Best Cameras and Lighting to Own if You’re a Makeup Artist in 2021

Best Cameras and Lighting
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The pandemic has had most of us developing a whole new type of skill set on the side. While some work-from-home jobs created part-time bakers, others landed people as makeup artists.

Now even though photographing the food you make is pretty easy, how does one showcase the minute details of makeup? 

How to make sure your online audience differentiates a perfectly concealed under the eye from an unconcealed one? The answer you might think is simply a good camera, but it’s not. Instead, to portray your art and skill, you’ll need the perfect combination of two things. 

These will include a camera to catch minor details and good lighting to enhance the efficiency of your capturing device.

Let’s look into some good lighting and the best camera for makeup artists that you can get your hands on in 2021.

Top Tier Camera to Own as a Makeup Artist

First, let’s see what suits a makeup artist’s requirements. The goal is to get clear yet professional-looking photos. Up close shots take up the majority of a makeup artist’s portfolio. 

For this, a good camera needs to be technically efficient to avoid grainy, poorly lit photos.

The best camera for makeup artists should get all the details and allow room for post-photography editing. 

Other points to look for in a suitable camera include enough manual functions to individualize your style. This will allow you to play around with lightning and effects to discover your signature style for an outstanding portfolio. 

woman holding camera standing near people
Photo by Vanilla Bear Films on Unsplash

What Type of Camera Is Ideal for Makeup Artists?

As a makeup artist, your priority is to capture the definition and minute details of your work. Three types of cameras can provide adequate results. These are

  • Mirrorless
  • DSLR
  • Point and Shoot

Among the above, we would recommend DSLR or Mirrorless cameras for a more professional-quality video.

These cameras have a better range of features and are much more efficient in low-light situations than point-and-shoot cameras. 

Contrary to the small sensor incorporated in the latter, a DSLR or mirrorless has a more premium quality sensor.

The variety of lenses and manual settings allow for a much more versatile shooting range and limitless adaptability.

When the goal is to get the same colors and lighting in the picture as in reality, there are quite a few things one must note. These include the white balance, illumination, and quality of the picture.

This is where a DSLR or mirrorless camera is at an advantage over a point-and-shoot camera. It has manual operations that allow you to set the color temperature of your shot. Additional perks such as a larger aperture will give your photo a more professional caliber.

It should be noted that some point-and-shoot cameras do offer some perks similar to a DSLR. However, these are limited and only offered by the more expensive ones. 

In conclusion, instead of getting a high-end point and shoot, spend that cash to buy a DSLR or mirrorless for a more professional approach.

An Overall Favorite Pick for Makeup Artists

Before we get into a whole list of suitable cameras, let’s get the best camera for makeup artists out of the way. After extensive work and research, we’ve concluded that the honor of the overall best camera for makeup artists goes to Nikon Z 6II.

Nikon Z 6II

Nikon Z 6II FX-Format Mirrorless Camera Body Black

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This successor to the iconic Nikon Z6 is a top-tier mirrorless camera. The entire frame model incorporates a 24.5 MP BSI CMOS sensor. With the CMOS sensor by your side, you’ll be able to capture the minor details of your art as well as your subject.

It has a sufficient ISO to give you the desired results even if the environment and lightning aren’t ideal. What distinguishes it from its predecessor model is the autofocus feature. Also, unlike the previous model, this one comes with face as well as eye detection.

This feature is not limited to humans because it is also compatible with animals. So if you plan on making over your kitten, go for it!

With an impressive shutter speed of up to 14 frames a second, you can get down to business with your camera. It has dual slots for memory cards, so you don’t need to fret over that either.

As if all these features weren’t enough to call it the overall best camera for makeup artists, it also has a touchscreen LCD.

Which Camera Suits Me if I’m a Makeup Artist on a Budget?

Just because you’ve got limited finances doesn’t mean you don’t deserve professional-looking photos of your hard work. A high price isn’t a condition for a camera to be considered the best for makeup artists. A camera can be easy on the pocket and still give professional-quality photographs. Here are a few examples of DSLR cameras with exceptional video quality but reasonable prices.

Canon EOS 6D

Canon EOS 6D 20.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 3.0-Inch LCD (Body Only) - Wi-Fi Enabled

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The Canon EOS 6D is a full-frame professional camera costing around $1,375. In addition, it comes fitted with a CMOS sensor. Considering the quality of the photos it produces and its frame, the price tag is completely justified.

Its sensor stands at a reasonable 26.2 MP, which might be less than its expensive cousins but is still good enough given the price tag. It can also record in HD, which you need if your central platform is Youtube.

The variable lens that comes with enables wide-angle shots, while other lenses allow closeups and portrait shots.

Other than this, the camera has Bluetooth and is WiFi-enabled, so it is compatible with your cell phone.

Its lightweight frame and rotating touchscreen make the usage much more convenient than other cameras in this price range.

Canon EOS 80D

Canon Digital SLR Camera Body [EOS 80D] with 24.2 Megapixel (APS-C) CMOS Sensor and Dual Pixel CMOS AF

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The EOS 80D by Canon should not be taken lightly, even though it’s light on the pocket as it costs $764.6. 

This SLR professional magic maker can record in full HD, creating premium quality content to share on your socials. 

The resolution it provides is a 24.2 MP (APS C) CMOS sensor, with distinct pixels and exceptional ISO speed.

This also gives it the advantage of providing professional-looking photographs regardless of light conditions.

If you’re one for capturing shots remotely, this vlogging camera is meant for you. This is done by using the app for self-portraits and shooting.

Nikon Z5

Nikon Z 5 Camera Body

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This Z6 cousin is also a full-frame gadget and the Nikon class’s best camera for makeup artists. Although it is closely competed by Nikon Z6II, which is already discussed above, it wins in the budget-friendly category.

Its lightweight yet heavy-duty performance is what makes it a star video recorder. Its 4K resolution is the distinguishing feature. 

The sensor is 24 MP and comes with an adjustable ISO sensitivity. The original ISO sensitivity it offers ranges from 100 to 51200 with an expansion of 50 to 10240.

The autofocus it offers is an impressive 273 point hybrid AF system that doesn’t disappoint.

Among all the good stuff, there is a drawback. Even though the quality of the content it creates is top-notch, the videos get cropped.

Other than that, the lightweight camera is the perfect budget-friendly cousin of Z6, having a total cost of just $1,296.95.

Olympus PEN E-PL1 

Olympus PEN E-PL1 12.3MP Live MOS Micro Four Thirds Mirrorless Digital Camera with 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens (Black)

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The Olympus PEN E-PL1 cameras range in price from $136 to $289. It’s a lightweight camera that offers pictures in two formats. These include JPEG as well as RAW format

The video quality isn’t very high, standing at 720 p.

The resolution it gives is 12 MP which some might consider a disadvantage compared to its peer micro four-thirds cameras.

One more thing you might miss while using the Olympus PEN E-PL1 is the convenience of an optical viewfinder.

Overall considering the cost of these cameras, they are a great lightweight option for a vlogging camera.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV 

Olympus PEN E-PL1 12.3MP Live MOS Micro Four Thirds Mirrorless Digital Camera with 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens (Black)

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Another one from the  Olympus family is the OM-D E-M10 Mark IV. This camera is in a league of its own and is no less than the best camera for makeup artists. It offers a 20 MP Live MOS sensor.

If you’re new to the photography game, then this is the camera for you. The feature that makes it suitable for newbies is its in-body image stabilization. This helps with shaky hands and minimizes blurry captures.

If you’re not that good at editing captured shots, 16 different art filters have got you covered.

Although the camera is a mirrorless one, it does offer some exceptional features like the flip LCD.

In conclusion, the photos are high quality, but you might not get the pro feeling. However, at $799 and exceptional pros, it is in a league of its own.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III

OLYMPUS OM-D E-M1 Mark III Black Camera Body

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The 121-point AF system incorporated photography beast will give its peers a run for their money. With a resolution of 20 MP, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III is on a mission to impress.

It is perfect for taking exotic stills by makeup artists to enhance their portfolios.

Just like its previously mentioned cousin Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV, this camera also has the stabilization feature enabled. So, that perfect blur-free shot is guaranteed.

The 4K resolution it provides is an added perk considering the price. To store all those high-resolution shots, Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III comes installed with two slots. So running out of memory is a foreign concept to Mark III owners.

As far as the battery goes, the camera can manage up to 420 shots per charge which are good enough to cover at least one event.

In conclusion, the $1,699 camera is a stallion and is at the top of the best camera for makeup artists list for valid enough reasons.

Nikon Z6 

Nikon Z6 FX-Format Mirrorless Camera Body with NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f4S

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If you own a Nikon Z5, get ready for an even better version of the already extraordinary device. Although the resolution is similar to its predecessor standing at 24.5 MP, there is a visible difference in the image quality.

Even though it seems like magic, the technical explanation behind this notable improvement is backside-illuminated technology. In addition, the resolution this camera offers is a top-notch 4K one. As a result, you’ve got guaranteed professional quality.

Coming over to the frame, it is a sturdy yet compact one compatible with rough weather conditions. Outdoor photography will be a walk in the park with the Z6  (Literally too, considering its ability to withstand extreme climates).

There is one setback to the Z6, which is the presence of a single card slot. Considering the resolution is 4K, a single card slot cannot cater to the perfect shooting experience.

This would mean changing the card mid-session, which tends to break the momentum and often lose a good shot.

Overall the Z6 is a good purchase and does give value for money which is currently $1,596.

Nikon D7500

Nikon D7500 DX-Format Digital SLR Body

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D7500 is a famous name among photography/videography enthusiasts and professionals. Rightly so, considering its specifications.

The premium quality DSLR camera incorporates a 21 MP resolution paired with the perfect shape for good angles.

It comes with autofocus technology, and the 4K resolution makes it the best camera for makeup enthusiasts to showcase their talents.

Even though the 4K videos get cropped, the images are worth the $1,159.9 you’ll spend on this photography champ. Another thing you might find yourself slightly struggling with is limited memory due to the single card slot built in it. 

If you don’t mind the hassle of changing cards, this camera is appropriate for premium photos.

Nikon D3300 

Nikon D3300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR with Auto Focus-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II Zoom Lens (Black)

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The $371.31 might be one of the most pocket-friendly and feature-packed options we’ve come across.

The D3300 is to beginners what the D7500 is to professionals, simply a favorite. The appropriate newbie DSLR will provide the best low-light results amongst its peers in the same price range.

Its sensor is not coming slow at 24.2 MP resolution, and the 1080 p video quality is also a commendable trait. 

But what makes it the winner of the “best camera for makeup artists on a budget” award is its built-in flash and compact frame.

Although it lacks the WiFi connectivity feature, we’d say it’s still worth the money considering the quality of the content it can produce.

Why Should Makeup Artists Invest In a Good Camera?

Considering that your primary field is makeup and not photography, does it make sense to spend your hard-earned money on a camera? Even though it might not make sense at the moment, you’ll thank your past self for this investment in the long run.

Here are a few suggestions to help you with your decision. 

First of all, in the long run, a picture is the best proof of your personal development and mastering of your skill. Looking back at your work, you can examine exactly where you went wrong or what you could’ve done better. Of course, this is only possible if you own an exceptional quality camera. Grains and low-quality photos aren’t of much use in self-assessment.

It is the perfect opportunity to build your portfolio as you go instead of paying someone else to do it later in your career. Moreover, you might even discover your love for photography and get paid for two things instead of one.

Another reason to buy a good camera is to put up your work on your socials. Especially if you are marketing your work on youtube and Instagram, hence owning a good quality camera will only do you good in the long run.

What Type of Lightning is Ideal for Makeup Artists

We have already discussed at the beginning of this post that the perfect photo is a combination of two things: a good quality camera and lighting. 

Now that we have discussed the best camera for makeup artists let’s see what lighting will suit a makeup artist’s needs.

The best option for the kind of content a makeup artist needs is a ring light. It is handy, compact, and easy to carry. This helps when you want to shoot closeups and try challenging angles of your model.

Additionally, the LED ring lights suit you best if you’re on a budget.

Top Ring Lights for Makeup Artists

Ring lights tend to stabilize the picture’s temperature and produce a natural and glowing effect on the skin, this aids in the quality of the shot. Hence a ring light is a must-have if you plan on photographing your models.

Here are a few handpicked options for you to choose from.

TRUMAGINE Table Top Ring Light 8″

8-inch LED Selfie Ring Light for Phone Video Shooting Makeup YouTube Vine Portrait Photography

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This small yet highly efficient tabletop ring light will cost you somewhere around $36.  You can easily place it on your side table or your set for natural light. Accessories include a tripod and mirror.

It weighs a meager 2.85 lbs and stands 8 inches tall, a convenient device for your small-scale shoots.

SAMTIAN LED Ring Light 14″ 

SAMTIAN 14'' Outer Selfie LED Ringlight

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At double the price of Trumagine, the SAMTIAN LED ring light has more to offer than its counterpart.

It has varying color filters so you can play around with the temperature of your photos, while the Bluetooth feature adds an extra kick. These features justify the higher price of the ring light.

It comes with an adjustable mount to place your camera or phone and weighs 7.35 lbs.

The $63.59 light is 18″/48cm in size and is self-timer enabled.

Neewer Camera Photo Video Lighting Kit: 18″

SAMTIAN 14'' Outer Selfie LED Ringlight

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The $94.99 Lighting Kit comes with accessories, including an adjustable mount to hold recording devices and a carry bag to store equipment.

Its different color filters allow you to experiment with the lighting and temperatures. In addition, the Bluetooth and self-timer make shooting much more accessible, especially for solo shoots.

Neewer Camera Photo Video Lighting Kit: 14″

Neewer 14-inch Outer 12-inch Inner Dimmable Ring Light Lighting Kit

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Like its sibling, the Neewer Lighting Kit: 18”, the 14” also comes with a mount to hold cameras and phones used for shooting.

Its dimensions are 14″ Outer/12″ on center 55W 5500K, and it weighs 5.06 lbs. The adjustable color filters, Bluetooth feature, and self-timer option are similar to the 18” version. 

Although it does cost less, it is a good option for people on a budget looking for similar specifications.

LimoStudio LED Ring Light 18″ 

LimoStudio LED Ring Light 18-inch Diameter

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The LimoStudio ring light brings a little more to the table at a much lower price than most of its counterparts. 

The adjustable mount that it comes with has an additional lever to make the adjustment more convenient.

The color filters it offers have much more variety than the simple orange and white available in the previous ones. These colors include orange, pink, and blue, promising a much more versatile temperature palette to choose from. 

It weighs 11.2 lbs, and the dimensions covered are 18″/48cm, outer 55W 5500K.

How to Avoid Background Shadows

The common problem of using a ring light is the creation of a darker or shadowy background. This tends to eliminate the professional quality of photos and videos regardless of the camera used.

The first point you should look into is adjusting the ISO and Shutter speed of your camera. First, of course, you’ll need to play around a bit with your camera to get the hang of it, but practice will eventually get you there.

If that’s not enough to eliminate the shadows try investing in a softbox lighting kit. On the other hand, you could go for an umbrella. A slight adjustment of the camera position and lightning source will go a long way in removing that gloomy background.

Getting the Perfect Lighting Without Spending a Penny

A free way to get the perfect lighting is the window hack. This technique only requires several windows strategically located across your set.

The idea is to have one window in front of the model.  Some windows should also be present behind them for background illumination.

Add in some thin curtains to act as diffusers, and you’ve got professional quality lighting completely free. 

One drawback is you can’t work at night with this hack.

To Wrap it Up

This is where your journey begins. With the proper lighting and equipment, you can quickly achieve premium quality content.

Be it your portfolio or a Youtube tutorial. You can master both of those skills with all the information given above. Your primary focus is to get every minute detail of your art so that you can stand out among other content creators. 

Don’t worry if you’re just beginning. As a result of practice and strategy, you’ll eventually get there. 

Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day!