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September 13, 2010

Mom Debate: I Wonder If I Can Cram that DSLR Camera Into My Diaper Bag Too?

The quick answer: No way, unless I remove diapers, wipes, Sippy cups, etc. The more complex answer: I’m okay with carrying an extra bag to ensure I get the great results of using a DSLR camera…most of the time.

At the beginning of the summer, a family member unintentionally launched my point and shoot camera off a countertop and I had to lay my 10 month-old Panasonic to rest. I was then faced with the decision of whether I should invest in a DSLR – a topic I visit several times a year out of frustration from too many poor quality digital photos – or simply purchase another point and shoot camera. My kids are young, so it’s painful to think about missing photo ops, yet each day I vacillated on this decision I lost out on capturing memories.

Thankfully, I had an opportunity to test drive a Nikon D5000 SLR when I went on vacation to beautiful Chelan, WA at the end of August. This being my first DSLR experience, I was admittedly nervous on whether I could pick up the complexity of the camera quickly enough to capture my children in moments that I knew I’d treasure for years to come. While I’m still working on my technique, I was able to pick up the basics pretty fast and took some great shots. It’s not too long ago that I was agonizing over the blurry and grainy indoor shots from my daughter Belle’s first birthday party, and now I’m marveling at the beauty of my vacation photos, which are sharp and vibrant.

So besides great looking pictures, what else do I like about the Nikon D5000? Great low light shooting capabilities, face detection and an 11-point auto focus system (helping to ensure sharp focus), several auto scenes, and solid HD video. I was also pleased with the camera’s support for Windows Device Stage, which means that everything you need for the camera appears when you first plug it into your PC – the manuals are all accessible (no more having to hang onto that paperwork!), Nikon software links and updates are provided, and best of all, the Nikon Digitutor which gave me a tutorial on how to maximize my experience with the D5000 which I found extremely helpful.

Here are a few of the photos I captured while on vacation (and one the day we left for our trip), with only 1-2 days of practice with the Nikon D5000. As mentioned before, I don’t publish straight on shots of my children so the best pictures are saved only for family. You may have seen my other vacation pictures already when you read my last post showing how I took my favorite summer pictures and edited them into a short video using Movie Maker.

Lake Chelan 173

Lake Chelan 330The kids (30)Frank and Judy's (6)

So where did I land on the DSLR in the diaper bag debate? I can’t avoid the reality of being a mom with a diaper bag on my shoulder, a one year old teetering on my hip and a three year old holding my other hand. Desiring the quality of the DSLR and yet the convenience of a small weight camera that can squeeze into that last pocket in my bag is a tough debate. I personally have found that the end-product of using a DSLR is too desirable and worth the effort so I’m investing in a nice mid-range DSLR – very likely the Nikon D5000 or something like – and will settle for carrying my cell phone camera with me for instances where I can’t imagine lugging the camera bag. Eventually, I plan to add an inexpensive point and shoot to my collection, just to make sure I have one easily accessible, but the idea will be to keep cost low and aim to use my DSLR on a regular basis.