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Old Dec 25, 2008, 3:37 PM   #1
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My toddler just broke my Olympus Stylus 740 (which was a gift) and we are wondering if it is time to upgrade to a better camera. As general background, our interest in a good quality camera piqued when we had a baby 16 months ago. You can imagine that 99% of our photos are of her.

I'm a complete novice when it comes to cameras and photographictechnology, but I will try my best to describewhat we are looking for, what type of photography we are interested in, and our budget.

Our camera needs: Currently, our photography needs revolve around taking pictures of our daughter for the most part, but we also use the camera for family vacations, travel and other general amateur use. (1) Speed seems to be the name of our game - Ionly get a 2 second window to capitvate my daughter's attention, and by the time the camera is on, and the photo takes, she has already moved on. (2) We arealso concerned with low light quality of our photos, since I don't like to use the flash with the baby, because her features get washed out completely. Because she is constantly on the move, a lot of photos without the flash are pretty blurry. We spend a lot of time indoors and I find that these photos all turn out awful unless I drag her near the window! (3)We tend to take a whole bunch of pictures in succession, as the first, second, third.... tenth shots are usually ofthe back of my daughter's head (she's fast!), and this seems to drain our camerasbattery life very quickly, so a long battery life is a plus. (4) Size matters. I need something compactasI like to carry the camera in my diaper bag so I can have it with me duringunexpectedon the spur moments.We live in NYC, so we basically walk everywhere, so we don't want anything heavy. Ialso have small hands and don't want a bulky camera. (5) I also like the live large LCD panel, asI find thatmy daughterwill look up longerwhen I am making eye contact with her.


In the long term. we both have a general interest in photography (at least looking at them!), and have talked about taking a beginners photography course for years, but have never gotten round to it .... so we do want, in the long term, a camera that will give us a little moreflexibility and room to growthan just photos of our family, but still at the hobby/amateur level.

Our budget: at this point, we are not looking to spend a lot $500-$600 max.

Based on a review of consumerreports.com, and other reviews I have read both on this site and elsewhere, I quite fancied getting an entry level dslr Olympus E-420 with the 14-42mmlense for $450 (the small size and weight really appealed to me), but my husband has raised the point that maybe this is "too much camera for our needs," and that maybe we should just get a really good non-dslr camera that can handle the low-light, shutter lag and speed situation (are these called super-zooms?). I would appreciate feedback on E-420 for the pursposes I stated above. I'm also a bit confused on the whole lense situation: what type of lense do I need for the type of photgraphy I am doing now? Also, if there is an alternative to a dslr, that can address our concerns,like my husband suggests, I would also appreciate any suggestions.

Thanks in advance!

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Old Dec 25, 2008, 5:09 PM   #2
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dunny-

While the Olympus E-420 is an excellent camera. I own and use the E-420 and the E-510 Olympus DSLR cameras and am a professional camera instructor. And my husband I have raised 8 children.So, perhaps,I have someviable credentials and hands-on experience that could help a bit.

The pivotal item is your description is your statement:"...since I don't like to use the flash with the baby, because her features get washed out completely..." The bottomline answer here is that you are going to have to learn to effectively use flash, both to properly light your photo, and to stop or "freeze" your daughter's rapid movements. I would suggest using the Olympus FL-36 flash unit in the bounce flash position. Bounce flash provides enough light for the photo and even lighting that is devoid of harsh shadows. But that also increases your initial investment as well.

Here is an example of what bounce flash lighting looks like. When I get this photo posted I will continue with my answer.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Dec 25, 2008, 5:52 PM   #3
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Please notice that there are no harsh shadows that are generally associated with direct flash. So an Olympus E-420 equipped with the FL-36 flash (approx $(US) 200) and it kit lens, the ZD or ZUIKO 14-42mm lens would pretty well handle photographing your daughter as well as family vacations and the like.

However, to get the most out of a camera, and to get the kind of the photos, I believe that you are seeking,with the Olympus E-420 DSLR camera you are going to have to substantially improve your photo skills.A simpler camera would require fewer advancedskills, but still you would have to have some basic photographic skills to get the good quality photos that I believe you desire.

So for the purposes of our discussion, let's take a look at some alternative cameras that you could use and still get the kind of photos that you want. One possibility would be the Kodak Z-1012 camera equipped with a DigiSlave 3000 flash. That combination would allow you to get the same bounce flash photos that I showed you earlier. The total investment in the Z-1012 outfit would be around $(US) 250.00, rather than the $(US) 525.00 needed for the Olympus E-410 outfit.

So this attached photo compares the size of the Z-1012 outfit sitting side by side with the E-420 outfit. As you will notice, the Z-1012 is actually physically smaller.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Dec 25, 2008, 5:57 PM   #4
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Nowour next task is to determine with photo samples, how good the photos from the Z-1012 really look. In my first photo posted you got a chance to meet my husband via a photo. In this photo sample you will get a chance to meet me via a photo sample (the attached photo).

Sarah Joyce
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Old Dec 25, 2008, 6:13 PM   #5
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You will notice that the photo quality of the Kodak Z-1012 outfit is very good, but not quite as good as the E-420 photo sample of my husband.

There is another photo technique that I have often used when photographing some of our grand children. I call the technique "the stand off technique" to my students. When using the technique you, the photographer,stand away from your subject, usually something like 15 to 20 feet away. In that way the childen in the photo are much less aware of you and the camera in your hand. The result is that you get much more natural and un posed photos.

In this photo I used a Sony H-10 camera which has a lot ofoptical zoom and a rather powerful built-in flash that the H-10 adjusts automatically to cope with the photo environment. So here is what photos from the Sony H-10 look like. This is my husband interacting with 2 of our 15 grandchildren.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Dec 25, 2008, 6:37 PM   #6
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Next we will do a camera size comparison of all three camera. In this photo reading from left to right, you can see the Sony H-10, the Z-1012 outfit, and the E-420 outfit. So, providing that the image quality of the last photo from the Sony H-10 is acceptable, you have an even smaller camera, that does not require an additional external flash and price-wise it comes in at $(US) 230.00. As you can see the Sony H-10 will probably fit into the diaper bag best of all the cameras and the Sony H-10 only weighs 9 ounces.

Another advantage is you could begin to use the Sony H-10 right out of the box. I am still suggesting that you take a good basic photo course as I think that you probably need to develop some better photo skills, especially in the area of effectively using flash.

Well, I hope that I have not bored you by showing in a lot of detail, thethree camera choices that I think might work well for and your family. Think it over, take a good look at the photo samples, and then we can discuss things further, if that would please you.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Dec 25, 2008, 6:50 PM   #7
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One final sample photo. This photo was taken with multiple flashes, but I believe that this is the kind of photo that you are seeking.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Feb 5, 2009, 9:32 AM   #8
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Hi Sarah,

Sorry it's taken so long to reply, but we were away for the holidays and have been very occupied since I posted my question. After some research and consideration, I wound up buying the Kodak Z-1012 and I LOVE it. The size is perfect, and the quality of the pictures are far better than what I was taking before. It also does amazingly well in low-light conditions, which is wonderful - exactly what I wanted.

The auto mode is great overall, but I've also spent a lot of time reading the manual and studying the different preset scene modes, which has improved the quality of my photos tenfold. I am also taking up your advice of enrolling in a basic photography class, which I'm starting in a few weeks.

Thanks again for all the great advice!

Dunny
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Old Feb 5, 2009, 3:58 PM   #9
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Dunny-

I am glad to know that you ended up with a camera that you really like. That is great! Currently, I am teaching in the Orient and will not be home until mid April.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Feb 5, 2009, 4:55 PM   #10
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mtclimber wrote:
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Dunny-

I am glad to know that you ended up with a camera that you really like. That is great! Currently, I am teaching in the Orient and will not be home until mid April.

Sarah Joyce
I hope you're enjoying yourself and taking some great shots (which you will hopefully share with us when you return.)
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