Sunday, January 20, 2019

My blogging and YouTube equipment - my essentials!

I'm 8.5 years into my blog and in May, I'll have been doing YouTube (on and off) for 6 years which is just mad!  With the emergence of social media over the last few years, my blog and YouTube have definitely taken a back seat, but 2019 is the year I get back into blogging and filming regularly.

Pretty much weekly, I get asked about what camera and equipment I have, and so I thought I'd film a video going through everything and thought I'd do an accompanying post to go with the video for those who don't have time to watch me have the chats.  I could sit and talk about equipment, tech, accessories, all the good stuff, all day, so I'll try to keep this brief!  The video will be linked at the bottom of the post if you want to watch.  And I've linked most of the products in the post, some have been discontinued so I looked for similar ones and the links are affiliate links FYI.

Now since I started back in 2010, the world of phones has evolved so much, so by all means, use your phone to do your bits.  You don't need everything I'll be mentioning below.  This is just a huge passion of mine and over the years I've gone from taking photos of my eyeballs with a little point and shoot camera from Canon to my Olympus Pen.  These are the items I've invested in and use all the time for photos, filming and creating my content.  And while I use these all the time, I've a list as long as my arm of things I want to get so I can upgrade, upskill and keep me motivated!


When it comes to cameras, I can't express enough how important research is.  I get people asking me what I use because they want to buy it, and every single time I reply to them, I always say that what I need my cameras for might not be what you need yours for.  I researched the Olympus Pen for a good 6 months before getting it.  My advice would always be go to a camera retailer, have the chats with someone about what you want out of the camera and play with them. 

I started off with my Canon Rebel T3i/Canon 600D (link to similar camera) years ago when I bought it in New York and it served me well.  It still serves me well and while it's long discontinued, there are lots of different alternatives.  I love that it has a flip out screen so I can see if I'm in focus, if the background looks good, and most importantly, if the camera is filming or has stopped filming.  I saw one of the newer launches from Canon in the duty free recently and saw it didn't have a flip out screen which would be a no no for me.  I want to be able to see myself and see what I'm doing!  I like to bring this one to Spain with me because it has a viewfinder and is much easier to see what I'm taking photos of compared to just using the screen with the Olympus Pen.  I want to upgrade to a new Canon later this year, so the research is starting!

For my 40th, I got the Olympus Pen E-PL7 which is also discontinued now and which I mostly use for all my bits.  The newer Olympus Pen E-PL8 has replaced it and is pretty similar for all intents and purposes.   These models have flip down screens so I can still see myself.  This has its issues and I'll explain more below.  But I find the screen is so handy for flatlays.  Up until recently, the majority of my photos were taken with the auto settings (I know, I'm so bad!) but I've been getting to grips with the manual settings and am loving experimenting.  I'm no good at explaining camera jargon, so do what I do and head to google and YouTube for tips!  But I love the Olympus pen and would definitely recommend it for blogging and filming.  Now it has its pros and cons and two years on, these are the main pros and cons for me.  I'm sure there are more plusses and minuses, but for what I need the camera for, these are the main points.

Pros of Olympus pen
Flip down screen is handy for seeing myself when taking photos and filming.
It's lightweight and portable.
It has built in wifi so I can send photos from the camera to my phone or laptop.
There's a great lens selection and I have my eye on another one to add to my collection!

Cons of Olympus pen
There's no viewfinder which makes a couple of things more difficult.  On sunny days, it can be hard to see the screen and see what I'm shooting.  And if you're using the manual settings, having to rely on the screen alone to focus means I can't always get things as crisp as I'd like.
It's on the spendy side.
It's not great in low light conditions - it isn't as crisp as I'd like.
Flip down screen makes it hard to sit on a tripod so you can see what you're doing.

One of the best things I've ever gotten in life is the 45mm lens for the Pen...  I'm obsessed!  It gives the blurry background, it makes the magic happen and I truly think it helped transform my photos.  It's the Olympus equivalent to the Canon 50mm lens that I have that does the same thing.  I don't film with these, they're just for photos.


If you're investing in a camera, or even if you have one already, the number one accessory you need is a spare camera battery.  There's nothing worse than being in the middle of filming or taking photos, and you're in the groove, only for the battery to die.  While waiting for the battery to charge, the lighting could change, your mojo could go or you could end up being distracted with other bits.  So having a fully charged battery all the time is a life changer in the content creation world.

Another accessory I use all the time is a remote control shutter.  The Olympus has an app that you can set up so your phone becomes the shutter, but for the amount of photos I take when doing makeup, it takes too long.  I need to be able to go bam bam bam with the photos.  I have a wireless remote for my Canon camera which I love and it's so handy for making sure you're in focus when you're filming, especially if you've nobody to help you.

It's not a necessity, but I love my camera strap!  The one that came with my Olympus was thick and touristy and I wanted something a bit more streamlined, so started to research and found this gorgeous vintage looking one that's adjustable, lightweight, not clunky at all and looks pretty.

Something that I can never have enough of is memory cards.  I can say this because I lose mine all the time!  I usually get mine in Argos or on Amazon and always get the SanDisk ones.  They've never let me down and I'll they're missing is a location device because I'm always losing mine!

A must have for the Olympus is this bracket I got on Amazon.  It's supposed to be for external flashes but I use it to hold the Pen because when it's sitting on it, the screen can flip down and I can see myself.  Sitting the Olympus directly on my tripod means I can't see myself when I go to flip the screen, so I'd be lost without this.

I've two tripods because I'm extra.   Ah no, I've been using my big one for years now for filming and when I'm taking makeup photos too.  The one I have is discontinued (I've had it for so long, surprise surprise! So here's a similar one). I did some photos last year and the year before with sparklers and needed a tripod to help make using long exposures a bit easier.  I bought a small one for my desk last year so I can film with a different background and have my lighting behind it.  Speaking of which...


Lighting is one of the things I'm asked about the most when it comes to blogging and filming.  So here goes!

As much as possible, I try to use natural daylight when I'm taking photos of makeup on my face and when I'm doing tutorials.  It shows the products in their true form and I think is more helpful for people when they're trying to find swatches of items.

Now in the darker days, it's not always possible to use natural light, so a few years ago, I invested in a ring light.  At the time, nowhere in Dublin (that I knew of) had them, and maybe they do now, so have a google and see what you can find.  I got mine on Amazon, and used Parcel Motel to get it delivered and three years on, it's still going strong.  It's dimmable so I can control how bright it goes and it's a great bit of kit to have in grey old Ireland!

Then back in November 2017, I treated myself to two panel lights from the same brand as the ring light, Neewer.   They've got loads of LED lights on them, they're dimmable and I can also control how warm or cool the light that's emitted from them is.  They're more portable than the old soft boxes I had and take up less space in my office, meaning I can have one of them sitting on my shelf all winter long without taking up valuable room.

I show all of these products in lots more detail in the video below if you'd like to take a look and all of the products are linked at the bottom of the post.  Let me know if you've any questions about anything mentioned!

Products mentioned

Canon 800D - similar to discontinued 600D

Olympus Pen E-PL8 - similar to discontinued E-PL7

45mm lens for Olympus

Bracket for tripod

Camera strap

Spare Olympus battery for EPL-7

Remote control shutter for Olympus

Wireless remote for Canon

SanDisk Memory Cards

Large tripod

Desk tripod

Ring light

Panel lights


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