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  • Holly

What camera do you use? | DSLR tips and tricks | Plus, money saving knowledge I wish I knew, when I

I get asked, what camera I use, from time to time. When I answer, the person asking, goes online and types what I use in the Google search bar and probably gets a little bit of a price shock, at first glance. I did that too when I was researching camera bodies, but I've slowly learned that you don't necessarily need to buy brand new, especially if you can buy from a used camera/lens site. Yes, I usually buy used stuff! Well, I do now at least. I try to buy from used camera shops, who inspect, test, rate honestly and include a warranty. And my, "like new" gear is usually 1/2 to 3/4 of the price it would be new!

Cameras I have personal experience with and I suggest, for beginner DSLR (Nikon) users:

For someone just wanting to test the waters and learn, or have a decent camera for family shots, I suggest to try out a Nikon D3100 (or, the upgraded, 3200, 3300,or 3400). I bought one of these when I had my daughter. It's what I taught myself manual mode with, it's a decent entry level camera, it's a lightweight DSLR, but it's really not for a serious photographer.

For someone starting out as a serious photographer, a Nikon D7000 is pretty dang great (there is also a newer D7100 and I believe a 7200 upgrade, but I haven't used those)! The D7000 is a VERY good camera and it's definitely what I recommend to beginner photographers. It's faster, it has a higher resolution, it has a built in autofocus motor, the color is better and it's just a better quality camera.

Cameras I currently own:

A Nikon D750 and a Nikon D700, as my backup. The D700 isn't in production anymore , but it's still an amazing camera body! I bought both of them hardly used and in excellent condition, from KEH camera online, plus they both came with a warranty and a no hassle return policy.

*A note about having a backup camera:

If you started with a beginner camera, like the D3100, then upgraded to something like the D7000, it's perfectly understandable to keep the 3100 as a backup for a while, in my opinion. And, yes, I have needed to use a backup camera one time before!! If you're going to be serious about photography and charge people money, you should at least have *something* as a backup because anything can happen.

Side note: I do apologize that I don't have any experience with Canon DSLRs, or lenses.

So, why is my current camera an upgrade from the D7000?

The main reason I originally switched to the D700 was because the D7000 is a crop sensor and the D700 is full frame. Basically, this means, a 35mm lens is a 35mm lens on a full frame, but it's about a 50mm lens on a crop sensor. So, for tight spaces, like a small home studio, or client's home, you will be standing up against a wall while *trying* to get everything in your shot. And if you're on a dock, you might almost fall into the water, trying to get everyone's limbs in the frame! ;)

Crop sensor vs full frame DSLR

Where do I buy my gear from?

I usually buy from, and Roberts Camera (which is affiliated with usedphotopro).

I can also score some deals on ebay, here and there, but I only bid for gear if the seller has a 100% seller feedback rating and accepts returns. Ebay is also all about buyer protection, so that makes me feel good about purchasing.

I haven't bought from Amazon, ever since they charged my credit card for prime, WITHOUT me signing up for prime, but I do use it, *all the time* to read the questions and reviews. I did buy my very first camera and kit lens (that I do not recommend) from there, a long while ago.

*Everything I stated about these used/refurbished camera dealers is my opinion, or suggestion to try to save you money, while owning great gear. If you buy from one of these places and get faulty gear, it's not my fault! Also, no affiliations with any. :)

Just a few ebay tips I learned:

Set an alarm on your phone for a few minutes before the bidding is supposed to come to a close and DO NOT BID UNTIL THE LAST 5, or 6 SECONDS of the auction!.

If you're using the ebay app on your phone, it will show you quick and easy bidding up options you can select. For instance, one button says, "we'll bid up for you to $80", the next says, "we'll bid up for you to $85" and the next says, "...$90". Don't click on any of those. Instead, type in $xx.01 ($90.01 for instance) as your max bid and do not click submit bid (or whatever it says lol) until the last 5 seconds of the auction! I have won so many items this way! Because, unless someone else bidding more than $90.01, they're probably laying in bed with their finger ready to hit the, "we'll bid up for you to $90" button and you just scored an item for $.01 more.

A lot of ebay sellers include the camera's actuations, or shutter count in their listing. If they don't have this listed, you should ask them what the count is, then ask google what a good shutter count is, in correlation with the camera model you want to buy. I like to know a used vehicle's mileage before purchasing!

Again, always check the seller's star ratings, return policy and read any negative feedback before bidding, or buying!

Photographers, check out my etsy shop, HBPhotoActions for photoshop actions, overlays and more!

Thanks for looking!

See the next post to hear all about my favorite prime lenses.

See how to have sharp images AND creamy bokeh here.