DSLR for a young family

vonbonds

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Hi all,

This is my first post on this board but I have been lurking for a bit. My wife is expecting our first child and I of course want to take a bazillion photos when she gives birth :). I have a Canon G2 and have used my brothers Panasonic FZ5 quite a bit. Both are nice cameras (his FZ5 is really nice) but I want a DSLR for the ability to take quicker photos (between shots, my Canon feels really slow) and to have a camera that I can grow with to take great photos of my family. I will be interested in the obvious photos of the family in the house, outside playing and eventually school plays and whatever sports they (hopefully we can have 2 children!) get into.

I have been looking at the Olympus E-510, Nikon D40x and the Canon EOS 40D. Obviously the 40D is level above the other two but sometimes it is fun to dream. I just went to Ritz Camera to touch them all and see how they felt. They all felt nice of course but the Canon stood out for its heft and size. I am sure that is because it is built with quality materials but for my needs coupled with the price I ruled it out for me. Between the Olympus and Nikon I think the Olympus E-510 fits my needs perfectly.

I have read that when buying SLR cameras with a lense in the package it is usually a bad idea as the kit lense is usually of poor quality. From the reviews of the Olympus E-510 two lense kit they seem to be pretty good and worth getting.

I guess I am just looking for people to confirm my thinking that the Olympus E-510 is the right camera for me and my generic needs. I know there is no perfect camera and the "Four Thirds" technology leads to more noise at higher resolutions and it isn't great in low light but I think I can work my way around that.

If I should look at cameras too please make a suggestion. Also no matter what I get should I get an external flash (if so what)? On top of getting a camera I am thinking about getting an iMac to deal with the post processing as I plan to shoot in RAW mode. I have never owned a Mac before but from what I hear it is a great tool for photography editing. On top of that I used to be a UNIX admin so the BSD based OS should feel like heaven to me over a PC :).

This first post has been a nice ramble...I will stop here and hopefully read the replies!

Tom
 

Emerana

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I have 2 toddlers and I can tell you, when the kids get up and moving, a big camera is cumbersome. Maybe being a dad it wont be such a juggling act. I have an xti and I like that it is smaller then the 40D and really just almost as good. I have a friend with a 40D and it just seems too big to deal with while chasing a toddler.

Congrats on the baby! being a parent is the best ever. My 1 year old started walking tonight!! and my 2 year old just learned to count to 10. It is such a joy!!
 

Emerana

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oh if you get a canon you should get a 430ex speedlite (bounce off the ceiling or wall so you dont blind your child) and a 50mm f/1.8 ( perfect lens for taking baby photos)
 

hamster

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If you like how the olympus feels in your hand, you won't be disappointed. It's a nice camera, and the lenses are very good for kit lenses.

I use an E-500, and it's been great for portraits and candids of my son. He's a fast little bugger too.
 

Mav

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I'd seriously consider a Nikon D80 also. I have one and it's great. I have a D40 non-x and it's great too. Most kit lenses are fine, but just won't perform in low light very well. You should try to avoid using the flash with newborns (their eyes are still developing) so you'll need a FAST lens, especially for the delivery room. DO NOT USE direct flash on their eyes. Bounce is ok, but I'd still try to avoid and shoot natural light as much as possible. I used my D80 and the 35mm f/2 lens (smaller f/number = larger maximum aperture and more speed) and got a ton of great photos w/o a flash. You'll still be up at high ISO a lot even with a fast lens in dim light with a baby that doesn't know to hold still, so good high ISO performance is still needed. Canon, Olympus, or Nikon really doesn't matter. The LENS is what matters, and that said, you'll have a much greater lens selection to choose from both new and used with Nikon or Canon, along with better high ISO performance. The rest is all up to you.

I started with a Mac Mini and upgraded to a 24" iMac for Christmas. Love it! The 24" screen is great for photo work, and the color accuracy is great too. I use DxO for post-processing images and don't even need to screw around with RAW for the most part.
 

Happy Hour

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have you looked at the Pentax K10D or K100D and the Sony A100 they are very reasonably priced I have a Sony A100 and i can't say enough good about it and my A700 is in the mail. but Everyone will say the same about there brand camera.Just a thought of why your are limiting your options to only those 2 brands. the A100 is on sale right now($500.00 or so) because the A200 comes out in 2 weeks. as far as kit lenses go they are practically free usually $100 more for it in the kit. being a Noob to the Slr market I highly doubt you will see the downsides of a kit lens. the main complaint I always here is a little soft around the edges of the pic. and i think that goes for the majority of kit lenses. My sister has the Rebel xti and only the kit lens and thinks it's the greatest camera and lens in the entire world!But comparing them to my pics they are a bit shy of good to me. But that is the difference of a noob and someone with experience. what ever camera you end up with I'd say get the kit lens, It's not allot of$$ and when you get more experienced with your cam you can get a different lens to add to your existing giving you a more broad range of options.
 
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vonbonds

vonbonds

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Thanks for all of your responses!

Even though I am 6'1" and *ahem* of a decent size lugging around the Canon 40D wouldn't be as big an issue for me but I agree, it is more than I want to deal with while handling a baby.

Even though I mentioned just three brands it doesn't mean I am not open to others. I simply listed the three cameras I have researched the most. I will research all of the cameras listed here.

Thanks for the tips on flashes with babies. I had no clue!
 

Parkerman

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Thanks for all of your responses!

Even though I am 6'1" and *ahem* of a decent size lugging around the Canon 40D wouldn't be as big an issue for me but I agree, it is more than I want to deal with while handling a baby.

Even though I mentioned just three brands it doesn't mean I am not open to others. I simply listed the three cameras I have researched the most. I will research all of the cameras listed here.

Thanks for the tips on flashes with babies. I had no clue!


If you choose to go with nikon, dont go for the D40x. just get the D40. Extra pixels arent worth it unless you plan to blow the pictures up. And if i were you, with the money that you would save with doing that.. I would buy it bundled with the kit lense.. [18-55mm] and a 55-200mm VR lense.

I have the Nikon D40, my brother has the Canon rebel xti. Both are good cameras. If i remember right, the D40 weighs a bit less than the Xti, but dont quote me on that.
 

Happy Hour

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If you choose to go with nikon, dont go for the D40x. just get the D40. Extra pixels arent worth it unless you plan to blow the pictures up. And if i were you, with the money that you would save with doing that.. I would buy it bundled with the kit lense.. [18-55mm] and a 55-200mm VR lense.

I have the Nikon D40, my brother has the Canon rebel xti. Both are good cameras. If i remember right, the D40 weighs a bit less than the Xti, but dont quote me on that.
i beg to differ! I read post after post about people saying the D40 is not for a noob. here is a post on that.
http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=99621&highlight=D40
 

Parkerman

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i beg to differ! I read post after post about people saying the D40 is not for a noob. here is a post on that.
http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=99621&highlight=D40


I read through that till about post 20ish.

The only thing they are bitching about is that it cant AF with lenses without an internal AF motor, thats pretty much it. How that doesn't make it a good beginner camera, I fail to see.

I will say this though. The D40 is not for someone who is going to want to invest money into a vast arsenal of lenses.

Yet it with its base 18-55mm lense and the 55-200mm vr lense i was talking about is perfect for a beginner.

As far as functions of it and the way it works, I find it easier to use vs my brothers XTi, that may just be because its my camera.


But to say that a camera isn't for a "noob" because they can't upgrade lenses just seems silly to me. Its a great starter camera that will get you into photography, if you want to go further you could sell it and buy something else. But if you dont, its still just a great starter camera that can take wonderful pictures.

Also, if you happen to come along a cheap lense that doesnt have an internal AF motor, just broaden [sp?] your photography skills and learn how to manually focus.
 

Atropine

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Are you sure a dslr is the right option? When I read your post I sense that you are mostly looking for a good camera just to "capture the moment". A good P&S would be the better choice. Not only because it is faster to use than a dslr, but also because it is much easier to bring along. It will be there during those memorable moments you want to save in your photo album.

You have a Canon G2 and you mention that it is too slow but you don't say much about the image quality or lack of functions. I would suggest the Canon G9. A great camera with lots of manual possibilities, and it's fast. It will probably do the job just fine and after a couple of years when you have explored that cameras manual abilities and maybe started to shoot in raw, the transition to a dslr will most likely be very smooth.
 

passerby

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I think I am with Atropine. For the kids the snap shooter is handier, you can have it in the pocket whenever it is needed. Slr is for planned shot I believe, it can not really be hurried until you are really trained. I am certain - facing the ever moving child you will sit on the "Auto" mode eternally.

Just an opinion though. But yes by all mean have dslr. The olympus e510 has built in anti shake, so using any lense is guaranted stable shot. I was almost took the e 510, but than the nikon lovers persuade me in the end.
 

mstephens

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i could not agree with emerana any more. i have a canon 40D and love it to death but it is a bit on the bulky side for quick snapshots. and i also have the 50mm f/1.8 that emerna was talking about. it was an incredibly cheap lens and worth every penny. takes very crisp pictures and is very light. i would reccoment the XTi to you as it is a little bit lighter and can snap quick on the draw
 

Mav

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Are you sure a dslr is the right option? When I read your post I sense that you are mostly looking for a good camera just to "capture the moment". A good P&S would be the better choice. Not only because it is faster to use than a dslr, but also because it is much easier to bring along. It will be there during those memorable moments you want to save in your photo album.
What do you mean by "faster to use"? I agree with the easier to bring along part, but when you're going out with a baby you're already going to have a ton of baby gear with you like a stroller, diaper bag, and other junk. A small bag with a compact DSLR is nothing in comparison and you can usually hang it right off of your stroller or in one of the cubbies underneath. I take my D40 practically everywhere I go. My definition of "faster to use" is that a DSLR will focus a ton quicker, can re-focus and re-meter for each shot at 3 frames per second which P&S's don't do, and the larger sensor will look great even at iso1600 so you can get away with natural light shooting a lot more. With a fast lens, you can shoot in extremely dark conditions and get great results all without a flash or a tripod. For the price of the G9 you suggested, you can easily get a starter DSLR kit which yes, is bulkier, but also far more capable. For a convenience P&S camera, I'd personally go with a cheap one at less than USD $200.

I think I am with Atropine. For the kids the snap shooter is handier, you can have it in the pocket whenever it is needed. Slr is for planned shot I believe, it can not really be hurried until you are really trained. I am certain - facing the ever moving child you will sit on the "Auto" mode eternally.
My dad has a fairly nice P&S camera, and by the time he's managed to get focus in marginal light and get a single shot off, I've already taken half a dozen via all natural light and no flash. And if my daughter is doing something cute in another room, I can go grab any of my DSLRs, flip them to the right mode as I'm running back, and by the time I'm there I'll point, shoot, and nail the shot. Shameless plug: Due to the high levels of automation in the Nikon bodies (full Auto ISO, auto sharpness, auto contrast, auto saturation, etc) they'll handle the grab and shoot photojournalist type shots better than Canons will. In fact I shoot my Nikon in Manual mode 90% of the time. With Auto ISO going from 100 to 1600, that's 4 full stops of light variation before I ever have to touch the camera.

Just an opinion though. But yes by all mean have dslr. The olympus e510 has built in anti shake, so using any lense is guaranted stable shot. I was almost took the e 510, but than the nikon lovers persuade me in the end.
Stabilization systems really aren't all that useful for baby photos, except maybe when they're sleeping, but those are the boring shots. The fun ones are when they're actually awake and playing. Babies don't know to hold still, so all stabilization will do is give you a very sharp background but a blurred baby, lol. This is where the much much higher sensitivity and faster glass of a DSLR will make a huge difference since you need to maintain a faster shutter speed, especially since you're supposed to avoid using a flash as much as possible. They don't know to smile or to pose or to hold still or anything, so usually you just take a ton of photos and pick out the few that look great, and I do mean "few". The fact that SLRs will re-focus and re-meter for each shot makes a huge difference here as well. I don't think even the better high-end P&S's do that.

Not even mentioned here yet is the fact that with a large aperture lens and the large sensor, it's very easy to throw the background out of focus and get a nice 3D looking portrait photo. It's very challenging to get P&S's to do that due to their small sensors and tiny optics which tend to leave everything in focus.

My Nikon D80 with the 85mm f/1.8D lens, @ 1/60s, f/2.8, manual mode, Auto ISO at 1600, natural light.

DSC_3476_D80d-vi.jpg



So yes, DSLRs are a lot bulkier and less convenient, but WELL worth it IMHO. :mrgreen:
 

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