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!
I agree on everything. The 24/70 lens is definitely versatile but, personally, I find it a bit uncomfortable and unwieldy. The 50 mm lens, especially since I switched to the “full frame”, has given me a lot of satisfaction ?
The 50mm is so good! I think it’s because my 1.2 needs some adjusting, the focus is a bit off. Perhaps I should have it looked at and then I would use it more 🙂
Awesome post. Thank you. It’s very helpful as I’m getting into photography as a new hobby and am absolutely horrible at it but this helps lol
So glad to hear that, Fatima! Pleasure is mine 🙂 You’ll get there, I think nobody knows about these things from the start, I did a looot of reading about lenses back then!
Tracey Arnett says
That was great thank you Linda so informative and relevant to where I’m at with my photography. Might I add my daughter Em & I love your cookbooks. We get rave reviews anytime we bake your recipes, especially your blueberry slice, rhubarb summer cake and your banana bourbon cake. Thanks for creating such magic that consistently makes us look good.
Thank you so much, Tracey! So glad you enjoyed the post and thank you SO much for those lovely words. I bet you are super talented bakers! xx Linda
This was such a helpful post! I’m looking to add a new zoom to my collection I was researching the 24-70, great to get your opinion! , Thankyou! ☺️
Glad you liked it, Neisha! The 24-70 is so good! 🙂
Ulrica - Krii’s Kitchen says
Verkligen jätteintressant att höra hur du använder dina linser och vad du tycker är för och nackdelar med dem. Jag fotograferar mest med mitt Canon 50mm eller med mitt Tamron 90mm macro (måste öva mer på det dock). Har ett Sigma 24-70mm men det är så galet tungt att jag måste använda stativ. Jag läser gärna mer om utrustning och tips och trix. Vill också säga att dina presets jag köpt har gett mig ett nytt perspektiv på efterbearbetningen. Ha det fint!
Kul att du gillade inlägget Ulrica 🙂 Oj, är det så tungt? Visserligen är Canons också det men jag kanske bara har vant mig. Åh vad kul att höra om mina presets, vad glad jag blir!! Ha det fint Ulrica!
Corrina Tough says
Firstly I absolutely love your work and I have all the same lens as you and live them equally! I dont use a tripod or any external lighting but I’m not shooting the same sorts of things. I recently upgraded to two new canon 5dmark 4 bodies (I’m a wedding, personal branding and portrait photographer) and added the 100mm macro and the 85mm prime to my kit and I’ve been thrilled so far with the results but havent had time to really go for it yet! Xx
Thank you so much, Corrina! They’re all such great lenses! Oh, yes I hear that it makes life easier to have two cameras as a wedding photographer 🙂 It must be so heavy though!? xx
Hi Linda, great post! I love your style and your work. I’m also obsessed by your settings and your light style, it would be great to read about it too!! You are so inspirational, thanks for it first of all.
Aw, thank you so much Andrea! So kind of you 🙂 I’ll have you suggestion in mind for upcoming posts! xx
Thank you so much for putting this post together and sharing it! I love learning what sort of gear photographers enjoy most and I really learned a lot! I’d love to know a bit about your editing process!
Thanks so much, Taylor! 🙂 Will definitely keep that in mind! xx
Thank you so much for this blogpost and all the precious information. Always a pleasure reading you and your work is so inspiring. Much love, Massiel
Thank you so much Massiel! 🙂 xx
I’m looking into buying a new camera for work and gets stuck cuz there’s so many to choose from.
I’m leaning towards Canon since my private camera is canon and it would make it a whole lot easier.
But then I can’t decide if I should go for full frame. If the extra cost is worth it. We shoot mostly images for SoMe and product shots. Lifestyle, interior. Small room settings, flat lays and such. Would also be great to use it for small films.
Do you have some good tips for me to make decision easier? My background is graphic design, with a big interest for photography.
Hi Mette! I think it depends a lot on if you already have a set of lenses? If you don’t, you could start out with a crop sensor camera with for example a 50mm lens – but it totally depends, perhaps a zoom lens would work better for you. And of course, what kind of budget you have is also important!
Great post Linda, I remember I did a lot of research through posts like these before getting the suitable lenses for my dslr so I think this will give a great hint to people who are starting! I think more posts like these would be always appreciated from an artist of your format! 🙂 Regarding the lenses. I don’t have a full frame yet but I also love to shoot with a 50mm (or 35mm as the 50 equivalent for dx) rather than with a zoom, the image quality and especially sharpness is much more satisfying.
Thanks so much for your kind comment, Michaela! I did so much research too but was mostly looking on flickr back then 😉 Totally agree with you on the image quality of the fixed lenses! I tend to prefer that but I always end up with my zoom anyway! Haha. I actually liked the 50mm more when I had the crop sensor!
Thank you for this really informative post, it’s so interesting to have insight into other people’s processes, especially when the results are so very beautiful. I’d love to read more about how you use/manipulate light to achieve the dark moody images that are so distinctly yours…
Thanks so much for your sweet comment, Melanie! I’ll definitely keep that in mind for future posts! x
Loved this post! Super helpful as I’m looking into buying a new lens.
Glad it was helpful, Regina! Thank you so much for your comment 🙂
Lisa at celebrate creativity says
Nice recap, Linda. I have all the same lenses and you’re right about practice. It’s the best way to learn.
I’ve had my 85mm 1.2 for a few years but only recently started using it regularly. It is bulky and heavy and practically impossible for me to use without a tripod… but it does produce some of the prettiest photos (when I get it right-lol).
I’d love to hear more about your post processing approach and shooting tips to include yourself in the photo.
By the way, My Feldt’s book arrived this week. It’s quite lovely. I hope it comes out in English at some point so I can enjoy the recipes as much as the photos.
Happy day to you.
Thank you so much, Lisa! You’re so right about the 85mm, but it’s definitely not easy to get it right with that one 😉 I do love it though but usually just use it at home because it’s so bulky.
I’ll absolutely keep your suggestions in mind, good ideas! And also, so glad you liked My’s book! xx
That post is so helpful. I still struggle with the settings when I take photos. It‘s so helpful that you have written them below your photos in this post. Would be great if you could do that more often.
Could you do a post where you show the set up of your shoot? I think it would be helpful to see where the light comes from, how far you are away from the window, if you use reflectors or difusors etc.
Thank you so much Sophia! So glad it was helpful 🙂 I’ll definitely think about doing a post like that!
Beautiful post Linda, very interesting! I mainly use a 24-70 lens too 🙂
I have to tell you again: you are my greatest source of inspiration :*
Aw, thank you so much dear Antonella! xx SO glad you like the post!
Thanks so much for sharing this lovely, informative post. I loved how you included your shots and settings with the different lenses to get an idea of what each lens in capable. I’ve been shooting with my Canon 6D for about 5 years, purchased mainly as it was a lot cheaper than the 5D at the time and the WiFi option has been invaluable. My favourite lens of all time is my 100mm f2.8L macro which I probably use for 80-90% of my shots, but I do find it difficult for small spaces and aerial shots, and then usually revert to my 50mm f1.4. I’ve been considering the 24-70mm f2.8L for a while now to give myself a bit more flexibility when shooting, and you may have convinced me I need to make the purchase! It’s so lovely you shoot freehand a lot, I feel compelled to use my tripod more and more these days as I find my images are always so much sharper (maybe I just need a steadier hand or to stop shooting in low light!).
Thanks again, Salma
Hi Salma! Thank you so much for your kind words 🙂 The WiFi option sounds amazing I must say.. haha. So you could basically transfer all your photos directly to your phone? Sounds like heaven!
I know what you mean, the 100mm is almost impossible to use for overhead shots, but it’s soooo good even if I don’t have the L series. The 24-70 is awesome but if you like shooting at a really low aperture, it might take some time to get used to it. Zoom lenses don’t have the same ‘feeling’ as a fixed lens. xx
Cristina Di Noia says
Love this post Linda. You’re so inspirational. I would like to see more posts on this topic. I purchased all your books did you use the Canon cropped sensor to shoot Lomellino ice cream?
Aw, thanks so much Cristina! I shot the ice cream book with my current camera, the mark II! x
Linda, your generosity for sharing this information is greatly appreciated and very helpful.. I do have one question: What do you use as a light source? I see your ISO settings range from 100 to 500 and the grain is minimal if not completely absent. Would you share your lighting techniques/sources.
Thank you so much for your comment Michele! I use a single window as a light source when I’m shooting inside. I think it can also depend on the camera, I feel like my camera gets really grainy around ISO 1000 so I try not to go that high but it does happen sometimes. I tend to use a little bit of noise reduction/luminance too in post production! That usually really helps!
This is a great post. I have dabbled in food photography as well but I have a very old camera and lens and my results are not quite what I want. I am also curious about your lighting. Can you talk about your lighting techniques and gear as well in future posts?
Thanks so much for your comment, Maggie! I ‘ll definitely try making a post about lighting too 🙂
CJ | A Well-Read Tart says
This is so helpful!!!! I currently just use my Smartphone to take my photos of food and book flat lays, and while it’s been working for awhile, I’m 1) looking to up my photo game, and 2) pretty sure my phone is dying and I will need to find something new to take photos with, haha. I’m doing some research on cameras, and this post gives such great info, particularly about the lenses and what they do best. Including examples of shots taken with the lenses is great,too. Thanks so much!
Thank you so much, CJ! Glad it is helpful 🙂 The phone can indeed work perfectly fine, I used to take all my photos for instagram for years. It was so fun and easy to be honest, but I do find that using a real camera gives you more options!
Great post! I often enjoy seeing what camera equipment artists use.
Thanks, Adrienne! Glad you liked it 🙂
Linda, yes, this is very helpful! Thank you for the details and example shots – it’s exactly what makes the article useful.
I’d love to see a glimpse of what your editing process looks like as a next step.
And then maybe more about freelancing – what have you found useful, what difficult, how to find/satisfy clients +.pricing.
Thank you so much for your comment Gergana! And love your suggestions! 🙂
Also, can I add one request- I love looking through the recipes, and the first level of the Menu item is great, but then once I click “see more cakes” for example, it just fleshes out the full blog posts and it’s endlessly scrolling to find a recipe I like. Is there a possibility to just have a simple index of all recipes in a category with just the name or name + photo?
Ugh, I knooow! It’s totally frustrating!! It has to do with the theme. I’ll probably switch it out eventually when I have a budget for it.. and make an awesome recipe index!
Christine King says
Thank you so much for your information. I am an amateur at photography. I love taking photos of flowers and gardens. My original cameras have been Canon and ready to go back to Canon after owning a different brand. I love the lighting in your photos and hope to someday be that creative.
I love your recipes also.
Thank you so much for your kind words Christine! Totally agree, I’m sticking with Canon for sure. Wishing you the best of luck on your creative journey!
Thank you very much for all the information! It’s really useful for me who are just in the market to buy new camera. I am wondering though why you chose MarkIV over any new mirrorless camera. Is DSLR still better? I was in a store when I was about to get a DSLR, but the salesman suggested that mirrorless is better. May I please know your opinion? ?
Hi Sophia! I think it’s all a matter of preference, I guess mirrorless is the ‘new’ thing so to speak. I have a mirrorless Fuji and am not a fan of how it feels even though it’s a great camera. I also use my viewfinder a lot when shooting and the Fuji just has a digital picture in there which I don’t like. Definitely prefer my DSLR! I suggest renting if possible to see what you like! I hope that helps in some way 🙂