FAQs: Camera

* Canon 18-55 mm zoom KIT lens (good standard lens with general range)
* Canon 75-300 mm telephoto KIT lens (great depth of field)

* Tamron AF 18-270mm lens (amazing zoom range; it’s replaced my need for the two lens above)
* Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens (everyone should own this. It’s inexpensive and amazing!)

I love photography. I’m not a pro. I sink in my chair when I look at other sites (here, here, here) and realize how little I know. But showcasing my creations through photography is half of the joy for me on this blog. And sometimes the concept for a sewing project comes after spotting a cool location where I’d like to take photos. Inspiration comes in a funny order at times.

Clothing looks best to me when it’s where it should be, on the human body.
And even more exciting to me is seeing it in action.
Or sitting pretty on a fence.
It’s odd to see photos of me taking photos (kind of like hearing your own voice on a tape recorder – if those still exist). But my photography friend and business lady Jessica snapped some stuff of me while I snapped her daughter in the Can-Can skirt.

So, this is me in action:
and this is what I see:
This is me prepping the dashingly-cute model:
and this is how he looks:
When I was researching cameras 2 years ago I emailed a few friends, asked for their recommendation, and most of them came back with: The Canon Rebel. Since then, I have recommended this to about 10 close friends and family who have purchased the same package. And now I’ll share it with you! (photos taken with my older camera. Felt weird to pick that thing up again)….
When it comes to cameras there are probably two main schools of thought:
Canon or Nikon. They are both wonderful brands. The Pioneer Woman uses Nikon.

My previous two point-and-shoot cameras were Canon and so, when the Rebel came highly recommended it just seemed like a no-brainer. Stick with what I know (just like the 3 Hondas I’ve owned in my life)

If you’re new to the world of SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras, there’s some background info here. Basically, the camera body is your camera. It looks like this:
and this:
When taking a picture, you actually look through the viewfinder in the back, instead of an LCD screen like your simpler camera. It’s an interesting change at first, if you’re used to a point-and-shoot (you kind of feel grown-up).

Then, on to the camera body you attach a lens. Most cameras come with a general shooting/standard lens. But some don’t. So make sure you know what you’re purchasing when looking at cameras online. Don’t assume that they come with a lens.
I recently added two more lenses to the family:

* Tamron AF 18-270mm lens
This Amazing zoom lens actually replaces the other two kit lenses that my camera came with it. The zoom range is from 18-270 mm! That’s a 15x zoom capability. Now I don’t have to choose which lens to take when we’re on an outing. I can easily shot beautiful close-ups yet still zoom in on my daughter at the park for that telephoto shot. You can see my complete review of the lens HERE.
* Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens
Buying this lens is kind of a no-brainer. It’s only $100! And it’s a nifty little lens (often referred as the nifty fifty and probably recommended by every photographer). It’s a prime lens (more info on those below) which means that you don’t zoom in or out. The upside to this lens is the amazing focus quality and the low aperture. It goes all the way down to 1.8, which makes it great in low-light settings. Though today was a cold gloomy day, I took indoor photos with my 50mm and they turned out great! I highly recommend this lens. For 100 bucks you can not go wrong.
Okay, a little more on my original camera and lens kit…

I purchased my camera with kit lenses 3 Christmases ago (in 2008) from Samy’s Camera online and got a great deal (even cheaper than the same camera being sold at Costco). Of course the “great deal” I got then seems to be the normal price now, especially THIS package set on the Canon site. That is the exact camera package I have.

There are many variations of this camera: the XSi, the XT1, XT2. My XS is the bottom of the line of the Canon Rebels. I guess it’s like I’m in last place at the Olympics? Really freaking cool, but not as grandiose. But I have been MORE than happy and pleased with it.

If you’re not sure which camera to get, do some research. You’ll find all sorts of reviews online. Find what works for your needs. I went back and forth between the XS and the XSi and when I read THIS review on Amazon (scroll down the review from Judah) I decided that the less expensive XS was perfect for my needs. In the future, I hope to upgrade my lenses (but I’ll just add that to my long list of “wants”).

If you’re just starting out, the Canon Rebel XS is a great camera that will not kill your budget. You can get the whole package deal for about $650.

* Easy to use
* The Automatic settings are quite great…..I used them for the first year. Now I always keep it in manual and make my own adjustments.
* The photos are beautiful
* I feel at home, since I’m used to Canon

* Zoom vs. Prime Lenses.
No matter how sharp I think my focus is, there are times that it still looks “soft” to me.
This is a common complaint with people who use zoom lenses vs. Prime lenses. Don’t get me wrong, the quality and sharpness is great, it’s just not as CRISPY as professional stuff.

To get really sharp images, it’s best to use a Prime lens, which is a lens fixed at a specific focal length. You can not zoom in or out. Instead, you move your own body to adjust the distance between you and your subject. Prime lenses are typically known to focus a bit sharper on their images, when compared to zoom lenses. Prices vary but you if you want to get your feet wet, purchase the 50mm lens recommended above for only $100.

If you’re looking to upgrade your lens, another great recommendation is to rent a lens for a day from your local camera shop. Try it out. See if you like it.
You don’t need to have a fancy camera to take nice pictures. Yes, it helps. But there’s much art and creativity put into a photo besides a snazzy lens and mirrors. So if you’re not ready for an upgrade, keep plugging away at your point and shoot camera. Of course if you are ready for an upgrade, go for it! You will love it and never look back! (except when you hand the old camera over to your 3-year-old to play with)

Yes, most of my photography is touched-up and edited a bit. But I don’t use fancy software, just good old iPhoto on my Mac. I recently purchased Aperture but have yet to try it out. So I’ll give you my review down the road. You can try it out for free for 30 days from the Apple site.

In closing, how about a little slide-show?

Taken with my long lens (75-300 mm).
A telephoto lens gives you that nice depth of field and blurred background. There are other shorter lenses that can give you this same look (the kind of lenses that I’m saving my money for).

Taken with my shorter lens (18-55mm).
I use this lens for most of my general photography. Good close-ups, wider action shots, etc.
Taken with my Tamron AF 18-270mm lens. I use this lens now to replace the other two lenses above. I love the versatility!
And that’s my camera! If you have additional questions about it, leave a comment and I’ll try to add the info here into the post.
Thanks for stopping by!

  1. 1) Audrey Ganouna

    Just happen to find your website while researching a veggie muffin recipe for my friend in need to feed her picky kids…And I have to tell you that I love your blog/website and find your photography flawless. Great job! I will definitely keep on reading you from time to time…Check on Clara’s growth (she’s adorably hilarious and expressive!). Thanks for sharing! Audrey

  2. 2) Tara

    Just found your blog this afternoon and thought it was really helpful. My husband and I are looking into getting our first DSLR camera and I found your information useful for us in our search! It is hard to find photography tips in lamens terms for beginners so I was happy to find your blog! Thanks!

  3. 3) Destiny

    I’m 17 years old and working on my senior project. I’m doing the paper on the difference between Commercial Photography and Photojournalism. The actual product is a portfolio on pictures I take myself. I was wondering if you had any suggestions on how I could do this effectively … Certain picture poses, or anything you think could help really.

  4. I’m toying with the idea (yet again) to take the plunge and finally buy a dSLR. I’ve wanted one so bad for SO LONG! Anyway, I’ve looked at this post several times in the past and felt overwhelmed and given up partway through. But now I just read it all the way through (don’t know why I chickened out so many times before, because it was a great read!) and it was so, so helpful! The cameras I’ve been looking at are almost the exact same kind and reading this made me feel like I actually have some idea of what I’m getting into (if I go ahead and buy one) now. Thank you Dana!

  5. 5) ali

    I’ve been following your blog for about a year and a half, and I just want to tell you how much I love it! Your photography is stunning, and you have so many talents. My husband just bought me a Canon DSLR for Christmas, so this post has been really helpful. Thanks, Dana!

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  7. Your blog is like an encyclopedia. Whenever I look for sewing tips, I come to you first, and now I’m looking for a new camera, I end up here again!

  8. 8) Anna

    Hey Dana!
    I found you by searching for DIY LAMP ideas!!!….loved your site and videos so much I am now interested in getting my brand new sewing machine out (purchased 2 1/2 years ago) and making stuff for my grand baby!….to the point. I’m an artist and am trying to sell online and I NEVER thought I’d want to do video tutorials until I’ve just seen a lot of yours! I love the way you change up the background btw. How do you take your own videos? or does someone else do them for you?
    Love your site! Fabulous ideas…..also got me wanting to create my own fabric too lol

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