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Old 02-11-2013, 03:47 PM   #1
trmiv
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Default Soon-to-be dad and camera newb needs new camera

My wife and I are expecting our first (and likely only!) baby in May, and we'd like to get a new camera to capture her moments growing up. We currently have a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3. It's a decent camera, but the low-light performance and the video features are a little lacking. We're looking for a new camera that takes good pictures in lower light, where babies tend to hang out, and can take pretty good video. My wife would love a DSLR, but I'm not certain we're ready for it. Neither one of us know much about cameras, but we're willing to learn. My wife has taught herself Photoshop pretty well, so I'm sure she'd learn a camera easily. I'm certainly not opposed to a DSLR though since we still have the Lumix to tote around for quick shots.

I'd also love to be able to use this camera to get good shots of my reef aquarium. So something that is able to take good macro shots, and also capture fish that move quickly would be great as well.

Our budget is in the $300-550 range.
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Old 02-11-2013, 04:15 PM   #2
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http://www.dpreview.com/previews/canon-powershot-s110

Any point-n-shoot in the list above will do.

I would go with the Samsung EX2F, Fujifilm X10, Canon Powershot G15, or Panasonic DMC-LX7 due to fast aperture, price, and sensor size.

You may want to look at the DMC-LX7 as the first option because the learning curve will be less than other cameras (knowing your equipment is much more important than having the best equipment that you do not know how to use). The DMC-LX7 sensor is the smallest (34mm˛) out of the bunch, but IMHO will yield more than adequate result for regular prints as well as for computer monitors/facebook/etc..., however it have F1.4-2.3 lightning quick aperture is a welcoming thing for a point-n-shoot camera that have small sensor size.

Fujifilm X10 sensor is 58mm˛ with F2.0-2.8 aperture which is a full stop slower at the wide end and is a 1/2 stop slower at the long end than the DMC-LX7, but it almost make up the different with 71% larger in sensor area (X10 should handle a full ISO push over that of DMC-LX7, giving the X10 an advantage when shooting in adequately lit area).

The Samsung EX2F F1.4-2.7 also is another good choice because it have a decent sensor size and very fast aperture at the wide end.

The Sony DSC-RX100 is also another good choice but priced a bit above your budget.

Any used DSLR with a beginner 50mm f1.8 would be awesome in low light as well. However, they will push your budget if you want zoom lenses.

That said. I do not own any of the cameras in the list except for the S95 that produce very pleasing result, and it is similar to the S110.

[add]

The Canon T3i with 18-55mm IS kit is well within your budget.

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Old 02-11-2013, 04:44 PM   #3
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I would highly recommend a DSLR if you're up for learning a bit more. Point and shoots are great, but being able to just shoot away with my Canon Rebel in continuous shot mode has really gotten me some gems of pictures that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to do.

Also, as you've said, being able to get good shots in low-light without a flash is a godsend, especially when you're trying to shoot a constantly moving target.

Comparing the pictures from the 1st 8 months of my daughter's life to the past 14months (after I got my DSLR), I am quite happy with the decision to go to the Canon.
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Old 02-11-2013, 05:04 PM   #4
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Yea my wife is pretty enamored with getting a DSLR. She wasn't all that hot on our current PnS when we got it, wanting something she could learn more on and buy accessories for.
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Old 02-11-2013, 05:29 PM   #5
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Warning: I've learned that women hate big bulky stuff and sure a DSLR seems manageable in the store, but the body and especially the larger lenses get too big and bulky for many people to enjoy them. She'd probably wind up using the DSLR solely for in-home shots or for special occasions.

That is not a problem if your budget fits that, and you can use your existing compact for other situations.

But if you want an all in one replacement, it's something to think about.

I cannot recommend a Canon S110 for your situation at today's prices. The S110 has one redeeming feature: size. It's the only pocketable premium compact other than the RX100 which is barely pocketable and costs $650.

Otherwise the S110 gets its butt kicked by every other premium compact, like the LX7, RX100, XZ2, etc. because it has a significantly slower (smaller aperture) lens, and its sensor is merely on par with most of its rivals, and significantly smaller than the RX100's lens. And the S-series isn't even cheaper than some of those, like the LX7 on sale right now for $289 at j&r smokes the S110 and has a hotshoe to boot, but the S110 sells for what, $400+?

However if you can get a used S95 or something for $90 or something like that, I'd seriously consider it.
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Old 02-11-2013, 07:21 PM   #6
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I have a ZS3.
I've bought newer, "better" P&S's ( including Sony HX9V).

My recommendation: Bite into a DSLR or 4/3. The low light performance you're after likely won't be found with the smaller sensor cameras.
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Old 02-11-2013, 07:23 PM   #7
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Comparing the pictures from the 1st 8 months of my daughter's life to the past 14months (after I got my DSLR), I am quite happy with the decision to go to the Canon.
This.
I was P&S for the first 10 years of our kids, only upgrading to DSLR a few years back.
Holy mackeral do I wish I made the jump earlier.

Regarding the wife and not liking bulky things - with my wife, that's true.
However, I don't mind them and she puts me in charge.
When she needs quick snaps, she has her iPhone which is ( in good light ) close enough to most P&S to not matter.
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Old 02-11-2013, 07:42 PM   #8
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I have a ZS3.
I've bought newer, "better" P&S's ( including Sony HX9V).

My recommendation: Bite into a DSLR or 4/3. The low light performance you're after likely won't be found with the smaller sensor cameras.
A RX100's lens is f/1.8 at the wide end. This make is on par with DSLRs and consumer lenses that start at f/3.5, which is most of them. An LX7 is a stop behind due to the f/1.4 lens not being enough to make up for the sensor size, but nevertheless, don't dismiss compacts that easily.

If you want true low-light ability you don't HAVE to get a DSLR. A good bounce flash will often do better than simply increasing sensor size or getting faster lenses, and the LX7 has a hotshoe for flashes. The RX100 has a bounceable flash (sorta) and you can also use an optical slave flash with most compacts.

If OP does get a M43 or DSLR camera though, he will probably want to get a fast-focusing normal lens (about 50mm in FX terms, so ~33mm in DX terms or 25mm in M43 terms) with a max aperture of f/1.8 or faster. That way if you crank up ISO somewhat, you might be able to get away with not using a flash. Add a flash if you want to take photos at lower ISO.

Image stabilization does not work with moving subjects, such as crawling babies, so that is irrelevant. Ditto tripods for the same reason.
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Old 02-11-2013, 07:48 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the replies so far. So if we go DSLR or micro 4/3, what are some suggestions? I've already seen the T3i mentioned. Anything else?
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Old 02-11-2013, 07:53 PM   #10
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Get a Sony A37 and 50mm and 35mm f1.8 prime lenses. Great for low light shots especially with the in-body stabiliation. Canon and Nikon primes don't have stabilization.
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Old 02-11-2013, 07:55 PM   #11
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A RX100's lens is f/1.8 at the wide end. This make is on par with DSLRs and consumer lenses that start at f/3.5, which is most of them. An LX7 is a stop behind due to the f/1.4 lens not being enough to make up for the sensor size, but nevertheless, don't dismiss compacts that easily.
I didn't know the RX100's f1.8 equivalence was f3.5 on an APSC. That is remarkable.

I'm comparing a $300 P&S to your upper-end $4-600 P&S's.

I'm to the point where my cellphone does P&S duty, the HX9V does video and the D5000 does all my "real photos."

A good cellphone and a M43 or DSLR would be my suggestion.
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Old 02-11-2013, 07:57 PM   #12
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Consider Sony NEX 3/5/6 series; they're smaller bodied with full APS-C ( DSLR ) sensors.

I wouldn't know what to recommend in the M43 camp.

Whatever Canons equivalence to Nikons D3200 or D5200.

And factor in a few hours of studying exposure and how to control your camera so you can do natural light photos while minimizing blur.
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:40 PM   #13
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Warning: I've learned that women hate big bulky stuff and sure a DSLR seems manageable in the store, but the body and especially the larger lenses get too big and bulky for many people to enjoy them. She'd probably wind up using the DSLR solely for in-home shots or for special occasions.

That is not a problem if your budget fits that, and you can use your existing compact for other situations.

But if you want an all in one replacement, it's something to think about.

I cannot recommend a Canon S110 for your situation at today's prices. The S110 has one redeeming feature: size. It's the only pocketable premium compact other than the RX100 which is barely pocketable and costs $650.

Otherwise the S110 gets its butt kicked by every other premium compact, like the LX7, RX100, XZ2, etc. because it has a significantly slower (smaller aperture) lens, and its sensor is merely on par with most of its rivals, and significantly smaller than the RX100's lens. And the S-series isn't even cheaper than some of those, like the LX7 on sale right now for $289 at j&r smokes the S110 and has a hotshoe to boot, but the S110 sells for what, $400+?

However if you can get a used S95 or something for $90 or something like that, I'd seriously consider it.
i think the lx7 is out of stock, but it seems to go on sale fairly often for about 300. i got one just before christmas from amazon for $300 and am very happy with it. good starter camera. i intent to learn on it and then maybe upgrade in a year or so to a m4/3...maybe. i hate carrying stuff and while the lx7 isnt pocketable...its coat-pocketable, and a pretty decent little camera.
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:11 PM   #14
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A RX100's lens is f/1.8 at the wide end. This make is on par with DSLRs and consumer lenses that start at f/3.5, which is most of them. An LX7 is a stop behind due to the f/1.4 lens not being enough to make up for the sensor size, but nevertheless, don't dismiss compacts that easily.

If you want true low-light ability you don't HAVE to get a DSLR. A good bounce flash will often do better than simply increasing sensor size or getting faster lenses, and the LX7 has a hotshoe for flashes. The RX100 has a bounceable flash (sorta) and you can also use an optical slave flash with most compacts.

If OP does get a M43 or DSLR camera though, he will probably want to get a fast-focusing normal lens (about 50mm in FX terms, so ~33mm in DX terms or 25mm in M43 terms) with a max aperture of f/1.8 or faster. That way if you crank up ISO somewhat, you might be able to get away with not using a flash. Add a flash if you want to take photos at lower ISO.

Image stabilization does not work with moving subjects, such as crawling babies, so that is irrelevant. Ditto tripods for the same reason.
IMHO, most babies don't respond well to flash bounce or not.
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:20 PM   #15
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I didn't know the RX100's f1.8 equivalence was f3.5 on an APSC. That is remarkable.

I'm comparing a $300 P&S to your upper-end $4-600 P&S's.

I'm to the point where my cellphone does P&S duty, the HX9V does video and the D5000 does all my "real photos."

A good cellphone and a M43 or DSLR would be my suggestion.
Low light at f1.8 is all the same across all bodies, however it just mean that f1.8 depth of field on the RX100 tiny sensor is the same as the depth of field on a crop frame DSLR.

I went with a full frame camera, because it have shallower DOF than crop frame for background separation.
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:38 PM   #16
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Low light at f1.8 is all the same across all bodies, however it just mean that f1.8 depth of field on the RX100 tiny sensor is the same as the depth of field on a crop frame DSLR.

I went with a full frame camera, because it have shallower DOF than crop frame for background separation.
That's not what I mean at all. I am saying that the f/3.5 to f/1.8 difference is roughly the same difference as going from the 1" sensor to a DX or APS-C sized sensor in terms of stops (varies by the square of the area of the sensor). The DoF is indeed impacted but in the context of what I wrote, I was saying that the low-light ability of the RX100 is comparable to that of a DX/APS-C DSLR assuming the DSLR is at f/3.5 and the RX100 is at f/1.8 (so, wide end of the kit zoom or the RX100, respectively).

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IMHO, most babies don't respond well to flash bounce or not.
My friend got a flash and bounce with diffuser and he doesn't have any complaints... perhaps some babies are more tolerant or sensitive of bounce flashes.

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I didn't know the RX100's f1.8 equivalence was f3.5 on an APSC. That is remarkable.

I'm comparing a $300 P&S to your upper-end $4-600 P&S's.

I'm to the point where my cellphone does P&S duty, the HX9V does video and the D5000 does all my "real photos."

A good cellphone and a M43 or DSLR would be my suggestion.
Hey I didn't say the RX100 was more affordable, just saying that you can't dismiss compacts as universally worse than DSLRs for low light. It's mostly true but the extreme upper end compacts can actually catch the consumer DSLRs with kit lens apertures. You can also save money by consolidating everything into a single RX100 or LX7 instead of having a compact AND a DSLR.

I also think mirrorless is probably okay but hesitate to recommend NEX and M43 over a cheap (used? refurb?) DSLR + 35mm f/1.8 lens, such as a Nikon D5100 + 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX lens for around $500 if you get them used. The reason? NEX and M43's faster lenses are horrifically priced compared to CaNikon f/1.8 lenses. Look at the price of Sony's 35mm f/1.8 lens for instance. $450??? Keep in mind OSS doesn't work on moving things, and if it's one thing humans tend to do, it's to move, even when they are trying to hold still. Look at M43.. the 20mm f/1.7 is very good and sharp even wide open, but at $300+ it's just not as affordable, nor does it focus that quickly so it's not the best lens to use for portraiture anyway... but the next step up is the $500+ 25mm f/1.4 which is, once again, WAY more expensive than a Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX lens.
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:40 PM   #17
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Opinions on the Canon T3 for my situation? I've found a refurbished deals that make the price pretty nice.
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:52 PM   #18
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Opinions on the Canon T3 for my situation? I've found a refurbished deals that make the price pretty nice.
I think the best bang for the buck among CaNikon DSLRs right now is the Nikon d5100. You can get the body used for under $350. Add a 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX lens for around $170 (used) and you get a very powerful combo for a little over $500 used.

Canon is okay but they are STILL stuck at 500nm fabrication tech for sensors and have been stuck there for seemingly forever, so their sensors routinely don't do quite as well as Nikonytax 180nm sensors (Sony/Nikon/Pentax source sensors from Sony frequently). The D5100/D3200/D7000 sensor will give you a significant low light performance edge over Canon's Rebel series sensor which has barely changed over the last 5 years.

Further, Canon doesn't really have a Nikon 35mm f/1.8 lens equivalent.. a 35mm f/2 is close but smaller max aperture and more expensive. And the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 isn't as good because it's not as sharp so you'd have to stop down to f/1.8 or smaller ANYWAY to meet the Nikon 35mm f/1.8. You could use the cheapo Canon 50mm f/1.8 for less than $100 used but it's not very sharp wide open and is also a longer focal length when mounted on a Canon Rebel body (80mm FX-equivalent) and thus is restrictive for general photography so if you do that lens be sure to get another lens for more general purposes as well (or else use your existing compact camera). Also the longer focal length means you need even faster shutter speed to get sharp photos which is another reason why I am not a huge fan of the 50mm f/1.8.

Nevertheless if you get a screaming deal on a T3 that might make it a good buy anyway. Lenses retain value much more than bodies so think of bodies as parts that wear out and need to be replaced, but lenses should last for a very long time if taken care of properly (e.g., not stored in humid places).

You may want to go into a store and handle Canon and Nikon DSLRs to see what you prefer. I know some people won't use Canons because they prefer Nikon handgrips. It sounds silly but it's true.
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:53 PM   #19
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That's not what I mean at all. I am saying that the f/3.5 to f/1.8 difference is roughly the same difference as going from the 1" sensor to a DX or APS-C sized sensor in terms of stops (varies by the square of the area of the sensor). The DoF is indeed impacted but in the context of what I wrote, I was saying that the low-light ability of the RX100 is comparable to that of a DX/APS-C DSLR assuming the DSLR is at f/3.5 and the RX100 is at f/1.8 (so, wide end of the kit zoom or the RX100, respectively).



My friend got a flash and bounce with diffuser and he doesn't have any complaints... perhaps some babies are more tolerant or sensitive of bounce flashes.



Hey I didn't say the RX100 was more affordable, just saying that you can't dismiss compacts as universally worse than DSLRs for low light. It's mostly true but the extreme upper end compacts can actually catch the consumer DSLRs with kit lens apertures. You can also save money by consolidating everything into a single RX100 or LX7 instead of having a compact AND a DSLR.

I also think mirrorless is probably okay but hesitate to recommend NEX and M43 over a cheap (used? refurb?) DSLR + 35mm f/1.8 lens, such as a Nikon D5100 + 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX lens for around $500 if you get them used. The reason? NEX and M43's faster lenses are horrifically priced compared to CaNikon f/1.8 lenses. Look at the price of Sony's 35mm f/1.8 lens for instance. $450??? Keep in mind OSS doesn't work on moving things, and if it's one thing humans tend to do, it's to move, even when they are trying to hold still. Look at M43.. the 20mm f/1.7 is very good and sharp even wide open, but at $300+ it's just not as affordable, nor does it focus that quickly so it's not the best lens to use for portraiture anyway... but the next step up is the $500+ 25mm f/1.4 which is, once again, WAY more expensive than a Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX lens.
Oops my bad. I was multi tasking.
DOF on the smaller sensor at f1.8 is not the same as f1.8 DOF on the larger sensor.
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Old 02-11-2013, 10:01 PM   #20
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I think the best bang for the buck among CaNikon DSLRs right now is the Nikon d5100. You can get the body used for under $350. Add a 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX lens for around $170 (used) and you get a very powerful combo for a little over $500 used.

Canon is okay but they are STILL stuck at 500nm fabrication tech for sensors and have been stuck there for seemingly forever, so their sensors routinely don't do quite as well as Nikonytax 180nm sensors (Sony/Nikon/Pentax source sensors from Sony frequently). The D5100/D3200/D7000 sensor will give you a significant low light performance edge over Canon's Rebel series sensor which has barely changed over the last 5 years.

Further, Canon doesn't really have a Nikon 35mm f/1.8 lens equivalent.. a 35mm f/2 is close but smaller max aperture and more expensive. And the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 isn't as good because it's not as sharp so you'd have to stop down to f/1.8 or smaller ANYWAY to meet the Nikon 35mm f/1.8.

Nevertheless if you get a screaming deal on a T3 that might make it a good buy anyway. Lenses retain value much more than bodies so think of bodies as parts that wear out and need to be replaced, but lenses should last for a very long time if taken care of properly (e.g., not stored in humid places).

You may want to go into a store and handle Canon and Nikon DSLRs to see what you prefer. I know some people won't use Canons because they prefer Nikon handgrips. It sounds silly but it's true.
I'm a Canon user, and I prefer low to middle price Nikon DSLR grip as well as Nikon black lenses vs Canon tacky white L lenses.

That said, I prefer Canon middle upper end bodies for its grips over that of Nikon.
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Old 02-11-2013, 10:02 PM   #21
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Oops my bad. I was multi tasking.
DOF on the smaller sensor at f1.8 is not the same as f1.8 DOF on the larger sensor.
Dude, once again, I was not talking about DoF. I was talking about low light performance. f/1.8 to f/3.5 is exactly 2 stops... which happens to be roughly the difference between a 1" sensor and a APS-C/DX sensor (about 1.67 stops difference, the APS-C/DX sensor sizes being ~3 times the area of the 1" sensor), so they more or less cancel each other out. I don't want to have to explain this again.

Btw, I've taken some decent portraits with my RX100, and despite its DoF disadvantage, it's not as bad as you might think at 100mm (FXe) f/4.9. Bokeh could be better but you can say the same thing about most of the affordable fast lenses in any format--compact, mirrorless, or DSLR.
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Old 02-11-2013, 10:05 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by iGas View Post
I'm a Canon user, and I prefer low to middle price Nikon DSLR grip as well as Nikon black lenses vs Canon tacky white L lenses.

That said, I prefer Canon middle upper end bodies for its grips over that of Nikon.
You are right, I should have specified Canon Rebel. OP was asking about the T3 so I was thinking about Rebels when I wrote that. I agree that Canon definitely has some bifurcation... there is a big jump up from their cheaper lines and their prosumer/pro-grade lines in build quality.

In any case OP may want to handle some real cameras in the store before buying.
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Old 02-11-2013, 10:22 PM   #23
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I messed around with a Nikon D3100, D5100 and a Canon T3i at the store the other day (didn't see a T3), Without using them for a long period of time it's hard to get a real idea, but none of them really made me not like handling them. My wife and I both really liked the flip-out screen on the D5100.
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Old 02-11-2013, 10:22 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by blastingcap View Post
Dude, once again, I was not talking about DoF. I was talking about low light performance. f/1.8 to f/3.5 is exactly 2 stops... which happens to be roughly the difference between a 1" sensor and a APS-C/DX sensor (about 1.67 stops difference, the APS-C/DX sensor sizes being ~3 times the area of the 1" sensor), so they more or less cancel each other out. I don't want to have to explain this again.

Btw, I've taken some decent portraits with my RX100, and despite its DoF disadvantage, it's not as bad as you might think at 100mm (FXe) f/4.9. Bokeh could be better but you can say the same thing about most of the affordable fast lenses in any format--compact, mirrorless, or DSLR.
I agree on the sensor size and f-stop for light sensitivity equivalent. As for DOF there is a different perhaps there isn't a large different in DOF as you mentioned, but there is one, and once you step up the the DSLR you will be able to get fast lenses to enhance that DOF and background separation.
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Old 02-11-2013, 10:24 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by trmiv View Post
I messed around with a Nikon D3100, D5100 and a Canon T3i at the store the other day (didn't see a T3), Without using them for a long period of time it's hard to get a real idea, but none of them really made me not like handling them. My wife and I both really liked the flip-out screen on the D5100.
Perhaps the D5100 is the camera, because both of you agree on the same thing.
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