FAQ: What Camera and Lenses do you Use?

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what camera and lens I use. I’ve even seen “To the Sea Lens” in my Google searches. Maybe this means my photography is getting better? Lol. Either way, I’d like to share it on a blog post since it’s getting too much for comments, haha.
I’d like to warn anyone who lands on this page without being a regular around here, I’m not a professional photographer and I’ve never had any formal training other than a half-day workshop at a community outreach college. So don’t take this post as any sort of super-informed advice. Photography is just a hobby of mine that I’ve always enjoyed, even as a kid. I remember I had this long barbie camera that took rolls of film. I remember when digital cameras came out, and I was so excited when I was finally able to get my hands on one. I decided to invest in my hobby and purchase my first (and only) DSLR three years ago. It’s a Nikon D5100:

Other than the price range and positive reviews, I chose this one because the viewfinder comes out and swivels around, which makes it really convenient to shoot from very low or very high angles. There has been a newer version of it released, the Nikon D5200. It has all of the same features only better (higher resolution, HD video, more focus points). I’m happy with my camera right now, though, and don’t plan on getting a new one any time soon. I love my camera and I really have no complaints.

The lens the camera came with is the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S Nikkor Zoom Lens. It’s definitely not my favorite lens, but it’s the only one I have (at the moment) that will get the job done in most scenarios. That’s because it’s the only “wide angle” lens I own. This means I can “zoom out” with it to see a wider area than the human eye can see at that distance. I use it the most for:

1) Capturing people’s entire bodies, especially while indoors and/or in large groups (rather than just their faces)

2) Capturing buildings when walking down the street.

3) Selfies!

When I purchased a second lens, I was pregnant with Eva and couldn’t surf anymore, so I wanted one I could use for that. I chose the Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G. It’s a telephoto lens, and can zoom in to objects pretty far away.

I use this lens the most for:

1) Surfing

2) Wildlife

3) Creeping on People

4) Portraits (sometimes). It’s really great for portraits, but the lens is just so large I usually don’t bother lugging it around with me. Also, you have to be fairly far away from your subject to shoot with this lens.

5) Anything that is really far away.

The third (and final) lens I have is the Nikkor 50mm f1.8. The reason I chose this lens is because I wanted to be able to take portraits with a nice blurred background. 50mm lenses shoot closest to what the human eye sees, which makes it a really popular lens. I use this lens the most (because I shoot my kids the most), but it’s not always convenient. It isn’t a zoom lens, so you have to “adjust the zoom” by standing closer or further away from your subject. This makes it not great to shoot indoors. It’s also not a great landscape or travel lens.

Here’s what I use it for the most:

1) Portraits

2) Flora and Fauna that I can get really close to.

Wish List
The next lens I want to add to my collection is a good travel lens. I want a wide-angle lens that can zoom out a good distance, but also zoom in pretty close. I want to be able to use it for both landscape and portraits, because it’s not always easy to carry around multiple lenses (and switch them out!) when you’re hiking up a mountain or getting lost in a new city. I have my heart set on a 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G lens, but it costs more than my camera did so I doubt I’ll be getting one any time soon, haha.

Santa? Are you out there?

I don’t do a substantial amount of editing, mostly because I don’t really know how. At the very least, I’ll adjust the exposure, white/black levels, and contrast using iPhoto (which most “real” photographers aren’t really a fan of, haha). I also purchased Adobe LightRoom about a year ago, and it’s definitely infinitely better than iPhoto, but not as good as PhotoShop (I don’t think? PhotoShop is more expensive, which is why I’m assuming). I edit all my “good pictures” using LightRoom. I don’t really know a whole lot about PhotoShop but I would love to learn/own it one day. Everything I’ve learned so far has been through online tutorials or simple experimentation. A lot of the photos I post on Instagram and this blog have also been edited with the VSCO mobile app. I usually throw a filter on it to make it more dramatic, haha.


  1. Thank you so much for doing this post! It was so helpful. It also gives me hope that if I keep playing with my kit lens, maybe I’ll learn to love it more! The lens you named on your wishlist is my dream lens as well! I was telling my sister what my dream lens would be, then I looked it up to show her and when we saw the price I just sighed… That’s why it’s a dream lens for now. Thanks again for taking the time to put together this post!

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