Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Blogger’s Guide to Cameras, Lenses, Tripods and other Equipment [Blogger Broadcast]




When transitioning between being a hobby blogger to a professional blogger, it can be difficult to decide on what kind of equipment you will need. 




Blogger Broadcast is a blog series dedicated to helping build and grow your blog, YouTube channel and social media influence. Each instalment of this series will bring a new topic, dishing the dirt on everything you have always wanted to know about becoming a successful social media influencer and addressing pain points aspiring bloggers may be experiencing. 

This series is based on my book ‘A 3 Step Guide to Turn Your Blog into a Career’ where each chapter addresses a small yet critical portion about being a blogger and when combined puts together a full picture of the industry as well as a clear path to follow for success. The included resource pack allows you to work through activities that equip you with the skills required to prepare you for your career.





Cameras

Once you have decided to take blogging to the next level, it might be time to step up your camera game. This may mean changing from a digital to a DSLR, or from a base model to a more advanced one. The two tried-and-tested camera brands that I stand by are Canon and Nikon, but I much prefer Canon (it is one letter off being my last name after all). I am going to refer to my personal experience with Canon cameras to help you decide which one is best for you. I have categorised cameras by price range so that you can see what a difference extra money can make and see what is available within your budget. I use the Canon 70D and have never had any issues with it at all. In fact, it is quite a sturdy and reliable camera that has withstood the test of time as I have had it for almost four years now.  

The $200 – $500 range
First, we have the cheap, compact cameras that are great for when you are just starting out, but you definitely want something a bit more advanced if you plan on getting a lot of use out of it and seeing great results. An example of these cameras might include the Canon SX400, SX60 or SX410 Ultra Zoom Camera, which are your typical point-and-shoot digital cameras. This type of camera retails at between $200 and $500, so they are an extremely affordable option for most bloggers, even when just starting out. The results aren’t spectacular, but they are still better than a grainy iPhone photo, and there are settings you can play around with to suit your preferences. 

The $600 – $900 range
The next step up are the base models, which are the 600D (also known as Rebel T3i in the US) and the 700D. These particular entry-level DSLR’s are budget-friendly and achieve very good results when it comes to blog photos. These cameras are around the price range of $600 – $900, depending on whether you are just buying the body, or if you are purchasing a set that includes a lens. I would recommend these cameras over the cheap compact cameras mentioned above because the value you receive by spending a little more provides you with a proper DSLR rather than it being simply a compact camera. The advantage of a DSLR over a compact camera is purely down to the quality of image and surplus of settings. DSLR cameras come with a lot of great functionality you can play around with an opportunity to test out a plethora of different lenses to achieve the exact shot you are after. 

The $1000 – $1300 range 
I like to call this section the perfect middle ground because, for just a marginal extra investment, you receive a plethora of additional functionality and customization. These cameras are the 60D and 70D, and you guessed it - are a step above the 600D and 700D. If you plan on getting into video content, as well as blogging, then you must invest in the 70D, which has recently been relaunched with the latest video software previously only available for the 7D (we will get into that range next). The 70D is currently by far the biggest bargain in terms of bang-for-your-buck in the Canon camera range because it has so many features that are seen in the higher end cameras but at a middle range price. One of the best features is that the 70D has autofocus, so if you plan on filming YouTube videos to complement the content on your blog, then this will make the world of difference (just trust me, essential if you don’t want to lose your mind). 

The $1400 – $4000 range 
Here, we are talking about the higher range of cameras which Canon offer. The huge range in price here largely reflects whether you can find this camera in a good sale, but a full-priced 7D is just under $4000. Both the 70D and 7D are 20 megapixels and both use a crop sensor so the quality is very comparable and the lenses you use will be the same. The upgrade to a full frame sensor can be found in the Canon 1D, 5D and 6D which allow for a more diverse range of lenses, particularly useful with long range shooting but not a necessity as a blogger/YouTuber. For this reason, I rarely suggest taking this extra leap and investing what can be up to an extra $1000. Especially when it comes to video content, the 70D has autofocus functionality while the 7D relies on a different processor for focusing and often underperforms in its ability to quickly and accurately focus without manually doing so. 





Lenses


The 50 mm lens (Price: $150-$400)
If you have ever wondered how to make the product crisp and focused but leave the background blurred, it is most likely with the magic of this baby. This one is also known as the beauty lens and is a perfect option for filming as it lets in a lot of light, which blurs the background. It has quite a shallow depth of field, so it is great for close-ups, but not so great for wide shots, because you will have to stand far away to get everything in the frame. The only downside to this lens is that it is obviously pre-set at 50 mm, so there is no way of zooming in or out and changing the size of the frame.


The 15 mm-85 mm lens (Price: $1000-$2000)

The 15mm-85mm lens is fantastic for a range of different purposes and is seriously versatile. I like to use this lens when I have a lot to shoot because I know that it can adapt to all situations for the perfect shot. It doesn’t blur the background as much as the 50 mm does, but that is easily forgiven because of how easy it makes taking pictures. This is a lens that lets you zoom in and out manually and change the depth of field.


In regards to properly understanding how to use both cameras and lenses, I would highly recommend seeking online training such as the kind found on Skillshare or Lynda to expand your abilities in this area.



SD Cards
This is one of the more mundane aspects of camera work in blogging, but SD cards are an essential part of the process. It becomes a lot more complex when filming is involved, but the camera will adapt to a range of SD cards when it comes to photos. The issue of capacity is pretty self-explanatory, and I don’t use anything smaller than a 32 GB card, and my 16 GB ones tend to float around the office unused. 

The other thing to consider with SD cards is the ‘class rating’, which refers to the minimum write speed. I know, that might not make much sense to you right now but it does make a difference. For example, if an SD card is considered ‘Class 10’ it means that it supports sustained writing at 10MB/s or more while a ‘Class 4’ would only sustain writing at 4MB/s or more. The main effect that this has is on the quality of video and how it processes into editing software.



TripodsI spent my first three years as a YouTuber using books to prop up my camera and at first, it never occurred to me how a tripod could so immensely help me with my blog photography. The benefits of investing in a high-quality tripod were really life changing. You can forget about any more awkward video angles because it allows you to perfectly position the height and tilt of the camera to the most flattering view. It also means you can film virtually anywhere and without being limited to a spot where you can make the highest pile of books. 

You can expect a good tripod to cost you around $100 but the investment is well worth it. You can definitely start out with a more affordable tripod but I would recommend upgrading at a later point anyway because of the extended capabilities of a good quality one. Manfrotto is a reputable and well-known name within the tripod industry and which I would highly recommend. You can find tripods at places like Camera Warehouse and Officeworks as well as many online stores.


Microphones
When it comes to makeup tutorials or other styles of content that require a voiceover, a good microphone is a valuable investment. To improve the overall quality of your content and have crystal clear audio on every video you film, an external microphone for your DSLR is a great option. Relying on the mic in your camera is an okay place to start but providing your viewers with an improved auditory experience will improve their experience with your channel.

I recommend the Rode VideoMic Pro, priced at around $200, which is compatible with all DSLR cameras and sits where the flash pops up. If you primarily record without capturing sound and rely on adding a voiceover to your content in the editing process, a good investment is a ‘Blue Snowball Mic’ which retails for around $100 and has a USB connection with your laptop to record your audio directly into a software. This is also the option of choice for podcasters on a budget.



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