Lets Talk Equipment

If you are just starting out in photography and want to take better pictures, you are probably wondering what equipment you will need. First, let me start off by telling you what you probably already have realized, photography is a VERY expensive hobby! Good news though, you don’t have to have the latest and greatest in order to take better pictures.

Ashley and I often get asked what type of camera we use. We both use Digital SLR cameras. Here is our equipment:


Ashley shoots with a Canon T1i and a Tamron 28-75mm lens.
Lisa shoots with a Canon Rebel XSI and Canon 50 mm 1.8 lens. 

A DSLR camera basically gives you full control over your photography when utilizing the manual settings. They produce better image quality, allow for faster continuous shooting (great for action shots) better depth of field (blurry background), and you can switch up the lenses for different situations and effects. Also, when you look through your viewfinder, what you see is what you get. Even when you leave your camera in the “auto” setting, you will still notice a difference in the quality of your images as compared to a standard point and shoot camera.

If you are purchasing your first DSLR camera, either one of the camera bodies mentioned above are great for entry level. There isn’t too much difference in the image quality of the T1i vs the xsi. If you are willing to forgo the HD video option then you can save a little money by going with the xsi.

Ashley and I both use different lenses. She prefers a zoom lens while I prefer a prime lens.

A prime lens does not zoom in and out. The focal point is fixed. So, if you want to get in closer on your subject, then you physically have to move closer. It definitely takes some getting used to in the beginning, but it allows for a lot of creativity when shooting and a prime lens will give you that super blurry effect in the background, aka bokeh, when you shoot wide open (will get to the technical stuff in a later post). You can get a 50 mm 1.8 lens for about $100 and for the price it’s a great score!

A zoom lens has a range of focal points which provides the photographer with a lot more versatility. They are pricier then most prime lenses, but if you prefer to not have to change lenses for different focal points then this might be the lens for you. To save money on a zoom lens you might try a brand like Tamron, rather then going with the camera model brand lens.

So, prime or zoom lens? It really all depends on the situation. Ashley shoots all of her tutorials and products for the store with a zoom lens. I could never shoot these instances with my 50 mm prime lens, trust me I have tried. I would have to stand really far back, and then my shot may be out of focus.

For a great article on choosing the right lens for your camera I encourage you to read this article HERE from PictureCorrect.

If you are not ready to purchase a DSLR, but are looking for a good recommendation for a point and shoot camera. Take a look at the Canon Powershot SD870.

You can still take amazing pictures with a point and shoot. It’s not all about the equipment, but more about the person behind the lens. Don’t worry, we will have a post dedicated to those without a DSLR in this series. So stay tuned!


Random Equipment Tips

:: Pass on the camera kit, get the camera body only and then the lens you want. The 18-55 mm lens that came with my camera is still sitting in the box.

:: Try a rental first! Borrow Lenses is a great resource! Rent your camera and lens before committing to a purchase. Try out a zoom and a prime lens to see which one you prefer.

:: DSLR cameras hold their value pretty well. If you decide later on that you want to upgrade to a Canon 5D Mark II (my personal dream camera) then you can always sell your current camera body on eBay and put it towards your new one.


Contributed by Lisa


  1. Gabby says

    I currently have the CanonXS and shoot with the same lens as Lisa, but I have the same dream camera sitting on my wishlist for "someday!"

  2. Dawn Trest says

    Thanks for sharing! I currently have a Nikon D40 slr. I love it, but need to invest in a different lens… will be looking for a zoom lens after reading this :)

  3. Kaitlyn says

    Thanks for the post! I am really excited for this little series. I just got a Canon XS and need some major help. Shooting in auto makes me feel like I blew 500 bucks. Looking forward to this.

  4. Kristina Churchill says

    Lisa I agree I like the 50mm :)
    I shoot with either a
    50mm 1.4 or a 85mm 1.8. for portraits I have a 75m-300mm telephoto for soccer and football games.
    I use a Canon 50D (love it),and have a Canon Rebel XT for back up…

    What do you think about the IS lenses?

    Great post!

  5. Vanessa says

    I have a Rebel XS and my 50mm f1.8 basically lives on it. The kit lens only gets used for when I need to take photos for sewing tutorials. Saving my pennies for an 85mm f1.8!!

    Looking forward to the posts!

  6. Ashley says

    Hi Kristina!

    I say, if you can afford the added expense of an IS lens then go for it! If not, you might try working with a tripod for your portraits. I was thinking about it, although it might be hard to chase after Elle with one of those attached to my camera 😉


  7. JRoberts says

    I LOVE my SLR but for a point and shoot, I would recommend a Canon "A" series. You can buy batteries anywhere with an A series.

    Gotta say, Canons really are my favorite overall.

  8. Rosh says

    Thanks for all the info. Good tips for people like me who love photography but clueless & not sure which camera should be bought. Thanks again!

  9. emerzim says

    Renting lenses is awesome. Ryan did that over the summer for a trip to Big Bear and loved it.

  10. Monika says

    Lisa, your equipment was my starter set too =). I still love that 50mm 1.8 lens (but I got the 85 mm 1.8 now and love it even more ;-).

  11. REG says

    I really hope you will see this post. I was looking into buying the Canon PowerShot SD870IS that you recommended but that is no longer available. I cannot find it online, in stores, anywhere. Is there another camera you highly recommend? I wanted to start learning the DSLR but it seems like too much work for me right now. Also, I have not seen any post in regards to using a point and shoot camera to take great pictures. Can you direct me to that blog if possible? Thank you in advance!!! :)