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LisaB May 24, 2010 2:40 PM

SLR for taking Kids pics?
I'm upgrading from a point and shoot to a dSLR. My primary subject will be my kids, so I need a fast shutter speed - Want to stay below 1K budget. What's a good beginner option?

mtclimber May 24, 2010 3:21 PM


Please understand that a DSLR camer is not a "silver bullet" kind of solution for improving your photos. Your own photo experience plays a very large and measurable role in the kind and quality of your photos.

(1) Please tell us what model and brand of camera you are using?

(2) You mention "fast shutter speed" are these indoor or outdoor photos you are discussing?

(3) Can you please be more specific about the complaints you have with your current camera?

A DSLR might not be the right choice for you is you want a very small camera, or if you do not want to make lens changes. There are very able P+S cameras which could also probably meet your personal needs.

As you can see we are attempting to "tailor" the camera choice to your own specific needs. So, the more you work with us, the better we can help you to get a camera choice that very specifically meets your needs.

Sarah Joyce

NiNiKa May 24, 2010 3:28 PM

i think u can consider an olympus epl-1 with the kit lens and panasonic 45-200mm will keep the cost under 1k and obviously will deliver u fine jpeg.and the whole set is very much portable in any condition.

JohnG May 24, 2010 4:20 PM

As Sarah has mentioned, the devil is in the details - the camera equipment you need will be dictated by the shooting situation. What types of photos of your kids do you plan on taking? Running around in back yard is different than playing indoors which is different than photos of them in organized sports.

LisaB May 25, 2010 11:10 AM

I have a Nikon point/shoot - Coolpix S550 (I think). My complaint about it is the delay between pressing the button and getting teh shot. I have an 18-month-old, and she does not stand still for a picture! I want to take candid shots, both indoors and outdoors. I will keep my p/s for when I need portability/small size.

it has been years since i've used an slr, so I know I will have a learning curve. I do recognize changing lenses, etc. is part of the deal. I was looking at a Nikon d5000 or a canon EOS T1i.

Thanks for any/all advice!

shoturtle May 25, 2010 11:36 AM

The nikon has the better Flash system, but there are some issues with the D5000. Not all lenses will Auto Focus on the body as it does not have a built in motor in the body. So you may have to go with more expensive lens option that will AF on the D5000.

The T1i has a much better AF system. All eos lenses will work on the body. It is a better low light camera with higher iso performance. But it a bit noiser at higher iso then the nikon. But you get allot more details.

For chasing kids around the better AF system gets my vote with the T1i, if you were interested in nikon. Then the D90 is an excellent choice.

TCav May 25, 2010 11:54 AM

I agree with shoturtle. The better AF system in the T1i will help capturing images of your daughter better than any other entry level dSLR.

JohnG May 25, 2010 12:53 PM


OK - taking photos of toddlers. Outdoors, no issues really. Any DSLR with kit lens will do well within 10-15 feet. Beyond that, any of the secondary telephoto kit lenses (i.e. anything around 200mm) will get you what you need for realistic shooting. In those situations the time it takes a DSLR to focus and take the shot will be very fast - fast enough that the differences between cameras won't be relevant.
Now, indoors is where things get tricky. The biggest contributing factor to delay between button press and photo being taken is the time it takes for the camera and lens to focus. The challenge indoors is - there is a lot less light. So the camera takes longer to figure out where the subject really is, then it focuses. Without help, kit lenses do a poor job of this. And, even if focus is achieved, kit lenses don't let in enough light to take the photo and not have a whole lot of blur. There are two schools of thought for these indoor casual shots:
1) Available light photography. With this approach you use a high ISO (1600, 3200) value and a lens with wide aperture (f2.0, 1.8, etc..) Those lenses focus faster and let in more light than the kit lens. Often combined with anti-shake so you can hand-hold longer exposures (1/30, 1/15).
Pros: no need for external flash, more natural lighting than flash, no flash recycle times.
Cons: plenty of times there still isn't enough light especially for a toddler who doesn't stay still (trying to take photos at 1/30 with a toddler can be frustrating). Any anti-shake won't help motion blur from subject. Noise from high ISOs, lack of catch-light in eyes, muted colors and color casts, lack of depth-of-field if you want multiple subjects in focus, requires fixed-focal length lenses so your framing options aren't as wide open. Also forces you to shoot lens wide open where it's often at it's softest.

2) flash. The idea here is you give the camera/lens help. First, by using the focus assist beam which shines a light on the subject (usually red) so the camera can see better and focus. Then by adding light during the photo. Now, built in flashes do a poor job. To get good results I highly recommend an external flash. The external flash is more powerful, recharges faster and can be bounced and diffused so it creates a more natural light than the direct flash from the camera.
Pros: Allows you to use any lens you desire - including the kit lenses. Allows you to use narrower apertures so you can stop down a lens for sharper results or create more DOF for multiple subjects. Guarantees you can take a photo in normal house situations regardless of ambient light level. Flash burst can also freeze all action - you don't have to fret that subject motion blur will ruin the shot or wait for that one moment.
Cons: Another skill you have to master. You also have to purchase the flash.

Now, the canon has better FOCUS TRACKING than the others - but you're not going to be there for a while. BUT, I do agree about the D5000 limitations. I happen to like BOTH flash and shallow-dof work for my 3 year old. The lack of a focus motor keeps you from using most short prime lenses - which are nice for shallow-dof types of shots.

RioRico May 25, 2010 6:00 PM

My father extensively photographed his hyperactive kids (moi?!?!?!?) with a slow fixed-lens TLR film camera (Minolta Autocord, 75/3.5), with slow film (Verichrome Pan, ASA 100), rarely with flash, no AF... and he did very very well. His secrets? Keep us in light; know when we'll slow down; yell at us to STOP! every now and then (ie, train us for the lens); fix exposures in the darkroom; etc.

Alas, times have changed, children remain indoors, photo gear is smaller and ever-changing, etc. Learning to exploit optics-light-angles and an infinity of camera features -- so tedious. We live in an impatient world.

Enough philosophizing. Get a Pentax Kx with the kit 18-55 or better yet, an 18-250 superzoom, ideal for dynamic daylight shooting. Get a 50/1.4 for portraits and low light. If you can handle manual focus, get a Helios-44 58/2 and a Jupiter-9 85/2, also for low light. These will occupy you awhile.

JohnG May 25, 2010 7:49 PM


Can you share some of your nightime indoor and nighttime party shots of toddlers with the 50mm 1.4?
You know, where kids are actually playing?

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