Expert Recommendation

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Best Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $1000
Expert (88 Recommendations and 32 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
December 3, 2008 Updated: July 27, 2009
Overview

With the Nikon D5000, you don’t need to worry about harming a baby’s eyes with a bright flash as it is the only entry-level DSLR camera with movie mode that does not use a flash strobe as its auto-focus assist light. Armed with great high ISO performance and a good quality kit lens, you can capture those short-lived expressions of kids and freeze jumping pets while in flight. Its live-view mode coupled with tilt & swivel LCD is helpful in taking pictures of toddlers and small kids.

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My Best In Class Pick
Nikon D5000 (with 18-55mm VR Lens)

DSLRs have a real advantage in low light because of their much larger-sized pixels (6-10 times) than a typical compact camera. They focus faster too (they use a phase-detection AF system, which is generally faster than the contrast detection method used by compact cameras). Their optical viewfinder are great for keeping track of fast moving subjects. All these features make them ideal cameras for taking photos of active kids and pets indoors (typical low light condition for cameras).

Nikon is currently the only DSLR manufacturer that includes a dedicated Auto-Focus assist light on all their DSLR camera models. Other entry level DSLRs use a flash strobe as the AF assist in low light, which might startle the babies and is annoying too. It is this very feature that makes Nikon cameras the top choice in this category for taking photos of kids and pets.The Nikon D5000 was recently introduced as an entry-level DSLR with movie mode by Nikon.

The camera has improved resolution, low-light and auto-focus performance over its predecessor (Nikon D60). ISO speed setting of 6400 is now available. ISO speed is also indicated in the optical viewfinder. The kit lens is excellent and produces images with good corner-to-corner sharpness.

The low light image quality (high ISO performance) is best in class.

Other useful features is live-view, which along with its tilt & swivel LCD makes the feature more useful than other cameras. The feature comes in handy especially when taking photos of toddlers and small kids. (One may like to use manual focus in such situations as live-view Autofocus speed is very slow.) When coupled with Tamron AF 17-50mm f/2.8 lens it captures those delicate skin tones and fine details with aplomb making it a terrific value package.

the Nikon D5000 (with VR kit lens) is the best choice even for someone on a budget who does not want to splurge on costly lenses.

Comparison with Canon EOS Rebel T1i (with 18-55mm IS Lens)

Tilt & swivel LCD, dedicated AF-Assist lamp.

Comparison with Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi (with 18-55mm IS Lens)

Tilt & swivel LCD, dedicated AF-Assist lamp, movie mode, and availability of ISO3200 & 6400 settings.

Pros
  • +
    Dedicated AF assist lamp
  • +
    ISO6400 option
  • +
    great high ISO performance
  • +
    Good kit lens
  • +
    Tilt & swivel LCD
  • +
    movie mode
  • +
    live view
Cons
  • -
    Small optical viewfinder
  • -
    slow AF speed in live view mode
Nikon D5000 (with 18-55mm VR Lens) is the Best Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $1000
Where to buy
Nikon D5000 (with 18-55mm VR Lens)
Recommended with
  • Tamron AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di-II LD SP ZL Aspherical (IF) Zoom Lens with Built In Motor for Nikon Digital SLR
    $499.00 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Resolution: 12.3MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.3 sec
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Nikon D5000 (with 18-55mm VR Lens)
2
Canon EOS Rebel T1i (with 18-55mm IS Lens)
3
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi (with 18-55mm IS Lens)
Customer Rating
Price $999.00 $524.00 $689.00
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Sensor Size
23.6 x 15.8 mm 22.3 x 14.9 mm 22.2 x 14.8 mm
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Effective Sensor Resolution
12.3 megapixels 15.1 megapixels 12.2 megapixels
Shutter Lag Time (pre-focused) 0.09 sec 0.09 sec <0.1 sec
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Shutter Lag Time (including auto-focus time)
0.3 sec 0.2 sec 0.3 sec
Optical Zoom 3.0x 3.0x 3.0x
Auto Focus Assist Light Available Yes (Dedicated) Yes (flash strobe) Yes (flash strobe)
?
Max Aperture (tele-photo)
f/5.6 (f/2.8 with Tamron 17-50mm lens) f/5.6 (f/2.8 with Tamron 17-50mm lens) f/5.6 (f/2.8 with Tamron 17-50mm lens)
lens quality Exceptionally sharp Tamron lens (kit lens is good too) Exceptionally sharp Tamron lens (kit lens is good too) Exceptionally sharp Tamron lens (kit lens is good too)
Max ISO Setting 6400 12800 1600
Max Usable ISO (subjective) 3200 3200 1600
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Face Detection Available
Yes Yes No
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Viewfinder Available
Yes Yes Yes
Viewfinder Type Optical & Live View Optical & Live View Optical & Live View
Image quality
2
Canon EOS Rebel T1i (with 18-55mm IS Lens)

This is the Canon’s entry level DSLR model which offers movie mode too. The resolution at 15 Mega pixel is best in class. So is the highest ISO rating of 12800. The T1i is equipped with the acclaimed Digic 4 processor that reduces noise in better way resulting in cleaner high ISO images with minimal artifacts. All above features coupled with responsiveness makes it good camera for shooting fast moving kids. But for the lack of dedicated AF-assist lamp, it would have been strong contender for top slot.

The camera also offers live view mode and movie mode but LCD is not tilt able. Nevertheless the LCD’s resolution is best in class at 920,000 pixel.

The camera’s image-stabilized kit lens is one of the best around with good corner-to-corner sharpness.

Comparison with Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi (with 18-55mm IS Lens)

Movie mode, and availability of ISO3200, 6400 & 12800 settings.

Pros
  • +
    best in class resolution
  • +
    ISO12800 option
  • +
    great high ISO performance
  • +
    Good kit lens
  • +
    high resolution LCD
  • +
    movie mode
  • +
    live view
Cons
  • -
    lack of Dedicated AF assist lamp
  • -
    Small optical viewfinder
  • -
    slow AF speed in live view mode
Canon EOS Rebel T1i (with 18-55mm IS Lens) is one of the Best Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $1000
Where to buy
Canon EOS Rebel T1i (with 18-55mm IS Lens)
  • Best Price: $524
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • Tamron AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di-II LD SP ZL Aspherical (IF) Zoom Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras
    $499.00 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Resolution: 15.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.2 sec
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi (with 18-55mm IS Lens)

This DSLR too has a live view mode but the LCD is no tilt able.

The camera’s image-stabilized kit lens is one of the best around with good corner-to-corner sharpness. The camera has good high ISO performance too. However it too lacks an AF assist lamp and uses a flash strobe instead to auto-focus assist in low light.

Pros
  • +
    great high ISO performance
  • +
    Good kit lens
Cons
  • -
    Lacks dedicated AF assist lamp
  • -
    Highest ISO setting is only ISO1600
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi (with 18-55mm IS Lens) is one of the Best Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $1000
Where to buy
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi (with 18-55mm IS Lens)
  • Best Price: $689
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • Tamron AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di-II LD SP ZL Aspherical (IF) Zoom Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras
    $499.00 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Resolution: 12.2MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
4
Sony Alpha DSLR-A330 (with 18-55mm Lens)

This camera is the latest entry level DSLR camera with live view mode from Sony. Like Pentax, Sony also makes all DSLRs with a built-in image stabilization feature. In addition Sony A330 comes with a tilt LCD which along with fast live-view mode performance makes it good camera for taking photos of natural expressions of small kids.

Now the kit lens has been improved over its predecessor and suffers much less from purple fringing (near high contrast borders) and soft corners (blurring of fine details in corners of image).

The ISO speed is not visible in viewfinder, which is a negative although it is visible on LCD in live-view mode. It too does not have a dedicated AF assist lamp and uses a Flash Strobe for the purpose.

Comparison with Pentax K200D (with 18-55mm Lens)

Live-view mode, Tilt LCD

Pros
  • +
    In-body shake reduction feature
  • +
    improved kit lens
  • +
    ISO 3200 setting
  • +
    Tilt LCD
Cons
  • -
    Lacks dedicated AF assist lamp
  • -
    less resolution
Sony Alpha DSLR-A330 (with 18-55mm Lens) is one of the Best Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $1000
Where to buy
Sony Alpha DSLR-A330 (with 18-55mm Lens)
Recommended with
  • Tamron AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di-II LD SP ZL Aspherical (IF) Zoom Lens for Konica Minolta and Sony Digital SLR Cameras
    $499.00 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.1x
  • Resolution: 10.2MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.3 sec
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
5
Pentax K200D (with 18-55mm Lens)

This DSLR from Pentax has an in-body shake-reduction (CCD-shift type) feature so image stabilization is available for all the lenses. The camera provides a useful top-mounted LCD, which can be used to quickly verify critical parameters like the ISO setting and shutter speed. It saves on battery life too.

The camera has one of the larger and brighter viewfinders in its class, which helps when verifying your focus. It shows the ISO speed in the optical viewfinder, which is a nice feature as ISO is an important parameter for low light shooting (typical indoors).

Other useful features is RAW-DNG format (DNG is standard RAW format recognized by most image editing programs, while other cameras use proprietary RAW formats, which may not be supported by older image editing software). It is the only DSLR which runs on standard AA batteries.

When coupled with bright Sigma 18-50mm lens, the camera gathers lot of light and produces sharp blur-free images of kids and pets indoors without flash. Nevertheless its kit lens is among the better ones. The camera uses less noise reduction than others at high ISOs. Consequently resulting images are full of fine details and noise reduction artifacts are minimal.

It however is missing dedicated AF assist lamp. Instead it uses a flash strobe as an AF assist in low light (like all the other DSLR manufacturers except Nikon).

Comparison with Sony Alpha DSLR-A200 (with 18-70mm Lens)

The Pentax K200D has a better kit lens, larger range of compatible lenses, larger viewfinder, a top-mounted LCD, and ISO speed indication in the viewfinder.

Pros
  • +
    In-body shake reduction feature
  • +
    Larger and brighter viewfinder
  • +
    Top mounted LCD and weather sealed body
  • +
    One of the better kit lenses
  • +
    Good high ISO performance
  • +
    RAW - DNG format
  • +
    Uses AA batteries
Cons
  • -
    Lacks AF assist lamp
  • -
    less resolution
Pentax K200D (with 18-55mm Lens) is one of the Best Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $1000
Where to buy
Pentax K200D (with 18-55mm Lens)
Recommended with
  • Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC SLD ELD Aspherical Macro Lens for Pentax and Samsung Digital SLR Cameras
    $419.00 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.1x
  • Resolution: 10.2MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.4 - 0.6s
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
6
Sony Alpha DSLR-A200 (with 18-70mm Lens)

Like Pentax, Sony also makes a DSLRs with a built-in image stabilization feature. The Sony A200 is their current entry-level model.

Although the kit lens suffers from purple fringing (near high contrast borders) and soft corners (blurring of fine details in corners of image), but these shortcomings do not affect typical indoor shots of kids and pets. In fact its higher (than usual) zoom range can be advantageous for shooting portraits.

The ISO speed is not visible in viewfinder, which is a negative. It too does not have a dedicated AF assist lamp and uses a Flash Strobe for the purpose.

When coupled with bright Tamron AF 17-50mm lens, the camera provides good value producing sharp blur-free images.

Comparison with Fujifilm FinePix S100FS

Better high ISO performance, faster auto focus speed, availability of optical viewfinder.

Pros
  • +
    In-body shake reduction feature
  • +
    Large and bright viewfinder
  • +
    higher than average zoom range in kit lens
Cons
  • -
    kit lens suffers from purple fringing and soft corners
  • -
    Lacks dedicated AF assist lamp
  • -
    Smaller range of compatible wider aperture lenses
Sony Alpha DSLR-A200 (with 18-70mm Lens) is one of the Best Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $1000
Where to buy
Sony Alpha DSLR-A200 (with 18-70mm Lens)
Recommended with
  • Tamron AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di-II LD SP ZL Aspherical (IF) Zoom Lens for Konica Minolta and Sony Digital SLR Cameras
    $499.00 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.9x
  • Resolution: 10.2MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.2 sec
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
7
Fujifilm FinePix S100FS

This camera is top of line superzoom offering from Fuji. Equipped with a 50% larger sensor (than other superzooms) and a 14x optical zoom range, it is being promoted as an all-in-one alternative to DSLR cameras. The rich feature set includes a tilt LCD (up and down), ability to zoom during movie capture and RAW mode.

The images suffer from fringing problems (purple/green halos around high contrast borders). The effect is quite noticeable. In addition the lens produces soft corners blurring away fine details in that area. ** However these shortcomings are not much of an issue for taking indoor shots of kids and pets making it one of the best non-DSLR camera for the purpose.

Recently it has been superseded by Fuji FinePix S200EXR which is essentially similar camera with slight improvement in resolution and low light performance.

Pros
  • +
    Good zoom range and feature set
  • +
    dedicated AF assist lamp
Cons
  • -
    Less noisy among superzooms but no match to DSLRs
  • -
    Soft corners in images & fringing problems (at high contrast edges)
Fujifilm FinePix S100FS is one of the Best Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $1000
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix S100FS
  • Best Price: $735
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 14.3x
  • Resolution: 11.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 - 0.8s
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com

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