I often get asked..
what camera gear I use so I thought I’d write a little bit about it! I’ve been doing photography on and off for 18 years, consistently for the past 10 years, and freelancing full time for 6 years as a photographer and cookbook author. You don’t need fancy camera gear to be a great photographer, the gear definitely does not make the photographer, but some things will perhaps make you more motivated and want to practice more! I know that is what happened to me when I bought my first lens.
You can take incredible photos with a smartphone but it won’t produce the same result as an actual slr camera. I always recommend getting to know your equipment well, and I don’t mean you have to read the whole manual – Just practice a lot.
If you like this post and would like to see more posts like these, please comment and let me know (and also what you’d like to see)! And if you have any other camera related questions, leave them in the comment section. I hope you like it!
I use a full-frame digital single-lens reflex (dslr) camera, a Canon EOS 5D Mark II which I bought back in 2011. Before that I used a Canon EOS 400d (Rebel XSi in America) for several years, I even shot my first book with this one! By today’s standards my camera is pretty old, and camera shutters usually have a limited lifespan but my camera is still going strong after all these years (UPDATE: I was so curious of my camera’s shutter count – It’s 281 264, a lot less than I’d expected honestly but still more than its life expectancy). I have no plans on upgrading any time soon unless it breaks and is beyond repair. Although I have to say the Wi-fi function (ok, some other functions as well) on newer cameras is quite tempting. Obviously there are benefits to upgrading but it’s also quite expensive to get a new one when I have one that works perfectly fine and that I know very well. UPDATE November 2020 – I upgraded to a Canon Eos 5D mark IV for filming. I’m not quite friends with it yet in terms of taking photos but it’s truly great for filming! I still adore my mark II for photos.
I also have a Fuji X-E1 which I was planning to use for everyday photography and travel, but I’m so used to Canon that it’s been a little difficult getting into how it works. Also I probably haven’t made enough of an effort. Hehe.
When you purchase a lens, I recommend getting a lens cap (usually comes with the lens) and a UV-filter. I have UV-filters on all my lenses, so if I bump the lens into something, hopefully the filter will break and not the lens itself. It’s sort of like a cheap insurance. When choosing a UV-filter for your lens, make sure to get one that fits your lens as there are several different sizes.
Before getting a new lens, consider what type of camera you have. Do you have a full frame, or crop sensor (APS-C)? I won’t go into detail but basically all crop sensor cameras have different crop factors. So for example, on a crop sensor Canon camera, a 50mm lens would be around 80mm.
Before I go into my favorite lenses, what kind of lens you like is highly personal! If you can, try different ones by renting before buying. These are the lenses I use and love 🙂
Lenses I use
Canon 24-70mm f/2.8
The only zoom lens I own, and probably the lens I shoot with the most. In a way it’s actually not my favorite because it can be difficult to use in low light situations without a tripod (I tend to use my 50mm lens a lot more during winter because it’s much faster) but it’s so very versatile and especially when you’re in a small space and barely have any room to move back and forth. It’s the best for overhead shots and if you want to get more scenery into the shot but I tend to stay at a focal length between 50-70mm for my food based photography, just because I like that look better.
If I were to choose just one of my lenses, this would be the one! I don’t think I’ve gone on a single trip/shoot without this lense since I bought it 5 years ago. It is a little pricey though so perhaps not the best lens to start with but if you’re looking for a versatile zoom lens I highly recommend this one!
Canon 50 mm f/1.4 and f/1.2
The 50mm 1.4 is the first lens I ever bought besides the kit lens and it made such a huge difference for me. Like it completely changed my photography when I discovered the shallow depth of field. A couple of years ago I upgraded from the 50mm 1.4 to the 50mm 1.2 but I have to say I’m still leaning towards the 1.4 being slightly more sharp, it’s also smaller and easier to carry around and obviously the price of the 1.4 is way lower. I always recommend the 50mm 1.4 as a great starting lens (not just for starting of course, I used mine for 5-6 years before upgrading!) as it’s moderately priced compared to a lot of the other lenses. Also great for low light situations!
Canon 100 mm 2.8 Macro
I’ve had this lens for 8 years and it is definitely my sharpest lens. I don’t use it that often but every time I do, I am blown away by how good it is and wonder why I don’t use it all the time. It’s more versatile than you’d think, as long as you have space to move around. I’ve taken a lot of my favorite photos with this one. A couple shots taken with the 100mm:
Canon 85 mm f/1.2
My most recent purchase which I bought used to save some money. I absolutely love it, but the focus length sometimes bothers me. You really have to be quite far from the subject when shooting, not a problem outside but in a small space it can be a little limiting. With that said, it does produce the most beautiful, smooth background and bokeh. I find it has some chromatic aberration when shooting at a low f-stop/large aperture but nothing a little post processing can’t fix. It’s quite bulky and heavy but has a high quality and sturdy feel to it. I love using it for the types of shots below (like, holding the cake type of shots with a smooth background which I do quite often) but if you’re into flatlays, it’s not your best choice.
Tripod + Wireless remote
I use a tripod when I need but I prefer not to as I find myself limited, I prefer moving around when I shoot. I use a Manfrotto 055 XPRO B tripod with a 498rc2 ball head. This tripod has a horizontal centre column which is perfect for overhead shots, but I still very much prefer hand held and tend to just stand on a chair and hold my camera over the table. It has taken a toll on my back though so I’ll most likely be using my tripod more in the future – and I use it for all my cinemagraphs. I also have a smaller travel tripod but it really isn’t great for my heavy camera. For self portraits and cinemagraphs I use a Canon RC-6 wireless remote, definitely not the fanciest but it does what it’s supposed to!