Expert Recommendation

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Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $750
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
July 31, 2008
Overview

While not as flashy as some competitors, the Canon Rebel XT possesses best-in-class image quality and provides all the features you need to take great portrait photos of children and pets.

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My Best In Class Pick
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (Body Only)

Though a little outdated compared to other SLRs, the Canon Rebel XT is a classic budget camera that packs in all the useful features for a portrait camera, and still has the best image quality in its price range.

Like most SLRs, the Rebel XT’s short shutter lag lets you snap photos at an instant instead of waiting crucial milliseconds and missing the shot. Bundled with a Sigma 18-200 lens which provides a 29-320mm (11x) equivalent range, this setup will cover the traditional 50-200mm portrait range, as well as offer wide-angle possibilities to get more creative.

What sets the Rebel XT apart, however, is its Canon CMOS sensor and extraordinary high-ISO ability. In low-light situations (anywhere indoors or at-night) where you’ll need to utilize a high ISO to keep moving children and pets from becoming blurry messes, no other camera in this price range can deliver images as clean and detailed as the Rebel XT.

Comparison with Nikon D40 (with 18-135mm Lens)

Compared to the Nikon D40, the Rebel XT comes in at a slightly higher cost, mostly on account of its far more versatile 18-200 lens. Beyond cost, the Rebel XT is superior to the D40 in just about every way - it has better high ISO ability for low-light portraits, about the same shutter lag, and unlike the D40 will give you room to grow as a photographer if you want to learn more later.

Comparison with Sony Alpha DSLR-A200 (with 18-70mm and 75-300mm Lenses)

Compared to the Sony A200, the Rebel XT is bit pricier, mostly because of its far more versatile all-in-one lens solution (the A200’s two-lens setup requires you to switch back and forth). Beyond cost, the Rebel XT is much better than the A200 in the high ISO department, producing much cleaner photos in low-light situations where you want to freeze the subject motion of your kids and pets.

Pros
  • +
    Outstanding high ISO quality
  • +
    Versatile 11x zoom
  • +
    Low shutter lag
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (Body Only) is the Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $750
Where to buy
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (Body Only)
Recommended with
  • Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras
    $249.00 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Resolution: 8.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.2 sec
  • Easy to Use: No
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (5 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Excellent by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (Body Only)
2
Nikon D40 (with 18-135mm Lens)
3
Sony Alpha DSLR-A200 (with 18-70mm and 75-300mm Lenses)
Customer Rating
Price
Size (W x H x D) 5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in. 5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in. 5.2 x 3.7 x 2.8 in
Weight (without batteries) 17.0 oz 16.6 oz 18.8 oz
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
29mm 27 mm 27mm
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Max Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
320mm 200 mm 450mm
Optical Zoom 11x 7.5x 16.5x
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes No Yes
Battery Life 400 shots 470 shots 750 shots
Important Portrait Features
High ISO quality Superb Average Poor
Shutter lag Good Good Good
People/Pet Portrait Rating Superb Good Average
2
Nikon D40 (with 18-135mm Lens)

The D40 is Nikon’s entry-level DSLR, providing a cheap no frills camera that offers most of the capabilities of an SLR camera, but omits several key advanced features.

The D40’s minimal shutter lag allows you to react quickly to snap a photo of any situation, instead of being slowed down by a long shutter lag. While not quite as long of a range as other setups, the Nikon 18-135 lens provides a 27-203mm (7.5x) zoom range that covers everything from creative wide-angle shots to more traditional portraits in the 50-200mm range.

The D40’s high ISO ability is average for an SLR - the D40 will definitely let you take blur-free photos in low-light situations, but compared to other cameras the images may look blotchy and lack detail. The D40’s greatest weakness, however, is its lack of an in-camera autofocus motor, which will prevent users from autofocusing with a number of Nikon lenses, including its best beginner portrait lens, the Nikon 50mm f1.8. If you plan on simply taking snapshots and never upgrading to newer equipment, the D40 will be a fine fit. If you think you may be interested in learning more photography or eventually graduating to more advanced portraits beyond the simple snapshot, you’re better off looking elsewhere for a camera you can learn and grow with.

Comparison with Sony Alpha DSLR-A200 (with 18-70mm and 75-300mm Lenses)

Compared to the A200, the D40’s offers a slightly more convenient 18-135 all-in-one lens lens, although overall it has less range than Sony’s two lens setup. The D40’s high ISO ability also lets it perform much better in low-light situations. The one disadvantage of the D40 is its incompatibility with some Nikon lenses, limiting your options if you ever decide to become more serious about photography.

Pros
  • +
    Good high ISO quality
  • +
    Low shutter lag
Cons
  • -
    Incompatible with some Nikon lenses
Nikon D40 (with 18-135mm Lens) is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $750
Where to buy
Nikon D40 (with 18-135mm Lens)
Specifications
  • Zoom: 7.5x
  • Resolution: 6.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.3 sec
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (6 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Sony Alpha DSLR-A200 (with 18-70mm and 75-300mm Lenses)

A fairly recent release, the Sony A200 is a full-featured SLR at a budget price. The A200 packs all the necessary features for a good portrait camera, and has a few nifty extras as well.

The A200 has a quick shutter lag, allowing the camera to be quick and responsive for any spur-of-the-moment shots. The A200 comes bundled in a two-lens package with an 18-70 and 75-300 lens - between them, the setup offers a huge 27-450mm (16.5x) range, covering just about any portrait perspective you might want to try out, from close-range wide-angle photos to more traditional medium distance, 50-200mm range shots. However, the two-lens setup makes the camera bulkier and less convenient, since you’ll have to switch lenses whenever you want to cover a different range.

A unique feature the A200 offers is an in-camera image stabilization system that effectively reduces camera shake with all lenses. It’s not critical for children and pets that move a lot anyway, but it can still be helpful for those low-light situations when you’re zoomed in all the way.

The main drawback of the A200 is its below-average high ISO performance.. The A200 tends to exhibit significant blotchiness and grain at high ISOs, making it less-than-ideal for shooting fast-moving kids and pets in low-light situations.

Pros
  • +
    Huge 16.5x zoom range
  • +
    In-camera image stabilization
  • +
    Low shutter lag
Cons
  • -
    Poor high ISO quality for a DSLR
  • -
    Two-lens package bulky, inconvenient
Sony Alpha DSLR-A200 (with 18-70mm and 75-300mm Lenses) is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $750
Where to buy
Sony Alpha DSLR-A200 (with 18-70mm and 75-300mm Lenses)
Specifications
  • Zoom: 16.7x
  • Resolution: 10.2MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.2 sec
  • Easy to Use: No
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

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