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Mercury71 Aug 16, 2010 3:39 PM

Trying to surprise my wife with a new camera, but I'm out of my element...
I've seen my wife browsing on this site before and thought I might be able to get some direction here (thanks in advance by the way).

I want to surprise my wife with a new camera for her birthday. Personally, I'm a point and shoot kind of guy. I bought a Nikon Coolpix for $100 and it's enough for me.

However, my wife is a bit more picky. She hates my camera. She says the auto settings drive her mad. We have a couple of older model sony's that we bought about 5 years ago or so. One is a super zoom and one is just a cybershot. She prefers these, particularly the super zoom. It does take some really nice shots.

Her complaints is that indoor pictures don't come out so great. She said something about low light situtations are more difficult for compact cameras. I don't know. Like I said, point and shoot. I'm not big on the picture taking. We go to seaworld and the zoo and I take 5 pictures. She takes 200.

She takes a lot of pictures of our kids (the youngest is 3 and moves around a lot). I've been trying to get info out of her what she wants her camera to do without her knowing that I'm doing it. Not so easy. But she did say something about how she wanted something that took pictures faster. Something about how she has to wait a few seconds between shots and she finds that annoying because by then our daughter has moved.

She takes pictures of our kids, indoors and outdoors, probably indoors a little more and not always in the best light. Also scenery, like the beach, parks, buildings. We also go to the zoo and seaworld quite a bit.

I'd say she is an advanced beginner. She hasn't taken any photography classes yet, the kids keep her busy and she's working on her degree in Math. But she does read a lot of articles on how to make her pictures better. She's one of those that has to read the manual cover to cover before she does anything (I don't read manuals. Point and shoot.).

So I'm thinking it would be nice to get her something that does have some nice auto features but also gives her the ability to grow with the camera and do more manual shooting.

I'm shopping early so I can figure out what kind of budget I'll be looking at. I was in Best Buy and the sales person told me that DSLR would be the way to go. There were just so many choices and I wasn't sure what would be good for her needs. I still don't even know if a DSLR is what she needs or just a high end compact.

I'd really like to keep it under 1,000, maybe even under 800.

I tried to give as much infomation as needed, but if I wasn't clear somewhere, please let me know.

I appreciate any help you can give me.


EDIT: I forgot to mention that she also likes to use her camera for video taking as well. Nothing major. She doesn't want to edit video or anything like that. We have a camcorder but she doesn't like switching between the two. I'm interested by HD, but I suppose it wouldn't be a deal breaker, but something with good video quality would be nice.

shoturtle Aug 16, 2010 4:07 PM

for the low light for indoor, as you wife sounds like she knows what she is doing, none of the point and shoots on the market will be great for indoor shoot, especially with your kids running around.

A DSLR or a M4/3 Evil camera would be a much better tools.

For what you stated you want to shoot, a canon t1i or T2i or a pentax k-x would work into your budget well. But besides the camera, a low light lens will help out, or a good external flash for the kiddies running around.

The canon will give you more lens options, imho. I would take a look at the canon t1i with the 2 kit lens to start out and a nissin di622 flash, and the ef 50mm 1.8. This should cover most of the needs. But for the actiion, you may want to consider a faster focusing lens, but that will add quite a bit. As the ef 70-300mm USM is a 550 dollar lens by itself.

On the m4/3 side, it is better then any point and shoot for low light and action, but will not be as good as a dslr. The olympus epl-1 with the kit lens, and adding the panasonic 45-200mm and 20mm 1.7 lens will be the best bet for your needs, but this is quite an expensive package. About 1300, while the canon is just under 1100. But this is the most compact setup for carrying around with the kids.

A pentax option is close to the canon will be about 1100 dollars also. About 800 for the 2 lens kit with the longer reach lens 55-300mm, 350 for the 50 1.4 and about 220 for a metz 48 flash.

Canon t1i is about 830 for the 2 lens kit, 170 for the di622, and 100 for the ef 50 1.8 or 330 for the ef 50 1.4. Yes the 50 1.4 is a much better lens, about the same as the pentax 50 1.4.

olympus epl-1, 520 for the camera and kit lens, 290 for the panasonic 45-200 or 230 for the olympus 40-150 and 120 for the panasonic 4/3 adapter, 400 for the 20mm 1.7 and about 100 for a flash.

Mercury71 Aug 16, 2010 6:10 PM

Thanks for the quick reply. I will read up on these options though they just might be a bit out of the budget range.

shoturtle Aug 16, 2010 6:31 PM

well you do not need to get everything at once. As they all have a built in flash, it is just not as good at an external flash. And the non zoom lens for shooting in low light can also be put off till a later purchase. In kit form, they will all still be much better then any point and shoot for action and low light indoor shooting.

mtclimber Aug 16, 2010 7:59 PM


Welcome to the Forum. We're please that you dropped by on your "special mission."

The Pentax Kx is very highly rated DSLR camera that can also do HD video. It will give you a great camera and some money left over in your budget to get a very good external flash, which your wife will need for those indoor photos of the kids in action. For the external flash, look at and get the Metz 48 AF-1 for Pentax. It runs just over $200.00.Amazon also has the Pentax Kx camera at a great price as well. The nice thing about Amazon is that you have a bullet proof return policy with no re-stocking charges, if you did not get it quite right the first time.

We can also help with any other items.

Sarah Joyce

Mercury71 Aug 16, 2010 9:08 PM


I hadn't thought of buying it in pieces. This is all new to me, but that is a good idea.


I will definitely look at amazon.

I appreciate the fast responses. I am sure I will have more questions. I'm still looking up everything and figuring out what each lens is for, etc.

So, if I'm reading this right a good place to start for a body is Canon (Ti1 or Ti2), the Pentax Kx, or the Olympus ep-1. Then she needs at least 2 or 3 lenses? And each brand has a different selection of lenses to choose those 2 or 3 from? And a faster focusing lens was mentioned. Is that only for the Canon or for any of the these bodies?

I do have a question on external flashes. Personally, when she turns on the flash, I typically run and hide because I am not a fan of getting pictures with the flash. Are external flashes brighter? Well I'd assume they are brighter, I guess what I mean, is how likely are me and the kids going to want and hide if she busts out with the external flash (I know, that probably sounds bad), or will we really even notice?

Oh, and how would you say out of these 3 brands how the learning curve is for someone who hasn't used a DSLR before?

Thanks again for the quick replies and your patience with someone who is rather clueless, lol.

mtclimber Aug 16, 2010 9:23 PM


If you can find the Pentax Kx two lens kit with the Pentax 18-55mm kit lens and the Pentax 55-300mm lens, you have a great combination.

The learning curve on the Kx is very comfortable. The Kx has a great Automatic Mode and a great selection of Scene Modes, that make setting up a photo very easy indeed.

You comment about flash is right on target. Most folks do not like direct flash. An external flash allows you to use "bounce flash" which is much more pleasant and produces much better photos. Click on the link I have posted at the end of this message and that will bring up a bounce flash photo taken of my husband this afternoon (08/16). You can see how much better the lighting is and how the image quality is improved. I have written a Flash Tutorial that I will be happy to post for your wife.

You are on the correct track. We are here to handle any and all of your questions.

Here the link to that "bounce flash" photo. Please just click on the link.

Sarah Joyce

shoturtle Aug 16, 2010 9:25 PM

with the dslr or the m4/3 camera, the flash is control by the camera. It will adjust the light level base on distance and will focus it accordingly. So you get much better results with an external flash. All 3 brands for factory flashes that are good, and after market brands that are just as good.

Canon has the faster focusing lenses. The one I mention for 550 is not the fastest out there, but for outdoor stuff. It does a very good job. The longer kit lens that the pentax k-x comes with, the 55-300 is actually a pretty fast focusing lens. And does a very good job. It is not quite as fast at the canon lens for 550 dollars, but it is no slouch.

The big difference between the T1i and T2i is that the T2i has more bells and whistles for HD video. But DSLR video shooting is not as good as a point and shot or m4/3. As the liveview system are not as good for the contrast base system that the m4/3 uses. So while a dslr is faster and better for shooting action photos, they are not as good for video.

I own a T1i personally and a epl-1, and I use a pentax k-x allot also. But if action was the biggest thing, the canon is the best option, low light the pentax has a slight edge if they all have low light lenses. And the epl-1 is the best for traveling.

I use the epl-1 for all my travel needs now. And the canon gets used when I am shooting action.

shoturtle Aug 16, 2010 9:29 PM

also the canon t1i with a 2 lens kit, is about 900 dollars, the pentax with the longer 2 lens kit is about 820 dollar, and the epl-1 is 520 dollars and the panasonic 45-200mm is 290 dollars. So all the camera are close to each other in price, within 80 dollars. This would be a good start. And the flash and low light lens can be added later.

shoturtle Aug 16, 2010 9:49 PM

the only bad thing is you really can not have her try them out, as you are trying to keep it a surprise. So it is hard to know which one's ergo she prefers. But you can kind chat about what she would like, weather she wants small with better image and performance or if she would like a full dslr.

Here are some examples of each camera.

canon t1i and pentax k-x with kit lenses in really low light

canon t1i and epl-1 in low light with low light lenses on and couple of long exposure with zoom

canon t1i and epl-1 with zoom lenses in day light

pentax k-x in good light with zoom

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