My Camera Choices {Olympus Pen & Canon 1300D}


The most frequent question that pings into my DM folder is one about photography and what camera I use to take my photographs. I have previously spoke about how I take my instagram photos here but that post is a few years old now. So it is time to pull my socks up, make a cup of tea and actually get everything down in a blog post for you all.

For me the most important place to start with photography is to find your style. Whether that is defined by the composition of the image, the colours or the subject. You can be someone who photographs everything and anything (like me) but if you look for it, there will always be a common theme that you are attracted to. I like my photographs to be light, no synthetic filters and often use the rule of thirds. I am working on using more diagonals and triangles in my composition this year as I always tend to photograph everything very straight on.

Taking photographs when there is good natural light is key. If your photographs are for a curated instagram feed, you might want to consider the white balance of your images. Some days are very blue and grey and this will affect the aesthetic of the image when you come to edit it. Basically make sure all your whites are all the same shade in each image.

Lets get started on the cameras. Last week I made an exciting purchase of the Olympus Pen E-PL8. I was actually reluctant to do so as it is a bit of a blogger must have item. I didn’t want to just jump onto a bandwagon. Yes she is a pretty camera but looks aren’t everything darling.

So whats to love

It is compact and fits in my handbag. This is such a pro for me as I was really struggling with the Canon because it is such a big bit of kit. Did I mention it is pretty? You can get the camera in black, white or brown. It has Wifi which allows you to wirelessly send images from your camera straight to your phone or other devices. The tiltable screen makes high shots (such as flatlays) easy to see as well as being able to tilt the screen around for selfies. I have been really impressed with the image quality so far, especially as the Olympus seems to take images that are less saturated. (Might just be me that thinks this) You can tap the screen to focus, allowing you to choose exactly what your main subject is. You can change the aspect ratio meaning you can photograph everything in the square aspect ready for Instagram if you wish. This certainly helps those instagram husbands that just don’t understand that you’ll need to crop the image later.

Whats not that great

Firstly the price. £450 isn’t to be sniffled at, especially as I personally think its a good idea to buy the additional 45mm lens. Not essential but will definitely give you more options with your photography. When shooting with the remote function. (Connecting to my phone and using my phone to take the pictures) it is a little slow. So far I haven’t worked out how to take a series of images without it returning me to my last image shot. It is making those self shooting with a tripod days a little slower. I miss having a view finder rather than using the digital display to see my image. Maybe I am an old romantic but I like the feeling of taking images through a view finder.

Images taken with the standard kit lens 14.42mm (Natural light has been really poor recently so I dont think these images show the full potential of the Olympus)

I also ordered the 45mm lens which is the lens that is perfect for the background blur shots. It has a fast aperture making portraits stand out and captures vivid contrasts. It is the more affordable version of the 75mm lens which I am saving up for. At around £200 I think its a real essential to have in your kit should you be able to afford it.

Some photographs with the 45mm lens.

I owe a lot to the Canon 1300D. It was the camera that helped me to love photography again. I studied photography in its most basic form at college when I was 16. Dicking about in a developing room not having a clue what I was doing. All these years later (too many to mention) I still don’t know what I am doing. However I am confident that I am getting better and I bloody love taking pictures. Much much more than I enjoy writing words. It comes with an 18-55mm kit lens which is a fairly good all rounder lens. As with the Pen I bought a 50mm lens for the background blur photographs. Which is reasonably priced at around £100.

So whats to love

The price! At around £300 this is a great DSLR to start out with. When I say ‘to start out with’ I mean it is great for the hobbists or for people hoping to improve their photography but need a good starting camera. As with the Olympus Pen it also has wifi allowing you to transfer images directly from the camera to your phone. It does this much faster than the Pen. There is so much scope to come out of shooting in automatic mode and to play with Shutter speed, aperture and so on. However I rarely did any of this in the time this was my main camera. People do take you seriously when you pull a DSLR out of your bag. It creates the impression that you know what you are doing even if this isn’t the case. Sometimes you have to fake it until you make it!

Whats not that great

The bloody size of it makes it not small handbag friendly. It also makes it difficult to take discreet pictures in a florist for example. If you are an Instagram addict you will at one point or another trotted off to snap some peonies, you may as well admit it. It isn’t that forgiving with image quality. If it is poor light for example you will really see it. (Particularly if you are shooting in Auto.)

Images taken with the 18-55mm Kit lens

Images taken with the 50mm lens. So far I think that the Canon performs better with this type of lens. However a direct comparison is difficult as I have only had it just over a week and we have had poor weather and lighting to contend with. Pesky January and your grey skies.

Gosh this is a long post. Are you still with me? If you are then I just want to finish off talking about editing. It is the life saver of dark days and wonky framing. I use Adobe Lightroom on both my phone and on my MacBook. It is a much more simple tool to use on the iPhone however and so this is where I do all my editing for instagram images. Below are the before and after shots from an edit on Lightroom. All I have done here is increased the exposure, Lowered the saturation slightly, upped the clarity and slightly cropped the image. Thats it. It took about 20 seconds. Lightroom isn’t free and if there isn’t any real need for you to have it then some great free options include VSCO and Snapseed.

I hope this has answered some of your questions but please don’t hesitate to pop any unanswered ones in the comments below. I am not an expert but I am always happy to share what works for me.




  1. Abi
    January 11, 2018 / 8:37 am

    Thank you Cara. Hanging off your every word here as I am about to order the Canon 1300D! Very excited, but not a clue what I’m doing so your post was super helpful! Xx

  2. Hannah
    January 11, 2018 / 9:13 am

    I’ve been wanting to get into photography for a while, it’s so pricey getting natural outdoor photo shoots of the kids. So I’ve been wondering which camera to buy. Thank you for the info! 👌🏼👍🏼

  3. January 11, 2018 / 9:21 am

    A very helpful post. I need to reign in my expectations for all the new things I’m going to do in 2018 so a new camera might well be a 2019 purchase.

  4. January 11, 2018 / 9:58 am

    I have 2 canons but You’ve now made me want an Olympus!!!!!! 😂 That picture of the dog is fantastic!

  5. Jolene
    January 11, 2018 / 10:52 am

    So glad you did this post!! Iv got a Olympus, what do you think the benefits are to the 75mm lense? (Is it a clearer picture? ) thanks cara ❤️

  6. January 11, 2018 / 11:13 am

    I recieved a canon 1300d for christmas I absolutely adore it but I have no idea how to use it properly. I’ve been using in on auto mode, are there any guides or something to help me understand it more?

  7. January 11, 2018 / 12:16 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I have my eye on the PEN but i’m like you and love a view finder to look through.

  8. Hayley
    January 11, 2018 / 12:44 pm

    I purchased the canon after your initial post about taking photos for your blog and I love it but rarely use it because it’s too big for my handbag ! Maybe time for a new bag ….

  9. January 11, 2018 / 5:36 pm

    Great post Cara I think everyone loves a camera / photography post! I get asked about how I take my pics loads – by people who take great pics! I think we all love everyone else’s and critique our own! I use a Canon and an Olympus the Olympus for me takes ‘softer’ images and I struggled with the brown tones it produced for ages – playing with the brightness and tone menu helped! And it’s dwfibitkey the one for travel. So interested to hear your thoughts on the 45mm lense though as I’ve wondered about getting it I genuinely didn’t know if it was worth it but this sounds like maybe it is? I have 2 Canons a 450d from the old school days and a 70d I love them both – the kit lenses are ok but I’m desperate to upgrade to the Sigma fast lens (has a much lower f-stop) and seems to be the number 1 recommended lens to get other than your 50mm prime – it gets such great ratings! It’s £600 though so a bit of an eye watering investment….

    Your pics are always fab 😊
    Katy x

  10. Kristin
    January 12, 2018 / 12:14 am

    I’ve the 800D and several lenses now. I love, love, love it.

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