DSLR for "full auto" shooting of kids? or Point-and-shoot?

Discussion in 'Digital Point & Shoot Camera' started by 2Bdecided, Jan 18, 2008.

  1. 2Bdecided

    2Bdecided Guest

    A terrible thing happened over Christmas. A friend lent me a Canon EOS
    400D with the kit lens (I think), after my point and shoot (Canon IXUS
    800) died two weeks earlier. We still had our old Fuji F10, but it's
    cripplingly slow to focus indoors, and very prone to over/under
    exposing subjects with flash, so pretty useless for taking photos of
    Christmas day! So, in desperation, we accepted the 400D.

    The cries of "we'll never be able to use that thing" from both myself
    and my wife were quickly replaced by us both taking photo after photo
    - far more than we'd ever taken before (and 250 a day is not unusual
    around Christmas and birthdays).

    We loved...
    * the instant and reliable auto focus
    * the speed of shooting
    * the speed of recovery
    * the long manual zoom range (far further at both ends than we were
    used to)
    * the "safe" exposure (most shots were slightly dark but could easily
    be lightened in software - opposite of the blown highlights we often
    got with our PnS)
    * the lack of red eye
    * the quality of the photos
    * the narrow depth of field on some shots

    We hated...
    * after lots of continuous shooting, the flash suddenly needed a very
    long time to recover, and became very sluggish
    * having to look through a view finder - I know that's intrinsic to
    how almost all DSLRs work, but we really missed the live view on the

    We also missed the Canon Zoom Browser software, which we use to
    automatically download the photos from the camera, spin them around,
    and sort them into dated folders. Windows downloaded the photos,
    Cpicture automatically spun the around, and I sorted them into folders
    by hand.

    The supplied lens maybe wasn't pixel sharp, but it was better than
    what we were used to.

    So, my question is, if I'm to take the leap into the world of DSLR,
    what should I consider? I've looked at the Canon 400D and Nikon D40X
    on dpreview. These reviews don't seem to focus on what I really care
    about - they didn't mention the fantastic lack of red eye, or the
    annoying flash recycle time problem with the 400D for example. How am
    I to learn about these things before buying the camera? I don't want
    to make an expensive mistake.

    I can't imagine wanting to change lenses. The idea of exposing the
    sensor to dust doesn't appeal anyway! I seem to have enough bad luck
    with cameras as it is.

    Alternatively, if there's a point-and-shoot which can match the speed
    and safe exposure of the 400D, and yet still fit in my pocket and show
    me everything on an LCD, I'd like to hear about it.

    I was happy with my IXUS 400, back when I didn't know any better,
    though the high (!) ISO400 was terribly noisy. I hated my Fuji F10 -
    great reviews, useless camera for what I want it for. Most recently, I
    was quite happy with the IXUS 800IS, but it only lasted 3 months. It
    makes me a little wary of buying Canon in the future.

    Any helpful advice gratefully received!

    2Bdecided, Jan 18, 2008
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  2. 2Bdecided

    Allowa Guest

    No point and shoot will compare to a dslr for picture quality but they are
    big and if that doesn't suit then there are plenty of alternatives. The link
    below will give you everything about canon you want to know.

    P.s. The viewfinder is better for getting sharp pictures
    Allowa, Jan 18, 2008
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  3. 2Bdecided

    Eric Miller Guest

    Until you switch over to one of those flashes that doesn't use batteries,
    this problem will continue to plague you. That isn't to say that other
    cameras might not do "better" in this respect, but likely only because of
    other trade-offs, like less powerful flash and use of higher ISO's, etc.
    Remember that you said that you shot more images with this camera; are you
    comparing apples to apples? Off camera flash or a grip that holds an extra
    battery will help alleviate the problem.

    Eric Miller
    Eric Miller, Jan 18, 2008
  4. 2Bdecided

    2Bdecided Guest

    Was it really the battery? I was told it was some kind of safety shut-
    off that prevents the built-in flash from overheating. Certainly I
    could wait a minute or so (with the camera switched on) and then
    hammer it again for just as long until it slowed right down.

    I wasn't noticing the battery indicator - I just replaced it when told
    to. I know on other cameras the flash gets sluggish as the battery
    runs down, but my recollection is that this issue happened with a
    fresh battery, and was no worse 100 shots later. I could be wrong
    though: the 400D has gone back to its owner now :-(.

    2Bdecided, Jan 18, 2008
  5. 2Bdecided

    2Bdecided Guest

    Thanks, fascinating. Lots to read!
    Even if I don't plan to focus them myself?

    2Bdecided, Jan 18, 2008
  6. 2Bdecided

    Whiskers Guest

    I don't know if it's the case with that particular flash unit, but some
    have a capacitor that can hold enough charge for several flashes (how
    many, depending in how much power is used for each flash, which varies
    with most modern automatic systems). That means that the flash can be
    ready for the next shot very quickly - but if you take a lot of shots in
    rapid succession, the capacitor becomes discharged more quickly than the
    battery can charge it up again and when that happens you have to wait a
    bit longer than 'usual' for the 'flash ready' indicator to re-appear.

    The "Canon EOS 400D" is also known in some parts of the world as the "Canon
    EOS Digital Rebel XTi". This review of it might help you work out which
    of its features you'd like to have in whatever camera you end up with
    <http://www.steves-digicams.com/2006_reviews/rebelxti.html> - that site
    also has a useful 'compare and buy' tool, and has information about a
    very large number of cameras.

    <http://www.dpreview.com/> is a comparable resource.

    If you regularly use flash a lot, it would be worth considering a seperate
    flash gun (or guns) and a camera that can be synchronised with the
    external flash; self-contained flash units tend to have 'more power' in
    all sorts of ways, than the units built into cameras - and they can give
    much better lighting too.
    Whiskers, Jan 18, 2008
  7. 2Bdecided

    Paul Furman Guest

    Do you really need zoom for family photos though? The reason I ask is a
    fixed length fast 'prime' lens is really ideal for kids & indoor family
    shooting: you can shoot without any flash at all and capture the
    ambiance much better and you can get a faster shutter speed for
    herky-jerky little kids.
    Stuff like this:
    Paul Furman, Jan 18, 2008
  8. 2Bdecided

    2Bdecided Guest

    It seemed very useful, but I don't know. The idea of changing lenses
    worries me - I'd break something.
    This is something I'm interested in. Let's say a given amount of light
    (indoors, night, normal-ish lighting) meant the zoom lens needed ISO
    1600 and 1/100th. I have no idea what aperture. The result would be
    noisy, of course. What ISO could I come down to with a fast fixed
    length lens, still at 1/100th, for a comparably bright picture, with
    hopefully much less noise?

    Thanks for the help.

    2Bdecided, Jan 18, 2008
  9. 2Bdecided

    Paul Furman Guest

    Those shots have the shooting data below each. The linked shot is 1/40
    second f/1.2 (crazy fast lens) ISO 400.

    A kit lens is probably f/3.5 at the wide end. You can get f/2.8 fixed
    length (or zoom for high price) and that's about a half a stop. A stop
    is a doubling for shutter speed & ISO, so ISO 1600 one stop relieved is
    ISO 800 & a half stop is ISO 1200. OK lets make it simpler, assume the
    kit lens at f/4 not quite zoomed out all the way, here's a chart of full
    aperture stops (strange math):

    f/5.6 1/100 ISO 3200
    f/4 1/100 ISO 1600
    f/2 1/100 ISO 800
    f/1.4 1/100 ISO 400

    But for indoor light bulbs only, you'll probably struggle to get 1/30
    second unless you have really bright lightbulbs:

    f/5.6 1/30 ISO 6400
    f/4 1/30 ISO 3200
    f/2 1/30 ISO 1600
    f/1.4 1/30 ISO 800
    f/1.4 1/60 ISO 1600

    You could get a 35mm f/2 autofocus for a Nikon D80 ($320 lens):

    Or a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 for $390 which would work on a D40, Canon, etc.
    but it's a fairly bulky lens.

    For those, I used mostly manual focus versions on a D200 which probably
    wouldn't interest you: 20mm f/2.8 (autofocus), 28mm f/2, 35mm f/2, 35mm
    f/1.4, 50mm f/1.2

    More examples:
    Paul Furman, Jan 18, 2008
  10. 2Bdecided

    wiyum Guest


    I shoot my cousins often, and I couldn't imagine doing so with a point
    and shoot. If you liked the DSLR just for Christmas, you'll grow to
    love one after just two weeks of use. Make the investment.

    The 400D and D40x are wonderful choices, but I'd look at other
    options, namely from Sony and Pentax. I wouldn't necessarily recommend
    these options if you were planning on buying into a system, but if
    you're looking to buy a camera and lens to use for the next five or so
    years without expanding your system, these options will do fine for
    your needs. The advantage of these brands is that their cameras are
    including in-camera shake reduction which will help you shoot indoors
    without a flash at lower ISOs.

    I'd look at the Sony A100 / Pentax K100D if you don't need to print
    bigger than 8x10 and will mostly print at 4x6. If you feel you need
    the ability to print bigger, look at the new A200 or the (likely to be
    released soon) K200D. Whichever of the four systems you buy into, I'd
    skip the kit lens. If you need a zoom, I'd stick to the 18-70 for
    Nikon, the 17-85 IS for Canon, the 16-45 for Pentax, or the Zeiss
    16-80 for Sony (that last one is a bit pricey, but a great lens). If I
    were you, though, I'd seriously think about how often you're shooting
    at the wide end of what you're used to and wonder if you could have
    stepped backwards instead. Similarly, how often have you been zoomed
    all the way in and not been able to just walk closer? If the answer is
    "not very often" then you should really look into a 28mm or 35mm prime
    lens. The pictures I get of my cousins using my Canon 28mm 1.8 lens
    wide open, without a flash, are better than I'd ever be able to get
    with any zoom lens, no matter how nice. It could be too limiting for
    your needs, but shooting in and around the house, as well as duing
    outings, usually doesn't need more than that fixed length, and soon
    you won't miss the zoom because the pictures are so good. If not, the
    four zooms I listed are all pretty great and pretty reasonably priced,
    and especially with built-in shake reduction (or the Canon 17-85
    included in-lens anti shake), will get everything you want.

    But make the jump to DSLR. You won't look back. Everything you loved
    will be present with any of these cameras (and with a prime, that
    narrow depth of field will be very easy to achieve), and in most cases
    you won't need that flash, so that eliminates one of your two
    problems. As for live view... you'll get over wanting that.

    wiyum, Jan 19, 2008
  11. 2Bdecided

    Allowa Guest

    Canon 400D (rebel xti) with kit 18-55mm lens and buy a 50mm 1.8 (430ex flash
    if you want.) Will kill any P&S for quality and is a budget choice for
    Allowa, Jan 19, 2008
  12. 2Bdecided

    dwight Guest

    Is that even possible?

    I can't imagine anyone owning a DSLR for five years without ever lusting for
    a new lens...

    (now with No. 3 - the 100mm macro)
    dwight, Jan 19, 2008
  13. It really depends on your uses. I started out with a point and shoot 5
    years ago and still use the camera. It is light and fits into the
    pocket. I use it where I don't want to lug around an SLR.

    I've had DSLR cameras for several years (latest is the Nikon D200). I
    use them for kids and pets and shots where I want quality, quick
    response, etc etc. For example, for Christmas opening presents the DSLR
    is a must. My old point and shoot seems to take for ever to take a
    picture...it is the classic Open the present, hold it up, hold the fake
    surprised/pleased look for an eternity etc etc

    Get the best camera your budget will allow with a lens. Later add
    another lens.

    One thought however....you say your point and shoot was broken or died.
    Was it something you did? Did you drop it or something? Or did it
    just fail? Just something to consider before putting a large amount of
    money into a new camera
    william kossack, Jan 19, 2008
  14. 2Bdecided

    C J Campbell Guest

    It is not just that. Flash strobes will also overheat if you take too
    many pictures in quick succession. Recycle times become longer to keep
    you from damaging the flash. So sometimes just letting it cool for a
    few minutes is all you need to do.
    C J Campbell, Jan 19, 2008
  15. 2Bdecided

    C J Campbell Guest

    Several things possible here:
    1) The battery is running down.
    2) You have discharged the capacitor so much that it is taking longer
    to recycle.
    3) You have taken so many flash pictures in quick succession that the
    circuitry is overheating and the recycling time is taking longer in
    order to allow the unit to cool off.
    Yeah, but your shots are steadier if you hold the camera to your face.
    You get better pictures if you are using the viewfinder, so that should
    be your preferred method. Also, that live view introduces a delay as
    the camera has to process the picture. For example, on the Nikon D300,
    which has Live View, you press the shutter to raise the mirror and turn
    on Live View, then press it again to lower the mirror and hold the
    shutter down until the picture is taken. It takes almost twice as long
    to take picture with Live View turned on as it does with it off.

    Nevertheless, live view has its uses, such as when you have the camera
    on the floor and you don't want to lie down there with it, or when the
    camera is on a tripod. The D40x and some other cameras are on close-out
    right now. That is why they are so cheap. Wait a few weeks -- the
    manufacturers will probably announce new DSLRs at PMA. I would bet we
    will see some new Nikon and Canon DSLRs that are small, light, and
    feature live preview.
    That problem is overblown. And almost all the new cameras coming out
    have some sort of sensor dust control that works with varying degrees
    of success.
    So would I.
    C J Campbell, Jan 19, 2008
  16. Last year I think I smoked a cap on an old thyristor Vivitar. I didn't
    see the magic smoke, but I sure smelled it. It's still in use, though --
    AC operation wasn't affected.
    Blinky the Shark, Jan 19, 2008
  17. Red-eye is far less likely to be a problem with any DSLR because the pop-up
    flash is much farther away from the lens axis. That's what causes red-eye:
    the flash is too close to the lens axis, which is usually unavoidable with
    compact cameras because of their small size. So practically all compacts
    require some sort of red-eye fix, either in the camera or done later in

    DSLRs not only have the advantage of the built-in flash being farther away
    from the lens axis, but also have provision for mounting an external flash
    which is better still, in that and several other respects. Most compact
    cameras don't have the hot shoe for an external flash so you're pretty much
    stuck with the red-eye problem.

    My Nikon DSLRs haven't given me any problem with long recycle times the
    relatively few times I've used the built-in flash. But it's very possible I
    just haven't taken as many flash shots that way as you were doing. You had
    probably run down the camera battery to a considerable degree. Mostly I use
    an external flash anyway, which saves the camera battery as well as having
    many other advantages -- more power, fast recycle time, tilt and swivel for
    bounce light, and a lot of other features.
    That's nothing to be concerned about at first anyway. Later on, you may or
    may not want to buy one or more other lenses. Many 35mm SLR owners never
    bought any other lens than the one the camera came with, and I suppose DSLR
    users may be much the same. Think of it as an option that's there for you if
    you should want to expand your hobby that way in the future, but not
    something you're obliged to do.
    I doubt very much you'll ever find a point-and-shoot that will give you
    overall results equal to a DSLR. I have three Nikon DSLRs and several Nikon
    Coolpix compact cameras, and I love them all -- some of the Coolpixes are
    much too large to be pocketable and were originally quite expensive, too --
    but the DSLRs are just an entirely different breed of cat.

    I'd go for the D40 or D40x if I were you. (Of course as one of the Nikon
    faithful I would say that, but one of my DSLRs is a D40 and I really love
    it. And its kit lens is generally regarded as much superior to Canon's
    equivalent product.)

    Neil Harrington, Jan 22, 2008
  18. ["Followup-To:" header set to rec.photo.digital.slr-systems.]
    Unless you are in the habit of dropping your Ixus, you won't.
    It's _build_ to be used.
    The zoom lens would probably have ca. f/4 (short end) or f/5.6
    (towards long end) as fastest aperture.
    If the lens is f/2.0 or better (e.g. Canon 50mm f/1.8, ~ USD100
    IIRC, optically sound but all plastics), ISO 400 or ISO 200.

    If the lens is f1.4 or better (e.g. Canon 50mm f/1.4, Sigma
    30mm f/1.4, ...), ISO 200 or ISO 100.

    Wolfgang Weisselberg, Jan 23, 2008
  19. ["Followup-To:" header set to rec.photo.digital.slr-systems.]
    A viewfinder has no lag. A monitor has the read sensor-interpret-
    convert-display cycle, which you'll see if you turn with the
    camera: the monitor lags behind.

    AF is also faster and more accurate if you do not have to flip up
    the mirror (there are a very few cameras that have a secondary
    sensor for life view), because for AF you either have to flip
    down the mirror again or you have to use contrast based AF
    (compact camera type) instead of phase shift AF (SLR type).

    The viewfinder also works when any monitor will only show grain
    and noise due to a lack of light.

    Wolfgang Weisselberg, Jan 23, 2008
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