Ask Design Mom — What Kind of Camera do You Use?

January 11, 2010



Ask Design Mom Question:
Hi Gabrielle, I just had to write and ask about your photography skills. What kind of camera do you use? The light is always perfect! Thanks for the blog. — Sally

Design Mom Answer: Thanks for writing, Sally. The what-kind-of-camera-do-you-use question actually shows up in my inbox pretty often — but I don’t know that I’ve ever answered it on the blog. So here it is. On Christmas 2008, Ben Blair gave me a Canon 50D with a 50mm 1:1.4 lens. (Neither of us knows much about cameras, so Ben asked my brother Jared for advice and Jared told him exactly what to buy.)

A year has now passed and I still (shamefully) use this very good camera like a point and shoot. I keep intending to take a photography class and I keep not doing it. But honestly, it’s hard to go wrong with this set up — it just seems to take beautiful pictures despite my very amateur skills. (Do you like the shot above?) My advice: if you’re in need of good photography advice, stop in at Shutter Sisters and ask away.

In related news, Nikon sent me a Coolpix L100 to use for a couple of months. (I used it for the first time at the rodeo.) I’m looking forward to seeing what it can do.

What about you, Dear Readers? What do you shoot with? Do you have a pocket camera? A favorite lens? Where do you like to go for photography advice/learning?

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Damaris January 12, 2010 at 12:53 am

I shoot a lot of food photography so I always use a macro lens.

I used a Nikon D100 for almost 2 years and loved it. Now I have a canon T1i and am getting used to it. Again, I can't live without a good macro lens.

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2 Aimee Greeblemonkey January 12, 2010 at 1:00 am

I shoot with the LESSER version of thew camera you have – the 40D. ;)

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3 Artfulife January 12, 2010 at 2:22 am

My 9 year old daughter got a Nikon Cool Pix for Christmas from grandma. She now has a nicer camera than I do. I'm holding out for the Canon EOS Rebel later this year. I have been using a Fuji Fine PixA350 for the last four years but I have found my Mac photo editing program makes up for what my camera lacks. Looking forward to seeing more of your photography.

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4 Melanie January 12, 2010 at 2:50 am

I just bought a Canon XSi with the kit lens. I love it. The best part? I bought it using money I made from buying a mid-century furniture piece from Goodwill and reselling it for a rather impressive profit! And to think my husband made fun of me for buying that hutch… ;)

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5 I'm Shannon January 12, 2010 at 5:59 am

I have some Canon SLR (it's old – I don't know, a rebel) but I just got a 50mm f1.4 for Christmas that I love.

I also have a canon G9, and that is one of the best camera I have ever owned – like an SLR but is a point and shoot.

I took an online photography class through my local community college and it was very helpful and I learned so much and not very expensive. When you take it online you can do it at your own pace – like you have a week to complete and assignment.

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6 Lynn from For Love or Funny January 12, 2010 at 6:08 am

I'm a Canon girl. My pocket sized "elf" can go everywhere and it takes really good pictures, particularly up close. I just recently purchased a larger Canon digital EOS, which is just a heck of a lot of fun.

Remember when we had to wait forever to get films developed? Now we see the digital pictures immediately. Too cool.

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7 Heather January 12, 2010 at 8:19 am

I just bought a canon xsi with the kit lens and I absolutely love it. I have a canon rebel from the film ages, but haven't used it in a while. I also use a kodak v570. Has both a moderately good zoom lens as well as a wide angle lens that you can switch back and forth with the touch of a button. Takes great outdoor pictures and even lets me stitch together a panorama.

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8 The Yellow Door Paperie January 12, 2010 at 9:25 am

New Nikon D90. And I'm in love, seriously.

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9 Anna January 12, 2010 at 9:38 am

I'm with Yellow Door…I shoot with a Nikon D90, but really, it's all about the lens. Gabrielle's nifty fifty is a great in low-light, for portraiture without a flash. For Nikonians, the 50mm 1.8 (budget) and 50mm 1.4 (a bit more, ~350 USD), as is the pro-level 85mm 1.4 (pricey!).

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10 Carla Cavellucci Landi January 12, 2010 at 9:41 am

Mine is a Canon Xsi with 18-55mm kit lens and I just got a 50mm f 1/8 for Christmas. I had a canon s2IS (Point&shoot;) that I also loved but it's broken, and I hope I can get it fixed soon (I can't afford another P&S; right now). I follow some photography blogs and foruns and so far I'm very happy with the knowledge I've got. I just need to go out for pictures more frequently, because photography is learned by taking pictures! I'm following a "365 project" – a picture a day, and it has been good to put my hands on the camera on daily basis.

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11 dan January 12, 2010 at 9:42 am

I still shoot with a Canon Powershot A570is. It's now an older model but I love what it can do for me (I do kite aerial photography with it)

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12 Zenkichi January 12, 2010 at 9:49 am

we use a Nikon D90 combined with a Sigma lens. the lens does wonders! on lazy days out though i stick with my Sony cybershot.

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13 Kathryn January 12, 2010 at 9:57 am

That 1.4 lens is one of my very favorites. It does such a great job in low light.

I used a Rebel XSi (loved it) before I jumped to the 5D Mark II. I've been happy, happy using a full-frame camera, even if carrying it around the city everywhere I go makes my back hurt. :)

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14 i am zoe January 12, 2010 at 10:16 am

Please just check out a few tutorials on the different settings of your camera (particularly the aperture setting should be interesting). The auto settings might be good for some basic shots, but with a bit of manual work, you can get such wonders out of the camera!

I have a couple of basic zoom lenses that i never use. Then i have a 50mm f/1.4, a 24mm f/1.8 and a 105mm macro f/2.8 (all sigmas). Until christmas i used them on an old Nikon D50. Then i got the greatest gift EVER: a D700 – and oh, it is fantastic! I'm so in love.

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15 Anne January 12, 2010 at 10:37 am

I have a little canon powershot that has been great and I love, but my my most favorite photos have been taken with my holga. I never really know what image I'm capturing, so developing the film is like Christmas.

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16 Katie @ goodLife {eats} January 12, 2010 at 10:39 am

I have been shooting on a simple point and shoot: Panasonic Lumix DMCTZ5S for about a year and a half. It does pretty well, but I'm ready for more options. My goal this year is to upgrade to a DSLR and the Canon 50D is the one I've been looking at.

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17 Lesley January 12, 2010 at 10:51 am

I shoot with a Nikon D90 and a 50mm 1.4 nearly exclusively… and a Diana and a vintage Contaflex when I need a film fix.

I have never regretting hauling my enormous camera bag everywhere with me. I've only regretted NOT hauling it around…

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18 Kyle and Lesley January 12, 2010 at 10:51 am

I shoot with a Nikon D90 and a 50mm 1.4 nearly exclusively… and a Diana and a vintage Contaflex when I need a film fix.

I have never regretting hauling my enormous camera bag everywhere with me. I've only regretted NOT hauling it around…

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19 Design Mom January 12, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Oh hooray! I love all these comments. Answering this question was making me feel sheepish (because I'm soooo not knowledgeable about cameras). But Design Mom Readers to the rescue!

Also. Reading these comments is like reading a foreign language. Can you believe how quickly camera talk gets technical?

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20 topsyturvydays January 12, 2010 at 12:33 pm

I'm shooting with the Canon Rebel Xsi. I've been recently debating a 50mm 1.4 lens. After reading the comments here. I think I'll go for it!

I've also started doing a 365 project which has been fun and I'm already seeing a difference in how I take pictures!

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21 shari berry bo-berry January 12, 2010 at 1:08 pm

I shoot with a Sony a700, and i love my 50mm 1.4, it always produces crisp images and the contrast and colors are lovely as well. I also use a Tamron 28-75 2.8 alot, it's a good zoom lens.

as for good, free photography advice/lessons, http://digital-photography-school.com/ is an amazing resource!

as for books, Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson is an invaluable book! And I would also recommend any of Scott Kelby's books when trying to learn photoshop!!!!

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22 Stacie@HobbitDoor January 12, 2010 at 1:17 pm

We use the Nikon D50 for our digital DSLR and a Cannon PowerShot SD750 for our point and shoot. I love them both!

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23 Christy January 12, 2010 at 2:20 pm

I had a pocket camera, until I lost it over Christmas. Sob. I hope to get a new one for Valentine's Day! My husband shoots with a Nikon or Canon D90 – I can never remember the brand. He takes fabulous photos – like yours! One of my all time favorites of yours is one Ben Blair took of your hands making pie crusts a while back. I want a picture like that of me!

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24 kate reymann January 12, 2010 at 2:51 pm

We got each other a Nikon D5000 for Christmas and the photos it takes are stunning. I have yet to read the instruction manual but the quality and light in the pictures are amazing. We got a 35 mm lens in addition to the kit lens and it produces lovely lovely photos. We went with the Nikon because it a) felt nice and b) shoots better in low light and indoor light and since we live in a snowy climate we end up taking a lot of photos of our kiddo inside. That being said, the snow setting takes phenomenal shots outside when we are sledding and playing in the snow. Love love love this camera.

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25 kgr January 12, 2010 at 2:51 pm

We got each other a Nikon D5000 for Christmas and the photos it takes are stunning. I have yet to read the instruction manual but the quality and light in the pictures are amazing. We got a 35 mm lens in addition to the kit lens and it produces lovely lovely photos. We went with the Nikon because it a) felt nice and b) shoots better in low light and indoor light and since we live in a snowy climate we end up taking a lot of photos of our kiddo inside. That being said, the snow setting takes phenomenal shots outside when we are sledding and playing in the snow. Love love love this camera.

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26 arikaj January 12, 2010 at 5:54 pm

love my nikon d40. got it prior to my daughter's birth almost 3 years ago and never regretted it. just got a new lens for the holidays that does great in low light: 50mm f/1.4G
BTW: great shot w/ the candles!

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27 mrs. c January 12, 2010 at 6:40 pm

I have a Nikon D90 Hubby has the D80 and the D40 we gave our 19 year old son a D70 for Christmas. We love Nikons, I had the film version on the 70 and still can use all the lens…that makes all the difference in your pictures, plus lighting!

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28 j.chong January 12, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Canon all the way!
canon 30 d with a 24-70L and 50 mm

the 50mm is awesome in low lighting!

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29 Stephanie January 12, 2010 at 10:06 pm

We have a Sony Alpha-300 DSLR…and we are pleased. But now we're looking into lenses and I am so confused (and shocked by the prices too)! ;) I think I need to take a photography class too…

stephanie@metropolitanmama.net

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30 robin January 13, 2010 at 12:54 am

this is funny/interesting to me because in december 2008 you said you used a sony cyber shot and i ended up getting one because i was impressed with the quality of your shots… but have not been all that impressed with the camera! guess that explains it!

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31 Kimberly January 13, 2010 at 1:16 am

I just found your blog and I love it! I shoot with a Canon 40D and a 50mm f1/4. It is, indeed, a wonderful lens! I also have a 24mm f/2.8 that I bust out when I have to, but I'd pick the 50mm any day over the 24mm. Clickinmoms.com is an awesome resource to pick up some tricks of the trade, just fyi. But, I'm sure you are privy to that already since you like shuttersisters! : )

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32 Liz January 13, 2010 at 4:25 am

I have a Nikon D300, 50/1.4 and the 18-200 lens. It's too much camera for me and use it like a point and shoot. I am just now (like literally, just 12 days ago) started shooting in manual. There are so many great online resources/classes out there, but to be honest, the thought of having to search for one that would be a good fit for me was a huge hindrance. (so much to do, so little time)

I am super excited about an upcoming series of photography learning workshops…maybe it's something that would interest you. Will email you the details. :)

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33 lisab January 13, 2010 at 9:56 am

The mathematics of cameras scares me but the amazing photographer MeRa Koh shows us all how to get out of the "green box mode"- enjoy!
http://www.merakoh.com/blog/

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34 Katherine January 13, 2010 at 11:16 am

I received the Nikon D5000 for Christmas from my husband. I am in love with the camera. It has taken some amazing shots. I have the basic lens that came with it and also the 55-200mm lens. I am still in the point and shoot stage but there are some great options in the DC area for classes. I'm hoping to take some classes at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in VA. Maybe there are some art centers nearby where you live and you can take a few 1 day classes?

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35 Heather January 13, 2010 at 3:12 pm

I've had my canon xsi for a little over a year. I started with the 2.8 17-55mm and now I have the 1.8 50mm. The 1.4 was too much money at the time. I love it! Great for Portraits. I read a book called, "understanding exposure" and always kept my camera in the manual mode to learn. I never turn it on auto (unless there's not enough light and I want a shot for memories).

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36 Ntash January 14, 2010 at 5:54 pm

I love taking pictures of my baby boy and I have several cameras, but the one I use the most is Canon EOS 400D. I'm starting getting pretty good pictures. My hope is to be a baby and family photographer one day!

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37 I Heart Naptime January 15, 2010 at 3:07 pm

I just got the Canon Rebel for xmas. I'm just learning but I love it. It has made me want to take a class and really get into photography. The step up to the SLR makes such a difference when shooting my kids…I rarely have a blurry photo..

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38 a neske January 19, 2010 at 4:06 pm

My husband surprised me yesterday with a Canon T1i DSLR camera. I don't know much about them either, but am anxious to learn.

I've got a trusty Canon Powershot Elph that I *love* and it takes great pics, but lately I've been enamored with the SLRs.

Hubby also signed me up for classes at my local Best Buy store. The Geek Squad offers one-on-one classes with your camera to help you learn all the features. I almost can't wait for my first appointment!!

Check out your local store!

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39 Jessica Morris January 20, 2010 at 5:20 pm

I have a Nikon D90 and use the 50mm f.1.8 lens a lot and looooove it. I have another lens I love – the 10-20mm one – but the 50mm is my go to lens.

I just posted a bit about it today – http://paulsbride.blogspot.com/2010/01/pictures-from-our-backyard.html

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40 Rebecca May 6, 2012 at 11:28 am

Wow, this was a long time ago, it’s amazing what you can find with a google search… these all sound so impressive, and quite frankly, a little more than I need… what are your recommendations for an awesome point and shoot? I just want to catch good photos of my three young boys, so it has to have a quick response, and be relatively good with motion shots… what’s the best point and shoot out there? Thank you!

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