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-   -   Advice on new camera, P&S or DSLR? (

Teecee Dec 4, 2006 2:04 PM

I have spent much time reading reviews and people's post about all different sorts of cameras. This site has been a great resource. That amount of knowledge that this community has is just amazing.

Lets get to business. I am looking for a camera to take pictures of my new baby that will be here in June, action pictures, low light pictures. Most of the pictures I take are family oriented such as my dog running or my wife, niece and nephew, etc. I do like to take pictures of landscapes when I vacation but that is rare compared to the family photos. I hate that my past cameras blur from time to time with low light or any movement at all. I also cannot stand how long it takes to take multiple pictures back to back. I want a camera that I can take pictures very quickly. I do not need to take 200 shots a minute or anything but I would like it to be fast. I also would love to be able to have no blurring when my doberman is running full speed or I am at a footbale game.

I am not a professional photographer but I do love gadgets. I am a network adminsitrator and electronics are pretty easy for me to figure out. I mostly use the auto or scene settings on my past cameras plus my wife, smart but not techinical, will be using this camera so I would prefer something that is
geared towards the "prosumer". I think that is the word I have read here.

The size of pictures that I will be printing will never be larger than 8x11. I would like the ability to do more but 99% of everything that I do is digital. It never makes it to paper. I also prefer SD for memory.

My budget is $1000ish for the camera. I know I will need a great lense for a DSLR camera and a few addons like bags, memory cards, etc. So lets say $1000ish just for the camera not counting all of the other stuff. Now this doesnt mean that I must spend $1k on a camera, just saying that is the highest I will go. If I can get an amazing camera that can do everything that I need for $500 I am all about that.

Now since I am no where close to being a professional or even a hobbiest at taking pictures, would a DSLR be overkill? Can I get a P&S camera that can take low light, fast, non-blurred pictures?

Thanks for your advice. I have read several reviews on all sorts of cameras. What I am looking for is some suggestions if DSLR or point and shoot is best for me. Also some suggestions on actual cameras. Once I have those I plan to take those suggestions to my local camera shop to put the cameras in my hands and spend some time with them.

peripatetic Dec 4, 2006 2:21 PM

At that price point and given your stated intentions, and what I deduce about your personality from the description.

I recommend one of:

Nikon D80
Pentax K10D
Canon 30D (just over $1000, but with rebate very close)

To my mind these are the first of the "proper" cameras. They are hefty, built well, handle excellently and have excellent picture quality.

All 3 systems give excellent pictures, for a relative beginner you might as well say the quality is identical between the 3.

The most important differences between the 3 cameras will be how well they fit in your hand and how good they feel. If you have even a vague preference for one brand then by all means follow your heart.

If you think this is likely to be a long-term hobby then you may want to push the Pentax into 3rd spot. And if you think you are likely to want to upgrade and upgrade in years to come you should probably push Canon into 1st place.

If you think that this is likely to be as good as you will want (and all are very good indeed) then the Pentax is probably somewhat better value because of the in-body stabilisation. With Canon and Nikon you have to pay for the stabilisation in the lenses.

I was in a very similar position a little over 2 years ago and went with the Canon 20D. At the time it was a class leader, but now Nikon and Pentax have caught up to the 20D/30D.

mtngal Dec 4, 2006 2:33 PM

I'm just an amateur but I like photography and taking as good a picture as I'm capable of. I don't mind carrying extra equipment and understand something about photography (what aperture is, what different shutter speeds do etc.) but I'm no professional.

Last year at this time I replaced my Sony F717 with an FZ30 (8 mp camera). While others could take nice pictures with this camera, I couldn't get anything out of it thatI thought was better than the F717 (and rarely as good as that 3 year old camera), so sold it after a month and got a 6 mp dSLR.

Some of the newer advanced p&s cameras (Sony's H5 comes to mind)are taking good pictures that appear to be better than what I got out of the FZ30, but I still think the budget dSLRs are better. They all have auto settings, so you can use them as an automatic camera (I've handed my Pentax DS to my husband who's never owned a camera in his life and he's taken some really nice pictures with it). However, there is a certain learning curve to using them if you don't have a photography (film SLR) background and want to get something specific from the camera.

What is acceptable quality depends on the eye of the beholder - the person who bought my FZ30 was perfectly happy with it. They had no interest in all the extra equipment or knowing what aperture is or does. I, on the other hand, had owned a Pentax SLR in the 1980s and was too sentimental to get rid of my equipment when I bought the Sony, so now I'm using nicelenses I bought in 1980.

Any of the budget dSLRs will take excellent pictures. Since you want to take action pictures in low light, try to buy fast lenses (smaller aperture numbers, like something between 1.4 - 2.8). I have the Pentax K100D and love it (image stabilization in-camera so any lens is stabilized), but any of the budget dSLRs take great pictures.

P.S. If I were in your shoes, I'd probably choose the K100D (6 mp)over the newK10D (10 mp). The K100 might be "only" 6 mp, but if you are only going to take family pictures and print up to 8x10, the extra MP of the K10 won't matter. The K10 is a brand new camera and you'll pay full price, while the K100 has been out for several months and can be found discounted. I'd put the difference in cost into buying better lenses because they can be used on your next camera.

Teecee Dec 4, 2006 2:38 PM

Thanks you two for taking the time to comment. I have read many posts from you guys over the past days. Please, if anyone else has a comment I would love to hear it.

mtclimber Dec 4, 2006 2:57 PM


Just for the sake of balance within this thread, let me mention that there are some very good digicams out there as well. Ultrazooms such as the Sony H-5 and the Fuji S-6000fd are also very capable and worthy of your consideration if you want to save some money and to avoid the"chase after added lenes" that seems to be inherent to DSLR cameras.

An all in one camera makes for a lighter kit and almost the equal flexibility. Instead you can spend the savedmoney on some accessories, books, and perhaps a course or two at your local community college.


Teecee Dec 4, 2006 2:57 PM

I was leaning towards the D50 but after reading it sounded like the K100D would be a better choice. From what I gather I do need to get a DSLR. It sounds like a DSLR is just in another league from even the high end P&S cameras. Plus I dont care about some camera that can take pictures and video and all the nonsense features that a lot of P&S have. I was thinking that something like the D80 would be a little too much camera for someone like myself.

Teecee Dec 4, 2006 3:22 PM

Thanks Sarah. I was looking at some of the sample pics of the H5. They look amazing at night. My current camera would be a mess.

I was also looking at two pics with the K100D and was confused. this picture says 3008x2000, 18-55, 2,967.43 Kb, 1/4 sec, Hand-held, Shake Reduction and this pictue says 3008x2000, 18-55, 1,842.29 Kb, Tv 30 sec, Noise reduction. What does that mean and why do the pictures look different? I know what the 3008x2000 and the file size mean. I also assume the 18-55 is the lens but I am unsure what the other things mean and why do they look different?

JohnG Dec 4, 2006 3:40 PM

I'll throw in another vote for the DSLR route in this case but for another reason - shallow DOF photos. As a parent of a 4-month old, I've discovered the benefits offered by the ability to achieve not only low-light photos but also low-light with limited DOF (depth of field - where subject is in focus but background is blurred). You're not going to get that combination with a digicam. The H5 has a larger sensor which helps but not as wide an aperture as what you can use on a DSLR.

I just love shots like these:
you just can't do that with a digicam in low light indoors

I probably would have given a different answer before having a child of my own. But no doubt that at this age, the low light capability and the shallow DOF capability puts the DSLR leagues ahead. That same combination will allow for picking up action as your child grows.

Whichever DSLR you select, I highly recommend getting something like a 50mm 1.8 lens (usually $100 or less for the various mounts).

Teecee Dec 4, 2006 3:43 PM

Wow JohnG. I want that. I have seen the DOF acrynom before but never knew what it meant. I love that. What camera did you use to take those amazing pictures.

JohnG Dec 4, 2006 3:50 PM

Thank you.

I used a Canon 20D. But the result can be achieved with ANY of the DSLRs out there that have good high ISO abilitiy (so, discount Olympus and Sony for now) - so any of the pentax, nikon or canon cameras can achieve the same thing. The key is having the right lens (ok, you still need to get the exposure and framing right which is true of any type of photography). I have both a 50mm 1.8 and 85mm 1.8 lens. The shots in question are either at f1.8 or f2.0. Both Canon and Nikon offer 50mm 1.8 lenses for under $100. The 85mm 1.8 is a bit pricier - around $400. Both 85's are fantastic lenses but not something I'd recommend for a 1st lens as you're a bit limited in what you can do with them. They're fantastic portrait and indoor sports lenses - but that's kind of a niche thing. It's why I throw out the 50mm option. At < $100 it's fairly inexpensive. I'm sure Pentax offers a similar lens as it's a very popular combination.

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