JUST ASK JO: What type of camera do you use? Which one should I get for travel and blogging?

This week's JUST ASK JO is all about photography, my first passion and I'm so excited to get into it with you all. Photography was an art form I fell in love with when I was 15. It was the one thing that helped me express my heart, my thoughts, and ultimately helped me understand my depression and mental illness a little more.  A few weeks ago I offered to answer questions on my Instagram about photography and here's what you asked. Continue below to read more about the cameras, lenses, and gear I recommend for beginners, bloggers, and traveling.

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Questions (are in bold and my answers to each are below): 

Hey JO!

We've got a ton of questions for you about cameras, lenses, and gear? Help!

Many thanks,

Overwhelmed on Amazon


To my dear overwhelmed friends surfing on Amazon, Camera gear can be so confusing especially when there are so many brand choices to choose from these days. When it comes to investing in a new camera there are so many different choices of brands to choose from and all are doing such amazing things.  Most photographers will lean towards certain brands based on their experience with the camera brand, features, ergonomics, and of course cost.

Some will get more technical and choose a camera system (brand) based on the sensor of the camera and the type of color it reads. #nerdalert A camera sensor is the soul of the camera. It's what takes in and reads light. It also determines image size, resolution, low-light performance, depth of field, dynamic range, lenses, and even the camera’s physical size. To learn more about camera sensors in a way that's understandable you can read here

Chances are when you go shopping for a new camera you will see the words full frame or crop sensor. This refers to the size of the sensor on the camera. In Nikon DX-format is the smaller sensor at 24x16mm; the larger FX-format sensor measures 36x24mm which is approximately the same size as 35mm film. So what does this mean and why does it matter? A sensor size refers to the field of view (how much of a scene you can see through the viewfinder). This might matter more to a prosumer or a professional, but not so much to someone who's simply capturing photos for keepsake purposes. 

Now on to the questions:

What's your favorite brand to shoot with? 

The first camera I ever picked up was a Nikon FM10 in high school and up until 2016 I was shooting all sorts of digital Nikon cameras from our first digital camera, Nikon D70 to our most recent Nikon models, a D4s and Nikon D750. In 2016 I made the switch to Sony A series and fell in love with mirrorless cameras especially Sony.

I also shoot with two film cameras a Nikon F100 and Contax 645. Both of which I haven't had the time to shoot with much lately these days but would love to. 

What is the best affordable camera right now?

 This one is a tough one to answer because what one wants to spend on a camera is a personal choice. There are a lot of great affordable cameras but it will be based on your needs, what your subject you're shooting, and the type of lighting you are shooting primarily.

Do you use an online database or external hard drive? 

I use both Dropbox and an External Harddrive. The external hard drive I'm currently using is the Western Digital 4TB My Passport.

Is there a tripod you suggest for my DSLR? I have a Nikon, but I think most tripods can be used on a variety of brands! What's the tripods and accessories for someone who wants to take overhead product photos, flat lays, etc?

There are so many tripods out there to choose from and just like a camera its based on your needs. Jon and I both prefer carbon fiber tripods with ball head mounts. Since we pack a lot of wedding gear we prefer something that's lightweight, durable, and easy to fold. But for my personal assortment of tripods I have the following: 

Joby Gorillapod Focus with Ballhead X. This particular tripod is designed to hold camera rigs up to 11lbs. Something I needed if I was using my Sony A9 plus a lens. 

Dolica TX570DS Ultra Compact Tripod w/ballhead. This one is extra light and was my first tripod purchased for my blogging needs. I loved the leg locks on it that I found were quicker and easier to use rather than the little nobs you mess with. The max load on this was 15lbs as well. The only con is that if you're somewhere windy it might get knocked down so you'll need to weigh down the tripod with your bag.

K&F Concept TM2534T Tripod. I added this to my collection because of the transfer center column which means it was great for flatlays. You can take the column from 0 to 180 degrees. it has a detachable monopod. This tripod is made out of aluminum. Not as light as the carbon fiber tripod, but pretty sturdy. It doesn't travel much with me because it weights just under 5lbs whereas the Dolica mentioned above is 2.5.

A tripod accessory I recently picked up last year to film a stop motion video project for a brand collaboration, was a horizontal extender. It's not a must have but if you find yourself needing to take extremely sharp photos or multiple layered work such as a stop motion film then you will want this. 

Tripod Recommendations

What are your favorite presets to use? 

I edit all my photos with a preset I created from a VSCO Film preset that's tweaked out a little.  Some other mobile apps I love are VSCO, Lightroom, and Afterlight.

What cameras and lenses do you guys use for weddings?

We have a lot and have accumulated over time. So for our Nikon system which Jon shoots with we have the following:

  • Nikkor f/1.4 24mm
  • Nikkor f/1.4 35mm
  • Nikkor f/1.8 50mm
  • Nikkor f/1.4 85mm
  • Nikkor f/2.8 24-70mm
  • Nikkor f/2.8 70-200mm
  • Nikkor f/2.8 14-24mm
  • Nikkor f/3.5 45mm tilt-shift

For my Sony I have the following: 

 

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I love all the photos you have and honestly, know nothing about lenses! I have a mirrorless Sony but what's the one all around best lens you would recommend? Prime? Zoom?

As you can tell from my equipment list I'm a huge fan of prime lenses. When shooting weddings I'm often in situations where there's not a lot of light or we're playing around the use of reception lighting and what not. I like to shoot ambient, which means I use the light available to me rather than using an on camera or off camera flash. It's my personal preference and for me, it feels more "in the moment".  When shopping for lenses the number after the F/ is the maximum aperture. Basically, it refers to the amount of light the lens can read or gather. The lower the number the more light it can gather. This also means the lower the number the more expensive a lens can cost. This post breaks down such an easy to read way of understanding which lens to purchase next.

Like all of the advice, I've shared here its really up to personal choice and preference. I love my 28mm lens because its reminds me of a rangefinder camera and to me a 28mm is really close to what our eye naturally sees so when I capture things on my camera close to what I visually see in real life. Plus the iPhone camera is roughly between a 31mm and 29.7mm focal length, which makes it ideal if you want to keep your iPhone photos and DSLR photos on Instagram pretty seamless.

Zoom lenses are awesome because you can have multiple focal lengths on one lens. They do get a little heavier so if you're trying to keep your camera system light, its one thing you'll want to consider. A great zoom lens to own is a 24-70mm. You have a wide enough lens to capture wide shots and a 70mm is a great length for something a little tighter or more zoomed in but not extremely tight. I personally wouldn't buy anything below an F/2.8 so the Sony 24-70mm F/2.8mm would be my choice. However, the lens is over $2000. The Sony 24-70mm F/4 is a great option, but you just don't get large aperture. A lot of the portraits you see of me on my Instgran are shot with the Sony 55MM F/1.8 and I think my next lens purchase will be the Sony 35mm F/2.8.

I truly hope this was helpful to all of you guys who had camera questions. I wrote a post on the Basics of Photography back in 2016 linked here. It's got an awesome break down of the 4 basic things to keep in mind with photography along with my favorite photography books and resources. 

My Photography Gear

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Joanne E

I’m a mother of two beautiful daughters and married to a man who completes me. I started my fitness journey as a way to heal my soul and launched my blog in hopes to continue to inspire and empower women to use fitness as a tool to heal depression and find their self worth. I strongly believe that each woman deserves to be in love with herself just as much as her man does. I have an obsession with reusable water bottles, I enjoy action movies, and I’m in love with burpees.