Bloggers: Do You Really Need A Camera + A Look at What I Use Regularly

It took me around four years to buy my first real camera.

For the first several years of this blog and my Instagram account, I only used my iPhone. I became proficient in figuring out lighting, angles, and most importantly — editing. (Editing is a MUST if you want the best pictures regardless of whether you use a phone or an actual camera).

When asking yourself if you need a real camera, there’s one main thing to consider.

What are you doing with your images?

If your main social platform is Instagram and you’re killing it there, you may be able to get by with only a phone. If you’re a food or fashion blogger, you probably should have gotten one yesterday.

Although phone camera quality has improved tremendously, there’s still the issue of resolution. As I wanted to feature more photos of people and travel on here, it quickly became apparent that phone-quality images didn’t hold up when blown up to fit the web. What worked in a tiny square on a mobile device appeared pixelated and grainy on the blog.

Neil had been urging me to get an actual camera for years, but I knew I wasn’t ready to sit down and figure it out. Once I decided that I wanted better quality photos for this blog, I started to do some research. If I wanted to do more recipes and work with more brands, I would have to step my game up a bit. Portrait mode on the iPhone can be great, but not when trying to get professional images for a sponsored post. It just wasn’t cutting it anymore.

Keep in mind that although I’ve been improving my photography steadily over the years, I’m always learning. There are still lenses I want. There are still settings I need to master. All that aside, here is a look at what I use for my camera photos as well as my phone ones.

With the increased quality of phone cameras these days, it's hard to justify shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars on a fancy camera. This post answers the question: do you really need a camera for blogging?

*Some affiliate links below

Phone editing apps:

There are several that are hugely popular, but honestly I only use one:

  • VSCO — I’ve gotten it down to about three clicks and my images are exactly how I want them. I’ve taken time to figure out what style I like and in order to remain consistent with my images, choose the same filters and same minor tweaks from there.

Other apps to try:

  • Snapseed — often outranks VSCO for some users due to the increased number of features, but personally I have only used it once or twice. Definitely recommend though!!
  • Lightroom — the mobile version of this editing software doesn’t offer quite as many options as the desktop, but it’s definitely good in a pinch.

Camera body:

Sony a6000 Mirrorless camera — I decided on this camera after a lot of research. One of the things that held me back from buying a DSLR camera was the size. I knew that I would be less likely to carry a bulky camera around with me, so I wanted something that was good quality, but small.

Many bloggers and photographers recommended this camera as the perfect choice and after reading the reviews, I was sold. It also didn’t hurt that it was at a much more affordable price point. I chose a mirrorless camera over a DSLR mainly because of the size. As I did more research, I also realized that mirrorless cameras are becoming more and more popular because they are still able to deliver high quality images with less space due to the absence of the mirror feature inside the camera body.

There are nicer mirrorless cameras than this one, but for now it’s done a great job for me.

Lenses:

Sony 35mm f/1.8 lens — this lens is used mostly for day to day shooting on the street, when I travel, and basically anything and everything. It’s a great multi-purpose lens and I bought it after realizing that the 50mm was often too close for images I wanted to shoot (especially interiors).

Sony 50mm f/1.8 lens — I use this lens mainly for food images, but if you have enough room between you and your subject, it’s really a great lens for many things. I first took it on my writing adventure and realized that I couldn’t take any good pictures of the room I was staying in because it didn’t have a big depth of field.

Lenses (wish list):

As my collection grows, I intend to update this post and move some of these to the section of lenses I already own.

  • a wide angle lens (like this one) — my problem is that I love all kinds of pictures these days, especially travel destinations. The best thing to have in order to capture more things in the frame is a wide angle lens with a smaller mm number. This way I can get those interior shots and wider images when we travel.
  • a macro lens (like this one) — the limitation of my 50mm lens is that there are some shots where I’m not able to get as close to the food as I’d like. If I get too close, the image will be blurry no matter what I do. A macro lens of anywhere from 85-100mm allows me to be far away and still get super close up to all that delicious food.

What If I’m Not Ready?

I totally get you. Like I said, it took me four years to bite the bullet. Honestly, I wish I had done it sooner, but I know myself and I know it would have overwhelmed me and just sat on the bookshelf like a fancy prop.

If you’re not ready to take your own pictures, consider hiring a photographer to take them for you. If you’re in fashion, this is almost a necessity because you can’t always pose and self-timer your shots. If you’re a food blogger, you may be able to make recipes and have someone shoot them for you or give them the recipe to make and shoot (at an extra cost).

If this sounds like a better option for you, make sure to check out my post about tips on working with professional photographers in this post.

To summarize:

  • Consider your platform. If you’re looking to get serious about blogging, consider investing in a high-quality camera or hire someone to take photos for you.
  • Edit edit edit. Learn how to edit your photos to take them from blah to amazing. It’s crazy what some minor tweaks can do!
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8 Comments

  1. Erin, thank you, thank you, thank you for this post! The Sony a6000 (and it’s predecessors and successors) is the camera I’ve been considering for quite a while now. I currently use my iPhone, but I think it’s time for an upgrade, and it seems just right for me.

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com
    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog recently posted…The Trick to Finding a Petite Blazer That Actually Fits YouMy Profile

  2. May 30, 2018 / 2:23 pm

    I love Snapseed on my Android phone. I’ve figured out certain settings I’m using for most of my photos which I think helps keep things quick and easy as well as collective. I still need to up my game but I keep getting better and better every year. Maybe when I’m working full time again I’ll invest in a camera…or find someone to take some photos for me!
    Lauren recently posted…Why I Trust NOW Foods for my Natural ProductsMy Profile

  3. May 30, 2018 / 4:17 pm

    Hi Erin! Great post! I was SO scared to get a DSLR, so my husband actually pulled the trigger for me, and I LOVE having it. I only have the lens that it came with but recently got a cool flash feature. I still am figuring it out and will never truly be familiar with all the settings, but it does take better pics — hands down. I totally agree with you on knowing your platform — IG can be done on the phone for sure. And like you said, I wish my DLSR was smaller so I would take it around more! Oh and your pics are bomb!
    Ashley @ A Lady Goes West recently posted…Brady’s 8-month updateMy Profile

  4. May 31, 2018 / 12:58 am

    I have a big girl camera, but never use it!!! That needs to stop. Thx for the inspiration to go dust the thing off.

  5. May 31, 2018 / 2:27 am

    Hi Erin, I think it really depends on what you do with the pictures you produce really. Nowadays, cellphone cameras are advancing. So much so, that it can compete with professional cameras. I even stumbled upon a video where they compare a video shoot from a RED camera and an LG phone. Really I think the point here is, it’s really up to the bloggers on how they use their images. Many cellphone camera pride themselves with crisp and awesome shots. I too would agree. But what these cellphone cameras don’t have that DSLRS, mirrorless cameras, or simply put professional cameras have, is the ability to take RAW images. Because, taking images and videos in RAW makes editing a lot more easier. But nevertheless, again cellphone cameras take good pictures as well. 🙂 awesome post you got here! thanks!

  6. June 1, 2018 / 5:00 am

    I mean… yes. My biggest issue are pictures, but I’ve yet to purchase an actual camera because that’s such a huge commitment and I have commitment issues. I just need to do it already! The iPhone X has a super duper camera, but sometimes it isn’t able to capture what I’m envisioning. Thanks for these tips! – Kaitlyn | http://www.poweredbysass.com
    Kaitlyn @ Powered by Sass recently posted…How Life is Like Walking a Mile for the Perfect Scoop of Cherry GarciaMy Profile

  7. June 1, 2018 / 3:57 pm

    I have a big camera and have been thinking of getting a smaller one to take with me cuz mine is enormous. This looks like a good option!

  8. June 1, 2018 / 11:00 pm

    A few years back, my daughter gave me her Panasonic mirrorless G2 Lumix, which I now use to shoot all my food and fashion photography on my blog at http://gingerwroot.com. The Lumix also pairs with lots of different lenses, but I’ve shot everything thus far with a 20 mm f/1.7 pancake lens. And yes, I have a wishlist also for some other glass! Mirrorless cameras are quite a bit lighter, smaller, and less expensive than cameras with mirrors, and yet you really can take professional-quality photos with them! Thanks for a great post! –G

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