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Cameras for Instagrammers

Taking pictures for Instagram has become very popular over the last few years, with lots of people wanting to get involved in it, Increase their following and post the next amazing photo. It’s really great to see photography becoming so popular and it’s really exciting hearing so many people wanting to get better at photography, having fun taking amazing pictures and exploring the world through a camera lens. 

This article has been written by a professional wedding photographer of 15 years, so I have a pretty thorough knowledge of cameras and I want to give suggestions on what would be good cameras for Instagrammers along with some of the pros and cons and a few different levels of budget.

There’s a lot to consider when buying cameras and a lot of it depends on your level of skill and how much you want to spend. But I’ll try to give a few options.

From simple point and shoots to more complicated DSLR the options are pretty limitless and it can feel like a bit of a minefield when you go shopping. The main considerations when purchasing a camera are things like usability, image quality and if you’re looking to take it on holidays or expeditions to the top of a mountain – you want to know it’s rugged enough to take whatever you throw at it

Personally, when I’m photographing I always shoot with Canon DSLRs. These cameras produce images greater than 30 megapixels (which are way above anything you need for Instagram) but for my needs, such as printing they’re perfect. When I’m publishing images on Instagram I only need 2000 pixels wide images which is less than 6 megapixels – so most modern cameras will produce more quality than you need. In fact, most phone cameras produce a higher quality than that.

So shooting for instagram is less about the megapixels of whichever camera you go for and more about the usability and features of the camera.

The great thing about having a camera with higher megapixels than you need is that you can crop in a lot tighter In post-production. So if you can’t get to that mountain, or you can’t get to that shot that’s too far away – you can take a wider image and then crop it in before publishing to Instagram. 

Depending on what you’re planning on taking pictures of will affect the type of camera you get. If you’re looking to do a lot of portraits you will want that great blurry background for their portraits (this is known as Bokeh!) and that is traditionally associated with DSLR photography. DSLRs are cameras that have separate lenses and bigger sensors but these can be complicated to use especially for beginners. 

The simplest cameras to use are known as point-and-shoot cameras and I’ll include a few recommendations of these too.  There are also lots of points in-between such as bridge cameras, crop frame cameras etc.

The biggest thing that’s going to improve your photography is reading a lot about photography and understanding composition. So my advice, before you invest in an expensive camera, would be to invest in some photography training because you can get amazing pictures with just an iPhone if you know what you’re doing.

Let’s get started on the best cameras for Instagram.

Most people are going to use smartphones for their Instagram photos rather than a dedicated camera – as you already have the app on your phone and it’s easy and in one-click, you take the picture and then upload it. You can even do a little bit of editing within the app. 

But if you’re really serious about photography and you really want to build a following on Instagram then you’re going to want to take things a little bit further and invest in a decent camera

My favourite series of cameras are known as the Canon 5 Series. The current ‘top’ one is the Canon 5D Mark IV and there are some great options coming out soon in the R5 and R6. 

But for an amateur or for someone not wanting to spend a lot of money, they may not be the ideal solution.

Don’t fancy reading the whole article? Get one of these and you’re good.

The Winner – Best camera for Instagram and Social Media

Canon EOS R

When I go out with my family the camera always grab first is the EOS R,  it’s what’s known as a mirrorless camera which makes it smaller lighter and fast and more intuitive to use than a traditional DSLR and if money is no object would always be my first recommendation as a brilliant camera for Instagram the brilliant thing about the Canon EOS system is the sheer amount of lenses that you have available to pick from between their classic EF range of lenses and the new RF lenses, you have everything from long lenses ideal for capturing far off things to macro lenses for capturing details of flowers or insects. With Canon embracing the RF lenses even more – there are some great options on the horizon.

The (Slightly) Cheaper Option

Canon EOS RP

Cheaper than the R, lighter and smaller – but with most of the same great benefits. 

Great image quality, amazing lenses, lots of manual controls and a plenty of automatic functions.

Well worth a look!

The Simplest Option

POWERSHOT G5 X MK2

The G5 X Mk 2 is a newer camera, with a similarly specc’d 20 megapixel sensor as the G7. It has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi so you can send your images straight to your phone ready for easy publishing on Instagram and as it only weighs 340 grams you can take it with you in your bag rather easily. 

What Lens to go with an EOS R or an RP?

By far my favourite lens for the EOS system is the Canon EF 50 1.2L. But this may be overkill ‘just’ for Instagram.

Photographers always refer to a 50mm lens as a ‘nifty 50’ and it’s widely considered one of the most versatile lenses you can purchase. 50mm is equivalent to what the human eye sees and so gives a very flattering field of view for anything from portraits to landscapes, to close-ups of your cappuccino in that stylish coffee shop!

Some people find a 50mm little bit tight and prefer a 35mm and my recommendation would always be to get something like an EOS R and pair it with one good lens. Either a 35mm or a 50mm would be a great start. 

The Best budget lens for an EOS R or an RP

Canon RF 35mm 1.8 IS STM MACRO

Light, cheap fast and amazing image quality. Perfect Partner to an EOS R or an EOS RP

The lenses I refer to are known as prime lenses and that means they’ve a fixed length so they don’t zoom in. But they are usually the sharpest, cheapest and lightest options.

A fixed length prime lens will also make you a better photographer, as it forces you to move around more and think about your compositions. Your followers will appreciate that!

The alternative option is a zoom lens which covers a wide range of options and may give you more versatility, but at the expense of increased weight and a reduction in that blurry background you may be after (the Bokeh). 

The Best zoom lens for an EOS R or an RP

Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM

A very expensive lens, but will excel at literally anything you throw at it. I know professionals who *only* own this lens.

Zoom lenses can also be very expensive or quite limiting in dark situations.

If you had to get just one lens for your EOS R I would suggest you go for the RF 35 1.8 macro which also comes with image stabilization. As it’s a ‘native’ RF lens, it pairs perfectly with the EOS R or the EOS RP and is the perfect go-anywhere lens for your Instagram Adventures.

Image stabilization will enable you to take pictures in dark conditions and also works really well if you use the camera’s video functions. The 1.8 aperture will enable you to get that creamy shallow depth of field perfect for your portraits or the ubiquitous ‘person holding your hand  leading you away from in front shot’. The lenses macro function means you can take up-close pictures of your cappuccino and details of your Lifestyle

VIDEO?

Most of the cameras I’m suggesting also do video which is great as you can add video straight to Instagram now and I’m told video posts have a much greater reach. With the rising popularity of filmmaking I can understand why. 

BIG? SMALL? DOES SIZE MATTER?

The benefits of smaller portable cameras not just that you can take them with you anywhere but you can put them anywhere or hold them at arm’s reach to get those really great creative angles to your photos a smaller camera is much easier to stabilize as well so if you wanted to keep it through some bars to get long traffic trails of cars heading under an overpass or if you wanted to to keep it through a fence to get a landscape you would be able to with the small size of a point and shoot camera there’s also an added benefit that if they’re so small you’re not going to notice carrying it on a long hike to the top of the Beauty Spot to get that instagrammable moment but you may find them creatively limiting and after awhile crave something with a little more manual controls

Point and Shoot or DSLR?

The easiest cameras to use, are a point and shoot. They take away a lot of the decisions and they work out your exposure and calculate the best settings for your pictures. 

You literally point the camera at your subject, compose it and take a picture. Everything else is done in-camera.

For someone without much experience in photography these are probably your best option. 

If you want to learn photography a little more then I would always recommend a DSLR as they come with full manual controls, in addition to a wide range of automatic options. Meaning you can go and set it on Automatic and still get lots of really really high-quality pictures without much effort. 

When your skills get a little bit more advanced, or in situations where you want to take more control over your images you can set it to manual or AV mode (where you set your aperture and the camera does the rest) and take back more creative control.

If you’re after those really soft out of focus backgrounds AV mode is always going to be helpful because you can set the aperture of your lens to its widest setting (F1.8 for example) and then the camera will do everything else and work out a correct exposure for you, ensuring a shallow depth of field

Point and Shoot cameras are often pretty small too – They say the best camera is the one you’ve got with you. So I find the smaller the camera is always better. Things like the Fuji’s or even your iPhone is always very easy to have in your pockets, so you’ll never without your camera when that next instagrammable moment happens you’ll also feel a little less self-conscious when you’re taking a picture of your cake

DSLR? Mirrorless?

A DSLR camera stands for a digital single-lens reflex and is the name given to a camera that has an interchangeable lens. In recent years we’ve moved towards mirrorless which means they’ve removed the complicated and space consuming mirror system. So what you’re seeing is straight through the sensor of the camera and it’s very much ‘what you see is what you get’. 

The benefits of a point and shoots (as above) is that they’re small and can go anywhere with you. 

The benefits of a DSLR or a mirrorless system is that you have a lot more control and a lot more options. You can buy different lenses for different situations. They also come with a lot more manual controls and a lot more options that you tweak to perfect your photos.

The image quality, because of the bigger sensor size, is often much higher as well. 

Even If a mirrorless DSLR and a point and shoot have the same number of megapixels you’ll always get a higher image quality out of the mirrorless or DSLR because of larger sensor size. 

The benefits of this will be higher quality in lower light, increased sharpness and increased dynamic range ( which is the difference between lights and darks in your photo).

OUR FAVOURITE DSLRS AND MIRRORLESS CAMERAS FOR INSTAGRAM

CANON EOS R

The Canon EOS R is my favourite camera right now it produces 30 megapixel images and it’s what’s known as a mirrorless camera which means when you look through the viewfinder and you’ll see exactly what you’re going to get. That takes a lot of guesswork out of photography and also is a really useful training aid and education tool for new photographers, who want to get better at taking pictures and learn how the camera works. 

The EOS R or the EOS RP is the simplest option for a camera for Instagram, when paired with something like a 35mm or 50mm lens but for a little bit more versatility you might want something like a 24 to 70 zoom lens is quite an expensive camera and if you were working to a tighter budgets they do something called the EOS RP which is a cheaper option and very well regarded

CANON EOS RP

The EOS RP is a DSLR style mirrorless camera. It’s light and compact a little bigger than points and shoots of course but it comes with the benefits of interchangeable lenses and a much bigger sensor the 26 megapixels full-frame CMOS sensor will give you lovely shallow depth of field and image quality that’s hard to beat short of anything in Canons more professional range because of the EF adaptor it’s also fully compatible with all of the existing EF range of Canon lenses so you can use beautiful things like the 85 1.2 L or the 50 1.2 L. 

If you’re used to using Canon DSLR you will feel right at home with the EOS RP although you will feel you’ve left something at home because of the decreased weight! 

Canon makes a wonderful 35mm RF lens to go with this camera (and also the EOS R). It’s a brilliant light-weight lens with a 35mm focal length and a maximum aperture of 1.8.  It also has macro capabilities – making a very versatile option to take on your next Instagram adventure

CANON EOS 4000D

The entry level Canon DSLR is known as the Canon EOS 4000D and offers a huge amount of features in a very small cost-effective package and is very, very popular for instagrammers. 

You can buy them in packages that come with kit lenses that will cover a range of focal lengths and allow you to get a lot of options in your photos. 

With the cheaper Canon cameras, build quality isn’t as good at the professional gear, but still very usable and they aren’t as durable as the higher end ones. But they produce very good image quality for the price. Especially in good light, although they can struggle when it gets darker – especially with the relatively ‘slow’ kit lens.

OUR FAVOURITE POINT AND SHOOT CAMERAS FOR INSTAGRAMMERS

Canon also produces a range of budget-friendly point and shoot cameras such as the M50 and the M5 which are much smaller and more convenient to carry around. They still produce images well above what you would require for Instagram and they come with a good balance of manual controls and automatic functions. They are very easy to use and instantly come to mind anytime anyone asks me to recommend an instagram camera. They are interchangeable lens cameras so you can pick from which lens is best for your purpose – I’d always suggest starting off with one general-purpose lens and gradually adding to your collection as and when you decide what you need 

CANON IXUS 185

The IXUS 185 is a great little point and shoot camera with a 20 megapixel sensor and an 8 x zoom from its internal lens. It’s a tiny little thing and will produce image quality much higher than that of your phone. It’s the ideal camera to chuck in your pocket and go anywhere with. 

I find smaller cameras like this sometimes have a delay when you press the button to take the picture of the shutter button and that can cause you missing moments – but what for its compactness and go anywhere form it’s hard to beat. Accept, of course, by your mobile phone.

With a 2.7 inch screen on the back of the camera it’s really easy to compose your shots at arm’s length and it’s a discrete little body that’s perfect for parties or to go anywhere with you 

POWERSHOT G7 X MK2

Much like the IXUS above, the PowerShot G7 X Mark II camera has a 20-megapixel sensor but it’s a bigger sensor aimed at a more advanced market. It comes with a 4x optical zoom using the integrated lens – meaning one last thing you need to take with you. 

It will give you a lot more options than you will find with the IXUS. 

We particularly love the flip-out screen for getting those hard-to-reach compositions. 

They say the image quality from this camera is as good as a DSLR but having used one I wouldn’t agree. It is a step above the Ixus though, however at this price level it’s also worth considering the G5 or the G9 

POWERSHOT G5 X MK2

The G5 X Mk 2 is a newer camera, with a similarly specc’d 20 megapixel sensor as the G7. It has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi so you can send your images straight to your phone ready for easy publishing on Instagram and as it only weighs 340 grams you can take it with you in your bag rather easily. 

All of the PowerShot G Series cameras have internal lenses with a zoom range of between four and five times, which gives you lots of creative opportunities – without having to carry any extra gear or without having to worry about changing your lenses in the field, which can present issues with DSLR and mirrorless cameras.

Other Brands

You’ll find this list populated heavily with Canon cameras and that’s because I have always used Canon cameras across my career and I’ve always found them to perform when I’ve needed to but there are other brands.

(Plus, it’s less awkward when they come calling me to be an ambassador…)  

Lots of my friends love Nikon cameras and I know a lot of photographers, especially wedding photographers have moved over to Sony cameras in recent years. 

One of the drawbacks of DSLR or mirrorless cameras such as the EOS R is their size and you may wish to look at other manufacturers such as Fuji or Sony – who produce much smaller cameras while still offering all of the benefits of dslrs.

The Fujis in particular also offer the benefit of film simulations, emulating colours you would have achieved using 35-mm film so you don’t need to do as much editing to get those soft and hazy instagrammable styled photos.

If you’re not feeling the Canon EOS R, the Sony’s are well worth a look. 

SONY A7 III

We have a Sony a7III,  it’s a brilliant video camera but it’s also a really, really good stills camera. It’s a little lighter and more compact than the Canon alternatives – and would be ideal for Instagram.  

Again like most cameras on this list it produces images much higher resolution than you need – in the 25 megapixel range. But this gives you lots of options for cropping if you can’t get close enough to your subject. 

One of the things I really love is that the sharpness you can get from this or indeed any mirrorless camera far outstrips anything you get with a DSLR camera. Especially when you’re shooting at wide apertures such as F2 or F1.2 –  which is where you want to be for those soft dreamy Instagram portraits to collect those likes.

ACTION CAMS & GO PROS

Something else to consider is that Gopros – the rugged action cameras, can take still photos. So you get a really small compact camera that you can go anywhere with you. The quality for stills photography isn’t dramatically better than that on your phone – but they’re also waterproof, drop proof and generally designed to take a beating. They’re also very cost-effective. Added bonus is that they can do amazing video – and even live streaming!

Go PRO Hero 7 Black

Tiny & Rugged a real go anywhere camera. Do Go Pros need introduction?

A lot of people don’t know they’re also very capable stills cameras!

SMARTPHONES & CAMERA PHONES FOR INSTAGRAM

I’d say that 90% of the images taken uploaded to Instagram have been taken on smartphones. This makes sense of course, as the app is already installed on your phone and so it makes it very easy to take the picture with the camera app and share it online!

iPhone 11

Recent iPhones, in particular, have seen incredible improvements in camera quality and the image quality you get out of an iPhone 11 is amazing, however, they don’t give you much by way of manual control. Although there are some apps you can use to give you some control – but if you were on the fence about buying a point and shoot camera then you might consider just sticking with your smartphone or upgrading to a better smartphone you’ll get a much higher return on your investments.