New baby on the way!...need help choosing first dSLR

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by scott_diegel, May 16, 2009.

  1. With our first baby on the way, I'm using that as an excuse to finally get an SLR. This also means that my SLR budget is not terribly high. I'm looking for something that will take excellent indoor pictures with better results than the point-and-shoot I've been using (a Kodak Z7590).
    I've been looking at the Canon XS and am wondering if it's worth stepping up to the XSi or even the new T1i. I've pretty much already decided on Canon, but will not strictly rule out Nikon (the D60 would probably be the only one in my price range, excluding the D40). I'm not terribly interested in video, especially in paying the $300 premium from the XS to the T1i considering that I could get better video from a standalone camcorder if I decided to go that route.
    Thanks for any help!
  2. All excellent cameras. Go to a store and try them to see which you like best.
  3. Canon XS with kit lens and a $100 50mm f1.8 (for no flash indoor photo of baby) should do the job. Keep it small, buy what you need as you learn, not what you think you will need. ie: Get out of the store before you get talk into buying expensive filter for the expensive lens you haven't buy.
  4. I agree with Tommy - the 50mm f/1.8 is a great lens if you want to shoot indoors with no flash. Since you seem to be going the Canon route, might I suggest looking at some of the previous generation cameras, such as the Rebel XTi or Rebel XSi. They take great pictures, but can save you some $$ as they are not the most current model. However, the new T1i does have the ability to take movies, which is an added bonus over older models. When you factor in the cost of not having to buy a camcorder (if you don't already have one), the X1i could be a worthwhile purchase.
  5. Have a look at the Pentax DSLR's. Major bang for the buck.
  6. Since nobody has mentioned it yet:
    Congratulations on the baby!
    I second Les' recommendation to take a serious look at Pentax. One of the main advantages of their DSLRs is that they have image stabilization built into the camera body. Canon and Nikon do not have this; they have some lenses with image stabilization but you pay a premium for that, whereas Pentax's approach makes all of your lenses stabilized. This can save you a huge amount of money in the long run as you add lenses to your kit. And speaking of lenses, Pentax's are really excellent.
    Check out the Pentax section of -- the Pentaxians are a very friendly and helpful bunch!
  7. Thanks for the help, and thanks, R.T., for the congratulations. We are very excited, but have quite a way to go yet (baby's due in late October).
    I was originally planning on going the route that Tommy suggested (kit zoom lens + the Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens) -- this should total about $650 with the Canon XS. What is the equivalent Pentax lens and how much does it cost? Just from browsing the Pentax website, their lenses seem fairly expensive compared to Canon's. There's a bit of a "wife acceptance factor" involved with this purchase, as she seems to think that our current P&S is fine. I'm sure she'll appreciate the SLR after baby comes, but for now it would be prudent to try and minimize the cost.
  8. If you're considering the T1i, you should also be considering the Nikon D5000. Low light performance is about the same. In many ways they are about the same, IMO, but the Nikon has that articulating screen. T1i has much higher res. screen, though. Nikon is about $50 cheaper.
    I recently upgraded from a D70 to the D5000 and I couldn't be happier with my purchase.
  9. Taking a quick peak at B&H Photo-Video (a very reputable online/mail-order dealer), the Pentax K2000 kit with 18-55 lens and external flash is on sale for $499.95 (the regular price is $599.95, but if you add it to your shopping cart, you can see the sale price). Here is the link:
    Adding a Pentax 50/1.4 (which is faster than the Canon 50/1.8, and superior optically) would put your grand total at $769.90... a bit higher than the $650 you'd pay for the Canon kit, but still a great value because you're getting an external flash in addition to the built-in flash, and the camera body has image stabilization, which is a really major benefit that can't be understated... and it will work with any lens you put on your Pentax, whereas if you want image stabilization on the Canon, you have to buy stabilized lenses which cost significantly more than their non-stabilized cousins (and Canon doesn't make a stabilized 50/1.8 or 1.4).
    Just something to think about. :) The Canon isn't a bad camera by any means, and neither are the Nikon D40 and D60. Truthfully, I don't think there are any bad DSLRs on the market. Every one of them is capable of producing beautiful images. I just feel that the Pentax lineup gives you some really great features that the other brands make you pay extra for.
  10. R.T., you've definitely piqued my interest in the Pentax. Are the rest of their lenses priced similarly to Canon's and Nikon's? Are there any good reasons NOT to get a Pentax, since Canon and Nikon are the "Big 2" in DSLRs?
  11. How about the fact that the K2000D and K200D are powered by AA batteries? OR maybe that's actually a good thing?
  12. For the most part, the lens prices tend to be fairly comparable. Sometimes Pentax will be a little more, sometimes they'll be a little less (or even a lot less).
    Here are some quick comparisons (all prices are from B&H):
    "Fast 50" lenses:
    Canon 50/1.4: $399.95
    Nikon 50/1.4: $329.95
    Pentax 50/1.4: $269.95
    (They say that you get what you pay for, and sometimes that's true, but not always: the Pentax 50/1.4 is a truly excellent lens, and has consistently ranked as one of the best 50mm lenses on the market in terms of sharpness, contrast, color rendition, etc.)
    "Compact Tele-Zoom" lenses:
    Canon 55-200: $199.95
    Nikon 55-200: $184.95
    Pentax 50-200: $214.95
    "Wide to Moderate Zoom" lenses:
    Canon 17-85 IS: $449.95
    Nikon 16-85 VR: $629.95
    Pentax 17-70: $489.95
  13. Now, in terms of reasons to avoid Pentax: well, there are the funny looks and dismissive attitude you'll sometimes get from the Canon and Nikon fans. ;-) And because Pentax is a smaller company with a smaller market share, you won't be able to walk into your nearest BestBuy or Wal-Mart and buy a Pentax; they tend to only be available at photo specialty stores and from online retailers. Even some of the salesmen at camera stores will try to steer you towards Canon or Nikon because that's where they get the biggest commission.
    The AA batteries can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. Proprietary batteries are nice because they tend to be a bit lighter and more compact; AAs tend to be a little bulkier and a tiny bit heavier. I have rechargeable NIMH AA batteries that I use and they've been great, and if you happen to be out in the middle of nowhere and your rechargeables die, you can always stop into Ye Olde General Store and get some good old fashioned disposable AAs... so that's an advantage over proprietary batteries.
    Other than that, I can't really think of any major, glaring reasons for a guy like yourself to avoid Pentax. If you were, for example, a professional architecture photographer and you needed something exotic like a tilt-shift lens, then you would have to go with Canon or Nikon because Pentax doesn't currently have that type of lens in their lineup. Fortunately, 95% of us are never going to need such a lens (and thank goodness for that; they're $1500-$2000 a pop!).
  14. Thanks again. I really appreciate your time and the incredibly helpful information. Regarding the K2000, it looks like I could get the same setup with the K200D for about $815 at B&H minus the external flash. Thoughts?
    I did see your post about some of the K2000's issues in the Pentax forum, and I'll try to keep any more Pentax-specific issues in the Pentax forum.
    Again, thank you, R.T.!
  15. One of the K200D's biggest advantages over the K2000 is that it is weather resistant. It's also a bit larger and heavier, which can be good or bad depending on your point of view. Some people prefer a beefier camera. Personally I prefer cameras on the smaller side. It really boils down to individual preference. It's hard to say whether the weather resistance, the size, and the other differences would be worth the extra cost for you. What complicates matters further is that you can move up to the top-of-the-line K20D for only about $100 more than the K200D. Again, we're talking about a camera that's a bit bigger and heavier than the lesser-priced model, but the K20D also has some advanced features that the K200D doesn't have, as well as increased resolution, pro-grade build quality, bigger/brighter viewfinder, etc.
    Regarding my initial thoughts on the K2000, I'm liking it more now than I was when I first tried it. The issue with the stickers on the lens seems to be an isolated incident, as I haven't heard of anyone else having that issue. I should probably go back and update my review of it!
  16. used cameras. save some money and for an XT or XTi, i use it as a backup and i am happy with it. should be about $400 for the body. look for EX+ condition or better for something that is really in nice condition.
  17. used cameras. save some money and for an XT or XTi, i use it as a backup and i am happy with it. should be about $400 for the body. look for EX+ condition or better for something that is really in nice condition.
  18. If you're interested in the Pentax option for stabilisation, have a look also at a Sony A200 or A350. It also has the in-body stabilisation but it has proper Li-Ion batteries (to me, AAs are a negative as they have poorer energy density than Li-Ion and are a lot more finicky with charging), plus it comes from the #3 vendor instead of the #4. Sony's market share is increasing (taking it from C&N) whereas Pentax and Olympus are losing share and are nearly dead, which is spectacularly sad because Pentax has some of the best value for money DSLRs out there.
    If you want to shoot (baby) portraits, you really do want an external flash that you can use wirelessly from your camera. I'm not sure of the Pentax flash's features, but the Sony flashes do wireless out of the box. The Canon ones don't (you need to buy a separate controller) and at least the top-level Nikon ones do but I'm not so sure about their cheaper options.
    There is no such thing as a "bad DSLR" these days, the limiting factor will be you and how well you control the light. Therefore having a portable flash that you can bounce off walls etc will have 10x bigger quality impact on your photos than any minor difference of noise level, resolution, etc, that the manufacturers tout for their bodies. You can do wireless flash with any of the big brands, but IMHO the Canon options are the weakest. The Sonys work best out of the box with all compatible flashes including the budget ones and (if you have the cash), the Nikon Creative Lighting System is the most powerful and flexible option.
    For shooting without flash in low light, in-body stabilisation is a must. You can't get stabilised f/1.4 lenses from canon or nikon, but you can use any old (including cheap, ancient (and manual) yet excellent M42) f/1.4 lenses stabilised on Sony and Pentax. For example, I occasionally shoot by the light of 1 or 2 candles: that's about 85mm, f/1.4, 1/10s and ISO3200. You cannot do that sort of shot without in-body stabilisation. An external flash for bouncing is a better (higher quality result) for the general case though so don't worry about it too much if you can get a wireless flash.
    The drawback of going Sony/Pentax is availability of second-hand lenses. The Canon and Nikon markets are flooded, whereas in the Sony case at least, the stock of Minolta AF lenses is rapidly drying up because so many Sony DSLRs have been sold. And talking of second-hand markets: do not be afraid of buying a one-generation-old DSLR from someone who barely used it and has upgrade-fever. They're generally good for 150,000 actuations and plenty are on the market with well under 5000 for a fraction of what new would cost you. Find a forum specialising in whatever brand you choose, and check out the for-sale posts.
  19. I currently shoot Pentax with a fast fifty (and a kit lens I never use, but that's beside the point). So no dis on Pentax, and no dis on in-body stabilization.
    However, if you're going to be shooting pictures of kids, the most important factor will undoubtedly by a fast, unhesitating autofocus system. Canon or Nikon would win that hands down over Pentax. Just buy the cheapest kit camera you can get your hands on, flowers for you wife with what you saved, and be happy. That's it. Really. It's not hard. You don't need our help.
    And for the record, I've taken some really nice pictures of my neighbors's kids with my Pentax, which I and my neighbors are very pleased with. But the autofocus never could keep up with them.
    Congrats about the kid. You'll do great.
  20. As a Pentax k10d user, I think I am with James regarding the Pentax AF system. I know that Pentax has generationally improved this over time, but once Scott's child gets up on two legs, quick, very quick, easy AF is the #1 need for a first time DSLR user. Even if you don't know it yet Scott, your little bugger is going to be faster than you can imagine and the line between dad and family photographer is very slight, and you will be scalded for A) letting your child run around without guidance and B) not getting the shot. So at least give your self the opportunity to get the shot. There are a lot of very good reasons to buy Pentax. AF performance is not one of them.
  21. I agree with Andrew. Go to a camera shop near your place and try out the cameras. Go with the one that you feel: fits your hands perfectly, addresses your needs, and the one which you can afford. Other people's preferences might not be the one that suit you at all. Best of luck with your ' future baby'.
    Captain Kimo
  22. I started with Pentax DL and upgraded to a 10d. Low light autofocus can be sluggish, but outdoors it is fine. Don't forget any lens ever made my Pentax, or with a Pentax mount can be slapped on with no problem. There are excellent manual lenses available second hand. All the talk about autofocus makes me wonder what people did in the "olden days". How did people ever photograph their fast moving crumb snatchers? I'll agree with the above post that most bodies can produce excellent images, and isn't it true that whatever we shoot with, we make it work? I shoot my kids all the time with a Pentax MX and ME super. I've even been known to get a few keepers:) Autofocus speed should not be the dealbreaker here.
    If I were making a living with my camera,the AF speed WOULD be a dealbreaker. I shoot some weddings here and there and it does well, but it would be EASIER if the AF speed were faster.

    For me the sensor based shake reduction cannot be beat. It is one feature that Pentax got right IMO. I can buy fast Sigma DG lenses or other full frame lenses second hand and get the benefits of I.S.

    I got my hands on a buddies Nikon D60. Nice camera...but different than what I'm used to. I guess it can shoot video and has live view, but my friend also has complaints about it. For me the choice of Nikon vs. Canon is a no brainer, I would go Nikon. I will admit that even though I have All Pentax gear, If money were no object I would switch to a Nikon D3, the low light capabilities...anyway...

    I'll agree the Pentax is alot of bang for the buck, and sometimes it's fun to be different :)
  23. How about the fact that the K2000D and K200D are powered by AA batteries? OR maybe that's actually a good thing?​
    My F100 is powered by AAs, no problems yet. I use Duracell rechargeables...although Sanyo Eneloops are supposed to be even better.
  24. bms


    Congrats, on the baby!
    25 min ago a friend showed me great pictures of her 1 year old, taken with a Canon XS and kit lens... So I say go for it. But I think ANY entry level DSLR will be about the same, they are all pretty close to each other, especially if you look at the final prints and your are not shooting under extreme conditions. Save the $100 bucks and put it towards post processing software (PS Elements or Light room come to mind).

  25. Like stated above, It really doesn't matter which DSLR you get.
    Lenses and techniques are most important, and a cheap $89 50mm f1.8 is what I used to capture this shot.
    Regards, Bryan
  26. Like stated above, It really doesn't matter which DSLR you get.
    Lenses and techniques are most important, and a cheap $89 50mm f1.8 is what I used to capture this shot.​
    I assume the lens you are referring to is the Canon lens? This is really the type of thing I'm looking for: nice, sharp pictures with the blurred background that's difficult to get with a P&S. Will I have a terrible time trying to get sharp pictures of a baby indoors with that lens on something like the XS that doesn't have in-body stabilization? Mind you, I'm just a casual photographer at this point, but am willing to put in the time and effort to learn, which is why I'm starting to look for a new camera now (5 months in advance).
  27. Scott,
    For the first 6 months of my son's life I used a Rebel XT and the 50mm f/1.8 almost exclusively. In my opinion it is a fine combination and you need not worry about the lack of IS. My wife and I photographed a number of his portraits with this camera/lens and nothing more than the light from a north-facing window. You should have no problem doing the same with a XS and the same lens.
  28. Scott, yes the 50mm f1.8 Canon is what I used on an older Canon 30D body.
    Any of the "X" series bodies can produce this type of effect in "Av" or aperture priority mode, which is very important in controlling background blur using a wide aperture, in my example, f2.8 ISO 100 @ f2.8
    I would suggest if you're serious (more than casual) start with a 40D body over the X series.
  29. Scott, yes the 50mm f1.8 Canon is what I used on an older Canon 30D body.
    Any of the "X" series bodies can produce this type of effect in "Av" or aperture priority mode, which is very important in controlling background blur using a wide aperture, in my example, f2.8 ISO 100 @ f2.8, 1/400 sec.
    I would suggest if you're serious (more than casual) start with a 40D body over the X series.
  30. I've shot with every camera brand under the sun, so I realize a good photographer can make good pictures with just about any camera. But I highly recommend sticking with Nikon or Canon because of the much wider variety of lenses and accessories and their availability from a variety of sources. In addition to what Nikon and Canon offer themselves, remember that third party lenses are always offered in Nikon and Canon mounts but not necessarily for other brands, or you may have to wait a year for the Pentax/Olympus/Minolta-Sony version. Same for flashes and other accessories. So if you're on a budget and want to buy a Sigma/Tokina/Tamron lens down the road, or want to borrow lenses from friends, or get serious enough that you want to rent an occasional lens for a special picture, you may find yourself limited if you go beyond Nikon/Canon.
  31. In the first year, most of your pictures will be taken indoors so you need a camera that performs well in low light (ISO 800 and up) and you need a bunch of f1.8 primes. Don't get a huge professional SLR yet as you kid may freezer or cry when your camera covers your whole face. As the kid gets older (>6 mon), he/she will be less worried as they begin to understand that dad is just behind the camera.
  32. Thank you all for the input. I wasn't expecting such a fantastic response to my first post on! After considering everything I've read here, I think I am going to stick with my original plan: the Canon XS with the kit lens and the 50mm f1.8 lens. It seems like that will meet my needs for a while and will also meet my budget.
  33. I have to believe that IS, causes soft images, so avoid it like the plauge
    get a canon XS, or XSi body, their pretty much exactly the same , other than the fact the XS has a lower continus frame rate, and has a few less megapixels on the sensor...
    lenses, you can go with the 18-51, but turn the IS off and never use it, or get one of the most popular lenses ever sold from tamron the 28 -75 f2.8.. but be sure to check the 100% crops to be sure it is as sharp as it is supposed to be.
    get a use a 440exII flash with a big difuser over the head
  34. [[I have to believe that IS, causes soft images, so avoid it like the plauge]]
    I'm sure you can provide proof of this.
  35. O.K. I've read most of the responses and they all address the digital SLR question - great. You prefaced your inquiry by saying you were expecting your first child. Here's where I'll pick up the thread. I love photographing my kids. I've gone the SLR route and taken beautiful photos. Sometimes in the most innocuous situations I don't want to pull out the big gun for what ever reason. There are times when carrying an SLR is a pain in the ass - Disney, Sea World - juggling strollers, diaper bags, bottles - or when activities like birthday parties and family get-to-gethers are constantly moving and errupting and the brick hanging on your shoulder got put down some place and isn't right there when you need it.
    I did not want to give up the quality of an SLR for a compact digital until... I purchased the Leica D Lux 4.
    24-60mm focal lengths with 2.0-2.8 aperture. Great camera. I won't list all the features but the quality of photos is so outstanding that I never consider taking the SLR anywhere. If big zoom is important, well you got me, but with 24-60 I'm shooting in the range I love. And a big plus to this camera - your wife will love it too because she won't be indulging you with a toy that seperates you from the action and is so convenient you'll actually be included in the family photos because she will want to use it as much as you. 'nough said.
  36. Scott,
    Tough choice, and I won't try to sway one way or another. My only advice is to look at what lenses are compatible with ,say, your top 3 cameras. This can be important because you will more than likely spend more on your lenses than you will on the body itself. I have a nikon d200, I am sure you can find something equivalent in quality from canon, pentax, sony etc. What is great though is that if you don't mind manual focus, you can buy old lenses that are tack sharp for almost nothing. I am not sure if you can do the same thing with the other brands but it is worth taking a look at, as some brands change there mounting system regularly. One other thing to consider is whether or not you body has an auto focus motor(if auto focus is important to you) or not. This is important because if you have to buy lenses that have the auto focus motor, that will cost you more money in the long term. Congrats on the new baby and good luck in your search.
  37. An update in case any of you who helped happen to read this. I ended up getting the Canon XSi and the $100 50mm/f1.8 lens and am extremely happy so far. I'm definitely taking MUCH better photos than I was ever taking with any P&S. My biggest regret is waiting until a week after the baby was born to get the camera. Thanks again for all the help.

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