My First DSLR…what should it be?

Pictures. I like to take them
with my iPhone 4.
I need a DSLR.
– a Haiku, by me, 6:05am

kids after haircuts, iPhone photography, photo collage

Since before I got pregnant this last time around, I knew what I wanted my “push present” to be.

(Aside: That term makes me laugh, by the way. If you’re not familiar, it’s the nickname given to the gift you’re supposed to get from your husband as a reward for pushing out a baby. Like CongratulationsI’mSorryThankYouPleaseDon’tHurtMeHere’sSomeJewelry.)

The first time, I picked out a beautiful Coach purse – a practical, everyday bag that I used for over two years as my one and only handbag – and a wallet (which I still use in my $12.99 consignmnent score purse that I also love). Buying a designer handbag at the exact moment that things like pacifiers and snot enter your life shows just how prepared I was for what was to come. Still, I loved that purse and love the memory of picking it out with Mr. Powers at the Coach store just days before I had my firstborn.

The second time, Mr. Powers surprised me with an iPad (the first generation ones had recently debuted). Probably more practical for a mom-of-two than, say, a Louis Vuitton, it was quickly coopted by my loving husband and then-toddler. It remains well-used in the family but for various reasons it was never really MY toy.

(Aside #2: I realize that all of this sounds like I’m an opportunistic materialist more interested in the presents than the new baby. I guess we just don’t see it that way; these gifts hold significance to us and have helped mark major milestones in our family, and we almost never buy ourselves anything, so celebrating a new addition with a special gift has just been a way to treat our family to something new.)

And now, for the grand finale, I know what I want: a big-girl grown-up mommy camera. I ditched my point-and-shoot digital when I upgraded to the iPhone 4S – I was already taking most of my photos with the iPhone 3 anyway, but once I got the 4S the quality actually beat my little digital camera. Now, though, I’m ready to join the mommyblogging masses with the real deal. I know, I know, I’ll probably leave it on automatic for the first year, and I have no desire to do professional-level photography, but I also love technology, love working with digital photos and digital media, and look forward to learning.

So I’m looking for your help. This will be a major purchase for our little family – gift budgets for Christmas (December), baby (January) and my birthday (February) all rolled into one. If you’re a mom (or dad or human) with a camera, will you share your thoughts in the comments?

  • If you have a DSLR, what do you have? Are you happy with it?
  • Given that (a) I love technology and don’t mind a little learning curve, but (b) will probably be too busy/overwhelmed at first to do much learning, are there models that are “easier” vs. “more advanced” themselves, or is it all in how you use them?
  • What’s the price range we should be expecting (please be forthright with real numbers – I really am that uneducated and have no idea)?
  • What other thingys and doodads and accessories should we think about buying up front, and how do those factor into cost?
  • We are a Mac/Apple family – does that factor in?
  • Any hot deals or websites or retailers you’d recommend focusing on going into the holiday season?
  • Anything else?

In return for your generous comments, I thought I’d list some of the talented photographers and photo-bloggers I’m connected to in one way or another. I have no hope of taking pictures like these ladies – I just thought I’d share their work and images in case you’re feeling like a little Monday morning eye candy…

  • Veronica Armstrong is a writer/blogger/photographer with exceptionally adorable children
  • Ten Little Toes Photography is a local business owned by a friend – Jess has taken many family shots for us
  • Stacey of Dream Photography Studio is another local Phoenix mom and photog, and she has done all the head shots for Scottsdale Moms Blog (including mine, which you can see here)
  • Erica is not technically a photo-blogger but she takes beautiful pictures of her redheaded babe in a foreign land
  • Angelique is a former co-worker from our pre-kids days and she now has a lovely photography business of her own called Wish Portraits
  • Jess is another writer on the Scottsdale Moms Blog team and she has a wedding photography business with her husband called Session Nine
  • And finally, Anna Hollister is another local Phoenix photographer who look pictures of our family this weekend! Here’s a sneak peek – thanks so much, Anna!

Anna Hollister, Phoenix maternity photographer,

And now, your help! Pretty please! GO!

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8 Responses to My First DSLR…what should it be?

  1. Lisa November 12, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    I put it on my to-do list just this morning to “research camera options” but it was for me, not you! But now I’ll just wait to hear the feedback from your request. Item crossed off my list!! Thanks!

  2. Todd November 12, 2012 at 11:56 am #

    I have had a Canon XT for about 7 years now and have been happy with it (had some durability issues with their point-and-shoots, but my DSLR has been fine and I’ve been fairly tough on it). All major brands are Apple-friendly. A few tips/pointers regardless of which brand/model you get:

    – I took an “Intro to Photography” class (once a week for 5 weeks) offered through the local university’s community education department and it was helpful in learning how to use it. All cameras will have an auto setting which will always be fine, but if you’re going to spend some dough on a nice camera, might as well learn how to use it.

    – The number of megapixels is becoming increasingly less relevant. I kind of think that once you’re into double digits, any better resolution is pretty much unnoticeable to the naked eye unless you’re doing wall-size enlargements. I have read that the size and quality of the sensor is arguably more important, but I don’t know of any rules of thumb for how to determine what is good and what is bad.

    – At some point (maybe even immediately) you may want to get a telephoto lens so that pictures of, say, a soccer game don’t look like ants on a field. I think this will run you at least $100 and probably more like $200, so build this into the budget. Costco sometimes has good deals if you are willing to buy a camera and the extra lens at the same time.

    – A relatively cheap add-on for a DSLR are filters ($15-20). An Ultraviolet filter won’t do much to improve the quality of your pictures, so many people use them just to protect the lens, since if you get a scratch on the lens you’ll need to replace it. A Polarizer filter does two things which actually does improve pictures: it takes glare off water and it can improve the contrast in sky (ie, makes a sky bluer, which would probably be helpful in your part of the country).

    • Sarah November 13, 2012 at 7:14 am #

      Thanks, Todd! Great thoughts – much appreciated!! :)

  3. Tracy Carson November 12, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    I shoot with a Canon 40D. It was my first DSLR and I found it easy to learn on as well as challenging enough to push myself when I was ready. I bought a independently published users manual and challenged myself to read during the day with camera in hand so I could practice what I was reading about. It’s easy to do when you have kiddos to use as your subjects! It comes with a standard lens that is good to learn on but I would include a 50mm f/1.8 lens in your budget. This is the lens that gives the really cool “blurry background” effect to photos. It is great with kids and in low light so I would highly recommend it. The nice thing is that it is only $110.00 so in the grand scheme of things it isn’t that much extra for what you get with it. Let me know if you have any questions!

    • Sarah November 13, 2012 at 7:13 am #

      Thanks, Tracy! That’s exactly the kind of feedback I was hoping for. I appreciate it! :)

  4. Anna November 13, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

    I absolutely agree with Tracy, and that’s how I started as well, great advice!
    I love Veronica’s blog too, she’s a fellow Clickin Mom, which is my favorite photography forum :)

    • Sarah November 19, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

      Wow, Anna! Small blogging world! I know Veronica (virtually) through an online freelance writing class we took together. I’ve heard her sing the praises of Clickin’ Moms too – I will have to check it out. :)

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