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Old Jan 4, 2007, 1:34 PM   #1
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I need some advice on buying a camera. I want to be able to shoot good pictures of my 8 month old son indoors, with normal lighting, with no flash. Below is what I'm considering so far. Please tell me which one you think is the best choice or let me know if you have any other suggestions.

1. Olympus E-500 camera with 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 Zuiko lens.
2. Canon Digital Rebel XTi with kit lens and / or EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens.
3. Sony Sony Alpha A100K with kit lens.

I want to keep the purchase under $1000 if I can.

Many thanks in advance.
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Old Jan 4, 2007, 5:50 PM   #2
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The camera is going to have some effect on the situation but whichever option you go for then a kit lens is not going to be bright enough (the aperture is not wide enough) so something like f1.8 Canon lens or with the Sony the f1.7 50mm lens which is very cheap. With the camera have a look at the performance at high ISO's (a good place to do this is in Steve's reviews) and see which comes up trumps however I think out of this batch it is going to be the Canon by a country mile). The last thing to consider is IS (Anti-Shake etc) which the Sony does have as this will allow the shutter speed to be slower while retaining a sharp image however this will not help if your subject is moving as you still want to be able to get a fast shutter to freeze this.

Hope that gives you something to go on and I'm sure that some others will help with more info for you.

Mark

Edit - I forgot to say welcome!!! :?
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Old Jan 4, 2007, 6:07 PM   #3
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I know most amature photographer say they want to shoot with available light but I personally think it's because they have never had a proper flash (Any pop-up flash is NOT a proper flash) and have not learned techniques to take advantage of a proper bounce flash. With a GOOD flash you will be able to easier capture high qualitycandid indoor moments then you would with a fast bright lens. I love available light photography as much as the next guy I think a good flash will expand your opportunities to capture quailty photographs more then just a fast lens will.



Any reason you didn't mention the Nikons? D50 kit with 18-55 DX lens (~$600) and SB600 Flash ($200) and 50mm 1.8D ($110) would be a great kit to start out with and another camera to consider.

As far as how all 3 (or 4) cameras stack up against each other we can pixel peep all day long but in the end we're really arguing over maybe 1-2% performance difference, all of the cameras you mentioned are capable of making high quality images. It all comes down to fit/feel (Does the camera fit your hand? How well are the controls laid out and are they intuative to you?) and does the camera have the features you really want.
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Old Jan 4, 2007, 6:43 PM   #4
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Low light indoors means you need fast lens (2.0 aperture or better) and good high ISO.

Pentax, Canon and Nikon cameras all do well at high ISO. Sony and Olympus are at the bottom of the list in that category. So, for your stated needs, I would select from the Pentax, Canon and Nikon camps along with something like the 50mm 1.8 you mentioned to get started. You may find down the road, 50mm is too tight and you want something like a 28mm 1.8.

Anti shake doesn't help if your son moves - so good high ISO performance and fast lens are more important to success IMO than anti shake.
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Old Jan 5, 2007, 5:14 AM   #5
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As already said, a fast lens (50mm prime) and good high iso performance is key.
I´ll agree too that IS won´t help with moving subjects.
Nonetheless, in really low light or poor quality indoor lighting, don´t expect miracles.
As Jin suggests, this is where boucing a dedicated flash on the ceiling will help, as well as placing the flash off-camera (wired or wireless).
For instance check some examples from Minolta:
http://www.friedmanarchives.com/flash.htm
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Old Jan 5, 2007, 7:06 AM   #6
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available light for portraits ?!!!!!!

a 'fast' f1.7 prime lens will get you proper exposure BUT the depth of field will be so shallow it would be next to impossible to get good candids of a moving child

use a quality bounce flash
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Old Jan 5, 2007, 7:53 AM   #7
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JinE,

No reason in particular as to why I haven't considered the Nikon line, and I am certainly open to doing so.

Which do you think would be a better purchase between:

-Canon Digital Rebel XTi with kit lens and EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens.
or
-Nikon D50 kit (or newer model) with 18-55 DX lens and 50mm 1.8D

You mentioned the Nikon SB600 flash. If I choose the Canon, what would be a comparable flash compatible with Canon?

The lighting in our house isn't that bad. I usually try to turn on all of the lamps and overhead lighting on when shooting pictures. I did try once , though, shooting with a friend's Digital Rebel with EF 28-105mm f/4.0-5.6 USM inside the same living room without using the flash and the photos turned out terrible. Is that 28-105 lens bad for shooting indoors?

I know so very little about using the manual settings, changing the aperture, white balance, etc. But I want to make sure I purchase what I need to and then start learning how to use those settings to create good photos.
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Old Jan 5, 2007, 9:36 AM   #8
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slackermt wrote:
Quote:
JinE,

You mentioned the Nikon SB600 flash. If I choose the Canon, what would be a comparable flash compatible with Canon?

The lighting in our house isn't that bad. I usually try to turn on all of the lamps and overhead lighting on when shooting pictures. I did try once , though, shooting with a friend's Digital Rebel with EF 28-105mm f/4.0-5.6 USM inside the same living room without using the flash and the photos turned out terrible. Is that 28-105 lens bad for shooting indoors?

I know so very little about using the manual settings, changing the aperture, white balance, etc. But I want to make sure I purchase what I need to and then start learning how to use those settings to create good photos.

The problem with the Canon you borrowed was the lens is not "fast"... i.e. the f# is pretty large. f/4.0. The lower the f# the brighter the lens is which means you can use faster shutter speeds. So lets look at an example. Wide open the Canon is at f/4.0. Lets say because of the low light levels you had to use a 1/15 second shutter speed, the camera may be hard to hand hold and get sharp images at 1/15 second. Lets say you had a lens that could open up to f/2.8. You would then be able to take the picture with a shutter speed of 1/30 second and get the same exposure but you greatly reduce the chance of camera shake. With an f/1.8 lens you would be able to use a 1/60 second shutter speed, even better. Problem with using the wider aperture is that you decrease the Depth of field, i.e. the depth of the plane which things are in focus. Take a look at this picture for example taken with a 50mm 1.8 lens. Shutter speed 1/50 with an aperture of f/1.8. I focused on a spot just above Jack's eye to try to get as much of his face in focus as possible, but there is only a very narrow window of what can be in focus, just a inch or so wide at most. Notice how his body is out of focus and if you actually look close enough his eye is slightly out of focus. A human's face is shallower then a dog's but it is very possible to focus on someone's eye and the tip of their nose would be out of focus, or if they are slightly angled to you one eye could be in focus and one could be out of focus.



Here is a good example of how shallow the depth of field can be at f/1.8. I focused on the center of this drink umbrella, but you can see the front and back of the umbrella are out of focus. With a static target like a baby taking pictures is easy but once they get a little older and start moving around they can move in and out of the focused area pretty quickly since it's literally only a few inches wide at f/1.8. Taking nice indoor pictures that look natural is much easier with a proper bounce flash because you can use a smaller aperture and get more of the frame into focus.



Even at f2.2 you can see the DoF is still very shallow. With the lion's head in focus you can see his tail end is out of focus.



The shallower DoF is great for portraits because it blurs the background and creates a very pleasing effect, putting all of your attention on the subject in focus, as long as the subject doesn't move out of the focus area.




And lets not forget ISO. If you were taking a picture at 1/4 second at ISO200 you could jump the ISO to 400 and take it at 1/8. ISO 800 would again half the shutter speed so you can take it at 1/15. ISO 1600 you could use 1/30 second. So a camera take takes good photos at ISO1600 is also very desirable in low light.

ISO1600 f1.8 @ 1/30sec.






I believe the best thing to do is to have both a good flash and a fast bright lens. Start experimenting and playing (Film is cheap with a digital camera!) and learn and you will eventually get a good feel of when you can use that wide open aperture and when you should narrow the aperture and use a good bounce flash. The Canon does have a comparable flash, I think it's the EX430? It's a little more expensive then the SB600 but it's a bit more powerful then the SB600.

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Old Jan 5, 2007, 9:59 AM   #9
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Thanks JinE.
I'm thinking that I'll definitely need to get the external flash, but that may have to come after the initial purchase as I'll need to save for it.
Another question - does an external flash use the camera's battery power? If so, should I invest in a battery pack to mount onto the bottom of the camera? I would think that if it does use the camera's battery that it would drain it a lot faster.
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Old Jan 5, 2007, 10:01 AM   #10
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Hi,
if you decide to go the Nikon+flash route, I think that perhaps you would be better off with a D70 and up. The reason is that the D70 and up support wireless flash, whereas the built-in flash can wirelessly command multiple external flashes (SB600/800). The D50 does not support such feature.

note: external flashes have their own battery
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