Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digicam Help > What Camera Should I Buy?

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Oct 14, 2008, 9:42 AM   #1
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 6
Default

I would like to take portrait photos with blurred background. So far I have been looking at Canon G7 and SX110 but after reviewing sample photos I am not pleased with the effect that I see. Now I am considering the DSLR. Does anyonehave suggestions for a lightweight basic DSLR good for portrait? The weight is a big issue for me - with 2-year-old twins I really don't want to have to carry another heavy camera (which is why I have not been considering DSLR). Many thanks!
ymafree is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Oct 14, 2008, 10:01 AM   #2
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

I'd suggest trying out some of the entry level models from major manufacturers in a store to see what you're more comfortable with. Sometimes a smaller and lighter camera can "feel" heavier than a larger one, just because of the difference in ergonomics and grip area.

Make sure to handle any lenses you consider, too. Lenses with wider available apertures (represented by smaller f/stop numbers) are often desirable for portraits, because aperture impacts depth of field.

Many users prefer primes (non-zoom) lenses for portraits because they're sharp, and have wider available apertures. For example, a Canon 50mm f/1.8 (under $100) or 50mm f/1.4 (around $325) would be popular choices for their dSLR models, or a Pentax 50mm f/1.4 (around $200) for Pentax models, or a Sony 50mm f/1.4 (around $349) for Sony models. Sony dSLR models can also use Minolta Autofocus lenses, and you can find a used Minolta 50mm f/1.7 Autofocus lens for under $150 at vendors of used gear like http://www.keh.com

Note that entry level Nikon models like the D40, D40x and D60 do not have focus motors built in. So, their inexpensive primes like the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF lens would not Autofocus on these bodies. Sigma has a newer 50mm f/1.4 HSM lens that would AF on them. It's selling for around $500 now at some of the online discounters. If you go with a different Nikon body (D80, etc.) then you can use the less expensive Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF lens (under $100) and still have Autofocus.

Personally, I prefer a little longer lens for portraits. But, you'd have to make sure you have room to use any lens you get in the conditions you plan on using it in (since you may not be able to back up enough in some conditions to get what you want in the frame). So, you may want to see what focal lengths you'd use more often with a low cost kit including a lens first before investing any more up front. That way, you'll get a better feel for the limitations of the kit lens and can make better informed decisions on lenses later after using the kit lens for a while.


JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Oct 14, 2008, 10:17 AM   #3
Senior Member
 
TCav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Washington, DC, Metro Area, Maryland
Posts: 13,572
Default

Olympus makes the smallest, lightest dSLRs. But an important consideration for portraits is the bokeh (the out-of focus elements of the image outside the depth of fieldin front of and behind the subject.) Smaller image sensors have larger depths of field. Olympus dSLRs have the smallest image sensors (though they are a lot larger than the image sensors in P&S digicams) so they are likely to have a larger depth of field than the others.

Another factor that goes into creating images with a small depth of field is the maximum aperture of the lens, and while Olympus does have some large aperture lenses, they tend to be more expensive than equivalent lenses for other dSLRs.

All manufacturers have good large aperture, fixed focal length lenses that will do what you want. Canon has a 50mm f/1.8 for ~$75, while Nikon has one for ~$115. Sony can use a used Minolta 50mm f/1.7 which can be had for ~$100-$125. Pentax has a 50mm f/1.4 for ~$200. These would do what you want for a reasonable price, but now to the cameras. Canon's XTi (24.7 oz., 10MP, $550), XS (23 oz., 10MP, 'Live View', $600) and XSi (23.9oz., 12MP, 'Live View', $600) have very good autofocus systems for action photos (which, with 2 year oldtwins, if it doesn't come in handy now, it probably will soon.) Nikon's D40 (24.2 oz., 6MP, $500) and D60 (23.3 oz., 10MP, $600) don't have as good an autofocus system as Canon (or any of the others here) and actually won't autofocus the 50mm f/1.8 lens you'd want. Sony's A200 (26.8 oz., 10MP, $500) and A300 (28.5 oz., 10MP, 'Live View', $600) would work well with a used Minolta 50mm f/1.7 I mentioned, but they're among the heaviest, as is the Pentax K200D (30 oz., 10MP, $600). (All weights are from manufacturers' specs for the dSLR bodies and their respective kit lenses.)

I think one of the Canons with the 50mm f/1.8 lens would be your best bet.

TCav is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Oct 14, 2008, 2:44 PM   #4
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

I'd suggest trying them out in a store and see what you're most comfortable with. If you're on a tight budget, it does like like you can get the Canon XS with the 18-55mm IS Lens for only $549 now at buydig.com (which has the lowest price from a vendor I'd feel comfortable dealing with).

Price Search for Canon Rebel XS

On a tight budget, I'd also look at the Sony A200 ($499 from most vendors, including an 18-70mm lens), since it's got a lens with a longer focal length (and shooting from further away for the same framing using a longer focal length will give you a different perspective with a more compressed background, helping to emphasize out of focus areas). The Canon 18-55mm IS lens is sharper. But the Sony 18-70mm kit lens has a more useful focal range, going out to 70mm. So, there are pros and cons to both approaches. Both are f/3.5-5.6 lenses. Lenses with wider available apertures (represented by smaller f/stop numbers) would be better if budget permits another lens like the 50mm lenses we've mentioned..

I'd try them out in a store and see what you think. A camera's ergonomics and grip style can impact the feel of a camera, making one seem more comfortable to hold versus another, even with weight differences. I'd find a solution that you're comfortable with if you're concerned about using a dSLR a lot.

Fortunately, the children are only 2 years old now. So, they're smaller. That will help reduce Depth of Field for any given focal length and aperture if you want to help reduce the impact of a distracting background, since you wouldn't need to be as far away to fill the frame as much with smaller children for a given focal length (DOF will be shallower as you move closer to your subject for a given focal length and aperture).

How much room will you have for the photos (i.e., are you going to be taking photos in a wide variety of conditions including indoors and outdoors)? You may want to consider a longer zoom lens if budget permits, so that you can use an even longer focal length outdoors if desired. For example, you can pick up a Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD Macro for around $159 now in most popular camera mounts.

JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Oct 14, 2008, 3:05 PM   #5
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

Of course. a longer zoom like that would be heavier, which you don't seem to want. :-)

JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Oct 14, 2008, 11:12 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
mtngal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Frazier Park, CA
Posts: 16,056
Default

You might look at the new (it is supposed to be on sale next month) Pentax KM (or K2000, depending on where you are). It's supposed to be much lighter than the current Pentax cameras (18.5 oz, not as light as the Oly E-420 at 13.4 oz or Oly E-520 at 16.8 ozbut not much more), and add to that either the DA 40mm 2.8, a reasonably fast lens that weighs only 3.2 oz (90 g) - you'd have a nice lightweight combination (or buy the more expensive 77mm 1.8, a lovely lens but might be a bit long for twins indoors). The Pentax has the same 10 mp sensor as the Nikon D60 so it is larger than the Oly sensor and you'd have a smaller depth of field, so more opportunity for a blurred background. The K2000 is going to be sold in a kit with an external flash - something you would probably use quite a bit for indoor action.
mtngal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Oct 15, 2008, 3:12 AM   #7
Super Moderator
 
peripatetic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 3,599
Default

You could also have a look at the new Panasonic G1. Very exciting little camera indeed.
peripatetic is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 4:46 AM.