Our Camera Gear

I've been asked by a few readers to share what kind of camera equipment we use. I hope you find this helpful and resourceful if you're hoping to get started in digital photography.

Our Camera Gear

Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T1i. At the time we decided to make the purchase, this was the camera that fit our needs and our skill level.

Favorite Lens: Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8. This lens was recommend by a friend of ours and was totally worth the money. It has what they call professional glass and creates very crisp/sharp images compared to the other lenses we own. It's also versatile enough to be an awesome everyday lens. It was a big investment.

Second Favorite Lens: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II. I shot with this lens for nearly a year. It's what most of the photos on Snappy Casual were shot with. It's great for outdoor portraits where you have room to work. It's inexpensive for the quality that it brings. If you're starting out and want a lens that will give you a blurred background (bokeh), then this is your lens.

Other lenses: Canon EFs 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 and Canon EFS 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6. The 18-55 is the kit lens that comes with most Canon cameras. It's great for starting out, but if you're halfway serious about photography, I wouldn't waste the money. I would suggest just buying the body of the camera you want and investing in a higher quality lens like the Tamron above. The 55-250 is nice for zooming in, but the lighting has to be amazing to be able to take a good shot. It's great for outdoor landscape shots. I bought it with some birthday money soon after purchasing my camera and if I could go back, I would have rather bought something else.

External Flash: Vivitar DF383 Digital TTL. This flash is about one-fourth the cost of a Canon, and for how often I use it, it works just fine. It's simply not worth the money for the Canon in my opinion. This flash is multi-directional, making it great for bouncing light off the ceiling or walls. It can also be used as a slave (off the camera), which provides some versatility. It works well in auto mode and is a big help when shooting in low-light (indoors).

Tripod: Sunpak 6000-PG (similar photo below). We got ours at Best Buy. It's pretty sturdy and we use it anytime we want to take photos of both of us. We used it to take last year's Christmas card photo!

How to Find the Right Camera Gear for You

I recommend shopping around and exploring all your options. We looked at Nikon and Canon and ultimately settled on Canon because we had a Canon point-and-shoot and loved it. Not a very technical reason, but you have to buy what you are comfortable with. If you're serious about photography as a hobby, I wouldn't recommend any other brands except Nikon and Canon.

Be sure to set a budget and stick to it. It's easy to talk yourself into buying the next level up for just a little more money. When we bought our camera, we used our Christmas money that both of us received and it was just enough. Sure, if we had a million dollars, we would buy the best of the best, but we don't, so we worked within our budget. And as time went on, we invested in other pieces of equipment. All of the above was acquired over a 14-month period.

What to Do After Buying a Camera

Hear me loud and clear on this: YOU MUST GET TO KNOW YOUR CAMERA. You're not going to take amazing photos day one. Your first photos will actually likely be worse than you take with a point-and-shoot now. It will be a learning process. Before you do anything else with your camera, read the instruction manual cover to cover. Play with the settings as you read through it. You will thank me later. And then feel free to reference the manual later on as you get more and more comfortable. There are so many features! The more you use it, the more you will want to play around and hone your skills.

I also recommend buying a book specifically about your camera. I loved Jeff Revels book about the T1i. He offers practical advice for getting the shots you want. It also had homework lessons to help you improve. I also love the Digital Photography School website. It's packed full of great posts.

That pretty much wraps it up. I hope this is helpful. As always, leave a comment if you have any other questions. And if you are a photographer, I would love to hear your opinion on equipment. And I'm still in the market for the perfect camera bag!

The camera gear photos above are Amazon Affiliate links.