Growing Your Blog: The Right Equipment

Yesterday, I shared some simple tips for improving any and every photo you post on your blog {or use personally}.  Today, I want to talk about the equipment that makes your photos the best they can be.
Can you get good photos from a simple point-and-shoot camera? Yes. Will they be better with a DSLR camera? Absolutely.
We bought my Nikon D60 after LC was born because we decided it was worth the investment to have good quality photos of his childhood that we’ll treasure forever. A good DSLR {I’d recommend a Nikon or a Canon} usually starts around $500 for the basic camera itself.
Look at these two pics of LC {isn’t he tiny?!} that I took within a few weeks of each other. The first one was taken with a point and shoot. The second was taken with the Nikon D60. Look at the difference in brightness, clarity, and aperture.
In fact, I’ve found that I can take such high quality photos using my DSLR camera that we no longer pay to have professional portraits done.  I took these shots myself at the beach and we used them for LC’s birthday photos.
To get family photos for Christmas cards and such, we just set up a tripod and get way better pictures than we ever got when we tried going somewhere to have them done.  LC is more relaxed because he’s at home, and the camera does the work for me.
The only occasions when I use a point and shoot instead of the DSLR are ones where I don’t want to lug the big camera {“the beast”} around…ie, when we’re hiking in the woods.
I know that especially in this economy, most of us don’t have $500 to throw around here and there, but if and when it’s within your means, I can almost guarantee you wouldn’t regret the purchase…plus, then you can make a cool camera strap cover for it and blog about it, right? 

{You can also enter to win a Canon 5D Mk III here}

Of course there are other accessories you can get too, if you decide you want to invest in them. {Or you can do what I do and ask your family for them for Christmas and your birthday…} The first extra I got was what I lovingly refer to as my “creeper lens,” aka a Macro lens.  Ordinarily, the best lens for the job is the one that came with the camera.  But, sometimes it’s nice having one I can switch to that can zoom in much farther.  I honestly don’t use it often, but when I do, it’s really nice to have.  Here are the places I’ve found it to be helpful:

Here’s a comparison of how the field actually looked from our seats and how much I could zoom in on the players.

While they were warming up, we were allowed to stand closer to the field, where I could get shots like this one.

Trust me, this is all the lens…we were nowhere near this close to the animals.

A macro lens runs around $275-300 for a basic version.  I find that it’s not really necessary for any of the pics I take for my blog, but some people may find it helpful.  I just like it so I can zoom in on things at games, zoos, and the beach.


Nikon SB-700 Speedlight Shoe Mount Flash
One of the best investments I my parents ever made was getting a Speedlight {attachable flash} for my camera.  You can bounce the flash off different spots to achieve various effects, and you won’t believe the difference it makes!  Here are two photos, both taken with the same camera, the only difference being the use of the speedlight.
The speedlight I use is the Nikon SB-700, which runs beween $300-400.  I use it constantly, anytime we’re indoors.


No matter what kind of camera you have, you’re also going to want some good software.  You can use an online editor, like PicMonkey, which is technically free but is eventually going to have a yearly subscription if you want to use all of the tools.  You can also purchase software to download and use…many companies offer a free trial version which lets you test-drive it and see how you like the features.  Here’s a quick guide to what might be best for you.
BASIC: CameraBag 2 software retails for $29 {currently 25% off with the code CB2SALE} which is an affordable way to get started.  I was given a free liscense to test it out for you, and I found it to be very user-friendly.  It has great options for filters, colors, and styles as well as some borders.  If you’re basically just looking to crop, resize, and adjust the color/exposure of your photos, this software is a fantastic choice for you!
Here’s some pics from Mother’s Day that I edited using CameraBag 2.
ADVANCED: Corel Paint Shop Pro software retails for $99 {right now it’s on sale for just $49} and is for more advanced users.  It has just about every feature you can imagine.  I use this for creating buttons and headers, as well as editing photos.  It allows you to clone, fix blemishes, add text, work with multiple layers, and do all kinds of crazy things, like this.
I have some friends who use Adobe Photoshop, which I believe is pretty comparable but more expensive.  I’d be interested to know what additional features it offers, because I’m sure there’s something to explain the pricing difference.
Today, I get the fun job of offering five lucky readers FREE liscenses to CameraBag 2
And remember, they’re holding a sweepstakes on their page for a Canon camera too!
Enter here to be one of the lucky five; Rafflecopter will walk you through the entry process.  Good luck!

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  1. I’m still not as confident with my DSLR as I should be by now.
    I hate lugging the darned thing about and I always end up taking the wrong lens with me but taking all of them makes it so cumbersome.
    I spend way too much time relying on a P&S.

    Thanks for posting and hosting.


  2. I never realized what a difference a good flash can make. I have officially added a DSLR camera to my wishlist. 🙂

  3. I am totally looking into that flash!! It would be wonderful on to have to wait until the sun comes up to try to take photos!:)

  4. OMG! I just wanted to profusely Thank You for this post!!! I have been struggling with my pictures for my blog since spring time. Now that there are leaves on the trees, my home, which is surrounded by trees, is dark. I have been soooo frustrated with getting the right shot for my blog posts. It has been sooo discouraging. I have felt like giving up at times.
    I read through your post and a light bulb went off in my head! I have a really old flash like you mentioned. I used it eons ago with my Pentax K100 (a film slr I had well over 20 years ago when I was a kid). I have a love affair with that camera so I refuse to get rid of it and anything that goes with it. Anyway, my flash is not as fancy, modern or nice as your, BUT IT WORKS! I just tried out some pictures I needed to take for an upcoming post…fabulous! Easy! They were awesome! I got the shot I wanted and more! Thank you! I can’t thank you enough. You just renewed my love of photography with that simple light bulb moment. I will be forever grateful!

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