What camera should I buy?

This is one of our most asked questions at Smith House Photo! Luckily, we have compiled a great list of recommendations including cameras, lenses, lighting, software and more. 

BEFORE YOU DIVE INTO OUR RECOMMENDATIONS

please note

Some, but not all, of the below links are associated with an Amazon affiliate account, which means when you purchase our recommendations, we get a small percentage of what you buy. The ability to affiliate link is merely a bonus for us. We would never recommend any equipment or software that we did not believe was truly a good purchase.


CAMERAS

I typically recommend Canon cameras, not because I think they are better than Nikon  😏 but because I started shooting with Canon and have never even though about switching. The other brands that are recommended come from photographers that I love and trust. 

Canon Rebel

The best starter camera I can recommend. The only catch is that it is often sold in "bundles" with a bunch of stuff you probably won't use. Don't worry though, the bundles are honestly a really good way to get a great price, and though you may not use ALL the stuff, there are a handful of things that may come in handy. For instance, the this is linked to includes memory cards, lens filters (of which I would only use one, but its still included!) and a carrying case. 

Canon 6D

Quite a few steps up from the Canon Rebel and functions similarly to many of the Canon professional series cameras, but still can be found for a great deal.

Canon 5Div

If you are the type of person that wants to dive right into the best and knows the money will be worth it, go ahead and jump to this camera body. We used this for many years and it is everything we need for all of our professional images.

 


LENSES

While I am a HUGE fan of Canon cameras, I actually own almost exclusively Sigma lenses! The reason for this is that Sigma focuses solely on lenses, which allows them to create incredible quality at a lower price. If you do buy Sigma, DOUBLE CHECK that you are buying the right "mount" (i.e. a Canon mount if you have a Canon camera and a Sony mount if you have a Sony camera). You will see some Canon lenses on the list as well. That is because Sigma doesn't make an equivalent.

Canon 50 1.8 aka the "Nifty Fifty"

The best bang for your buck lens you will ever find, and a PERFECT pair for a starter camera like the Rebel, but will continue to grow with you if you ever choose to upgrade your camera. 

Sigma Art 35 1.4

People often ask me what my single favorite lens is, and the truth is I don't have one. BUT if I could only take ONE lens with me to an event day, this would be it. 

Sigma Art 50 1.4

This is the Badass Mama version of the Nifty Fifty. It is the same focal length, but is a much heartier lens. It is much sharper and better focusing as well. Again, if you are a person who likes to dive right into the best, this is the one to get. 

Sigma 24-70 2.8

This is an extremely versatile lens, but it is also a beast. Because it is a zoom lens, it is larger and heavier than the others I have mentioned so far. If you want to have one lens that can be your everything, this would be my recommendation. 

Canon 40 2.8 aka "The Pancake"

If you travel and are often shoving a camera in your purse, you cannot beat this lens. It is TINY (just click on the link, because I truly can't tell you in words how small it is!) and is incredible to have on the go. Seriously, this cutie can fit ANYWHERE. 


MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS

Note: any of the items with a * are items that you NEED. The rest are things you may find useful or may want as you continue on your photography journey.

Memory Cards*

Yep! Your camera has no memory! You will need something for it to record to. Most cameras use SD cards and I recommend the brand SanDisk. There are a wide range of sizes and speeds, but unless you are photographing high-speed events and need to take 10,000 photos before you change your memory card, I recommend staying somewhere in the middle. Somewhere between 16GB and 64GB is great for size. I also recommend ULTRA or EXTREME for speed. 

Memory Card Reader*

Memory card readers were a standard built in part of computers for a chunk of time, but they are being phased out, especially by Apple. If your computer doesn't have an SD card slot built in, you will need an attachment to import images to your computer. Luckily, they're cheap. 

Memory Card Reader, Direct to iPhone

If you think you will edit photos on your phone, this is a great little tool for quick import!  

EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE

You may have experience this before, but photos take up a lot of space on your computer and phone. Storing them on an external hard drive is a great way to not slow down your devices and be able to keep images longterm. (Which is especially important when you are shooting for your business, because you never know when you can reuse that photo!) I use an SSD, which may be overkill for you, but I recommend it because it is the safest on the market, AKA the least likely to fail and lose all of your stuff. 


LIGHTING

Don't dive into purchasing any lighting just yet! In my opinion, learning great light and utilizing natural light should always be the first step in your photography journey. But when you are ready to dig in, here are my best recommendations.

Continuous Lighting with Stands

I love these continuous lights because they have multiple bulbs and spread light out well, creating a softer feel than a sharp direct light. However, the bulbs that come with that aren't very strong. I would recommend getting daylight balanced light bulbs with a higher wattage for the most pow 

Yongnuo External Flash

Most DSLR's won't come with a pop-up flash on your camera, and even if you did, you wouldn't want to use it. So if you are wanting to add a flash to your camera, you'll need an external. I love this flash because it is reliable at a VERY GOOD price (Canon flashes are $400+). This also has TTL, which is a sort of "auto" for your flash and is great to use when you are moving around. TIP: I use flashes almost exclusively to bounce light. I NEVER point it directly at my subject. 

Sigma Art 50 1.4

This is the Badass Mama version of the Nifty Fifty. It is the same focal length, but is a much heartier lens. It is much sharper and better focusing as well. Again, if you are a person who likes to dive right into the best, this is the one to get. 

 


SOFTWARE

I am not a "techy" person, so I keep my software very simple and very user friendly. These are the programs I use regularly and can't live without.

Lightroom

This is the editing software I use almost exclusively. While we do sometimes dive into Photoshop for removing items (like exit signs) from photos, 99.2% (yes, thats a very accurate number ;) jk jk) of our editing is done in Lightroom. We are on the Creative Cloud Photography plan from Adobe, which provides Lightroom and Photoshop for $9.99/mo. 

Lightroom Mobile 

This is the same program that we use on our desktop, but they released a companion phone app that is completely FREE. If you have a desktop version as well, you can connect the two and share photos back and forth, but the Mobile version will also function entirely on its own.  

BlogStomp

Blogstomp is the most user-friendly and most affordable software on the market for what it does. It allows you to resize images, pair images for your blog or social media, create collages, add logos, and more. 

SpaceSaver

This is also a Stomp Software Product (like Blogstomp) but instead of designing and resizing, it simply reduces the file size of your images. Wait, what? Yes, literally without losing any quality or size it takes all the unnecessary information out of your photos to make the file smaller. When you use a lot of space on your computer and hard drives, and even when websites or blogs want you to upload a smaller file size, this is EXTREMELY worth the $49 you'll spend for it. If you have heard of JpegMini, this accomplishes the same task, but is less expensive. 

 


STYLING GOODIES

Let me tell you how much money I have spent on styling resources that I NEVER ENDED UP USING. If I could give you one piece of advice, don't buy things until you start to know yourself and know what you will want and need for working with. This is why my styling list is so short. Litereally only one thing. Styling goodies are so personal, and I only want to recommend things that I truly think EVERYONE can get great use out of. And this is it.

Replica Surfaces

I very recently purchased my first batch of goodies from Replica Surfaces and I cannot recommend them enough! Especially during our stay-at-home time, Replica give you tons of diversity and clean surfaces to shoot. 

 

 

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