Having a successful travel blog involves taking lots of photos and posting pictures that leave your website visitors wanting to see more. Today’s newer camera enabled phones will work in a pinch but you’ll want to purchase and become familiar with a more powerful and versatile DSLR camera to get professional looking shots added to your blog posts. I have found that Nikon’s cameras are easy for a beginner to use but they also have all of the features an experienced photographer will want to use in “Manual” mode. Nikon even provides a help button that will instantly display instructions for any feature you’re trying to figure out.
Nikon D5600 DSLR:
There are many different models of cameras to choose from. The Nikon D5600 is currently my camera of choice. It is $100 more expensive than the Nikon D3500 model but it has a few upgrades that make it well-worth the extra $100. The D5600 takes 24 megapixel photos, has 39 focus points and it can record full HD (1920×1080) videos at up to 60 frames per second. It also has a microphone port that allows you to connect a higher quality microphone if you need to use the camera to record videos with high quality sound. These features make this a great still shot camera and a great video blogging camera, all in one.
When purchasing a new camera, you will want to make sure you end up with the right lens, or combination of lenses. Most Nikon DSLR cameras come with the Nikon Nikkor 18-55mm VR lens. This lens is great for taking landscapes, wide shots and portraits but it doesn’t allow you to zoom in too much. For that, you’ll need a lens that goes beyond 55mm.
Nikon sells the D5600 camera in various lens configurations that allow you to select whichever configuration will best suit your needs. One of the Nikon D5600 “kits” includes the standard 18-55mm VR lens and their 70-300mm lens. The 70-300mm lens allows you to zoom in to get amazing full frame shots of objects that are far away but it doesn’t let you zoom out enough to also take full frame pictures of objects that are close to you. Photographers with this 2-lens kit often find themselves frequently switching out the lenses depending on their position relative to the subjects they are trying to photograph.
Another one of Nikon’s D5600 camera kits comes with a single 18-140mm VR lens. Overall this is much easier to deal with because it is a single lens solution. It will allow you to take shots that are both close up and far away using only one lens. This lens will not zoom in as far as the 300mm version because it is only capable of reaching 140mm but the 18mm-140mm range will be fine in most cases.
One problem with using a larger lens like this (and Nikon’s 300mm lens) is that pictures taken with the camera’s built-in flash can sometimes produce a shadow in the bottom/middle portion of the frame that is caused by light from the flash becoming obstructed by the lens itself. This can happen when shooting pictures with the camera’s built-in flash while setting the lens to it’s wider focal lengths (the lower mm range).
The 18-140mm VR lens is a blessing to have when used indoors and outdoors whenever you don’t need to use a flash. Having a single lens solution will keep you from carrying extra camera equipment and taking the 15-30 seconds required to switch between lenses. TIP: When the flash is needed, make sure to zoom in a little to keep the shadow out of the frame. It doesn’t happen every time but you do need to be aware of it.
Aside from all that I mentioned above, there are hundreds of other lenses and thousands of accessories you can purchase if you want to. Only a few of them are vital for having what you need when you are traveling. I’ll mention them below:
You will want to buy several memory cards to store all of your photos on. Running out of storage in the middle of a trip will definitely throw a wrench in the works! I have also forgotten to take the memory card out of my computer and put it back in the camera a time or two. Having a spare memory card in the camera bag can save your trip from only being a memory. The prices have dropped over the last few years so I recommend that you purchase a high speed memory card that is at least 64GB or larger.
UV Filter: Many photographers like to install a UV filter onto their lenses to provide an extra layer of protection against the lens’ glass from getting scratched and damaged. A UV filter is a piece of glass that is designed to easily screw onto the front of the lens. It filters UV light from reaching the camera’s sensor which also helps to produce better images while taking outdoor photos during the daytime. The size of the filter must be matched with the diameter of the lens you are using. For example, Nikon’s 18-55mm stock lens requires a 52mm filter. Nikon’s 18-140mm lens requires a 67mm filter because the diameter of the lens is larger. The Nikon 70-300mm lens requires a 58mm filter. You can simply look up the specifications for any lens to find out the lens’ filter diameter.
Every lens gathers dust and will require cleaning from time to time. You should keep a lens cloth in your camera bag and make sure that your camera’s lenses are nice and clean before use. For a few dollars more, you can get a kit contains a pack of microfiber lens cloths along with brushes and a blower that will allow you to deep dust and sand out of the hard to clean parts of you camera and lenses.
Having a backup camera battery is another way to save (or extend) a trip! The battery listed here is for the Nikon D5600 camera mentioned above.
A camera bag is a must-have. If your camera doesn’t come with a camera bag when you buy it, you’ll need something to keep all of your camera equipment together. Many different types of camera bags are available. You can even get a camera backpack if you like. The items you’ll want in your camera bag are: The camera, any extra lens(es), the battery charger, a spare battery and memory card, the lens cloth(s), the blower/brushes, and the USB cable (unless you’re confident with the WiFi/BlueTooth connection to your phone or computer. Also make sure that a lens cap is always installed on each lens while traveling to prevent damage.