New Parent - DSLR vs Point and Shoot (portability vs quality)

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by skanji, Feb 19, 2007.

  1. skanji

    skanji Guest

    I'm having a kid in 2 months and am in a real dilema as to what kind
    of digital camera I should get. The main issue is portability vs

    I really like the d50, but have been told that due to the size, i
    won't want to carry around another bag with me.

    Is there a point and shoot that is decent as well? Or should i stick
    with the dslr?

    ....any thoughts you guys could provide would be appreciated!
    skanji, Feb 19, 2007
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  2. Be sure and check "full press shutter lag" if you want to record
    action (e.g. baby's first step). You want full press shutter lag
    under about 100 milliseconds for action. Many P&S cameras are too slow.
    (P&S fanatics don't post about pre focus: most people can't anticipate
    where baby takes his/her first step and pre focus on that spot.)
    See for full press shutter lag.

    Larger pixels give better performance at high ISO and low light.
    Typical high ISO performance improvement of DSLRs over P&S are
    8 to 16x. That could be important in dim light baby's first steps
    action shots. If you only shoot in great light and static subjects,
    P&S cameras take great pictures. The smaller DSLRs are similar in size
    to the larger P&S cameras.

    Digital Cameras: Does Pixel Size Matter?
    Factors in Choosing a Digital Camera

    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Feb 19, 2007
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  3. Roger's advice is good. Having had a similar experience recently, I
    can tell you that you'll want to take pictures indoors with artificial
    light, often not so bright. A p&s is almost useless for this: the AF
    won't be sufficiently fast, and you'll need a fast lens and high ISOs.
    If you do decide to get the D50 (or a dslr), be sure to get a 50mm f/
    1.8 lens for low light shots (note that the D40 will not AF with this
    lens, so I'd avoid it).

    So to summarise, you will need low light ability (ie good AF in low
    light and low noise at high ISOs, as well as the ability to use fast
    lenses such as the cheap and fast 50mm lenses). In the light
    conditions that I have in mind, you can forget about a p&s focusing
    dependably if at all. And if you're thinking that you won't need these
    low-light abilities, well, just wait 2 months! Anyway, you also will
    appreciate the speed of the AF even in good light (as you're about to
    find out, babies tend to move quickly and erratically).

    As an aside, many people tell me that for exactly the purpose we're
    discussing a small compact is fine, and show me photos made by p&s
    cameras in very low light which are indeed not so bad on the camera
    lcd or at web resolutions. But try to print them at A4 and you'll see
    the problems: motion blur, misfocusing and noise ruin the image; too
    high contrast and saturation make it almost unprintable etc. Save
    yourself the aggravation. I have nothing against compact cameras, but
    for the purpose you have in mind, you'll waste your money.

    Good luck with the baby!
    achilleaslazarides, Feb 19, 2007
  4. Get something for taking short movies as well - either a movie camera to
    go with your DSLR or a non-SLR with good movie capabilities. Movies can
    add a lot to the still image....

    For a "handbag" camera I recently got this one - but it needs care

    David J Taylor, Feb 19, 2007
  5. skanji

    skanji Guest

    So is a nikon d50 or canon xt/i the best way to go? I suppose the
    basic lense is ok for now?
    skanji, Feb 19, 2007
  6. skanji

    Paul Furman Guest

    Yes I agree the best choice is a D50 with a 50mm f/1.8 lens. As the kid
    starts moving more, it will move fast and that's not something you can
    capture with a point & shoot camera in low light. The D40 won't
    autofocus on fast lenses. If you want to do low light family gatherings,
    look at the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 at about $430 as well since the 50mm is not
    wide enough for group shots in tight indoor spaces. If you don't mind
    cranking up the ISO for grainy images, the D40 and kit lens may suffice,
    a P&S won't even come close, that will cripple your ability to shoot
    what you want.
    Paul Furman, Feb 19, 2007

  7. The basic lens is very slow. I suggest you also get a 50mm f/1.8. This
    will allow, for example, a shot at 1/80s where the kit lens would need
    1/10s (at 55mm, both the Canon and Nikon 18-55 are f/5.6; I just
    checked). At around 50mm, 1/80s is easily handholdable, 1/10s is
    impossible to handhold. The 50mm f/1.8 lenses are quite cheap.
    achilleaslazarides, Feb 19, 2007
  8. skanji

    Paul Furman Guest

    If budget isn't a problem get a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens. Verify whether it
    will autofocus on a D40, no problem on a D50 or Canon. The kit lenses
    will all be too slow to get good images in low light. You really do not
    need a zoom lens, only the very expensive zooms are reasonably fast and
    with a normal field of view you can capture most anything for family
    shots. A 28mm f/2.8 lens is a reasonable compromise for about the same
    price for either Canon or Nikon and might be a little more compact than
    the Sigma.
    Paul Furman, Feb 19, 2007
  9. I doubt that. He'll really want to take photographs in low artificial
    light for which ISO 1600 at f/5.6 isn't really enough. From
    experience, ISO 1600 and f/1.8 is barely enough in some situations
    like this. Of course, if he decides he only wants to take photos of
    the baby outside during the day, he could also use a p&s, but I
    guarantee he'll change his mind very quickly.
    achilleaslazarides, Feb 19, 2007
  10. skanji

    skanji Guest

    Canada question...

    I know Sears had the Canon Rebel XTI xti kit on sale for $850 (CDN) a
    couple of months ago. This was the black one with the 18-55 lens. I
    missed it as I was out of town. I suppose I don't need the 18-55 Lens
    and will pick up the 50mm f/1.8 Lens instead.

    Do you guys know of the d50 or xti at this pricepoint? I guess I
    could get it used from Henry's for about the $500 range without a
    skanji, Feb 19, 2007
  11. skanji

    Jim Thurman Guest

    Get the D40 with the kit lens (you can't actually buy it without the lens in
    most cases. I bought two of them for Christmas presents for my son and
    daughter and they love them. The D40 is the smallest, lightest Dslr out
    there, so far, and you can set it on full auto and use it as an outstanding
    point-and-shoot, or go aperature or shutter preferred or manual...depending
    on the situation.

    The image quality is outstanding and the viewfinder and LCD screen on the
    back are great....much better than what I've seen on similarly priced
    cameras. Go to your local camera store and hold the D40 and the other
    cameras you'reconsidering, and you'll see ehat I mean. Get it, you won't
    regret it and won't be tempted to leave it at home because of the size and
    weight, the way you might with the Canon.
    Jim Thurman, Feb 19, 2007
  12. skanji

    skanji Guest

    I think the reason I liked the D50 over the D40 was that it had image
    skanji, Feb 19, 2007
  13. However, the D40 does not autofocus with the 50mm f/1.8 lens. The kit
    lens is f/5.6 at the long end, so using it at ISO 1600 will result in
    the same shutter speed that the 50mm f/1.8 lens will give at ISO 200;
    so in low light, one can either use ISO 200 instead of 1600 for much
    less noise (if there's enough light) or use a shutter speed 8 times
    higher (if light is low). I think this is significant if he plans to
    use it for photographing the baby (I know this from personal
    experience). Or he could get the D40 with the sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens,
    but that's 4 times the price of the 50mm f/1.8.

    If it was me, I'd get the D50 with the kit lens and the 50mm lens.
    achilleaslazarides, Feb 19, 2007
  14. skanji

    skanji Guest

    When you say get the D50 with the kit lens...what would you do with
    18-55 lens?? If I just buy the body only and purchase the 50mm f/1.8
    Lens, would that not suffice? Can't this lens be my everyday lens?
    skanji, Feb 19, 2007
  15. Well, I don't know how much you know about these things, so I'll
    pretend you know absolutely nothing (no offence!). The 50mm lens is a
    fixed focal length lens; so it does not zoom. When it is mounted on
    the camera, you look through it, and, if you don't like the framing,
    you can't do anything about it except move around. The kit lens is a
    zoom; so you can zoom with it. Zoom lenses are more convenient. Most
    people don't put a fixed focal length lens on the camera and walk
    around a city when they're on holidays, they put a zoom. But fixed
    focal length lenses can have higher optical quality and, more
    importantly, faster apertures (such as the 50mm f/1.8 I suggested,
    which is not expensive either).

    Anyway, of course you could use it for your everyday lens, but most
    people find a 18-50 or thereabouts zoom quite convenient overall. If
    you can afford it, get both (how much does the kit zoom add to the
    price?). If you can't, I personally would get the 50mm only, but do
    keep in mind that it may feel quite limiting (eg if you want to
    photograph relatives sitting on a table, it's probably too long, and
    so on). But it will enable you to take photographs in dimly lit areas
    which the kit lens won't.
    achilleaslazarides, Feb 19, 2007
  16. skanji

    Matt Clara Guest

    Only you can tell whether it's too much to carry. Hey, it weighs next to
    nothing, and, in terms of image quality, the nikon D70 dusts my wife's 7 mp
    Elph, which will fit in any pocket you'd care to imagine. There's also the
    issue of shutter lag--the D70 has none, the elph has some.
    Matt Clara, Feb 19, 2007
  17. skanji

    Paul Furman Guest

    The 50mm lens is too narrow a view for normal use. You won't be able to
    get a group of people to fit in a small room and you won't be able to
    capture the wider scerery on picnics & vacations. That's why I suggest a
    28 or 30mm lens. People used to use that field of view as their primary
    walkaround lens because it matches the human field of view so it's very
    useful. The 50mm lens is great for portraits of a single person but
    that's easy enough to just walk closer with the 30mm lens. I think the
    Sigma 30mm will actually work but it's probably true that you can't get
    that camera without a kit lens. I'm suggesting the D50 because you can
    get one inexpensively and the 30 or 28mm lens. Also putting a 50mm lens
    on the D40 you won't have autofocus and the viewfinder is too small to
    manually focus in my opinion. The 50mm is so affordable you could get a
    used D50, 30mm f/1.4 and a 50mm f/1.8 for about the same price as the
    D40 with kit lens. The compactness of the D40 is appealing though I
    wouldn't get that unless you are also willing to shell out for the 28 or
    30mm fast lens because that little kid is going to be a difficult target
    to catch with a slow kit zoom.
    Paul Furman, Feb 20, 2007
  18. skanji

    wiyum Guest

    Everyone has given great advice, but I'll throw in my opinion based on
    my experiences.

    First, it goes without saying that you want a DSLR. Children
    (especially as they age) don't stay still for very long. For this
    reason, you'll want both the optical (instead of electronic) viewing
    of the scene and the improved shutter performance. The first relates
    to watching the scene through the lens as opposed to on an LCD, which
    will have some delay. The second relates to the delay between pressing
    the shutter and the picture being taken. Both of these delays are
    being minimized with newer digicams, but a DSLR is still much better
    in both regards.

    Also, a DSLR is quicker with autofocus, and it is easier to see if you
    truly have focus. This won't matter much when the child is in the
    crib, but once they start waddling around the living room, it'll be
    all you can do to keep up with your framing.... focus only gets harder
    to track.

    As for what lens to get with a DSLR, I can only repeat the suggestion
    of a 50mm/1.8 prime lens. If you get only one lens, make sure this is
    the one you get. The kit lens, in addition to being a zoom lens, will
    be a "slow" lens, requiring more light. The "fast" 50mm will
    definitely allow you to get a world of pictures that you'd never get
    with the kit lens. Outside during the day, it won't make a difference
    in terms of light, but inside it will make all the difference.

    Will you want another lens? Not *now* if you're really just getting
    the camera to take pictures of the child. On a cropped-frame DSLR
    (which you'd be getting), a 50mm is a "portrait" lens, so it is a bit
    "longer" (zoomed in for lack of a better explanation) than you'd want
    for many situations. If you want to use the camera for other things,
    the kit lens would be a good investment. If you don't, then the 50mm
    will work great for everything until he/she begins walking. Once a
    child starts moving around, you'll want to be wider some of the time.
    The kit lens will work for this, except it still has the need for more
    light. Presumably, there's more light wherever these memories are
    taking place, but if you want to avoid worrying about that, a 28mm or
    35mm prime lens is the best choice. These focal lengths are
    approxamately "normal" on these DSLRs, so things will neither feel
    very "zoomed in" nor very "zoomed out." Just right.

    Personally, when I'm shooting my younger cousins I almost always have
    my 28mm or 50mm lens mounted. That both are faster than any kit lens
    has either allowed me to get pictures I'd never have gotten or get
    pictures I could have gotten but at a higher quality (lower ISO, so
    lower noise).

    So to review, get the fast 50mm lens. Get the kit lens if you'll be
    using the camera for plenty more than just documenting the child, and
    consider a 28 or 35mm lens either now or when your child starts
    walking around and moving alot.

    Which camera? If Nikon, get the D50. Anything else would be overkill.
    If Canon, get the Rebel XT (not the XTI). Both are outstanding
    cameras. The Canon will offer you cleaner images at high ISO, higher
    resolution, and Canon makes some "faster" prime lenses if you're going
    to get more than just the 50mm, but these aren't terribly important
    reasons to avoid the Nikon. If you like the feel of the D50 get that.
    Take care of it and it'll last you well into the first soccer games
    (at which point you'll need to go lens shopping again).

    Congratulations, and good luck camera shopping,

    wiyum, Feb 20, 2007
  19. skanji

    skanji Guest

    Folks - just wanted to thank everyone for their comments. I've got a
    lot to learn about dslr cameras - including figuring out what the heck
    ISO levels are (but think I have a better idea now!)

    Thanks to everyone for posting - will continue to check in and
    ultimately let you guys know which camera i get. Hope this post helps
    parents in the future!
    skanji, Feb 20, 2007
  20. skanji

    Toby Guest

    I have a Nikon D200 dslr and recently purchased a Fuji F30 as a carryaround.
    It's apples and oranges, and you have to decide whether you want portability
    vs functionality, more than portability vs quality IMO. The F30 (now the
    F31d) is well built and takes quite nice pictures, even in low light:

    If you need portability this camera will give you very decent shots, but in
    terms of functionality it is no match for the dslrs. First, the reflexes
    have interchangeable lenses, and you have an eye level viewfinder, and
    generally much quicker cycle times, so that you can take a number of shots
    in a short time. But of course you cannot slip those things into a pocket.
    The Fuji is always there when I want it, and the battery life is excellent,
    not to mention that it has a good 2.5" viewing screen so you can always pull
    it out to show people pix of the new baby...

    Personally in your situation I would go with a good point'n'shoot. It will
    give you very decent prints that can be printed 11x14 without big problems.
    If you are not committed to carrying a camera around your neck whenever you
    are out with the family its convenience will ultimately make up for its
    limitations IMO. OTOH if you enjoy photography and want to use this as a way
    to deepen your commitment to it, then perhaps the dslr would make sense...

    Toby, Feb 20, 2007
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