Are you considering a new camera in order to embrace the joys of child photography? There are so many options now when it comes to cameras that it may be hard to make a decision – particularly if you are trying to decide between a standard compact camera (or point-and-shoot) and a more complex DSLR (digital single lens reflex) or even a mirrorless camera. Here are some things to consider:
The Megapixel Debate
“Why would I pay more for a DSLR with 10 megapixels when I can get a compact camera with 12/16/25 megapixels?” – this is a common argument for camera purchasers. The reality is that it does not just come down to megapixels as far as image quality; you also need to consider the type and size of the camera’s sensor. A DSLR has a much larger sensor, so each pixel of information is much larger, producing higher quality photos, which is important if you are making large prints.
How Important is Budget?
The price difference between these two types of cameras is a huge factor. Although DSLR cameras have significantly reduced in price over the years, you still need to consider the fact that you will likely want to purchase more than one lens if you really want to explore the capabilities of this type of camera. For most entry-level DSLR cameras, the lens it comes with is not going to cut mustard when it comes to child photography or portraits.
What about Features?
DSLRs most certainly win in the features department when it comes to child photography, as they offer varying ranges of customization and shooting modes, while most point-and-shoot cameras will force you to use automatic modes or will limit your manual options (although there are higher end models that will give you a few more options). DSLRs also offer faster start-up, continuous shooting, white balance settings, etc. However, you have to be willing to learn how to use these features, otherwise you’ll simply have an expensive camera that you are using as a point-and-shoot.
BUT – Some point-and-shoot camera offer options than DSLRs do not, such as being waterproof. Keep that in mind.
Size and Weight is Key
Point-and-shoot cameras are very portable, while DSLRs usually require a separate bag for carrying, meaning you are less likely to have it with you when those candid child photography moments pop up. If you really want the portability of a point-and-shoot but desire the benefits offered by a DSLR you may want to consider the new hybrid-type cameras, called MILCs (mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras) which are much smaller than DSLRs but offer a similar range of features, although your range of lenses might be a bit more limited (and more expensive).
While there’s nothing stopping you from taking great photos with a point and shoot camera, DSLR and other “prosumer” (professional consumer) cameras simply give you more tools to be creative, such as exploring “bokeh” (background blur), long exposures, etc.
If you still don’t know what type of camera you want to expand your child photography skills, consider renting or borrowing each type (or head to a camera store) for a test drive. Happy hunting!