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The Best Camera for Pictures of Kids
You Need a Fast Camera for Pictures of Kids
The other day someone asked me, "What's the best camera for pictures of kids?" As a mom and avid photographer, I've taken plenty of photos of kids, so I didn't have to think about the answer - the best camera for pictures of kids is a digital SLR, or DSLR. They're fast, they're flexible, and they're easier to use than ever before.
With a DSLR, you won't miss those once-in-a-lifetime photos because your kids are moving too fast for your camera. There are many DSLRs on the market in a wide variety of prices, so if you're looking for the best camera for taking pictures of kids, this page will show you some of the best DSLRs for parents and explain why these are the best cameras for photos of kids. And if you're not quite ready to tackle a DSLR, don't like the size or can't afford one, I'll provide some cheaper alternatives, too.
(Photo by Lisa Howard)
Why is a DSLR the Best Camera for Pictures of Kids? - When they're moving, speed matters
Not that long ago, to get a good photo with a 35mm SLR camera, you needed to be able to focus quickly and have some knowledge of f-stops, depth of field, shutter speeds and other topics photographers love to discuss. But with today's auto focus cameras that come with a variety of programmed modes, you can get great photos even if you don't know about dynamic range or apertures. They're as easy to operate as a point-and-shoot camera, but they give you the speed, quality and versatility of a professional camera if you want to learn more.
They're perfect cameras for parents. The biggest reason? Because kids move!
While DSLRs offer many features you won't find in other types of digital cameras, the two main benefits for parents are the lack of shutter lag (the time between when you press the button and when the camera takes the photo) and the ability to shoot continuously (taking multiple photos per second). If you've ever missed the perfect shot of your child blowing out the birthday candles or kicking the winning goal because too much time lapsed between pressing the button and recording the shot, you'll understand why DSLRs are the best cameras for pictures of kids.
Take a look at the photos here.
3 Reasons to Select a DSLR
With a typical point-and-shoot camera, you might click the shutter button when he was first jumping off the rock. But by the time the camera actually took the photo, you might end up something similar to the last shot, the photo of him landing in the water. With a DSLR, you can capture multiple images quickly so you don't miss that shot. Later, you can look through the photos and decide which ones to keep. If you have kids in sports, you need a DSLR to capture the best shots.
Three Reasons to Choose a DSLR for Taking Pictures of Kids
1. Fast power-up and shutter response
When you turn on a DSLR, it's ready almost instantly, and when you press the shutter button, it responds with virtually no shutter lag. In other words, there's no lapse between the time you press the button and the time the camera takes the picture, so you can capture those once-in-a-lifetime shots that you might miss with a compact camera. The zoom feature on a DSLR is also faster than that on a point-and-shoot.
2. Multiple frames per second
Many compact cameras make you wait while they processes each shot, meaning that you can't take images quickly one after another. With many of today's DSLRs, you can shoot 4-8 frames per second.
3. More versatility with lenses
The most popular DSLRs offer a wide range of zoom lenses, so you can get just the right focal length for each photo. That means you can use macro lenses to get extreme close ups, ultra-wide angle lenses to capture the ultimate landscape shots or super telephoto lenses to capture action in the distance.
4. Better quality photos
The number one reason to buy a DSLR, whether you have kids or not, is the image quality. Digital SLR cameras take better photos. Why? Because they have larger image sensors. These sensors are responsible for capturing light and turning it into an electronic signal. Compact cameras have to cram many pixels onto tiny sensors, meaning the pixels can't capture as much light and are more likely to cause "noise" or make your image look "grainy." Imagine going to an overcast beach and trying to use reflective umbrellas to get a tan. Which would work better - 15 tiny umbrellas or 15 large umbrellas? DSLR cameras work better because they have larger sensors to absorb and translate light, meaning better image quality for you.
So what's the best camera for pictures of kids? It's without a doubt a DSLR. But the choice of brand and model is up to your personal preference and budget. If you're interested in exploring a new DSLR, below are some of the bestselling and top-rated digital SLRs to help you get started. And for those who aren't quite ready to tackle a DSLR, I've also included a couple of compact cameras that are great for taking photos of kids.
You may also want to check my article on Popular Entry-Level DSLR Cameras for Beginners.
(Images by Lisa Howard)
A Popular Compact Digital SLR - Canon SL1
Great for taking photos of kids
If you're not sure which DSLR is right for you, it's often helpful to see what others like. As of this writing, the Canon SL1 is getting good reviews on Amazon, particularly for its compact size, price and video capabilities. It's the world's smallest and lightest DSLR, and it's cheaper than Canon's entry-level T5i.
This is a great camera for pictures of kids, particularly since It's capable of shooting 4.0 frames per second and full HD video, so you won't miss any of the action. It also has a 9-point auto focus system to help you get sharp pictures. Plus, the small size makes it easier to pack than a regular DSLR.
A Popular Nikon DSLR - Nikon D3200
Nikon D3200 is another great choice for pictures of kids
Nikon is one of the top-selling brands of camera in the world and is known for its excellent quality. There is a good-natured rivalry between Nikon and Canon users, as most professional photographers use one of these brands, and they can be quite strident in their preference for one or the other. But BOTH will give you outstanding photos of your kids. The 24.2 megapixel Nikon D3200 can capture 4.0 frames per second or switch to video mode and capture HD video, making it a great option for parents.
Canon EOS 7D - For me, this is the best camera for pictures of kids
The EOS 7D is a semi-pro DSLR from Canon that has been out awhile, so it's not as pricey as newer models such as the 6D. This is the camera I now use for photos of my kids, as well as everything else. At 8 frames per second, it's much faster than my old camera (the Canon EOS T1i, which is the camera that took the shots shown on this page), and one of my favorite things about the 7D is that it's weatherproof. So if you're out and about with your kids, you don't need to worry about them splashing water or kicking up dust on the camera. That's a big bonus for parents!
The best camera for pictures of kids is a DSLR. But if you'd like some other options, take a look at the recommendations below.
Another Option for Taking Photos of Kids - Super zoom camera gets you closer to the action
Another camera I recently purchased and am quickly learning to love is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200. This is a compact camera that doesn't have all the compelling features of a DSLR, but what it does have an amazing 24x zoom lens (25 - 600mm equivalent) with a fast f2.8 aperture across the entire zoom range. To get that kind of focal length for a DSLR, you'd have to spend $10k or more for the lens alone. This camera is currently available for under $600, making it an attractive alternative.
It's an excellent choice for anyone looking for a camera that can help them get closer photos of kids on a distant football field, softball diamond, soccer field, etc. I wouldn't recommend it in place of a DSLR for all the reasons I mentioned above, but as far as super zoom compacts go, this is one of the best options on the market right now.
Photos from the Panasonic DMC-FZ200 - See how close you can get with 24x optical zoomClick thumbnail to view full-size
- 12.1 MP
- 20x Optical Zoom
- 1080 Full HD video in stereo sound
- Smart AUTO with 58 predefined shooting situations
- 3-inch TFT color LCD
A Good Choice for Parents on a Budget - A bestselling compact camera
I'm a firm believer that the best camera for any type of photos is a DSLR, but a reader recently commented that she was disappointed to see that all of the cameras I suggested above were out of her price range. So I set out to find a compact camera under $300 to recommend to parents. And here it is - the Canon PowerShot SX260.
This camera gives parents a lot of options with features such as 20x optical zoom (for getting closer to the action), face recognition (for sharp portraits), high-speed burst mode (for capturing action), multiple scene modes (for helping you capture perfect night shots, portraits, etc.), multi-shot self-timer (for jumping in the photo with your kids) and more. If you need a budget camera, this is a great choice. But don't just take my word for it - as of this writing, it has a 4.4- out of 5-star rating on Amazon with nearly 700 reviews.