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New parents need a camera to keep up with our baby (and pup!). What should we get?

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by foggymommy, Apr 3, 2012.

  1. foggymommy

    foggymommy New to Mu-43

    Apr 3, 2012
    Hi all -

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    My husband and I are new parents and we'd like a camera that can keep up with our 6 month old. We have a Canon S95 which is great for some things but fairly slow when it comes to the speed of a baby.

    I'm considering a DSLR but a 4/3 is just so appealing for many reasons.

    Which ones should I be targeting in my search? Is anything new on the horizon (should we wait)?

    I'd like something fairly easy to use (or else my husband won't use it) and something that takes great pictures. We probably won't use RAW all that much but I'd like to have the option.

    I really enjoy taking pictures and photography used to be a big hobby for me (when I had time for hobbies, before I was a mom) but my husband will really only take a photo when I beg him too (hence I have few of me and the baby :-( ) so ideally I'd like to find a camera which will be as painless as possible for him to use while still preserving the ability to keep it interesting for me.

    Any and all suggestions are very welcome.

    I'd also love to know what you think I may need (lenses, etc.) to get going so I can figure out what type of investment this will be.

    If it matters we take a mix of indoor and outdoor photos.

    Thanks again!
  2. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
  3. Aegon

    Aegon Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 3, 2011
    Portland, OR
    If you shoot JPEG, get Olympus.

    In my opinion getting shots of kids requires quick AF. So stick to the quickest focusing bodies:
    E-PM1, E-PL3, E-P3, E-M5
    (or Panasonic GH2, GF2, GF3, G3, GX1)

    Then get AF lenses that focus quick:
    Panasonic 14-42mm, 14-45mm, 14mm, 25mm
    Olympus 12mm, 14-42 II (including R), 45mm, (also, probably 12-50mm)

    Any combination of the above will be great.

    -edited to add:
    Consider the new Sigma 19mm and 30mm lenses, too. Each are relatively cheap at $199. Each supposedly focuses very quickly.
  4. InlawBiker

    InlawBiker Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 1, 2012
    Seattle, WA
    I would say the G3 with a zoom lens, a prime lens and a flash.

    Why the G3? It has the latest and greatest sensor technology along with a few others like the GH2, GX1 and forthcoming E-M5. All of those cost a more though. It has a swivel LCD screen and does very nice video, touch screen and built-in flash. And it's very small.

    The G3 also has a shoe for external flash, it's the best thing you can buy for a baby or kids bar none. The kit zoom lens is fine!

    Finally, as a last priority a fast prime lens like the 20mm or 45mm for non-flash poor light situations.

    That's my take.
  5. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    I'm going to vote for the Olympus PM1 as a camera that comes nearly perfect out of the box while also being extremely compact, and really how much more stuff do you need in your hands with a child and a puppy already? Very fast AF, simple to use, great JPEG quality, and a very nice kit zoom included. (I'm not too fond of the lens Panasonic is packaging with the G3.)

    If we're talking about lens choices on top of that...it depends. The Leica 25mm provides solid AF performance and incredible low light abilities, at a very substantial price. The Olympus 45mm is one of the best lenses you can have, but it's a telephoto and can be especially awkward indoors. The 20mm turns out wonderful images in all lighting, but it's slow to focus. The Panasonic 14mm is very nice and fast but a bit wide and not all that special aperture-wise.
  6. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    +1 for hotshoe flash unless you live in a house with huge windows and a lot of light. Otherwise you'll just get blurry photos. Once the baby really starts moving you'll be hard pressed to keep up. Get a flash and learn how to bounce the light. It'll improve things immeasurably.
  7. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    I second the choice of the E-PM1.

    For $500 with the 14-42mm (28-84mm in 35mm terms) zoom lens, it's enough to get you started right out of the box. Its capable of taking great, sharp photos as well as HD video, yet it's still so small and light that you will be much more likely to have it with you (as compared to a larger DSLR). Not to mention it's cute (and comes in a number of colors, though, I'd probably stay away from purple or pink if you want your husband to use it). In addition to the ability to use other lenses, the sensor is much larger than that on the S95.

    As far as Panasonic v. Olympus, the biggest difference (to me) is that the Oly's have in-camera image stabilization, while the Panny's have stabilization in their lenses; this is reason enough to choose Oly since their OIS will work with ANY lens you attach, including just about any vintage lens you can find.

    This size comparison really shows you how the E-PM1 is much closer in size to the S95 than to even a "small" DSLR (the Canon T3i).

    My first major upgrade would be to add the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens (around $350) which IMHO is a perfect lens for photographing babies, because the focal length allows you to stay close to the subject. The fast lens allows you to shoot in low-light situations. If your budget allows the camera kit plus the 20mm lens ($850 total) then that would be a perfect "starter" kit.

    Some have recommended off-camera flash, but I think that's something I'd hold off on until I got comfortable with the camera and understand the limitations of the built-in flash. In fact, I'd recommend that you try something like Gary Fong's Puffer diffuser before you add the complexity of off-camera flash. I agree that you can improve your results with off-camera flash, but if you've got a baby and a puppy you've got your hands full enough already.

    As far as waiting, I'm really not aware of any "breakthroughs" on the horizon. Sensors will continue to improve, but that's always going to be the case. Meanwhile your baby is not going to be a baby forever, so do yourself a favor and start capturing those memories.

    **EDIT: Sorry, I was under the impression that the E-PM1 had an on-camera flash, which is not the case. In light of this, I would instead suggest you look at the E-PL3 (or even the E-PL2 or E-PL1) which are only slightly larger but include a built-in flash.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. songs2001

    songs2001 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    Olympus is better because you can do off camera flash on the cheap. A fast aperture lens indoors isn't as useful unless the kids are posing.
  9. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    If cost is a factor (and when isn't it) and you can stomach a refurbished camera, then I'd check out the E-PM1 from Cameta for $330.
  10. BarefootPilgrim

    BarefootPilgrim Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Dec 23, 2009
    Westchester, IL
    Hi foggymommy... and Welcome to the group!.

    As I read your original post three Olympus models kept shoving everything else aside:

    Olympus E-PM1
    Olympus E-P3
    Olympus E-PL3

    All have lightning-fast autofocus, are amazingly simple to use and produce fantastic JPGs right out of the box. Here's how they stack up for your situation...

    Best Bang for the buck is the E-PM1. It's the smallest and lightest of the three models, and is the most similar to a point-n-shoot. But an adventurous or knowledgeable user can activate a menu that will provide more advanced choices for you. And it's "iAuto" ("intelligent Auto") mode makes great pictures in almost every situation in which I've used it. Just set the camera to iAuto, point at your subject and press the button.

    -- Note that iAuto is available on all three of these Olympus models, so any of them can be used easily by someone who doesn't "want to fool with a bunch of settings just to take a picture." --

    The E-P3 (most advanced model of the three) can be used as simply as the E-PM1 but if you choose to go "advanced," it has more direct-control buttons (the E-PM1 relies mostly on menu controls). E-P3 also has one of the best touch-sensitive LCD screens in the industry. You can focus anywhere in the frame and shoot instantly just by touching your finger to the place you want focused. It's fantastic for capturing kids and pets "in the act."

    The only thing the E-P3 doesn't have is an articulating screen. These are nice when you're shooting babies (and puppies) frolicking on the floor because you can place the camera at their level, tilt the screen up and compose/shoot your image without crawling around on the floor yourself.

    The E-PL3 has the articulating screen. But it does not have the touch-screen feature of the E-P3. It also costs less than the E-P3. Other than missing a touch-screen though, the E-PL3 is every bit as functional as the E-P3. Just because this is the shortest paragraph of these descriptions doesn't mean E-PL3 is any less camera than either of the others.

    All three cameras use the same sensor and the same internal processing engine, so your actual JPGs will be virtually identical no matter which of the three cameras you choose.

    As for whether you need off-camera flash or not, most of the time any of these three cameras will deliver pleasing images without flash as long as they're shot in a room with decent light. You might be shooting at ISO 1600 for some of those images, but ISO 1600 on these cameras still produces good pics. I've shot as high as ISO 2500 on my E-PM1 with acceptable results.

    But if you do decide to use flash, any camera will benefit from off-camera flash. Nice thing about these Olympus models is you can use the on-camera flash to trigger and control light output of the Olympus flash units (FL-36R, FL-50R).

    Whatever you decide to do, though, have fun with your new camera! And come back and show us some baby and puppy pics when you get it.
  11. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    The best camera for the shot is the one you have with you.

    Given your current predicament (kid, dog, & husband) I suggest you look hard at the small ruggedized cameras for a first purchase. Something like Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 (Lumix DMC-FT3): Digital Photography Review will survive the diaper bag and the bath very well. It will also be easy for hubbie to shoot.

    For more serious photography, either immediately or when life settles down a bit, you have a lot of good suggestions here already.

  12. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    They've already got a Canon S95 which isn't fast enough. What value (aside from ruggedness) does the TS3 add? :confused: 
  13. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    Probably not much. Ever dealt with puppies and babies 24/7?

    IMHO the S95 is probably best sold. It's kind of in the middle, not large-sensor quality but also not well suited to the puppies and babies environment. YMMV however.

    (Incidentally I am not necessarily recommending the TS3. It just popped up in a quick search. There are many cameras in that class.)
  14. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Upon re-reading my last post I noticed that I might have come off a little snarky. That was not my intention; I was just curious as to where you were coming from.

    As a father of two kids under 8, I can appreciate the value of a waterproof camera. That said, I'm not sure I'd sell the S95 to step down (IMHO) to a waterproof cam. I'd either sell the S95 (which you might get $250 for) to help finance the move to Micro 4/3, or hold on to in to use in those situations where you value it's compactness and/or don't want to put the M43 at risk.
  15. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    Does ANY non-SLR other than the Nikon 1 grab onto focus like the m4/3 cameras? I've never seen a compact acquire focus with quite the same decisive authority, though the Sony HX series are probably the closest.
  16. blaffendespin

    blaffendespin Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 28, 2012
    Rexburg, ID
    +1 E-PM1

    I really enjoy my E-PM1. It's small, light, and very simple to use. I have a 2 yr old who never stops moving, and I've found this camera does quite well. Very fast, and pretty accurate. It doesn't have a pop-up flash, but I keep mine on top - it's really not in the way unless you use a viewfinder.
  17. Hyubie

    Hyubie Unique like everyone else

    Oct 15, 2010
    The E-PL3 is on sale.

    I have two kids, have an E-PL2 and I'm almost ready to bite... Oh my poor wallet.
  18. foggymommy

    foggymommy New to Mu-43

    Apr 3, 2012
    Thanks for info! What am I going to miss?

    Wow - thanks for all the helpful info! As of now I'm leaning toward the EP3 if only for the very cool touch and focus feature.

    What's still nagging at me, is - what will I miss by purchasing a 4/3 and not purchasing a DSLR? And then there's the "did I make a mistake in buying my S95 this past summer?" but that's another story. Although I guess the two are related since I don't want to feel the same remorse if I buy a 4/3 that I tend to feel about the s95.

    We borrowed my father's panasonic Lumix a few years back for our honeymoon (actually 2 of them, 1 with interchangable lenses and 1 more point and shoot) and were really pleased with them - I only wish I knew the models and now it's not possible to find out :-(

  19. songs2001

    songs2001 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    Lens choice will probably be the biggest thing missing. A Canon or a Nikon has multiple choices for lenses, plus three third party lens vendors.

    That's the biggest complaint from what I see.
  20. BarefootPilgrim

    BarefootPilgrim Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Dec 23, 2009
    Westchester, IL
    Maybe so, but m-4/3 has every base covered except long telephoto-large-aperture. And nobody raising a bunch of kids and a puppy is in any position to afford the $2,000-$7,000 freight on high-end Nikon or Canon wide-aperture telephoto lenses. Nor are they likely to need such lenses.

    But back to foggymommy's latest question, "what will I miss"...

    You won't miss anything except the size and weight. For almost all situations you'll run into, the Olympus kit lens that's included with the 3 cameras I mentioned above will do a wonderful job for you.

    For stunning portraits or short-distance telephoto pics (running around the yard, bouncing on trampolines, etc.) you might want to add the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 ($399 at Amazon and all the usual suspects).

    For low-light group shots at birthday parties in dimly-lit basements you could probably use the exquisite Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 (about $300 at those same suspects).

    And when they start playing soccer or hockey or going to swim meets you'll probably want to add the Olympus 75-300 or Panasonic 100-300 for long telephoto shots.

    The point is, you'll sacrifice nothing by going m-4/3 instead of the DSLR route -- except the inconvenience and hassle of lugging around a big, heavy DSLR kit in a big, cumbersome bag that shouts "STEAL ME!" to everyone who sees you with it. In addition to the diaper bag, of course.

    As for suffering buyer's remorse, if you start out easy -- with the E-P3 you seem to favor and just the kit lens -- you can grow into the rest off the stuff without much financial strain. You'll discover the format's strengths very quickly. And you'll not lose much money if you decide you hate the E-P3 and want to sell it here on the forum.

    You won't need all those other lenses right away. If you add one each year, that should be pretty easy on your budget. But really, you're the only person who can determine that.

    So, whatever you decide, have fun with your new toy!
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