The camera I have been using for the last 4 years is the Nikon D3200. It is lightweight and a good all around camera in the lower price range for a DSLR. Nikon’s newer version of this model is the Nikon D3400. They are both crop sensor cameras which basically means your image is cropped in size compared to a full frame camera. This is fine for most photography and certainly a good camera to start out with. It has served me well.
I hardly ever use the kit lens this camera comes with. I find it lacks personality and the f/3.5 is not a low enough F-stop for the dreamy backgrounds I like to create. For this I use either the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 or the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens. The 35mm is good to shoot styled shots in my small kitchen because I can shoot from a relatively short distance. I love the 50mm the most, it creates a beautiful bokeh when I shoot flower photography, lifestyle and portrait shots. Both are very reasonable price wise. I also own a Sigma 10-20mm wide-angle lens for interiors and architecture.
Years before I had my Nikon I used a Canon Powershot to great advantage. It is similar to a crop sensor DSLR in many ways but does not have the ability to change lenses. A student of mine uses one and takes some epic landscape shots with it.
There is also a newer version with more megapixels for a bit more money. The link below has a whole bunch of cool accessories that come with it too!
My Wish list
On my wish list, the Nikon D750 and a Nikkor AF-S FX 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. The Nikon D750 is rated the best full frame camera for the price and the 24-70mm lens is highly recommended by several photographer friends of mine. Full frame is definitely an advantage as well as the ability to use one lens for all situations.
Another camera on my wish list is the Panasonic Lumix G7 which was highly recommended by Paula Apro of Maine Photo Adventures. She uses this camera on vacation in Mexico and rarely takes out her big girl camera anymore. It is a mirrorless camera (similar in construction to a smartphone camera), great for landscape and all around photography. The Fuji XT is another good option as well. They are very lightweight and much smaller than a DSLR but the downside for me is the lack of a viewfinder.
I recently purchased a Vanguard Alta Pro tripod and totally love it! It is lightweight, very sturdy, has a cool boom arm, and is very reasonably priced.
For $29 this LimoStudio lighting kit is a steal. Pretty sturdy and very handy for just about any low light situation. I ended up buying two so you might want the whole portrait studio kit. You might also want a little brighter bulb though.
I like my extra-large reflector for controlling the light in product photography and portrait photography. There are also many other sizes available, but for small situations such as still life photography, you can also use white or black foam core from Walmart. But for the price, these Neewer reflectors are pretty cool.
Neewer 5 in 1 Portable 24 x 36″/60 x 90cm Round Collapsible Multi Disc Photography Studio Photo Camera Lighting Reflector/Diffuser Kit with Carrying Case, Great for Photo Shoots and Taking Pictures in Accurate Lighting
You absolutely must back up your computer which includes your Lightroom Catalog and images to an external hard drive.
My recommendation for a print service is Adoramapix. After a color and price comparison of 10 online companies, this is my go-to print service. You can’t beat the price, the color is spot on and true to life, and they have a huge selection of sizes and styles.
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