My wife and I need a new camera, mostly for taking pictures of our son's antics. Our existing camera (a Canon PowerShot A550) was fine when we were mostly taking pictures of vacations or slow-moving infants but it's not so great for snapping pics of a cute toddler on the move.

We need something that's:

  • digital, though that should probably go without saying nowadays.
  • quick-starting. We've got a lot of "oops, just too late" shots because our current camera took too long to power up, or to charge the flash, and we missed the action.
  • good photos under standard indoor lighting conditions without flash. With the A550, the flash is necessary far too often, and leads to deer-in-headlights shots, or missing out altogether due to the aforementioned flash-charging problem.
  • point-and-shoot. I wouldn't mind a DSLR, but my wife probably wouldn't use it, and I'm pretty sure we'd never remember to take the camera with us if it didn't fit in a jacket or diaper-bag pocket anyway.
  • Batteries rechargeable in camera. The A550 takes AA batteries, and while we can use rechargeable AAs, it's a pain, and frequently the batteries are sitting dead in the camera because they didn't get recharged -- or the camera is in our hands and useless because the batteries were forgotten in the charger at home.

What I'm looking for are user experiences from other parents. What camera do you use? What do you like or dislike about it? Any recommendations for brand or model, or even for other factors I haven't considered?

asked 25 Mar '10, 03:42

dave0's gravatar image

accept rate: 12%

Well, you didn't really want the DSLR option, but...

We use a Canon XTI (there are newer versions of this) with the lens that came with it. I bring it out for events where we know we're going to want photos. If you leave it on the sport setting, you can literally turn it on, hold down the shutter release, and have it take a picture in 2 seconds (provided you've also removed the lens cap) - and that includes the time to autofocus. In fact, you can have it shoot several pictures a second which is very likely to grab one that's good. In sport mode it won't use the flash, and it'll tune the settings for fast moving objects, such as kids.

Beyond that, I use my phone (iPhone 3GS at the moment). You can set the iPhone up so pressing the home button twice goes right into camera mode. Other phones have dedicated camera buttons. It's not as fast as a real camera, but it's fast enough, and the images and videos it shoots are reasonable. You wouldn't want to blow them up to 8x10, but they make reasonable 5x7s. This is what I use for my spur-of-the-moment shots.

We've considered getting a point and shoot camera for awhile now, but taking the SLR isn't that big a deal, and the picture quality is fantastic compared to any of the point and shoots we've tried - especially in low light situations. The SLR does use rechargable lithium ion batteries, but the model we have doesn't charge in-camera. I have two batteries, they last for several hundred to a few thousand shots between charging depending on flash usage, and when one gets low I pop it in the charger and let it go for an hour before putting it back into the camera case, so I always have a fresh battery handy. After three years and tens of thousands of shots, the batteries are still holding up pretty well too, as is the rest of the camera.

It's not a 'full size' SLR - it will fit into larger coat pockets - but it's not a pocket camera, nor is it particularly lightweight. My wife will use it, but she mostly leaves it up to me.

If we did get another camera, it would be a smaller one for her purse, but I'd still end up being in charge of making sure the battery is charged, and the images get onto the computer anyway. I think the ideal middle-ground solution would be a camera that docks for charging, with an EyeFI card in it (SD card with wifi automatically transfers photos to computer and flickr/picasa/etc). Then you can stop worrying about batteries or connecting it, uploading, and managing photos, and get straight to sharing and printing them.

I recommend http://www.dpreview.com for camera comparisons - in particular they measure the time from power up to the first shot, and give all sorts of great (detailed, technical) information about the latest digital cameras. You can do some searching based on features, and side by side comparisons.


answered 25 Mar '10, 06:04

Adam%20Davis's gravatar image

Adam Davis
accept rate: 31%

edited 25 Mar '10, 06:13

I've been using an XTi for a few years now and I really like it.

(26 Mar '10, 15:09) mkcoehoorn

@mkc - Yeah, I like it a lot. I took it out last night to make sure I was correct for the time to first shot, and was again surprised at the speed. In sport shot mode holding down the shutter and turning it on results in a picture in a fraction of a second if it's close to the right focus. When it had to focus a bit more, it still took under a second from power on to first shot, and in sport mode it kept shooting 3 frames a second until I released the button. Seems like an ideal mode for baby capture.

(26 Mar '10, 15:20) Adam Davis

We recently got the Sony DSC-TX1. It takes fantastic pictures in low-light conditions -- we never use the flash. It also takes great videos. It takes a little while to switch from video mode to picture mode -- it is a touch screen and it's hard to get it to recognize your touch all the time -- but if it's started up in picture mode, it is quite quick. You can see examples on my flickr account (if you can stand looking at 1230948 pictures of my baby :). These include indoor and outdoor shots.

It does not have in-camera rechargeable batteries though. If you go with this one, I recommend getting two batteries and leaving one in the charger all the time so it's ready to go.

BTW, it looks like flickr lets you search pictures by camera -- here is the flickr page for the Sony DSC-TX1.


answered 25 Mar '10, 12:35

Anne's gravatar image

accept rate: 17%

I don't have a specific recommendation becuase my camera is now nearly 5 years old. It was chosen though becuase it starts up not too slowly and is quick to react when the shutter is pressed. Most of the information about it came from steves digicams, which is a good site for camera reviews, and normally includes good informaion on start up time and click to capture time.

Please let us know when you choose one though, as already mentioned, my cameras getting on a bit now.


answered 28 Mar '10, 10:49

pipthegeek's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

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Asked: 25 Mar '10, 03:42

Seen: 1,421 times

Last updated: 28 Mar '10, 10:49

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