"Easiest" camera for kids and bokeh?

Started Nov 10, 2012 | Discussions
MattiMaman New Member • Posts: 6
"Easiest" camera for kids and bokeh?

I am planning on getting a camera for Christmas...my old Canon P&S is on its last legs.  I have a toddler who is always on the go, so it's super difficult to get good shots of him.  I also LOVE pictures with bokeh (that's the term for blurry background, right?).  Is there anything out there non-DSLR that can capture kids and bokeh?

Since I already take too few pictures, I'm afraid the learning curve and size of a DSLR would deter me even more.  But will I be disappointed with a "bridge" camera?  Based on what I've read here, I'm considering (but certainly open to other options):

Sony DSC-RX100

Canon G12

Sony Cybershot TX100V

Canon S95

Thanks for your input!

Canon PowerShot G12 Canon PowerShot S95 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX100V
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Hugowolf Forum Pro • Posts: 12,674
Re: "Easiest" camera for kids and bokeh?
4

I’m sure others will step in on the ‘what camera’ issue, but you are off the mark on bokeh. I think what you mean is shallow depth of field – the ability for a camera and lens system to limit the depth of field to the subject while rendering the foreground and background out of focus.

To obtain a shallow depth of field, except for close up photography, you need a camera with a fairly large sensor and a wide aperture lens.

Bokeh is a term that refers to the quality of the out of focus areas in an image. You can have good  bokeh and bad bokeh, creamy soft bokeh and harsh bokeh, but not lots of bokeh or less bokeh.

Brian A

trekkeruss Veteran Member • Posts: 3,899
Re: "Easiest" camera for kids and bokeh?
1

MattiMaman wrote:

I am planning on getting a camera for Christmas...my old Canon P&S is on its last legs. I have a toddler who is always on the go, so it's super difficult to get good shots of him. I also LOVE pictures with bokeh (that's the term for blurry background, right?). Is there anything out there non-DSLR that can capture kids and bokeh?

Some Sony cameras offer a faked Background Defocus mode, which works surprisingly well...sometimes.

Since I already take too few pictures, I'm afraid the learning curve and size of a DSLR would deter me even more.

Unfortunately, nothing is free. To get what you want (especially from a small camera) requires a bit of basic knowledge and planning. To get portraits with an out-of-focus background would require you to go outdoors to a park or something...it's not something you could do inside your house.

But will I be disappointed with a "bridge" camera? Based on what I've read here, I'm considering (but certainly open to other options):

Sony DSC-RX100

Canon G12

Sony Cybershot TX100V

Canon S95

The RX100 would be the best and the TX100V the worst, but none will give you a blurry background easily.

Pasmia Contributing Member • Posts: 536
Re: "Easiest" camera for kids and bokeh?

MattiMaman wrote:

I am planning on getting a camera for Christmas...my old Canon P&S is on its last legs. I have a toddler who is always on the go, so it's super difficult to get good shots of him. I also LOVE pictures with bokeh (that's the term for blurry background, right?). Is there anything out there non-DSLR that can capture kids and bokeh?

Since I already take too few pictures, I'm afraid the learning curve and size of a DSLR would deter me even more. But will I be disappointed with a "bridge" camera? Based on what I've read here, I'm considering (but certainly open to other options):

Sony DSC-RX100

Canon G12

Sony Cybershot TX100V

Canon S95

Thanks for your input!

Entry level dslrs are very beginner friendly nowadays with auto modes and in camera tips.  They're also more affordable in comparison the alrernatives in achieving pictures with shallow depth of field (what you're referring to as bokeh).  They're also the fastest focusing cameras for action shots or moving kids.  Now with that bein said, here's my suggestion because I got into photography recently to capture my little monsters in nice rich pictures as well...

Look up the following: Olympus EPM1 or Olympus EPM2.  Choose the one you like the most.  Now, look up Olympus 45mm 1.8 lens.  The combination of this lens and either of these cameras will give shallow depth o field pictures.  You can also look up the Olympus EPL3 or 5 if you prefer a swivel screen.  The numbers in the camera names are chronologically relevant with the 2 and 5 just being released.  They give out better pictures than the older models but are quite significantly more expensive.

You can also look up the Sony Nex c3 or f3 (I believe) or 5n or 5r cameras and their 50mm nex lens.  This will also give you the same effect.

these cameras are very user friendly. But they are system cameras with interchangeable lenses.  Don't be intimidated by swapping out lenses. It's second nature after just a couple of tries. Also, i don't know what your budget is like, but this is actually on the lower end of the price range to achieve what you want.  And the cheapest combo here will run about $500-$600.  Do not buy the camera bodies alone, make sure you buy the camera with a standard kit lens and then buy the suggested lens above on top of that.  The suggested lenses are rather tight and may get frustrating to use in enclosed areas.

 Pasmia's gear list:Pasmia's gear list
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Prime85 Senior Member • Posts: 1,017
Re: "Easiest" camera for kids and bokeh?

The SONY RX100 is portable nad has great quality and is a no-brainer (no to minimal bokeh though).  For Bokek the Oly Lens and camera mentioned above are great and will get you the Bokeh.  Not as portable as the RX100.  But a very good choice.

In my opinion these are the way to go.  Perhaps getting both of them...

Another camera for Bokey is any DSLR with an 85mm f1.8 lens.

The Fuji X-E1 with the 35mm lens has nice Bokeh as well but for kids I would go the Oly or DSLR route to keep up with the kids.  RX100 will do it as well...

CosmoZooo Regular Member • Posts: 452
Re: "Easiest" camera for kids and bokeh?
1

I am a noob too but I've learned a little hanging out in the NEX forum. Like others said you will need a camera with a fairly large sensor for shallow depth of field or DOF as folks call it.

I am getting the NEX-6 soon but that will run you a grand. However the NEX line start at $500-$600 starting with the NEX-F3. Any one of those will give you the ability to produce some nice photos with DOF. The main problem coming from the compact camera is the lens size because the standard lens kit on the NEX-F3 is still 18-55mm lens which is rather large comparing to the camera size. But you can get the NEX-5R and NEX-6 with the 16-50mm powerzoom which is pretty compact. Still not point and shoot size but will fit in a large coat pocket There is a good chance the NEX-F3 will be available with that lens down the road as well...those lenses are just coming out.

Another alternative if you want good pricing, excellent photo quality (NEX is great too) and fairly compact size with DOF capabilities would be the new Olympus cameras. Specifically you want either the Olympus PEN E-PM2 or Olympus PEN E-PL5. Out of the two the PEN E-PM2 is the smaller camera with less manual controls and really friendly for point and shoot with some cool touch screen capabilities but the E-PL5 will give you a more flexible LCD which flips up and down for easier waist level or overhead pictures but it's a $100 more. Both have a 14-42mm kit lens which is pretty compact but not as small as NEX 16-50 power zoom, yet all the photos I've seen of the camera should still be very easy to carry around. Those cameras have excellent sensors, so I would go for them rather then some of the older models mentioned here. Also NEX can produce a more shallow DOF because of the larger sensor, but the samples I've seen from Olympus cameras online still show some good DOF capability.

Do not be scared of interchangeable lenses. I for one plan to stick to the kit lens until my kids get old enough that I have to shoot some sports or stage stuff and then I might get a telephoto zoom. Until then the kit zoom will do just fine.

Good luck!

OP MattiMaman New Member • Posts: 6
Re: "Easiest" camera for kids and bokeh?

Thanks to all for the informative responses.  I will definitely research the Olympus and Sony NEX models mentioned!

Spillicus
Spillicus Contributing Member • Posts: 678
Re: "Easiest" camera for kids and bokeh?

Because of the speed at which a DSLR can focus, it's really your best option for taking pictures of toddlers.  Most other options are making some kind of compromise for their smaller size.  Since you have a toddler, your days of traveling light are probably over anyways.  I'd go try out some of the smaller entry level DSLRs, you'll get the best results, and they're not really any more expensive than the compact systems like the NEX cameras.

 Spillicus's gear list:Spillicus's gear list
Sony SLT-A65 Sony DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM Sony DT 35mm F1.8 SAM Tamron SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di USD
trekkeruss Veteran Member • Posts: 3,899
Re: "Easiest" camera for kids and bokeh?
1

Adorama has the factory refurbished Nikon D5100 with the 18-55mm kit lens for just $424:

http://www.adorama.com/INKD5100KR.html?emailprice=t&utm_term=Other&utm_medium=Affiliate&utm_campaign=Other&utm_source=cj_552179

To get a shallow depth of field more easily, you could get the 50mm f/1.8 lens for about $220.

Leonard Migliore
Leonard Migliore Forum Pro • Posts: 15,573
Or maybe a 35
1

trekkeruss wrote:

Adorama has the factory refurbished Nikon D5100 with the 18-55mm kit lens for just $424:

http://www.adorama.com/INKD5100KR.html?emailprice=t&utm_term=Other&utm_medium=Affiliate&utm_campaign=Other&utm_source=cj_552179

To get a shallow depth of field more easily, you could get the 50mm f/1.8 lens for about $220.

The D5100 is a good choice, and the 50 f/1.8 would certainly allow you to do selective focus. But for kids indoors, I'd go with the similarly-priced 35mm f/1.8 because the 50mm is kind of tight and you end up backing up into the wall.

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Leonard Migliore

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CosmoZooo Regular Member • Posts: 452
Re: "Easiest" camera for kids and bokeh?

I disagree: the entry level DSLRs do not provide the same image quality especially in low light scenarios as the NEX line does. It is easily evident by simple image comparisons right here on dpreview. If you think about it shooting indoors for example should be much better with NEX without having to use flash. Also toddlers are not exactly sports cars the NEX and Olympus, which based on the reviews are very fast in good light are both plenty fast to catch a toddler and more...there are plenty pictures posted to prove it. When you're hauling around as much stuff as you're already a light camera that is easy to drag along is a big plus.

John Deerfield Veteran Member • Posts: 3,140
Re: Or maybe a 35

The D5100 is a good choice, and the 50 f/1.8 would certainly allow you to do selective focus. But for kids indoors, I'd go with the similarly-priced 35mm f/1.8 because the 50mm is kind of tight and you end up backing up into the wall.

-- hide signature --

Leonard Migliore

And therein lies the real issue to throwing your background out-of-focus: it's really a matter of controlling distances and focal length than anything else. And of course this is where a full frame DSLR comes in very handy! I have a shot with a 50mm lens @ f/2. Predictably, the shot has a very shallow DoF, not even all of the subject is in sharp focus. Framing the shot the same way, using an 180mm lens (which means backing up) @ f/5.6 gives me more DoF (more of my subject is in focus) AND a more OoF background than the 50mm @ f/2. With the catch being you need enough room to use the 180mm lens. Shooting with wider lenses and/or smaller sensor cameras makes it next to impossible to get your background OoF.

Eddaweaver Senior Member • Posts: 2,232
Re: "Easiest" camera for kids and bokeh?

The RX100 can do bokeh because its sensor is much larger than what is usually found in compact cameras and it has an f1.8 lens.

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=rx100+bokeh&s=int

Ironically the RX100 can focus somewhat faster than alot of dSLR and mirrorless camera models.

"I'm afraid the learning curve and size of a DSLR would deter me even more."

I don't know if the learning curve would be a big problem but the size and weight are things that should be taken into consideration as the larger the camera the less portable it is and the less likely you are to be able or want to take it with you.

"But will I be disappointed with a "bridge" camera?"

Probably. All but several models have picture quality and "bokeh" no better than a mid end compact camera, and I doubt the Fuji X-S1 is what you're looking for in a camera.

If you do get an RX100 I suggest changing the "High ISO Noise Reduction" setting from "Normal" to "Low".

Spillicus
Spillicus Contributing Member • Posts: 678
Re: "Easiest" camera for kids and bokeh?

CosmoZooo wrote:

I disagree: the entry level DSLRs do not provide the same image quality especially in low light scenarios as the NEX line does. It is easily evident by simple image comparisons right here on dpreview. If you think about it shooting indoors for example should be much better with NEX without having to use flash. Also toddlers are not exactly sports cars the NEX and Olympus, which based on the reviews are very fast in good light are both plenty fast to catch a toddler and more...there are plenty pictures posted to prove it. When you're hauling around as much stuff as you're already a light camera that is easy to drag along is a big plus.

The NEX 5 uses the same 16MP sensor as a Sony A57, Nikon D5100, Pentax K30, and the NEX 7 uses the same 24MP sensor as a Sony A65, Nikon D3200, D5200 etc.  So the NEX doesn't have better image quality; it's pretty much exactly the same.

And the NEX does pretty well in good light, but not as well in low light, and it's still not as fast as a DSLR.  The whole purpose of the DSLR design is to have a phase detection autofocus system because it is fast and goes to the right focus point immediately without having to hunt through the whole range like a contrast detection system does.  And yes, there are plenty of great pictures from the NEX camera of toddlers out there and it's not to say it's horribly slow, but people don't post their out of focus shots, so you're not really getting an idea of the keeper rate from these forums.

I think the NEX cameras are great, but Sony is still making a DSLR camera line for a reason.

 Spillicus's gear list:Spillicus's gear list
Sony SLT-A65 Sony DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM Sony DT 35mm F1.8 SAM Tamron SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di USD
peevee1 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,247
Re: "Easiest" camera for kids and bokeh?

MattiMaman wrote:

I am planning on getting a camera for Christmas...my old Canon P&S is on its last legs. I have a toddler who is always on the go, so it's super difficult to get good shots of him. I also LOVE pictures with bokeh (that's the term for blurry background, right?). Is there anything out there non-DSLR that can capture kids and bokeh?

Since I already take too few pictures, I'm afraid the learning curve and size of a DSLR would deter me even more. But will I be disappointed with a "bridge" camera? Based on what I've read here, I'm considering (but certainly open to other options):

Sony DSC-RX100

Canon G12

Sony Cybershot TX100V

Canon S95


To get the shots with a blurry background ("Bokeh" is the subjective quality of that background, not blurry background itself) you need something with bigger sensors and faster lenses (with lower f-numbers). RX100 has the sensor 4 times as big as TX100V and most other P&S, but professional DSLRs which give the results you might have seen (with blurry background) have about 8 times the size of the sensor in RX100 (about 32 times the size of sensor in typical P&S and bridge cameras, or 2.5 times of cheap consumer "APS-C" DSLRs).

If you also want a zoom lens (which you probably do, unless you are willing to run after your toddler to stay in a specific distance to obtain your desired framing), there is no other choice but interchangeable lens camera. And if you combine large sensor and a bright zoom lens, it is a very expensive proposition: when bought new, the cheapest full-frame DSLR (Canon 6D or better Nikon D600) is $2100 and 24-70 f/2.8 zoom is around $2000.

A compromise would be to have a cheaper but high-resolution APS-C camera (like Nikon D3200 or better the new Nikon D5200 or Sony A65 or NEX-7), bright prime lens (f/1.4) and just crop later to your desired framing.

Or you can cheat and try to take pictures of your toddler from far away at long end of the zoom with a bridge that either has bright lens at the long end (Panasonic FZ200) or somewhat bigger sensor (Fuji X-S1), making sure that the background beyond your subject is even further away. Other possibility to increase blur is to get closer (still maintaining zoom at long) and compose so only part of your subject will be in the frame - not the whole body and not him with his friends, but just the face or even part of the face.

It is not going to work indoors (at least without studio lighting) though.

peevee1 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,247
Re: "Easiest" camera for kids and bokeh?

CosmoZooo wrote:

I am a noob too but I've learned a little hanging out in the NEX forum. Like others said you will need a camera with a fairly large sensor for shallow depth of field or DOF as folks call it.

I am getting the NEX-6 soon but that will run you a grand. However the NEX line start at $500-$600 starting with the NEX-F3. Any one of those will give you the ability to produce some nice photos with DOF. The main problem coming from the compact camera is the lens size because the standard lens kit on the NEX-F3 is still 18-55mm lens which is rather large comparing to the camera size. But you can get the NEX-5R and NEX-6 with the 16-50mm powerzoom which is pretty compact. Still not point and shoot size but will fit in a large coat pocket There is a good chance the NEX-F3 will be available with that lens down the road as well...those lenses are just coming out.

Another alternative if you want good pricing, excellent photo quality (NEX is great too) and fairly compact size with DOF capabilities would be the new Olympus cameras. Specifically you want either the Olympus PEN E-PM2 or Olympus PEN E-PL5. Out of the two the PEN E-PM2 is the smaller camera with less manual controls and really friendly for point and shoot with some cool touch screen capabilities but the E-PL5 will give you a more flexible LCD which flips up and down for easier waist level or overhead pictures but it's a $100 more. Both have a 14-42mm kit lens which is pretty compact but not as small as NEX 16-50 power zoom, yet all the photos I've seen of the camera should still be very easy to carry around.

These are indeed very good cameras. I haven't heard a word how much better NEX-5r and NEX-6 at focusing, NEX-F3 and 5N were not very good for moving subjects, while the Olympus cameras are as good as entry level DSLRs.

BUT... with the kit zooms they are not any better for background blur or low light than Sony RX100 compact camera. To achieve really shallow DoF with the Olympus cameras, you need either Panasonic 35-100 f/2.8 zoom ($1500) at it's long end or Olympus 75/1.8 prime ($900) - which have too narrow view for use in small rooms. For closer distances your best bet is Panasonic 25 f/1.4 ($500), which, while not providing as shallow DoF as the other 2, is suitable for close portraits and still insanely better than the kit zooms. There is also Voightlander 25 f/0.95, but it is manual-focus-only and as such very hard to use with running kids.

For Sony NEX the only native choice is Sony 50 f/1.8. The DoF is not going to be as shallow at the Olympus and Pana choices, and the view is not as wide as the Pana 25 mm.

peevee1 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,247
Re: "Easiest" camera for kids and bokeh?

CosmoZooo wrote:

I disagree: the entry level DSLRs do not provide the same image quality especially in low light scenarios as the NEX line does.

Nikon D5100 and Pentax K-30 have exactly the same sensor as Sony NEX and better lenses are available, so image quality will generally be better.

Sony DSLTs - A37 and A57 - also have the same sensor, but image quality is worse due to the translucent mirror diverting part of light to AF sensors.

Canon Rebels are worse due to their outdated sensors.

Spillicus
Spillicus Contributing Member • Posts: 678
Re: "Easiest" camera for kids and bokeh?

Sony DSLTs - A37 and A57 - also have the same sensor, but image quality is worse due to the translucent mirror diverting part of light to AF sensors.

Canon Rebels are worse due to their outdated sensors.

The mirror in the A37 and A57 takes about 1/3 eV worth of light.  This is on the edge of being perceptible, and not worth worrying about.  It's strange to me that people keep tossing this out as a meaningful difference in image quality when in any practical way it's not.

 Spillicus's gear list:Spillicus's gear list
Sony SLT-A65 Sony DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM Sony DT 35mm F1.8 SAM Tamron SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di USD
peevee1 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,247
Re: "Easiest" camera for kids and bokeh?

Spillicus wrote:

CosmoZooo wrote:

I disagree: the entry level DSLRs do not provide the same image quality especially in low light scenarios as the NEX line does. It is easily evident by simple image comparisons right here on dpreview. If you think about it shooting indoors for example should be much better with NEX without having to use flash. Also toddlers are not exactly sports cars the NEX and Olympus, which based on the reviews are very fast in good light are both plenty fast to catch a toddler and more...there are plenty pictures posted to prove it. When you're hauling around as much stuff as you're already a light camera that is easy to drag along is a big plus.

The NEX 5 uses the same 16MP sensor as a Sony A57, Nikon D5100, Pentax K30, and the NEX 7 uses the same 24MP sensor as a Sony A65, Nikon D3200, D5200 etc.

D3200 uses Nikon's own 24 mpix sensor, a little worse then the Sony's.

peevee1 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,247
Re: "Easiest" camera for kids and bokeh?

Spillicus wrote:

Sony DSLTs - A37 and A57 - also have the same sensor, but image quality is worse due to the translucent mirror diverting part of light to AF sensors.

Canon Rebels are worse due to their outdated sensors.

The mirror in the A37 and A57 takes about 1/3 eV worth of light. This is on the edge of being perceptible, and not worth worrying about. It's strange to me that people keep tossing this out as a meaningful difference in image quality when in any practical way it's not.

I don;t believe it is true, it is more like 1/3 (or 1/2EV) of all light. Otherwise AF sensors would not have enough light to work reliably, just on 1/3 EV. Anyway, on test shots at high ISOs the difference is clearly visible and on the same order of "worse" as the Canons.

And eV is electron-Volt.

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