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

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Dec 8, 2008, 12:58 PM   #1
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 7
Default

Any suggestions for an entry level dslr for shooting my young children (aka little ones ON THE MOVE)? Speed is my main concern - they're really all over the place. I currently have a fuji with some great manual controls, etc....but it's about 7 yrs old and slow as molasses. I love trying to get close ups of them, etc... Any ideas that won't competely break the bank? (<$600).
julieinnc is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Dec 8, 2008, 1:44 PM   #2
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8,529
Default

Julie,

the solution depends onseveral of variables:

1) Pictures of them doing what

2) what light levels are present

3) do you want portrait type shots with only one person in focus or do you occasionally want multiple people in focus?

Here are the major issues at play. First, you often want quick start-up times so you can flip a switch and be ready to go. For the most part, all DSLRs are quick to start up - BUT, you should check and make sure on one point - many DSLRs now have an anti-dust mechanical function that attempts to shake dust off the sensor. Some perform that function at start-up. You should be sure the DSLR you choose allows you to either turn that function off or override it with a shutter press.

Second issue to overcome - focus speed. In great light all DSLRs will be lightning fast to focus compared to a point and shoot. Indoors in low light levels things get much tougher. Different DSLRs perform better than others in lower light. FOr certain there are 2 factors with ANY dslr that will improve focus speed - 1) using focus assist beam either in-camera or as part of an external-flash and 2) using "fast" lenses - these are lenses with wide apertures (low f-numbers) - which are not lenses that come as part ofa camera's kit. Your camera needs light to focus, an f4 lens lets in twice the light as an f5.6 lens. If you don't have a focus assist beam typically you would want an f2.8 or even f2 lens for decent focusing in decent lit conditions. In poor lighting even those will have difficulty without an assist beam.

Outdoors things are easy - the tougher problem is indoors. Indoors, no DSLR on the market will take great shots with kit lens without flash. They'll all do fairly poorly. So, you either use flash OR get "fast" lenses - for what's called "available light" shootingor both.

Available light shooting:

Pros:
  • More interesting look with better contrast than flash[/*]
  • don't have the extra bulk of the flash nor do you have to wait for the flash to re-charge
[/*]
Cons:
  • Typically shallow Depth of Field meaning difficult or impossible to get more than one person in focus unless they're posing[/*]
  • Requires the use of high ISO - 1600 or 3200 often unless your subject is posing.[/*]
  • Best case you can use a zoom lens with 2.8 aperture - but those are pricey. In many cases, 2.8 isn't fast enough and you need to use 2.0 or 1.8 lenses which (except for Olympus) are prime lenses which means you cannot change the focal length so they are much more restrictive than zooms and in some cases there simply isn't enough light for even these lenses to get good photos. [/*]
  • The more your subjects are moving the less likely you'll be able to use this solution in normal lighting (house, restaurant etc) without sunlight coming in.
[/*]
Internal flash: using the built in flash of the camera

Pros:
  • No additional expense[/*]
  • no additional equipment beyond camera with kit lens
[/*]
Cons:
  • not much better than flashes in digicams[/*]
  • still have red-eye[/*]
  • very slow to recharge[/*]
  • not very powerful
[/*]
External flash:

Pros:
  • Works in all light levels[/*]
  • Allows you to shoot at different apertures - you can use F16 if you need to (within reason and with sufficient power) to get multiple subjects in focus.[/*]
  • Can bounce the flash to eliminate red-eye and to give a softer flash so you don't get the stark white blast of flash on a face[/*]
  • re-charges much faster than built in[/*]
  • much more powerful than built in so can shoot wider for group shots and longer for individual shots.
[/*]
some examples:

Available light using fast lens and sunlight:





Group shot with external flash (type of shot you couldn't get with fast lens):



shallow dof portrait style shot with fast lens AND external flash:



my son at night with only a table lamp throwing football - used flash - another example of shot you couldn't get without flash (and I messed up on the settings which is why you see the "ghosting" of the ball and his arm - with flash you can either show that motion or prevent it):



Available light shot - again at night with just table lamp in living room (ISO 1600, f2.0 and 1/60 - if there's any movement 1/60 isn't fast enough). This shot is to show what nice lighting effects you can get vs. flash use. But it's only possible because my son isn't moving:




JohnG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 8, 2008, 2:05 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
TCav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Washington, DC, Metro Area, Maryland
Posts: 13,543
Default

Yeah. What JohnG said.
TCav is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 8, 2008, 2:19 PM   #4
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8,529
Default

forgot the Cons of the external flash:
  • more bulk[/*]
  • more expense[/*]
  • more batteries[/*]
  • still flash so less contrast than available light[/*]
  • still flash so still disturbing to your subjects[/*]
JohnG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 9, 2008, 12:59 AM   #5
Senior Member
 
mtclimber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 18,143
Default

JohnG's photos are great!

In fact, he is a good friend. But perhaps, Julie, at this point we ought to ask quite honestly and forthrightly, ask what kind of budget are you are honestly willing to invest into getting MUCH BETTER photos of your children??

Yes, it is a cold call. But we have to be very honest and very realistic here. So, Julie, the ball is in your court. How much are you really willing to invest in a camera to get great photos of your infant and older children??

Sarah Joyce

mtclimber is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 9, 2008, 7:57 AM   #6
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 7
Default

Thanks everyone for your responses. John - you have given me a lot to think about. That is very helpful! I am a VERY beginner at all of this, but I really do want to start learning more and developing some decent skills. A lot of the pics I do take are indoors, so I know lighting is something of big consideration.

Sarah, unfortunately I don't have a huge budget to work with. Like I said above, we really don't have the money to invest more than $600 right now, especially with the holidays/economy, etc... That's why I'm looking for an entry level camera for right now that over the years I can add to with new lenses/flash, etc... So in short all I can afford right now is something to get me started and to allow me to start playing around. I know a lot of people on here are avid photographers, so I was just hoping to get some ideas of a good basic dslr to get me started. Thanks.
julieinnc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 9, 2008, 9:00 AM   #7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 617
Default

If I were looking for an entry-level DSLR lens combination for under $600 (online prices from a reliable retailer), in order of preference:
1. Canon Rebel XS
2. Nikon D60
3. Sony A300
4. Sony A200
5. Olympus E420
AndyfromVA is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 9, 2008, 10:09 AM   #8
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 7
Default

Should I maybe consider shooting my sights a little lower and going for a finepix 9100 type of camera? I realize it's not a dslr, but it seems to get good reviews and has a lot of manual controls that will still allow me to play around a bit.
julieinnc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 9, 2008, 10:21 AM   #9
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8,529
Default

Well the 9100 is a nice camera but not readily available and the price I DO see is $800. And it still doesn't allow you to take good shots without flash. So you're still bound by the issues of built in flash - not powerful, direct light and slow recycle times. All for more money.

It does have a hot shoe - but you have to buy the external flash and again at that point you might as well spring for the DSLR anyway.

For your stated needs I don't see how it's a better solution since it doesn't save you any money.
JohnG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 9, 2008, 10:35 AM   #10
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 617
Default

julieinnc wrote:
Quote:
Should I maybe consider shooting my sights a little lower and going for a finepix 9100 type of camera? I realize it's not a dslr, but it seems to get good reviews and has a lot of manual controls that will still allow me to play around a bit.
If you want to ease your way into more sophisticated photography from a point and shoot background, the Sony A300 has a very good live view system, which would allow you to use the LCD to frame your shots, just like a point and shoot. The Canon Rebel XS and Olympus E420 also have live view systems but they don't work as well as the Sony A300.
AndyfromVA 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 5:39 AM.