This is for my daughter’s gymnastics and is ridiculously expensive…but worth every penny to me as this mom must hide behind this big lens to get good shots and make it through the meets! If you have a child in sports or dance or theatre this is the dream lens for you!

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taken with my 70-200

Where to buy? I love buying my cameras from Costco when I can because their return policy is great if there is a problem. I recommend starting there. I use B & H Photo if Costco doesn’t have what I need. Photography is an expensive hobby but worth every penny as I can’t imagine not having a good camera to catch my kids’ priceless memories.

On a budget?  Consider getting a nice used camera body and one great lens.  If you want nice portraits of your kids get the 50mm 1.8 lens.   If you want a good everyday lens, the kit lenses are usually okay but they generally don’t have the lower f stops which make the beautiful blurry backgrounds and allow you to shoot in lower light. If I were going to buy a basic SLR today I would get the Canon Rebel xt2 from Costco or the xt3. It will allow you to do video along with great photos. If I were on a strict budget I would hunt the used camera stores (or ask a nice aunt for a hand-me-down!) for a Rebel body and get the 50mm 1.8 lens to add to it.   My niece shoots beautiful photography with her hand-me-down 6 year old Rebel (see her senior portrait photos on a recent post). It is not necessary to have the newest camera on the market.

Should you get a point and shoot? Purchasing a pocket point-and-shoot camera for a backup is a good idea but if you are going to get serious about your photography, don’t put too much money in a camera that you can’t change the lenses… keep it under $200.  Save your money and get what you really want – – a big girl camera! 

Final thoughts: 

Good photos come from your heart and the passion that you have for your subject.

Great equipment will not make for a great photographer anymore than a fabulous kitchen will make you a fabulous cook, but it will make your job a lot easier!

Don’t wait too long to buy a good camera and photograph the stories of your precious life.  Your kids are growing fast…really fast!

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