Camera Essentials for Bloggers

Camera Essentials for Bloggers | The Fresh Exchange

For the last year I have received countless emails asking about the photo gear I use and what gear I would recommend for other bloggers. So I thought it was about time I shared what is in my camera bag and give y’all a couple gear recommendations. There is no way I could possibly talk about all the gear recommendations I have but I thought this post could at least be a start. I will be talking more about photography, design, travel, working on the road and running a studio in the future. So expect more to come.

This post is all about choosing the right photography gear. There are a ton of great options to choose from, in this post I am going to tell you what I like and why. Most people start by asking what brand of camera they should get. For me, I would recommend going Canon or Nikon. I love the Canon L-Series lenses, the ones with the red band on them, and have had great success with them. I mention lenses because whatever brand of camera you get, you will also have to get that brand of lenses. Next you should look at the sensor size, Cropped or Full Frame. Here is a great post quickly explaining the difference. Without a doubt I would go Full Frame.

That’s the basis of why I have the two gear packs I am recommending below. Either way you’re going drop a bit of coin, but if you are serious about creating beautiful original content it will totally be worth it.

Camera Essentials for Bloggers | The Fresh Exchange

1.  iPhone 5     |     2.  Canon 50mm 1.4f      |     3.  Canon 6D

In both set-ups I have included an iPhone 5. Honestly about 30% of the photos that make it onto the blog are shot with our iPhones. They are always with you and you can get some killer shots with them.

The Starter Set-Up – $2400

I chose the 6D because it’s the least expensive Full Frame camera Canon makes, you can find them for about $2000. Next I am recommending THE BEST lens for the money. The Canon 50mm 1.4f and it goes for $400. I would steer clear of the cheaper 50mm 1.8f lens, it’s crap and for just a little bit more you can get this beauty. Seriously it’s a huge difference. Seriously.

To see an example of what this set-up can shoot check out the Go Swim post, I shot when we were in Harbor Springs. That was all shot with the 6D and the 50mm 1.4f lens.

Camera Essentials for Bloggers | The Fresh Exchange

1.  iPhone 5     |     2.  Canon 50mm 1.2f     |     3.  Canon 35mm 1.2f      |     4.  Canon 5D Mark III

Again I am including the iPhone 5, because no matter how great your camera is, if you don’t have it with you all the time you’ll never get the photo.

The Real Deal Set-Up ($6200)

I chose the 5D Mark III because it’s Full Frame and absolutely my favorite digital camera I have, its not cheap you can find them for about $3400 but it is absolutely worth it. However I would say the lens you put on your camera is even more important than the camera it’s self. The two lenses I have selected are basically all I shoot with. The Canon 35mm 1.4f is amazing for travel, fashion, video or interior design. It’s one of the Canon signature L-Series lens, meaning it is the highest quality lens you can buy from Canon, but with that quality comes a steep price of about $1300. The Canon 50mm 1.2f is my baby. I shoot almost all my portrait, simple evenings and studio shots with it. It’s also one of the Canon L-Series lens, so like the 35mm 1.4f it’s super high quality glass but it’s also going to cost you about $1400. I know the price is higher for the L-Series lenses but without a doubt I can tell you the image quality is visibly different. So if you can swing it, go for quality. We purchased these things in stages as well to slowly build our gear.

To see an example of what this set-up can shoot check out the Madewell Styled post of Megan. That was totally shot with the 5D Mark III and the 50mm 1.2f lens.

Camera Essentials for Bloggers | The Fresh Exchange

I’ve given you two recommendations for set-ups that should cover the top and bottom budgets. So let’s see what’s in my bag. I am going to preface that all of my gear has been accumulated over the course of 4 years and we use it for our design studio work as well as the blog. So by no means should I expecting every blogger to have this set up. I am shooting these studio shots in our studio with my Canon 5D Mark II with the 50mm 1.4f that’s why it’s not in the image above. So here is my list:

Cameras: 2 – Canon 5D Mark III  |  Canon 5D Mark II  |  Canon 6D

Lenses: Canon 35mm 1.4f  |  Canon 50mm 1.4f  |  Canon 50mm 1.2f  |  Canon 70-200mm 2.8

Bag: Incase DSLR Pro Pack

Tripod: Fotopro C4i Tripod

I love shooting and helping other people shoot, so please ask questions in the comments and I will do my best to answer everything I can. Also let me know if there are more photo topics you’d like me to cover and I’ll see what I can do.


Also big shout out to Cory Weber of Weber Photography for being me gear mentor and the reason I am a Canon man today.

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  1. This is so helpful! I’ve been wanting to upgrade my camera situation but wasn’t sure where to start. Thanks for sharing this info! My wish list just got a bit larger 🙂

  2. When I was working in advertising last summer I had my manager (who was also a professional photographer) help me pick out my big-kid photo set-up. I settled with a 5D Mark II and the 50mm 1.4f, and I can’t believe what a difference just having that equipment made in my work! It’s good to kind of have a second level of assurance that I went the right route after reading this post. Looking forward to hearing more on this subject! Thanks for sharing 🙂 Also…going to now be saving my pennies for an L series lens!

    1. Kelsey – I know the feeling, it changed my photo world when I moved to the original 5D from a Nikon D80. When I was saving $$ for better lenses I would rent the ones I really wanted when I got hired for a shoot. Its a good way to get what you want when you don’t have the cash to buy it.

  3. This is awesome, Mike! One thing I’ve always been interested in is a good setup for shooting product photography indoors. I have my own way of doing things and am always tinkering, but would love to get another opinion. 🙂

  4. Great write up, lots of good gear listed. One thing, I don’t think the 50mm 1.8 is crap its the best lens you can get for under $100. It will out perform a lot of more expensive lenses. Its great glass in a cheap plastic body. I think everybody should own this lens.

    1. Ryan – It’s totally your call when it comes to gear, this post was about what I would recommend. I would never recommend the 1.8f to anyone. If you are looking to buy a lens for a $100 why wouldn’t just spend the extra to get the 1.4f? The glass in front of the camera is always more important than the camera. But good to hear you’ve had good experiences with it. I just wouldn’t recommend it. Thanks for commenting.

  5. Love this! I’m not exactly a hardcore blogger or anything, but I do love my photography and I’m wanting to step up my game a bit… I’ve still got a pretty entry level 1100D and standard lenses. As much as I’d love a 5D III it’s a lil outta ma budget, but the 6D looks pretty awesome too. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Sian – I would stick with what you have, really it’s just important that you keep shooting and keep creating original content. The gear is nice but it’s your eye that really makes the photos.

  6. This was extremely helpful in my search for an upgrade! I love canon but its time to move to the next step. Do you typically use any sort of light source? (Strobes? Flash?)

  7. Great post! My husband and I are looking to upgrade our equipment for our online magazine (, so I really appreciate the breakdown! I’m a Nikon user though, so most of my research has been related to full-frame bodies & lenses in the Nikon family. However, I do have a question…why do you carry more than one body? Is it because it’s quicker to change cameras with different lenses than it is to switch lenses on one body? Or does each body serve a different purpose? Thanks in advance!

    1. Elysabeth – once you go full frame digital SRL you won’t ever look back, Nikon or Canon. I carry multiple bodies for a variety of reasons, most of the time it’s so I don’t have to trade out lenses. But When I am shooting video and photo at the same time I will have one camera set to my video setting and one set to my photo settings. Also I use these camera for video for which I always shoot multicamera. And then I just have a camera shopping problem and need to stop buying bodies…

  8. Great post! You’re making me want to go out and get all of your gear, just because it looks so fancy and cool. 🙂

    Jules of Canines & Couture

  9. Love this! I’m rocking pretty much exactly what you recommended for gear in the first setup – a newly acquired 6D and the 50mm f/1.4 rarely, if ever, leaves my camera. I also have the 35mm f/2, which is also a good lens, but really the 50 f/1.4 is killer for the price. Looking forward to saving up for and investing in some L-series lenses in the future. Thanks for this!

  10. I went from a rebel with a 50mm 1.8 lens to a 5d mark iii with a 50mm 1.2 and I seriously wanted to cry. What a difference it made! I have had my eye on the 85mm 1.2 for awhile now, but you have me considering getting the 35mm first. Decisions, decisions! I have to ask- what’s next on your list?

    1. Court – That’s a huge jump, I bet you were thrilled. Gosh that’s a tough decision. The 85mm 1.2 is a killer portrait lens, but I have gotten really into using my 50mm 1.2 for portrait work so I haven’t looked at the 85 to much, yet… But my next move will first be to sell my two other camera bodies, my 6D and Mark II, as no one needs 4 camera bodies. But as I say I feel pretty content with gear, I have been thinking about a 100mm macro for tighter shots. However I have been getting by with a macro filter on my 50mm. Honestly, what I really want is a medium format camera… but that’s the price of a car so I don’t think that’s going to happen for a while.

  11. Hey Mike,

    Follow up to your comment to Court – any thoughts on tubes vs. macro filters for the 50mm? I’ve heard they’re “better” because they’re non-optic and some people feel macro filters affect IQ. For closer shots (specifically food photography and detailed DIY shots) I would like to have the macro capability but don’t feel I need it enough of the time to invest in a macro lens at the moment. Would love your input if you have any thoughts – thanks! 🙂

    1. Hey Cyd,

      I have actually used both for detailed shots and had great results with both. The tube get’s you SUPER close, almost too close, and it gives you a really shallow depth of field. Then the filters, I have 4 (1-4) and they do a great job of getting you “a little bit” closer. So from my experience it’s really about how close do you need to get for the image. I’m guessing for food shots the filters are going to be your best bet, and probably the cheapest. Thanks for asking.

  12. Mike,
    1. Love it.
    2. Immediately social-media shared it.
    3. Quick question: Do you know if a Canon FD 50mm f/1.4 has the ability to fit into a Canon T2i body? Would Cory know?

  13. THANK YOU so much for this post! I have been looking for a professional camera for over a year now and I haven’t bit the bullet because I have just been so confused about what is the best to get for what I need it for. This post literally answered all my questions! Great advice!

  14. Thanks so much for sharing!! It helped out so much, narrowed it down to what I want and need. Its an investment and I will defiantly be saving up to get each other the ‘Real Deal Set Up’ and some things in ‘Your Bag’.
    I got the 50 mm 1:1.8 as a gift but I love it and it makes due for my T3i 🙂 It gets the job done, but I do envy the quality of the Mark cameras 🙂 !!

  15. Wow! What a great post! I have been researching cameras for so long and this helped me to take the leap and get the mark ii with the L series f1.2 lens and I’m over the moon! My world is transformed! I am now trying to settle on a filter or tube and see the comments suggesting different things. Im a jewelry artist and wonder if I might need to get even closer than a macro filter with something like a tube or would the filter still deliver the best results? Any advice on that?

    Thanks again this was amazing info!

  16. great post! love this. question – i have a micro four thirds camera already (olympus epen1). what lens would you recommend for interior style shots? its hard to find a lot of info on micro four thirds out there! thanks again!!!

  17. This is wonderful! I’m so happy I found this post!!! Have had a Canon 60D for a few years, mostly using a 50mm 1.89, and can’t wait to upgrade to the 6D (just a few more months until my student loans are paid back 😉 ). Thank you so much for sharing, this amps me up for sure.

  18. Hey! i Was wondering if you had any other (women’s) bag recommendations. looking for one for my lady for christmas. i’m interested in something that’s not a backpack, that’s easily accessible, and not too big. something with maybe a single shoulder strap. if you or anyone else reading has recommendations I’d love to hear them! Thanks!

  19. Hi Mike. Such a helpful post! I saw you mention below that you’ve purchased used cameras before this year. Do you have a source you could recommend to buy or sell? I have an entry level Nikon and have been interested in upgrading and/or maybe selling my current setup but haven’t found a good way to go about that yet. Would love to hear your thoughts!

    1. Hi Heath – Yes to buy I like and to sell, Craigslist is going to be your most profiable option but ebay is the easiest way. Ebay does take a 10% comission on your sell, so know ahead of time if you sell a camera for 2k ebay will take $200 of that. But its super easy.

  20. Hello! I love you blog, it is so beautiful and I couldn’t be more happy for you and your husband about the ‘soon to be’ addition to the family. I need your adivce, I have a blog that I just started: Currently I am using an iphone 5 for all the pictures and at the beginning it was an iphone 4 :/ I own a Nikon D40 from about 8 years ago, it has a standard lens. As a student I don’t have the ability to buy a whole new body and lens (although hopefully in the future). Any advice right now? The pictures from the Nikon I feel are COMPARABLE to the Iphone. Would a new lens help? Thank you for your time

  21. Hi Mike,
    Thanks for an amazing article and so generously sharing your experience and thoughts!
    I am a real newbie to photography just now and looking to buy a new camera to get started. I would like to use my camera to shoot the space/ rooms that I style and decorate (I am an Interior designer) and to take pictures of my children and eventually other people for a blog I want to start. I love light, bright images but also love colour and dark moody images. I would like to take pictures that tell a story and evoke an emotional response from the viewer.
    I would HUGELY appreciate if you could give me some ideas/ suggestions for a camera and lenses that I can start with… something that I can use for a few years before I upgrade to something bigger and better! I am currently leaning heavily towards the Canon 6D.
    Thanks heaps, in advance, for answering!

  22. Hi again Mike,
    Thanks for answering. I checked out the pictures you referred to and they are beautiful… just the kind I’d love to learn how to take myself!
    Sadly I think the Canon T6i is not available in Australia where i live so I will buy the Canon 6D. I’d like to use it to shoot the space/ rooms that I style and decorate plus I love fashion so want to take portrait and street style pictures. WHat lenses would you recommend I buy? From what I have read it seems like the 50mm f1.4 is a great place to start, but will it allow me to do both the fashion shots and interior design pictures? Or will I need a different lens for each? Its all a bit confusing as I am very new to this. SO appreciate your advice!
    Thanks heaps! Petrina

  23. This guide is really helpful. We are working on getting some camera gear setup so we can improve our photo quality. This guide really helps show us what we need to take a step up in quality, thank you!