The Camera Equipment I Use for My Blog

Over the last few months, an increasing number of readers have emailed and messaged me inquiring about the camera I use. I am super flattered but I am certainly no professional!! Most of what I have learned has come as a result of practicing, spinning knobs, and researching. Today, I’m sharing the camera equipment I use for my blog; I won’t go into detail on settings but I will give an overview of what each thing “does”. Having zero prior experience on a DSLR, this has been an excellent, easy-to-learn camera.

THE CAMERA

If you’ve asked around or have started the research/buying process, you probably know your camera will likely come down to Canon vs. Nikon. After reading, asking, and digging into as much information as I could find, I settled on a Nikon D series. While my model is two generations behind (a D3200), here is my camera in its latest model.

Nikon D3400 w/ AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G

The generation just prior to the latest model (the D3300) is around $50 less expensive (HERE). The kit lens that comes with it is still the lens I use for full room shots. Actually, until several months ago, I didn’t use any other lens. It does zoom so if you are just starting to get your feet wet and find your way around the camera, this lens is a good versatile lens. Here are some shots from my standard 18-55mm kit lens.

First appeared in my Summer Home Tour

First appeared in my 2016 Easter Table

First appeared in my Dining Room Revamp

First appeared in my Summer Home Tour

THE LENSES

My first and favorite lens I purchased beyond the kit lens was a 50mm 1.4 prime lens. (“Prime” means it is a fixed depth and doesn’t zoom). While this lens won’t capture full room shots, I use it whenever I take close ups and of pieces of the room when I can back far enough into a corner to capture a bit of a space. It allows a lot of light in and can give that pretty bokeh/blurred background effect. For crisp, light, and bright photos, this lens is my fav essential.

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G Lens

Here are some photos using my 50mm lens.

First appeared in the Blue & White Thanksgiving Table

First appeared in my Office Reveal

First appeared in my 2016 Fall Home Tour

First appeared in Form vs Function in the Living Room

First appeared in the Flamingo Inspired Luncheon

On my wish list (and next on my list of lenses to purchase) is this Sigma wide angle lens. It does zoom and I am hoping it will take the place of my current kit lens. This Sigma is about half the price of the comparable Nikkor lens.

Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM Lens

THE TRIPOD

Admittedly, I just got this tripod for Christmas. I used to not use a tripod and then when I started shooting more in straight manual mode (when I was first learning, I shot primarily in aperture-priority mode) or needed to be able to slow the shutter speed for dreary days, it became a necessity. I made due with my husband’s flimsy old tripod (until I broke it around Christmas). My favorite feature about this sturdy guy is the ability to shoot straight down (flat-lays). What I didn’t realize when I was first looking is that you have to purchase the head (listed below, also) separately. I purchased this model based on a recommendation from Aniko at Place of My Taste and am so glad I did!

Manfrotto MT055XPRO3 055 Aluminium 3-Section Tripod with Horizontal Column

XCSOURCE® Pro All Metal Camera Tripod Ballhead with Quick Release Plate

Here are a few photos where a tripod was necessary.

At night with Christmas lights, the shutter speed was so slow, I could literally set the timer, go pour a glass of wine, and come back to the photo processing.

First appeared in my Merry Christmas post.

First appeared in my Merry Christmas post.

What you can’t tell here is that the day I shot my Christmas home tour, it was nearly black outside. Totally dreary with little light inside.

First appeared in my 2016 Christmas Home Tour.

On this day, our dimly lit kitchen was super dark; it was also evening after the sun had gone down.

First appeared in the Christmas Cookie Exchange.

As I indicated, I am no professional and am learning new techniques/changing how I photograph all the time. But, if you are looking for a camera to get started on, the Nikon listed here has been used exclusively throughout my blog and Instagram (aside from old posts and the rare trip when iPhone is king 😉 ). Lastly, never underestimate the power of photo editing. I started with PicMonkey (I talk more about that HERE) but now use LightRoom. It was a GAME CHANGER. There is definitely a learning curve but it has improved the aesthetic of my photos tremendously. If you have any questions/camera-related blog requests, please share them in the comment section below. I may not always know the “correct” way but am willing to share “my way”. 😉

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21 Comments

  1. 1.11.17
    Donns said:

    Your photos are absolutely stunning!

  2. 1.12.17
    Max Tuff said:

    Excellent post! So much great info here. Thank you Kelly!
    I usually hire a professional to shoot my home design and staging projects but really want to start doing my own photography. I knew I needed that lower range 18-55mm lens, but didn’t realize how much I could use my 50mm until I read this. I’m excited to take some shots today.
    When you use Lightbox are you mostly changing the exposure?
    The photographer I work with the most takes 2 shots of the same angle, one with a flash and one without and then ” blends” them in Photoshop. Do you do anything like that?
    Best regards,
    Max

    • 1.12.17

      Hi, Max! Thank you so much for stopping by. You can TOTALLY. With Lightroom, the biggest changes are getting rid of shadows and brightening. I know magazines use an exposure layering trick a lot when shooting at windows. They take two photos with two different shutter speeds- one to make the room brighter (with windows blown out) and then another where the room is darker but shows more clearly the outside of the window. By layering them together, you get a bright room and can still see everything outside clearly. You have to do this in Photoshop, though. Is this what you are thinking of? I do NOT use this techinique (maybe I will one day 😉 ).

  3. 1.12.17
    Marlyne said:

    Your photos are alway gorgeous! I use a Nikon too and really like it. I have so much to learn though! Do you have any good tutorials on Lightroom that you have used?

    • 1.13.17

      Thank you! I typically Google what I am looking to do or watch YouTube tutorials. I think I have my “system” down pretty well but am learning all the time!

  4. 1.18.17

    Kelley – I have the exact same equipment as you! Same camera, same fixed lens and I also have the 10-20mm wide lens which is AWESOME for capturing the whole room. It doesn’t produce photos as crisp as the prime lens obviously, but it’s a great lens to have! I did not purchase my camera with the kit lens and now wish I had…either that or I’m going to go purchase a 35mm since the 50mm can be next to impossible to get a shot with sometimes.

    • 1.19.17

      Jenna, I am so so glad to hear that! I am hoping I will love the 10-20 and I have also considered getting a 35! 50 is my fav but no, it’s hard to fit more than a chair in the frame haha

  5. 2.3.17
    Jenn said:

    Kelley I’ve been a fan for quite awhile now & just love your home. But this post was right up my alley. I am a custom portrait photographer & although my ‘go to’ lens now is my 85mm, the 50mm lens is still a big favorite of mine too. I call it my ‘work horse’ because it’s so versatile. Just a suggestion on the lenses you are considering…..you can rent them & try them out 1st to find the right fit. I have use borrowedlenses.com for years for this very same reason. Lenses are definitely a big investment & nothing is worse than dropping big bucks on one & end up wishing you hadn’t bought it.

    • 2.5.17

      Jenn, that is such a good idea! I didn’t even think of that. I need to look into it because I was getting ready to get the new lens! Thank you so so much!

  6. 3.13.17
    Kristin said:

    Off to get the Nikon based on your research and recommendation! Thank you for doing the work! LOL!! Your photos are beautiful and inspirational. I have always love them. I just started a blog (primarily for family, friends, and the fun of it!) and will start down the process of learning how to take pictures with a camera that is not attached to a phone – like the old days! I’ve wanted to this for YEARS!

    • 3.14.17

      Kristin, how fun! I am always learning and wish you the best of luck. You will do great!

  7. 3.13.17

    Hey Kelley! Your photo with the Christmas tree, window and chair in the frame is beautiful! Have you ever tried the Sigma 50/1.4?

  8. 2.10.18
    Tracy Graham said:

    So what is the difference between the 1.4 and the 1.8 of the 50mm lens?
    Thanks girl!

    • 2.19.18

      Hi, Tracy! I don’t have the 1.8 but the 1.4 is quite a bit more $$$. My understanding is the 1.8 is still great. THe 1.4 will be a bit more clear and will have a greater depth of field, really making your subject pop a bit more 😉 You can probably search 50mm 1.4 vs 1.8 for some comparison shots!

  9. 2.20.18

    I am impressed with your white balance…it seems in any light, whether dreary, bright, tungsten etc, you nail your white balance. Great shooting!

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