Best Camera/Video for New Parents?
February 18, 2011 8:02 AM   Subscribe

Best camera/video device + software for new parents who want to take artistic photos of their baby?

Hello! We're pregnant with five months to go, and I'd like to use this time to get comfortable with a camera/video all-in-one so that we can take adorable pics when we want to of our baby! In our area (LA), newborn pics by a quality professional seem to range from $1K-$2K, so I figure that if I invest something around $2K-$2500 for a device + software for alterations, it will be well worth it!

Caveat that I hope won't really compromise quality: my SO insists that we get a camera that also has video so we only have one device to lug around.

We are also PC users (no Macs) if this matters. I am tech-savvy but rusty. Also, while I *could* learn to use a bunch of lenses, something more along the lines of grab, fiddle for 30 seconds, and go are more my speed (and expected free time).

I am not averse to buying secondhand or last year's model to save money, so if your recs are a year old or so, do let me know!

Please offer your best advice for devices, software, and props that you think will make things super cute and fun!

posted by citystalk to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I am a new parent who invested in a new camera for the occasion. I bought the Canon 60D which is a very nice camera that shoots HD video as well as 16MP still photos. It has a flip out screen which is great for getting on the floor with the baby. I bought a second hand lens to go with it. Shooting in 1920 x 1080 HD is great for future proofing the footage for quite a while.

The big problem is editing. I'm a telvision director and editor so have my own mac final cut pro set-up. I wouldn't have a clue what non-professional PC set-up could handle this quality of footage but here's a forum discussing this for the Canon 5D MkII, which shoots the same quality as my cheaper camera.

There are definitely other good options out there, Philip Bloom's website has a lot of information about DSLR camera shooting.
posted by DOUBLE A SIDE at 8:24 AM on February 18, 2011

If your goal is image quality and you are comfortable with the budget you've laid out, check out the Panasonic DMC-GH2. DPReview hasn't reviewed it yet but google turns up several. Its sensor is high quality like a DSLR, but it trades the SLR-style optical viewfinder away in return for a very compact package. With a pancake lens it's nearly pocketable. It does beautiful stills and 1080p video. My brother got one just for shooting video and he raves about it. Here's a link to a bunch of videos on Vimeo. The GH2 does do interchangeable lenses but in my experience you'll wind up settling on either a favorite zoom (convenient) or a favorite prime lens (quality) and leaving it on the camera.

There's a lot of learning and practice to do with any camera in this feature and price range, but if you're cool with that then you will have a fantastic time and awesome pictures!
posted by mindsound at 8:33 AM on February 18, 2011

Get something like a Canon xsi (older model) or a T2i (newer model). Try to buy the body only, without the kit lens, so you can save some money. Don't spend all the money on the DSLR. Then go for a good lens. That's what makes the difference.

Something like this Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L would be nice.

Just start with a lens like this and later acquire more lenses based on your needs.

I suggested the above lens since your budget allows it, but you don't need something that badass to take good photos. I have a 50mm 1.8 and take nice shots even with that.
posted by WizKid at 8:45 AM on February 18, 2011

I would suggest going for either a Canon or a Nikon. There are other good brands out there, but since these two are the most popular, it's easy to find lenses and other stuff for them.
posted by WizKid at 8:47 AM on February 18, 2011

WizKid, I would say that on an APS-C sensor camera (like the rebels), the 50mm 1.8 will generally take much better photos than the 24-70mm lens. That extra stop will make a HUGE difference.
posted by The Lamplighter at 11:39 AM on February 18, 2011

Any of the entry-level DSLRs with video and live-view will work fine. The key though, is that you want decent glass (big apertures in particular) but most importantly, lighting.

The one absolute most important item for taking good people-photos is an off-camera wireless flash that you can bounce off walls/ceilings. They're about $300 brand new. Buy an entry-level body, get a mid-range lens (24-75/2.8 and 50/1.4 is a good place to start) and do not forget the flash. Even if you buy a cheap shitty $100 Sigma flash, as long as it works automatically with your camera wirelessly, it will make 10x more difference to your photos than spending $5000 more on the body and lens. Really.

$2k (and a bunch of time spent learning how best to employ the tools - get on to a good photography forum) is more than enough to get you taking *excellent* photos.

The time expenditure and learning is not optional, sorry. Think of it like a pencil - you can't just pick up a pencil and expect to draw like a master. Cameras are kind of similar despite all the buttons: you still need to know how to compose and light.
posted by polyglot at 10:36 PM on February 18, 2011

PS: secondhand lenses are the best approach, IMHO. They are often much cheaper than new, but they don't really get worse with age unless they've been trashed. There's a shitload of practically-unused glass out there that's been cast-off by people buying the newest status symbols instead of learning how to photograph.

The same applies to bodies, but to a lesser extent because they're more subject to issues like damage from falls and mechanical wear.

PPS: do some googling on high key lighting and processing techniques; that will serve you well for this particular purpose.
posted by polyglot at 10:40 PM on February 18, 2011

I'll 2'nd polyglot recommendation for buying used. Just look around in the craigslist.
With kids big apertures in a must.
posted by WizKid at 7:36 AM on February 19, 2011

« Older Advice for PE test?   |   Milk baths? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.