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gcounterman Dec 5, 2010 6:14 PM

Need help finding solution for wifes portrait/general needs.
I have been reading and researching quite a bit about "enthusiast" point and shoot/compacts and DSLRs today. I've finally reached the point of overload and am looking for some outside perspective.

I am purchasing a camera (or 2? lol) for my wife. She has been asking for a DSLR for taking portraits of our children. This camera would primarily be used at home, on a tripod, and possibly for special events where a standard point and shoot wouldn't cut it.

After looking into many DSLRs, I'm still confused, mainly as to the type of lens that one would want for portrait taking and general use. Also I'm left wondering if an SLR is even the correct solution - i.e. she wants it cause it looks professional, but her needs don't actually qualify the purchase.

At this point I am looking at buying either:

A) A $400-$600ish DSLR (with one appropriate lens for general use and portraits) and a Sony Cybershot W350 for her point and shoot needs. Models and brand of the SLR and the appropriate lens would be very helpful here.


B) An "enthusiast" point and shoot, if it would meet all her needs. Namely one of the following: Canon Powershot S95, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5, or Nikon Coolpix P7000. As I feel one of these with a tripod may

Any input or information would be greatly appreciated :D

gcounterman Dec 6, 2010 4:39 AM

So I see no replies yet... is there some sort of information that I am missing or that anyone might need to assist me? Help me help you, to help me please!

What would be better suited for portrait taking? An SLR or one on the cameras list under B)? Or does it even matter?

John.Pattullo Dec 6, 2010 5:26 AM

if you are after that out of focus background look (and i suspect you are) then the problem isn't so much the camera as the lens - you need one with a large aperture - f2.8 minimum

with the right lens any dslr will meet your needs but the point and shoot likely will not as its much more difficult to get the out of focus areas with smaller sensor - that said lighting is a crucial part of a professional looking portrait so you might have to invest in some reflectors and if you dont have a good natural light source where you want to take the photos some flash units

your best bet with a limited budget is going to be either canon or nikon as they offer cheap large aperture 50mm f1.8 prime lenses

just to help us a bit more though if you could tell us what else other than portraits you will use the camera for will help to advise on what might be the best for your needs but for now i would consider the nikon 3100 and a 50mm f1.8 lens since its cheap and nikon has probably the best flash system -- but need someone with abit more knowledge of the nikon system to confirm if the cheap 50mm f1.8 nikon lens will autofocus on the d3100 - as sadly entry level nikons cant use all the lenses in the nikon range with autofocus

wave01 Dec 6, 2010 5:46 AM

Hi its always difficult to say this what you need. I would look at this way a DSLR will do everything you want with the right lenses, so why bother with the p&s. So next look at a suitable DSLR with an increasd budget from the p&s that will not be required.
I would go to shop with a shortlist and get her to hold them see how they feel, this may have an influence on what you get.
Good luck

mtclimber Dec 6, 2010 7:20 AM

No offense to Wave, but...

If you could get everything you desired in a single camera, I think that would be an added "plus," and reduce the need for possibly two cameras.

Personally after years of shooting with DSLR cameras, and trying m4/3 cameras without real satisfaction, as I wanted a physically smaller camera, with a much smaller kit, I went back to an advanced P+S camera and have been quite pleased with the results and image quality.

I am using a Canon G-11 with the EX-270 electronic flash and find that I can do everything I desire in the way of photos, provided that I set-up and light properly. The G-11 has beautifully reduced the size of my kit, and I have a camera that never gets left at home due to size.

Sarah Joyce

Mark1616 Dec 6, 2010 7:25 AM

Pretty certain that the D3100 won't AF that lens as I believe the first camera has the in body motor is the D7000. I'm not up to speed with the very new Nikons (I've been out of the country for a year and not followed everything closely) hence saying I'm pretty certain.

wave01 Dec 6, 2010 7:33 AM

Hi no offense taken :)
I have gone from high end compacts back to a DSLR, one of my major worries was how would it be to carry around all day. My test was 2 weeks in Orlando around the parks and with the family. I didnt need to worry I found it wasnt a problem. IMHO I think that a lot of people are worried about this which why they want a small camera as well.

Mark1616 Dec 6, 2010 7:49 AM

Most of us who are keen enthusiasts or above find it almost impossible to shoot with a single camera. There are many times when lugging around a dSLR isn't practical due to size/weight, there are also a lot of performance reasons that a P&S can't cut it for higher level shots, creative use of aperture etc.

Before deciding on a duel or single camera option it's best to decide one the style of shots. As you mention portraits what sort of thing do you mean?

If you want to create this sort of shot then that can be down with an advanced compact camera with full manual control.

If you are looking at getting control over the depth of field so you decide how much of the background is in focus like the below shots then you need to go dSLR and choose the right lenses.

Thunderchild Dec 6, 2010 8:06 AM

Stunning shots Mark!

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