Date: Posted on Category: Blog Tips, Photography

Ultimate Camera Guide for Bloggers - Shooting with a Canon 35mm 1.4 // // Street style plaid blazer

Shot with Canon 35mm 1.4 L II on Canon 5D IV

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Last week, I shared my top photography tips for new bloggers and asked what you guys wanted to see next. The consensus was my camera gear! I’ve got the impression that many people new to photography and blogging seem to think that you need expensive equipment and pro-level gear to take stunning photos. My husband, Dan, surely knows otherwise. He’s given me the low down on what he uses and what he recommends for bloggers. So, together we present to you today an ultimate camera guide for bloggers!

We want to preface by stressing that you can take great photos with any camera – especially one that allows you to shoot in manual mode and RAW. The most important thing is that you learn how to use your gear. Often times, you’ll learn that it’s the model in front of the camera that matters most. If you’ve got a great model to work with, the job of a photographer becomes much easier. Also, when picking a camera and/or system, the ultimate deciding factor should be ease of use and ergonomics – what do you feel comfortable with? Now that we’ve got that cleared up, let’s dig into what’s in my camera bag.

What’s in my camera bag?

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Here’s our current set up:

Canon 5d Mark IV
Canon 35 1.4 L II
Canon 50 1.2 L
Canon 85 1.2 L

When purchasing a DSLR, cameras are usually broken into full-frame or cropped sensors. Since photography is a huge part of our work, it’s essential to have a full-frame camera, which provides more depth of field control, better image quality and low light performance.

The downside? They’re much more expensive.

We are currently shooting with a Canon 5d Mark IV, which is an amazing all-around full-frame camera. We might be biased, but it’s got great ergonomics, it’s easy to use, and it produces beautiful straight-out-of-camera results. It also has the ability to shoot fast continuously (this comes in handy when shooting moving bloggers) and the photo quality is beyond reproach. Plus, with Canon’s extensive photography history, you get an amazing selection of lenses to pick from!

Amazing Alternatives:

Canon 5d Mark III (The older version of the Mark IV with less bells and whistles. Bonus: It’s less expensive!)
Canon 6D Mark II (Great entry-level full-frame camera and much cheaper than the 5D series from Canon. Cons: Dynamic range isn’t as good as Mark IV when shooting in RAW.)

Extras & Accessories

ONA Brixton Messenger Bag (Smoke) – This is an amazing discreet camera bag that can be thrown over the shoulders. It offers good protection and holds just what we need (one large DSLR camera body plus 3 lenses). It’s comfortable to carry and lets Dan access his camera gear super fast!

OP/TECH USA Pro Loop Strap – This is one of Dan’s favorite camera strap systems. It can be detached quickly if you don’t want a large strap hanging around – and it’s extremely comfortable even with a heavy camera and/or lens attached.

Lexar Professional UDMA7 CF card – If you shoot in RAW and Continuous Mode (especially of moving subjects), a fast card is necessary to flush the buffer quickly from your camera, otherwise you will be doing more waiting rather than shooting.

Ruggard CF Card Case – Highly recommended case to protect and organize your CF cards!

Giottos Rocket Air Blaster Large – We use this whenever the lens or camera sensor gets too dusty. You’ll be good to go after a few blasts.

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B+W 2 Stop ND Filter – This allows you to shoot wide open with the F1.2 lenses, so you can get that shallow depth of field even in direct sunlight. If you have a camera with a base ISO of 200, you should consider getting a 3-stop ND filter instead.

Sony SDxC UHS-II SD card – If your camera uses an SD card, this is the fastest you can get at the moment. And you’ll definitely need it if you shoot RAW and fast. However, we would advise you get a fast CF card if you’re shooting with the Canon 5D Mark IV or Mark III. The SD slot on those cameras are only UHS-I, so even with a fast card, the speed will be super slow.

RAVPower 16750mAh Portable Charger – Aside from shooting with our DSLR, we also shoot a lot with our phones, so this portable charger is godsend. It will charge an iPhone 7 six times before it needs charging itself!

Canon Battery Pack LP-E6N – This extra battery is as good as the battery life on Canon and Nikon DSLRs. If you shoot in live view often, it drains the battery faster. Dan recommends always getting at least 1 spare battery. It’s especially useful when you travel. And be sure to get the battery from the original manufacturer (i.e. Canon or Nikon) because third party ones are known to lose their ability to hold charges – and can even cause camera errors. If you make a living with your camera gear (or have plans to), we highly suggest getting the OEM battery.

Lens Breakdown

When it comes to lenses, you also have two types: zoom lenses and primes (fixed focal length). Dan has a preference for prime lenses because they’re extremely sharp, have fast autofocus motors, and work great in low light. To help you get a better understanding of how we use our favorite lenses, we’ll break down why we like the lenses – and how we use them.

Canon 35 1.4 L II Prime Lens 

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Shot with Canon 35mm 1.4 L on Canon 1D X Mark II

This is an amazing lens for great environmental portraits. You get the benefit of achieving wider shots, so you can capture great scenery. It’s also great for stretching people out, making them appear longer and leaner. The perspective you get from this lens is similar to that of a smartphone. Whenever we want to capture more in frame or play with perspective, this one is Dan’s go-to. We realize this lens is super expensive, but it probably is the best 35mm lens in the world; it’s tack sharp even when shot wide open and has very well-controlled chromatic aberration. See examples above.

Amazing Alternatives:
Canon 35mm F2 IS (Cheaper Canon alternative.)
Nikon 35mm F1.4 (Equivalent to Canon and Sigma 35mm 1.4.)
Sony 35mm F1.4
– Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art – Canon Mount
– Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art – Nikon Mount

Note: Sigma presents excellent alternatives to the native lenses. The Sigma Art series is very sharp although the bokeh might not be as nice. They’re also heavier, but usually only cost half as much.

Canon 50 1.2 L Prime Lens 

Canon 50mm F1.2 L //

Shot with Canon 50mm 1.2 L on Canon 1D X Mark II

The nifty fifty is a great all around focal length – similar to what the eye sees, which is why it’s a huge favorite across photographers. With a 1.4 aperture or wider, you can get that covetable dreamy depth of field often seen in fashion portraits. Note that I currently use the Canon 50 1.2 L but have also used the Sigma 50 1.4 Art. If you can only afford one lens on a Canon full-frame DSLR, this should be it. The Sigma is actually the sharpest 50mm prime, but the Canon provides dreamier bokeh. See examples above and below.

Amazing Alternatives:

Canon 50mm F1.4 (A more affordable alternative to the one we use, but the bokeh is no where as nice when wide open.)
Canon 50mm F1.8 (If you absolutely need the cheapest prime for a Canon DSLR, this is your option.)
Nikon 58mm F1.4
Nikon 50mm F1.4 (Equivalent to Canon and Sigma 50mm 1.4.)
Nikon 50mm F1.8
Sony FE 50mm F1.8 (The cheapest 50mm for a Sony that still offers good subject separation.)
Sony FE 55mm F1.8
Sony FE 50mm 1.4
– Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art – Canon Mount
– Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art – Nikon Mount

Canon 85 1.2 L Prime Lens

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Shot with Canon 85mm 1.2 L on Canon 1D X Mark II

This focal length is especially great for portraits when you need to blur out the background a lot in order to emphasize the subject. It also compresses the scene so you get less of the background clutter. This is possibly the most dreamy portrait lens that offers the most amazing bokeh. It’s definitely Dan’s all time favorite. See examples above & below.

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Amazing Alternatives:
Canon 85mm F1.4 L (This lens is brand from Canon and super sharp wide open. It also comes with image stabilization.)
Canon 85mm F1.8 (Much cheaper version while still retaining good separation – and much lighter too.)
Nikon 85mm F1.4 (Equivalent to Canon 85mm F1.4)
Nikon 85mm F1.8
Sony 85mm F1.4
Sony 85mm F1.8
– Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art – Canon Mount
– Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art – Nikon Mount

Ultimate Camera Guide for Bloggers - Shooting with a Canon 85mm 1.2 // // Street style patent leather pants with red boots and lace top
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Zoom Lenses

Although Dan loves his primes, we do use a few zoom lenses for versatility and convenience – especially when traveling. Here are his favorites:

Canon 24-70mm F2.8 L II – If you do not want to use primes and need range (or can’t afford too many lenses), this one will give you great focal lengths to work with – it’s an all-in-one lens. You also get relatively shallow depth of field – just not as shallow as primes. This one in particular is super sharp even at F2.8!

Amazing Alternatives:

Nikon 24-70 F2.8
Nikon 24-70 F2.8 VR (Not as sharp as the non-VR version, but VR let’s you get steady/sharp shots at lower shutter speed. This is a very expensive lens!)
Sony 24-70 F2.8 (Just as good as the Canon!)
– Tamron 24-70 F2.8 – Canon Mount
– Tamron 24-70 F2.8 – Nikon Mount
NOTE: The Tamron 24-70 is a very good – and much cheaper option than the native lenses mentioned above. It also has image stabilization built-in.


Ultimate Camera Guide for Bloggers - Shooting with a Canon 85mm 1.2 // // Street style patent leather pants with red boots and lace top
Canon 24-105 F4 L – This is an excellent all around zoom lens. It’s like the Swiss Army Knife equivalent of a lens. It’s great for traveling if you want to pack light. The biggest drawback is that you can’t get super shallow depth of field.

Amazing Alternatives:

Canon 24-105 F4 L II (The newer version of the above lens. It’s just as sharp but has a more robust build.)
Nikon 24-120 F4 VR (Equivalent to Canon 24-105.)
Sony 24-105 F4
– Sigma 24-105 F4 Art – Canon Mount
– Sigma 24-105 F4 Art – Nikon Mount


Shot with Canon 85mm F1.8 on Canon 1D X Mark II


Finally, this “ultimate camera guide for bloggers” post wouldn’t be complete without a full recommendations list. So, based on our knowledge and experience, we’ve put together a full-on camera guide (or camera bag) just for you!

Ultimate Camera Guide for Bloggers - Shooting with a Canon 85mm 1.2 // // Jessica Wang in Cancun

Shot with Sigma 50 F1.4 Art

Camera Body Recommendations

The Ultimate Recommendation: Of course, we’d naturally say the Canon 5d Mark IV, but we realize not everyone has the budget for one – and some of you might prefer a different system. Below is a list of other brands and bodies we can vouch for.

Lower End Bodies:

Canon 6D – Affordable and just as good as the Canon 6d Mark II; however the autofocus system is not as capable as newer models. This is fine if you don’t do a ton of walking shots. It’s a great starting camera for the price.

Nikon D750 – Great all-around camera with better image quality than its Canon counterparts – especially in dynamic range and low light performance. The downside? Slower continuous shooting speed and poor buffering when shooting raw.

Sony A7 II – This is a good affordable full-frame mirrorless camera to start out with, although image quality is just OK.

Higher End Bodies:

Nikon D810 – High megapixel count if you need it with amazing dynamic range and image quality. Also, great autofocus system for continuous shooting.

Nikon D850 – In Dan’s opinion, this is the best full-frame camera you can buy. It’s got super high megapixel count, best-in-class image quality with an excellent autofocus system and ergonomics.

Sony A7RIII – Dan also says this is the best mirrorless full-frame camera with leading image quality. The ergonomics and menu system leaves a lot to be desired (in his honest opinion – and he says this goes for all Sony cameras.)

Shot with Canon 50mm 1.2 L on Canon 5D IV

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The Ultimate Budget System

Canon 6D + Canon 24-105 F4 L + Sigma 50 1.4 Art
Nikon D750 + Nikon 24-120 F4 + Sigma 50 1.4 Art
Sony A7II + Sony 24-70 F4 + Sony 50 1.8

That was a mouthful! But I hope you guys found this camera guide for bloggers helpful. Let me know your thoughts – AND what you’d like to see next in this series! Feel free to leave questions below for either Dan or me!

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