Photography for Mommies: GEAR

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby on. Posted in Daily, LIFE, New Mom Experience, PHOTO, Photography for Mommies Tutorials

Today I will start a series of posts that are probably the most requested ones of all time.

 

Photography for Mommies

(it’s like “photography for dummies” books, but it’s mommies. Get it? Get it?)

It’s not a series for people who are well versed in photography. This will be written for beginners, new mommies and veteran mommies, who are looking to get better pictures of their kids and themselves, and their families, and their dog, you get it!

I wanted to start this series with a post about photography gear for two reasons:

1. Christmas season lends itself to more expensive presents that photography equipment can be, so you’d have a chance to “request” a camera or a new lens based on these posts if you choose to. {oops! That didn’t work out, did it? I got caught up in the Christmas season myself and didn’t get to finish this post. Forgive me?}

2. I’d like to encourage everyone to do this with me. Learn to take fabulous photos of their kids. Besides the amazing memories that you will be left with, as you children grow, it’s a great skill and example to give to your children in the future. In fact, photography is probably one of the easiest hobbies to pick up that I know of, so there shouldn’t be a person out there who isn’t able to do this.

I am hoping that I don’t really need to explain why every family should have a “family photographer”. If you’re the kind of person or family that stays away from pictures, it is more of a reason to learn photography and step out of your comfort zone. Children need to be taught to love themselves, and “being afraid” of being photographed is a shitty lesson to teach your little ones. In my opinion it is MORE VAIN (among other things) to avoid being in pictures because you “never look good in photos” than to enjoy taking them.

So I challenge each and every one of you to join me today and to commit yourself to learning photography, even if it’s on a small level.

Obviously, before you can take photos, you need proper photography gear. Let me go over different types of cameras and their pluses and minuses.

POINT-AND-SHOOT

A Point-and-shoot camera is your average compact camera you see everybody toting around. It is small, it’s easily portable, it’s cheap, it requires nothing else in terms of lenses. Some boast good image quality, but the truth is all compact point-and-shoot camera lack that professional look you see in photos. It is true that YOU absolutely CAN take a great picture with a point-and-shoot. But you need real skill and good eye for photography to compensate for lack of quality and beautiful bokeh ( the blurry background you see in most pro photos). And even then it will never rival what you can take with a DSLR. Plus, if you have the skill and the eye, you’ll most likely already be looking to buy a DSLR. Because of low quality, dim light produces a ton of noise and requires the use of flash, which you will later find out should be really used at a minimum.

These two photos below are an example of what you COULD do with a point and shoot with some editing, but these are an exception, not the rule. Most of the time the pictures end up with poor quality and lighting.

You’d buy a point-and-shoot compact camera if your priorities are:

  • price
  • portability
  • ease of use

What you will be sacrificing:

  • image quality
  • control over settings
  • operational speed ( how fast the camera focuses)

If you think this camera is for you, here are a few things to look in a point-and-shoot camera in order of priority ( and it is not its color, as tempted as you might be):

  1. Image quality – this is number 1 concern when you are buying a point-and-shoot. Since most of them shoot pretty low quality images ( in my opinion), it’s smart to get the best out there.
  2. Price – given that most point-and-shoots are very comparable to each other in terms in specs, price becomes something you can shop
  3. Maximum aperture – this is something I look for in a point-and-shoot. If it means a tiny difference in being able to take a shot in dim light versus not, it’s worth it for me.

I have always owned point-and-shoots alongside with a DSLR, because there are times where I like to have a small camera around. The more I photograph, the less I am willing to sacrifice quality for portability and end up bringing my big DSLR everywhere.



The current compact camera I have is this Canon Powershot ELPH. The reasons I picked this particular one are its price ($150is very cheap IMO), size, high aperture, HD video and the wide angle lens. I am not crazy about the quality, or the touchscreen. But it serves me well for what I need it for.
If a compact camera going to be your main camera, so you can spend more money on it, I’d highly recommend this Canon Powershot S110: wide angle, fast focus, HD video, wi-fi, good aperture and high ISO capabilities. And the biggest thing is it allows you to have complete control over settings once you’re more comfortable shooting on Full Manual.

DSLR – DIGITAL SINGLE LENS REFLEX CAMERA

 

This is what most people buy when they want better picture quality than what they’ve been getting with their point-and-shoot. It comes with a body and a detachable interchangeable lens. There are many options for a DSLR body ranging from a $400 price tag to over $3,000. When asked what camera I use “to get such beautiful photos” , I always say the same thing: it’s not the camera that makes the photo. It is true to an extent. As long as you have a DSLR body, the single most important thing in photo quality is your skill and knowledge, then comes the lens you’re using, and finally the actual DSLR. So it’s completely fine to start with an inexpensive body like this (Please note: it appears as if this particular model is NOT compatible with a wireless remote. So if it’s a feature you see yourself using, consider this model instead) and work your way to a more professional and better quality one like this or this ( I am linking to mostly Canon brand ones because that is what I am familiar with).

You’d buy a DSLR camera if your priorities are:

  • IMAGE QUALITY IMAGE QUALITY IMAGE QUALITY
  • versatility
  • complete control over features

What you will be sacrificing:

  • size and portability
  • your own sanity ( because most likely you will be hooked on photography)

I started with a cheap Digital Rebel ( like this one) and worked my way up to the current camera I use, Canon 5d Mark II. I am very happy with it and don’t see upgrading any time soon.

If you’re a complete beginner and think that a DSLR is for you, I’d suggest starting with a Canon T3 which is currently on sale for a ridiculous $292 (as of the time of writing), the lowest price I have EVER seen for a body only. {Please note: it appears as if this particular model is NOT compatible with a wireless remote. So if it’s a feature you see yourself using, consider this model instead.)
The next step up would be a Canon 7D and then finally Canon 5D.
A great affordable but versatile option is Canon 60D. It is a step above T3 or T4, but without the price tag of 7D. That would be the best option if you’re looking to spend some money on a really good camera but can’t drop over a grand on the body itself.

LENSES:

Besides a Canon body, you’ll need a lens. I would STRONGLY advise against getting a kit lens ( a kit lens is usually a standard lens sold with a DSLR body). Usually a kit lens is the horrible 18-55mm lens. Do not buy it! There are so many lenses that are significantly better in quality.

Here are three moderately priced lenses that I would recommend getting instead, specifically for their price vs quality.

Canon 50mm f/1.8 – This is the lens that most photographers swear by. It is cheap, like $100 cheap. It takes amazing photos, produces gorgeous bokeh ( blurry background), has great low light handling, and great depth of field and focus. Downside: cheapely made ( though that never deferred me), can be difficult to focus, prime ( set at one length, doesn’t zoom). {This isn’t the lens for you if you’re unwilling or unable to move around. It won’t zoom and has a very close “crop”, so you’d have to be relatively far from the subject. If that’s not what you’re looking for, check out the Tamron lens below.}

Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 (for small sized sensors) or Tamron 28-75mm (for large sensors) – while not brand name, these are great alternatives to the more expensive Canon brand of similar lenses ( and lighter as well). Great aperture, great light handling, inexpensive.

Canon 85mm f/1.8 – my current lens and I am IN LOVE. It is an absolutely amazing lens. It focuses SO much better than the 50 mm I mentioned above. It has a mind blowing quality, amazing light handling, amazing bokeh. I would recommend this to anyone! {This isn’t the lens for you if you’re unwilling or unable to move around. It won’t zoom and has a very close “crop”, so you’d have to be relatively far from the subject. If that’s not what you’re looking for, check out the Tamron lens above.}

MSC GEAR

 

Remote

This cheap piece of plastic is an amazing catalyst to taking family photos without the main person missing in them ( YOU!). I have to admit, I have been caught in the trap that most mommies fall into, that is taking only your baby photos and not much else. I feel like half the time, I look like crap, am dressed in sweats and just not up to photographing myself. And then there is that whole issue of who will take the picture. If your hubby isn’t trainable when it comes to taking photos ( it took me many years to get where we are now with hubby in terms of photography, which includes him getting in the photo as well. He now actually likes it as long it is something fun we are taking a photo of), YOU NEED A REMOTE. It’s super cheap ( I buy 10 of them at a time after having lost a ton and spending weeks without one), it’ll fit in your purse and it will make it very easy for you to take a pic of your WHOLE family wherever you go ( just prop the camera up on a trash can). For more tips on how to BE in the photos, refer to my {long abandoned} photography blog tutorials. As soon as I have caught up with all the posts I want to write here and feel like I have a handle on my time, I will start up pioneering us, mommies, getting in front of the camera.

{Please note: it appears as if  the Canon T3 I mentioned above is NOT compatible with a wireless remote. So if it’s a feature you see yourself using, consider this model instead.)

Tripod

If you want to be able to take your own Christmas photos, or family photos, or birthday photos, or,,, (you get it!), you’ll need a tripod. Bring it anywhere, pop the camera on it, use a remote and voila. Nothing easier than that. Everyone is in the shot and you didn’t have to sweat {much}. This is the one I use and love.

Card Reader

Yeah, I know cameras come with that handy cord to transfer your pictures. And if your camera takes a SD card, chances are your computer has a slot for it, as well. But for other cases, a card reader is a must. I hate using the cord. Ugh! Card readers are so much better. Take the card out, pop it in and you’ve got yourself a transfer. This card reader is for a CF card only. If you camera takes an SD card, here’s one for that.

 

So that’s it for the essentials. There are plenty of “niceties” that one can buy to make their photography experience more pleasant and fun, but we’ll go over all that some other time.

For now, if you’d like to jump on the “Mommy, the Photographer“, band wagon, you’ve got what you need equipment wise. Dust it off, buy it, prepare it. Because I will be coming back with tutorials on how to use it, how to get awesome pics of your kids and how to edit them.

If all of the above was a bit too overwhelming or you don’t have time to make sense of it and just need a “Here is what you need to buy” guide ( believe it or not, I get the “just tell me what you’d get if…” emails a lot), here it is broken up by budget:

Tight budget TOTAL: $404

BUY
THIS CANON BODY + THIS CANON LENS {Please note: it appears as if this particular model is NOT compatible with a wireless remote. So if it’s a feature you see yourself using, consider this model instead.}

Medium Budget TOTAL $716 or $1309

BUY
THIS CANON BODY {Please note: it appears as if this particular model is NOT comparible with a wireless remote. So if it’s a feature you see yourself using, consider this model instead.) and THIS TAMRON LENS (standard camera + good versatile lens) or

THIS CANON BODY and THIS CANON LENS (better camera + a good cheap lens) + THIS REMOTE

Good Budget TOTAL $2018

BUY
THIS CANON BODY + THIS TAMRON LENS + THIS CANON LENS ( +THIS REMOTE and THIS TRIPOD, if desired)

Ask any questions in comments, in case I missed something, I will do my best to answer them all.

 

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