my favorite photography gear

"what camera do you use?" is probably the question I get asked most in comments and emails. I've finally put together this post [with pictures of my gear of course] to try and answer that question. bear in mind that every person has different preferences, and my choices have been heavily influenced by the fact that most of my photography is travel related. therefore, the gear I use most is compact and lightweight.

Canon EOS M

this mirrorless camera has become my go-to for travel photography. it's compact and lightweight, and doesn't draw attention from potential thieves like a large, expensive DSLR might. the model I purchased in March 2013 came with a 22mm f2 lens, which I use for the majority of my photos. I also have the adaptor which will allow you to connect any Canon EF compatible lens.

one of my favorite features of this camera is the rear touchscreen. it features a live preview of what your shot will look like given the current settings. it makes using manual a no-brainer when I can see just how much brighter my photo will be by opening up the aperture one fstop, or bumping up the ISO. the EOS M offers all the same manual and partial modes as a DSLR [M, Av, Tv...] but also includes the "creative filter" modes that Canon uses for their point-and-shoots.

this camera [or any mirrorless system] is perfect for someone looking to upgrade from a point-and-shoot but not wanting to commit to a full DSLR, anyone who wants to start learning manual settings, or the traveler who doesn't want to be weighed down by their gear. currently, Canon has all but stopped selling the EOS M in the US market. there is speculation that they will be releasing an updated mirrorless system this year, but until then you can still find the M in Europe, Asia, and on Amazon.

Canon EOS Rebel Xsi

this camera was my very first DSLR, purchased in 2009. though my EOS M has a higher megapixel count [18 on the M, 12.2 on the Xsi], this camera still creates beautiful images. one of the best investments I made was to purchase two lenses for this camera body - having quality glass really makes a difference in your images. first, I upgraded from the included kit lens to a Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 zoom lens. this was a more affordable option than the nearest Canon equivalent, and I have had no complaints. second is my beloved Canon 50mm f1.8 lens. at less than a hundred dollars, this lens is probably the most bang for your buck you can get. I used this lens religiously when shooting for my food blog, and continue to use it today with both my Rebel and my M.

I've used several neck straps with this camera, but as pictured above, I have equipped it with a CIESTA leather handstrap. is it a little less safe? maybe. but I was tired of getting myself tangled in the neck strap every time I wanted to pull my camera out of my bag [or put it back in.] for days when I plan to be shooting all day, I still use the neck strap to take some stress off my hand.

Canon continues to roll out Rebel DSLRs, the latest of which is the T5i model. if you are interested in a DSLR, my advice would be to buy the basic camera body and spend the extra money on lens upgrades. while a DSLR and zoom lens combination can be bulky and heavy for travel, there is something to be said for the feel of a good, solid camera in your hands. I don't use my Rebel often anymore but I doubt I'll ever get rid of it.

Instax mini 25

I purchased this quirky instant camera in 2012, with the intent of using it for a 52 weeks project [which I completed in 2013.] I had never had experience with instant film before, but using this camera is so. much. fun. I love having physical keepsakes from my travels, and the small credit-card sized photos come in a variety of film colors and designs.

there is a bit of a learning curve, and things never turn out just perfect with instant film. but I use this camera mostly for the fun. I have an entire wall in my apartment covered in instax memories, and it just makes me smile whenever I look at it. the film runs between $8 to $10 US per pack of 10 exposures, depending if you are buying plain white or rainbow colored or Hello Kitty themed. it's not always the most practical thing in my camera bag, but I love my instax anyway.

iPhone 5c

phone cameras have come a long way. I've always used my phone for instagramming, but since upgrading to the iPhone 5c in 2014 I have taken so many I even started a "travel by iPhone" series. sometimes, you don't want to carry around a bulky camera. sometimes, you don't want to be obvious you are taking a photo. using your cell phone can be the perfect solution. [although mine is hot pink and currently equipped with a Cheshire Cat case I got at Tokyo Disney, so not really very subtle.]

one item that is not pictured here but has been handy in the past is a lifeproof phone case. I had one for my old iPhone 4 and it was perfect for beaches, inclement weather, and clumsy Jamies. I found the case obscured the camera lens a bit and the photos were not as clear, but I'm hoping to pick up a newer model of the case soon and that they will have improved that issue.

assorted gadgets

as you probably noticed above, I recently bought a selfie stick. I have not had much chance to play with it, but you can bet there will be some epic shots coming soon from New Zealand. the bundle I purchased also came with a muku labs shuttr phone remote - no need to rely on the self timer.

I also have a remote that works with both my EOS M and Rebel Xsi. I purchased this Canon RC-1 back in 2010, and in combination with my tripod [not pictured here] it has been key for self-portraits, low light shots, and of course the blood moon eclipse. not pictured is a full-size Olympus tripod that I picked up for around $30 US. some days I wish it was a little taller, but it's sturdy and gets the job done.

the strange green gadget is a gorillapod. it's a mini tripod with fully flexible and bendable legs that allow you to situate your camera just about anywhere. I originally purchased this in 2009 to work with my old point-and-shoot, but the EOS M is light enough to work with this model. [they also sell a sturdier version intended for DSLR use.]

my brain

ok, hear me out. my philosophy on photography is that the photographer creates the image, not the equipment. and therefore, my brain [or maybe my "eye"] is the most important gear I have. the good news is that you don't have to spend thousands of dollars to create beautiful images. the bad news is that you actually have to practice and work at developing your photography. quality gear can help, but only to a point. you [and you brain] will have to put some effort in to improve.

and now I will shamelessly plug that I'm planning to post a series of photography tutorials over the next few months. so hopefully all our photography will be improving - mine by the practice and the creating, yours by the reading and the trying. if you are interested in learning something specific, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.

what is your go-to camera? do you have any photography questions you'd like me to answer in a future post?

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