woman posing for camera

The best camera and photography setup for social media

november 15, 2023

With a smartphone and a few minutes to spare, anyone can easily share photos and videos with friends across the world or grow their small business online. From compelling product photos to self-promotional videos, your camera and photography setup make the difference between your next viral post and a photo that flops. When you’re first starting out on social media, a smartphone camera works well to record videos and snap photos, but a professional camera elevates your content and makes it appear more professional to potential sponsors or customers. Using the same camera also gives your feed a more cohesive look, providing consistent high-quality content that engages new followers and loyal fans alike. Take stunning social media photographs and videos by creating a DIY photography setup and choosing a camera with features that make sharing even easier.

What to consider when buying a camera for social media

Although there’s an abundance of camera options on the market, some cameras are better suited for social media posting than others. Before you spend money on a pricey camera, consider the functions that matter most to you and what you’re willing to compromise on:

Price When you’re just starting out, there’s no need to splurge on an expensive camera with features you don’t plan on using—even budget cameras shoot high-quality photos. If you like a camera that’s out of your price range, look for lightly used or refurbished cameras online.
Image quality Some cameras have a better resolution or high ISO performance, producing higher-quality photos. For most social media users, entry-level cameras provide a great-looking image to edit and post online.
Video capability Depending on the social media network you post on, you’ll likely want a camera with video capability. Many social media platforms are integrating or expanding video content, so it’s valuable to have the option even if you don’t currently post many videos.
Connectivity options Many cameras now include options to send photos and videos to your smartphone by connecting to the same Wi-Fi. If you post pictures on the go, a camera with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity saves you time and energy.
Size and weight For content taken in a studio or at home, a large or heavy camera won’t be a problem. However, if you plan to take photos while traveling or vlog your everyday life, choose a lighter option that you can carry anywhere.
Storage No matter what camera you purchase, you’ll need a memory card to store your images as you’re shooting. Memory cards come in different speeds that support larger files and not all cameras are compatible with higher-speed cards. Once you’ve finished your photography session, you’ll be able to save a large number of images and videos using online cloud storage.

The most common types of cameras for social media include digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLR), mirrorless cameras, and compact digital cameras, also known as point-and-shoot cameras. Entry-level DSLRs are a common choice for social media creators because of their high-quality images and video recording, but mirrorless and point-and-shoot cameras are more compact options if you plan on taking your camera on the go.

Cameras to launch your social media platform

Most cameras on the market take high-quality images, but some models include features and functions ideal for social media photography.

Sony A7III For a compact and versatile option, this entry-level mirrorless camera supports 4K video recording and 10fps shooting.
Nikon D3400 Shoot up to 5fps and record HD video with this lightweight digital camera. Its low-light AF sensitivity makes it a great option for taking photos inside or at night.
Canon T6i With built-in Wi-Fi technology, 4K video capability, and a high-resolution sensor, it’s no wonder social media creators favor this entry-level DSLR.
Sony RX100 Perfect for beginners without a huge budget for their DIY photography setup, this compact and lightweight camera supports HD video recording and includes steady-shot stabilization.

How to create your social media photography setup

Once you’ve chosen a camera, complete your social media setup with other affordable equipment. DIY photography home studios don’t need to be expensive, and they greatly improve the images you take. The equipment you’ll need varies based on the types of content you create.

For small businesses or creators that typically take photos of products, a simple, solid-colored backdrop instantly makes your feed look more professional. Using a tripod makes taking photos and videos of yourself easier—some cameras even have a self-timer or remote capability for easier use. Don’t forget about the importance of good lighting—position your camera in front of natural lighting or splurge on box lights.

man in yellow sweatshirt with iPad in front of camera

Tips for creating engaging social media content

Once you’ve set up your photography studio, you’re ready to start snapping pictures and recording videos. But the right equipment isn’t the only thing you’ll need to capture eye-catching content. Use your equipment to its fullest capability by following photography best practices.

Take photos and video horizontally

When taking photographs and recording videos for social media, shoot horizontally for the best image and most flexibility. You’ll be able to crop your image to fit a variety of social media platforms without sacrificing image quality.

Consider the platform you plan on posting your content to when recording videos. For YouTube videos, you’ll want to always record horizontally. However, short-form videos on Instagram or TikTok appear vertically. If you plan to only post on these platforms, recording vertically may be easier, but you might occasionally want to post the same video to multiple platforms. Shooting video horizontally gives you the most options, as you can crop the video into the correct dimensions—just make sure the main subject of the video stays in the center of the shot.

Use the rule of thirds

Following the rule of thirds engages viewers by naturally drawing their attention to the subject of the photo. Position the main object or subject in the right or left third of the image for an eye-catching and professional-looking photo. Many cameras include a function to show gridlines on the screen as you take photos, making it even easier to use the rule of the thirds.

For videos, the rule of thirds may not always be the best option. Videos shot vertically should center the subject, as the size of the video will be too narrow to properly utilize the rule of thirds. If you plan on only shooting videos horizontally, consider the type of content you’re creating and your target audience. Instructional videos are likely easier to follow when the objects or subjects are centered on the screen, but you might want to use the rule of thirds for more artistic videos like short films.

camera screen displaying woman talking to camera

Try different angles

Experimenting with various angles gives you a wide array of options to choose from when you’re ready to post. Often, photos of the same subject from different angles can be used for additional content. Invest in a reliable tripod to make shooting from different angles and heights easier. While you can experiment with different angles for recording video, most social media videos look best when shot straight on.

Consider your background

Different backgrounds work best for different types of content. Fashion or lifestyle content may look best with a dynamic background, using a park or city street to add color and dimension. Product or food photography stands out best with a simple background. Purchase a backdrop for more professional-looking pictures or make a DIY photography backdrop using a solid-colored curtain or sheet. An organic background, like your living room or office, can make social media videos feel more authentic—just remember to clear any distracting clutter.

Keep it light

Even high-quality cameras produce less than desirable photos and video when there’s not enough light. Natural light is an easy DIY option, but even if you’re shooting in a well-lit room, you’ll be limited by the time of day and weather conditions. Lighting sources like box lights or ring lights brighten the room so you can record at any time of day. Improve your camera’s built-in flash by lighting up your images with an external flash.

Whether you’re creating your online brand or shooting #sponsored content, choosing the right camera and photography setup essentials takes your social media content to the next level. Choose the best beginner camera with the features you need and get ready to start posting your stunning photographs and videos.

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