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May 8, 2012 11:54 AM   Subscribe

Non-photographer new parents looking for a decent camera to capture their wee one!

With a baby on the way, we realize that we don't want to be documenting it all on our phone cameras. This led me to check out cameras online and I am now a bit overwhelmed by the world of options available to me.

Parents, what were the essential features to have for taking pictures and video of your kid? What did you regret not having?

Complexity: I am good at learning the tech side, but my partner is more of a point-and-shoot kind of person. We both have to be able to use it.
Budget: We were initially thinking $300, but would consider up to $500 if essential.
Portability: size does not reallly matter but we want to avoid detachable lenses and other things to carry around in addition.

Are those rotatable LCD viewfinders important?
posted by Theta States to Technology (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've always loved the Nikon Coolpix series. Read the reviews, as some models don't live up to the line, but the menus are straightforward, the scene settings really useful, and the camera quality (on the good models) is quite good.

Rotatable LCDs are handy for getting low-level shots, which will really make your baby shots Pop!, but you can also get that by shooting and quickly reviewing (to make sure you didn't cut baby's head off at the top, for instance, or had bad focus). So, prob not worth an extra outlay.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:14 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a big DLSR that was about a grand but I have to say our second camera (Canon SD1000) has been awesome. It's probably 5 years old and they dont sell THAT model any more but I bet one like it will be great.
When you have a kid you have a baby bag to carry and, well, a kid to carry, too a larger camera isn't that convenient for us. Having one of the super portable (literally fits in your pocket) cameras has been just terrific. The cameras really take just terrific pictures and the features they are adding just get better and better. They take good video, too.
For video cameras I got one of the newer models. It's great but we only pull it out really for special occasions and usually film with our flip camera. again it's tiny and we can take it anywhere. It's nice having inexpensive gear, too. It's less for me to worry about.

But the feature I think is most important for an amateur photographer like myself is a camera that is great in low light. Flash sucks. The pictures are so much better when I can manage it without a flash (Because I don't really know what I am doing when it comes to using a flash) If I could be buying my camera now I would research one of the new ones that are supposed to be great in low light.
posted by beccaj at 12:16 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Canon S100 is one of the best point and shoot cameras out there. It has a good lens and a big sensor, which means that it can take very nice low-light photographs, and also can take very short shutter time photographs to catch those fast-moving little kids.

It has a million modes, but on my two generations previous s90, auto and low light are the most commonly used.

It is also SOLID (aluminum chassis), takes HD Video, etc.
posted by rockindata at 12:24 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seconding the Canon S100. It's excellent. It has lots of functionality for shooting in RAW and adjusting shutter speed and aperture if you want to play around with that, and it takes very nice pictures in its auto mode. It also has a low light setting, which takes pretty good pictures, among other nice amenities.

IMO it gives you a lot of what you might want to do with a DSLR for a fraction of the price and it fits in your pocket, so you always have it.
posted by MoonOrb at 12:45 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd second the Canon S100 recommendation. It's small so you'll be able to take it anywhere, and the camera you have with you is better than the camera you left behind because it was too big. Some good resources for camera reviews are DPReview and Camera Labs.
posted by cubby at 12:45 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Are those rotatable LCD viewfinders important?"

They're only important if you want to be in the photo too. And, even then, they're not essential. My camera has an amazing rotatable LCD on a two-joint arm that flips in just about any direction imaginable. I was SO excited to get that feature! ...but I almost never use it.

Personally, I'd recommend an iPhone. It's small, you'll always have it with you, and the results are surprisingly good.
posted by 2oh1 at 12:52 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


If I may add .02 With a wee one around you may want to consider these three things: Speed, Durability, Waterproofiness. Speed because most POS cameras have a delay between snapping the shutter and the actual moment the picture is taken. Durability, I don't like cameras with lenses that pop out of the body. They are easily grabbed, snagged and bumped. Waterproofiness, well that's obvious. What better way to embarrass your child and damage them for life than to take those ever so cute bath time shots... With that in mind I'd recommend the Olympus SW series. (Now called the Tough series) for being shock proof and waterproof, and without dangly bits. BONUS some of them do 1080p video.
posted by Gungho at 12:59 PM on May 8, 2012


Let's say you've been riding a cheap moped and decide to get a car. Pretty much any decent subcompact is going to seem amazing to you and you will be delighted with your purchase. It has a roof! And air conditioning! And can go 60 mph! But if you ask a bunch of car experts they will point you to a $40,000 car that drives much better.

Similarly, if you're used to camera phones (or even a digital camera that's more than a few years old), the performance of pretty much any decently reviewed small digital camera will blow you away. Yes, if your budget is $300-$500, the Canon S100 is ideal, but I'd suggest buying something in the $100-$150 range, or at least borrowing one from a friend or trying it at the store.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:00 PM on May 8, 2012


Gungho: Good points on the Tough series. The S100 seems to have better aperture range and a closer focus range, buuuut I once destroyed a telescoping camera due to the overwhelming cuteness of a playful otter... :)

Mr.Know-it-some: Definitely good points. I will definitely be gleeful with the power of any new camera, but I do have some minor experience with some friends' pricey cameras so I won't be entirely starry-eyed about it for long.
posted by Theta States at 1:14 PM on May 8, 2012


I don't have a camera recommendation, but I consider it an essential that you get one that takes an Eye-Fi memory card. You'll enjoy taking pictures so much more when they upload wirelessly and effortlessly.
posted by miniminimarket at 1:29 PM on May 8, 2012


Years ago I used a Sony camera and the delta between shutter down and actual shot taken made it impossible to get a picture. I replaced that camera with a Canon SD400 (now superseded by whatever model they're up to now). The kicker for me was the "kids and pets" setting which, at least in the SD400 was super fast so that I'd rarely miss a shot.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that it's the camera that's with you that takes the pictures. It does no good at home or on a shelf or if it boots too slowly. Go into a store with a memory card of your own and shoot pictures. I did it with my kid in a shopping cart.

I treated myself a year ago and got a Canon G13. At first I was going to get a DSLR and the thing that talked me out of it was that I realized that (1) I felt like I was being sold up to a DSLR and that I wouldn't get much from it (2) won't fit in my pocket.

Finally, there are a couple things that will make your pictures better. Learn to hold steady and avoid using a flash indoors. Save the flash for outdoors (think sunny park/picnic) when the sun creates deep shadows under your subject's eyes. You will likely have to turn it on manually. These two things alone vastly improved how my pictures look.
posted by plinth at 5:21 PM on May 8, 2012


I also came in to suggest the Canon S90/95/100 range--they're wonderful cameras that consistently take very good pictures. I've got a S95, and can't say enough good things about it. It's great as a point and shoot, but also allows you to fine-tune things, if that's what you want to do. Gold star all around--and you can find the S90/95 used for quite cheap, if you look. I got mine for $275 about three months back.
posted by MeghanC at 10:36 PM on May 8, 2012


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