Need advice for DSLR for shooting my new baby

Started Mar 3, 2011 | Discussions
chris401
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Need advice for DSLR for shooting my new baby
Mar 3, 2011

Howdy. We r expecting our first child at the end of the month. I would like to get back into photography and start with the new addition as my primary subject. The last time i had an slr it was a 35 mm pentax pz-70 and digital was but a twinkle in some inventors eye. Still have the pentad but haven't picked it up in 10 years.

We just bought a canon s95 as an update to our s80, so I feel like we have the p&s category under control. But where I'm getting overwhelmed is trying to research an slr package for us. Just so many options, not sure about lenses, etc. I am hopeful that you kind folks can point me In the right direction.

I have considered the t2i with 50mm 1.8 prime lens as a starting point, but not sure. My budget is around $ 1200. I will be shooting mostly baby and other family and pets. I would like something good for low light. But I'm clueless here. Any help is appreciated. I would like to find a great deal, good value for the money. The budget is kinda arbitrary, ao if I'm setting it too low just let me know.

And big thanks in advance for any advice.

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Re: Need advice for DSLR for shooting my new baby
In reply to chris401, Mar 3, 2011

chris401 wrote:

Howdy. We r expecting our first child at the end of the month. I would like to get back into photography and start with the new addition as my primary subject. The last time i had an slr it was a 35 mm pentax pz-70 and digital was but a twinkle in some inventors eye. Still have the pentad but haven't picked it up in 10 years.

We just bought a canon s95 as an update to our s80, so I feel like we have the p&s category under control. But where I'm getting overwhelmed is trying to research an slr package for us. Just so many options, not sure about lenses, etc. I am hopeful that you kind folks can point me In the right direction.

I have considered the t2i with 50mm 1.8 prime lens as a starting point, but not sure. My budget is around $ 1200. I will be shooting mostly baby and other family and pets. I would like something good for low light. But I'm clueless here. Any help is appreciated. I would like to find a great deal, good value for the money. The budget is kinda arbitrary, ao if I'm setting it too low just let me know.

And big thanks in advance for any advice.

the T2 is a good choice, but I would add a 17mm or 15mm - about 85mm zoom with the best glass you can afford.

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PeterF
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my two cents
In reply to chris401, Mar 3, 2011

Hi, Chris.

You will quickly find out, if you don't already know, that DSLR (and SLR) photography is mostly about glass. Bodies come and go but hopefully if you make the right choices your glass should be with you for a while.

I tend to take a lot of pictures of babies and small ones (I have 12 grandchildren) and I've had pretty good luck with the Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM. If you buy it new, you will blow a pretty good chunk of your budget but you can find used ones, and don't be afraid to consider older models of the same lens, they work fine.

The nice thing about the Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM is that it replaces the typical kit lens so you can just go after a body. It used to be that finding a good price on a used body was a good idea but new bodies are quite reasonably priced so you might want to go new (plus the newer ones have video).

With regard to a 1.8 50mm. I have one and it's a great lens, especially for the price, but like all primes, it serves a specific purpose. I find the 1.8 50mm a little long for general photography on an APS sized DSLR (especially for indoor photography) so it's not on my camera a lot. But of course when I want a nice portrait, indoors or out, it's dandy.

Good luck, and if you have any questions, fire away.

Peter

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wadeinthewater
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Re: my two cents
In reply to PeterF, Mar 3, 2011

PeterF wrote:

Hi, Chris.

You will quickly find out, if you don't already know, that DSLR (and SLR) photography is mostly about glass. Bodies come and go but hopefully if you make the right choices your glass should be with you for a while.

I tend to take a lot of pictures of babies and small ones (I have 12 grandchildren) and I've had pretty good luck with the Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM. If you buy it new, you will blow a pretty good chunk of your budget but you can find used ones, and don't be afraid to consider older models of the same lens, they work fine.

The nice thing about the Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM is that it replaces the typical kit lens so you can just go after a body. It used to be that finding a good price on a used body was a good idea but new bodies are quite reasonably priced so you might want to go new (plus the newer ones have video).

With regard to a 1.8 50mm. I have one and it's a great lens, especially for the price, but like all primes, it serves a specific purpose. I find the 1.8 50mm a little long for general photography on an APS sized DSLR (especially for indoor photography) so it's not on my camera a lot. But of course when I want a nice portrait, indoors or out, it's dandy.

Good luck, and if you have any questions, fire away.

Peter

I'd have to agree with Peter, here. I bought the T1i when it came out and I was stuck with the kit lens for a long while. I just didn't have the cash to upgrade. Afterwards I bought a Sigma 70-300mm for outdoor photography, and then a Canon 28-135 for all purpose indoor and outdoor photography. The 50mm is a great choice to start off with, and you really can't go wrong with the T2i. Like it was said before, bodies come and go, but your lenses you tend to keep. Best of luck to you!

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Shaun Bell
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Re: Need advice for DSLR for shooting my new baby
In reply to chris401, Mar 3, 2011

Are you mostly interested in shooting portraits? If that's the case I've got a few suggestions as that's all I personally shoot myself. Even though I use Nikon, Canon has the same equivalent lenses. For portrait work your 50mm 1.8 will be just fine for more environmental work and when your working distance is limited. When that's not the case, a 85 1.8 will become your favorite lens. They're relatively cheap (especially compared to a 1.2 or 1.4 version) and produce stunning results. Don't forget to factor into your budget a good flash and some reflectors. Good light control will improve your photography 10 times more than any body/lens combination lol.
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SeeRoy
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Re: Need advice for DSLR for shooting my new baby
In reply to Shaun Bell, Mar 3, 2011

The title of this thread reminds me of the 70s Indian billboards that said " Shoot someone you love! - with Indu film ". It wasn't the name of the film that one remembered.

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PeterF
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OP, did you mean actual portrait photography?
In reply to Shaun Bell, Mar 3, 2011

Hum, maybe you have a point there . . . about portrait photography. I was assuming that the OP didn't really mean portrait photography in the literal sense because of the $1200 budget.

So what is it OP? Do you want to do actual full blown portrait photography? If so, you'll have to shell out more that $1200 and the suggestions by the above post are quite valid.

But if you just want to get into a DSLR with a descent lens to be able to take some nice shots of your baby then the Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM or equivalent, as mentioned in my previous post, is an option worth considering. The main reason being that it's F2.8 throughout it's range. (I've taken some pretty good 'portraits' with this lens under natural light at 50mm. Not as good as what a 1.8 85mm can do, but pretty darn good.)

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chris401
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Re: OP, did you mean actual portrait photography?
In reply to PeterF, Mar 4, 2011

PeterF wrote:

Hum, maybe you have a point there . . . about portrait photography. I was assuming that the OP didn't really mean portrait photography in the literal sense because of the $1200 budget.

So what is it OP? Do you want to do actual full blown portrait photography? If so, you'll have to shell out more that $1200 and the suggestions by the above post are quite valid.

But if you just want to get into a DSLR with a descent lens to be able to take some nice shots of your baby then the Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM or equivalent, as mentioned in my previous post, is an option worth considering. The main reason being that it's F2.8 throughout it's range. (I've taken some pretty good 'portraits' with this lens under natural light at 50mm. Not as good as what a 1.8 85mm can do, but pretty darn good.)

Wow, some really great advice in this thread, thanks everyone!

Peter, You are correct in your initial assumption. I'm clearly way too new to know what I'm talking about and I'm using terms I don't fully understand. I want to take pictures of the new kid in any and all settings and I'm calling that "portrait" photography, but you are right, that's not really what I am after. I think I took that term from the idea that some of the prime lens are noted for being good "portrait" lens and work well in low light.

I really appreciate the advice and suggestions. Now that I know more, I think the smart way to spend the money is on the lenses (can I call it "glass" if I'm this new?). And the more I browse lens prices, the more I realize that I may need to up my budget!

So what would you all recommend as the ideal "starter" set and a realistic budget to work with? T2i body + the Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 + . . . ? $1500?

And where is a good place to look for used gear? I really hesitate to look to ebay if I need to trust the quality of a used lens.

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chris401
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Re: Need advice for DSLR for shooting my new baby
In reply to SeeRoy, Mar 4, 2011

Whoops, didn't realize how funny that title sounds until now! Haha!

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lbuclk=
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In reply to chris401, Mar 4, 2011

chris401 wrote:

PeterF wrote:

Hum, maybe you have a point there . . . about portrait photography. I was assuming that the OP didn't really mean portrait photography in the literal sense because of the $1200 budget.

So what is it OP? Do you want to do actual full blown portrait photography? If so, you'll have to shell out more that $1200 and the suggestions by the above post are quite valid.

But if you just want to get into a DSLR with a descent lens to be able to take some nice shots of your baby then the Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM or equivalent, as mentioned in my previous post, is an option worth considering. The main reason being that it's F2.8 throughout it's range. (I've taken some pretty good 'portraits' with this lens under natural light at 50mm. Not as good as what a 1.8 85mm can do, but pretty darn good.)

Wow, some really great advice in this thread, thanks everyone!

Peter, You are correct in your initial assumption. I'm clearly way too new to know what I'm talking about and I'm using terms I don't fully understand. I want to take pictures of the new kid in any and all settings and I'm calling that "portrait" photography, but you are right, that's not really what I am after. I think I took that term from the idea that some of the prime lens are noted for being good "portrait" lens and work well in low light.

I really appreciate the advice and suggestions. Now that I know more, I think the smart way to spend the money is on the lenses (can I call it "glass" if I'm this new?). And the more I browse lens prices, the more I realize that I may need to up my budget!

So what would you all recommend as the ideal "starter" set and a realistic budget to work with? T2i body + the Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 + . . . ? $1500?

And where is a good place to look for used gear? I really hesitate to look to ebay if I need to trust the quality of a used lens.

Amazon & keh.com
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28 years as a freelancer,(news,magazine, wedding photography) camera equip. over the years: Practica MLT, Canon A1, Minolta 9xi, 7xi, Dimage Z1,Fuji 5200,Canon S2,Pentax K100D,Olympus 380,Canon SX 10, Canon 40D ( http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v104/Buckl/ )
http://issuu.com/Lbuck

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Peter Shute
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Re: Need advice for DSLR for shooting my new baby
In reply to chris401, Mar 4, 2011

Here's a little suggestion - take the S95 into the delivery room, not the SLR. You'll need both hands at some stage. I'd set it to full auto mode (maybe high ISO if it has it?) because you might not have much time to think either. Easier for the nurses to use than an SLR too.

Interested to hear what others think about these suggestions.

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PeterF
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Yup, good combo
In reply to chris401, Mar 4, 2011

So what would you all recommend as the ideal "starter" set and a realistic budget to work with? T2i body + the Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 + . . . ? $1500?

Yup, nice combo.

Obviously try to get it for the best possible price but just remember I spent that much 7 years ago on a Rebel 300D with kit lens! You sure get a lot more for your money these days.

Good luck!

P.S. Here's a group of shots I took a couple of months ago with that lens in very low light. I've included all 9 shots to show you that not all low light pics turn out, primarily because of the slow shutter speeds, but I still got a few keepers.

http://www.peterfrostad.com/2010/2010-12-10%20Bonnie,%20Kim,%20and%20Karly%20make%20some%20Christmas%20fudge/slides/IMG_3043-01.html

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PeterF
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sorry wrong link
In reply to PeterF, Mar 4, 2011
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herebefore
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Re: Need advice for DSLR for shooting my new baby
In reply to chris401, Mar 4, 2011

When I shoot a baby, I dont like to use flash (Im sure, from experience, that the flash doesnt harm anything, but it does panic mothers, grandmothers, etc).

If you do use a flash, BOUNCE IT! Dont aim it in the babys' face.. It'll make 'em cry.

This means I would want a camera that is exceedingly good in low light.

That means you need to start at the middle of the Nikon Lineup (D-90 and above) or near the top of the Pentax lineup (Kx, K7, K5).

The Nikons and the Pentax cameras are using Sony sensors, but the reviews and opinions say that both Pentax and Nikon are making better use of the sensors for high-ISO, low-light than Sony is (go figure).

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PeterF
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like I said, bodies come and go
In reply to herebefore, Mar 4, 2011

Hum, I'll take your word for it but like I mentioned in a previous post, bodies come and go.

My current DSLR is a Canon 20D - a virtual museum piece by today's standards but it works fine.

Not sure when I'll upgrade although I have to admit the new bodies are looking pretty good, especially with the incorporation of video.

Speaking of which, I tend to upgrade my pocket cameras a lot more often. Right now I'm using the Panny ZS3 which takes pretty darn good pics and video.

Cheers,
Peter

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herebefore
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Re: like I said, bodies come and go
In reply to PeterF, Mar 4, 2011

PeterF wrote:

Hum, I'll take your word for it but like I mentioned in a previous post, bodies come and go.

My current DSLR is a Canon 20D - a virtual museum piece by today's standards but it works fine.

Not sure when I'll upgrade although I have to admit the new bodies are looking pretty good, especially with the incorporation of video.

Speaking of which, I tend to upgrade my pocket cameras a lot more often. Right now I'm using the Panny ZS3 which takes pretty darn good pics and video.

Cheers,
Peter

I dont disagree with you at all..

My point was simply, you need a GOOD body regardless of brand.. And having used all of the Canon T (Rebels, by another name) cameras.. I dont think that is the direction to go.. they are getting higher and higher in pixel count, and lower and lower in Hi ISO performance.

There are really great lenses available for Nikon, Pentax, Canon et al.. The OP is limited only by the budget!

In order to take advantage of those lenses, he should get a body that responds well at low light levels, hence the recommendation for Nikon or some of the Pentax line.

Though Canon used to be the "King of High ISO" they seem to have lost that crown in all but the very top of their line in Full frame (which is VERY expensive).

By the way.. That Canon 20 D was probably the best of its class in almost everything it does, when it was new... I have, and use, DSLRs that are about the same vintage.. If I found a 20 D out there on the used market for a good price I would probably snap it up quickly..

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chris401
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Re: like I said, bodies come and go
In reply to herebefore, Mar 4, 2011

I dont disagree with you at all..

My point was simply, you need a GOOD body regardless of brand.. And having used all of the Canon T (Rebels, by another name) cameras.. I dont think that is the direction to go.. they are getting higher and higher in pixel count, and lower and lower in Hi ISO performance.

There are really great lenses available for Nikon, Pentax, Canon et al.. The OP is limited only by the budget!

In order to take advantage of those lenses, he should get a body that responds well at low light levels, hence the recommendation for Nikon or some of the Pentax line.

Though Canon used to be the "King of High ISO" they seem to have lost that crown in all but the very top of their line in Full frame (which is VERY expensive).

Interesting. You are correct that, at this time, I'm not committed to a particular system and I am certainly open to suggestion here. I selected the Canon T2i only because it seemed to have good reviews, was capable of video, and because I have owned a s80 for a few years now and figured that the learning curve might be easier. (Just picked up an s95 last week too.)

But the reviews I read on the Nikon D7000 seem pretty great. Of course, now I'm almost doubling the price for body alone, so I would need to adjust the budget upwards.

I don't want to be "that guy" who doesn't really know photography at all but has a 5D Mark II plus a bunch of L lenses that he doesn't know how to use. But gadget lust is so seductive, and I like buzz words like "magnesium body" for some reason.

I also just read a review about the Panasonic GH-2 (a 4/3 camera format) and someone claims it is the "future" for DSLR. I originally wrote off 4/3 format because, well, I just don't undesrstand it and it seem very "niche" market. And I hate getting burned when standards don't get adopted (RIP, Betamax and HD-DVD). Anyone have thoughts on the 4/3rds route?

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herebefore
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Re: like I said, bodies come and go About 4/3
In reply to chris401, Mar 4, 2011

I have:

Olympus E-1/E-300/E-510/E-520/E-620(two of those)and E-330, & a Panasonic L-1

All 4/3 cameras.. I use them all, and I LIKE them all, but you will notice I didnt recommend them for your "Baby Shooting"..

I didn't recommend that brand for you because, good as they are, they aren't top shelf when it comes to shooting low-light, high ISO and I think thats where the killer photos are with baby photos, and toddler photos.

I also have a couple of Canon DSLRs.. (Old Ones)..

There are good and logical reasons that I recommended Pentax & Nikon..

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Tom_N
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Re: like I said, bodies come and go
In reply to chris401, Mar 5, 2011

chris401 wrote:

But the reviews I read on the Nikon D7000 seem pretty great. Of course, now I'm almost doubling the price for body alone, so I would need to adjust the budget upwards.

The D7000 is a very nice camera body, but it's overkill. You could put together a pretty nice kit using the D90 for about $1600 + shipping, from reputable mail-order places. For instance:

  • Nikon D90 with Nikon 18-105mm VR lens

  • Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D autofocus lens

  • Nikon SB-700 flash

  • Nikon EN-EL3e rechargeable battery

  • (2) SanDisk 16 GB Ultra SDHC Memory Cards

  • Some reasonably priced camera bag that's large enough to hold everything

This is a bit over your desired $1200 target. If that's a problem, substituting a SB-400 for the SB-700 would be one way to trim around $200. In the other direction, substituting a D7000 for the D90 (same kit zoom lens), would add more than $500 to the cost.

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chris401
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Re: like I said, bodies come and go
In reply to Tom_N, Mar 5, 2011

Tom_N wrote:

chris401 wrote:

But the reviews I read on the Nikon D7000 seem pretty great. Of course, now I'm almost doubling the price for body alone, so I would need to adjust the budget upwards.

The D7000 is a very nice camera body, but it's overkill. You could put together a pretty nice kit using the D90 for about $1600 + shipping, from reputable mail-order places. For instance:

  • Nikon D90 with Nikon 18-105mm VR lens

  • Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D autofocus lens

  • Nikon SB-700 flash

  • Nikon EN-EL3e rechargeable battery

  • (2) SanDisk 16 GB Ultra SDHC Memory Cards

  • Some reasonably priced camera bag that's large enough to hold everything

This is a bit over your desired $1200 target. If that's a problem, substituting a SB-400 for the SB-700 would be one way to trim around $200. In the other direction, substituting a D7000 for the D90 (same kit zoom lens), would add more than $500 to the cost.

That seems like a great kit recommendation, thanks Tom! I am reading up on the differences between Nikon and Canon; really hard for me to tell a difference. Do people consider one to be more user-friendly than the other?

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