We broke out a little secret weapon for our nursery reveal yesterday, but after this post it won’t be so secret- we got a new digital camera! Here it is playing newborn…
We’ve long sworn by the (often underestimated) power of a point-and-shoot digital camera (in fact, here’s a recent post about how we get the most from ours). Just about every picture ever featured on this site was snapped by our Canon Powershot, and while we never claimed to be the Annie Leibovitz of shelter blogs, we were pretty satisfied with the flash-free, color-adjusted-in-photoshop pics we churned out each week. They seemed to do the job well enough.
But like many parents-in-waiting, we suddenly felt the urge to upgrade our photographic equipment before look-how-cute-our-baby-girl-is documentation became a top priority. Plus with the moolah that we saved from our under-budget nursery makeover, we already had enough in savings to splurge for a nicer camera (since we definitely believe in buying things after we have the money in the bank).
So after some research and a few conversations with our camera-savvy friends, we ended up snagging a Nikon D3000 DSLR off of Amazon for just about $450 beans (note: we noticed that listing prices routinely went up and down, so you might want to watch for a bit before taking the plunge to ensure the best deal). It boasts a lot more control than our current camera (and has already given me several flashbacks to high school photography class – f/ stop wha?) but there are really two main upgrades that we’re the most excited about:
- Being able to shoot in lower light (which will come in handy since a moving child + a low-lit house = blurry baby pics on our old Powershot)
- Using the slightly wider angle lens to capture more of room in each pic – a difference you can see clearly in the side-by-side comparison shots below, which were taken from the exact same spot on the exact same tripod.
Hopefully it will mean better shots for our baby book and our blog (everybody wins!). But we still have a pretty healthy learning curve ahead of us, so any and all photography tips would be welcomed with open arms. ‘Til we get more comfortable with it, we’ll probably be using our tried-and-true (not to mention purse and pocket-friendly) Powershot for the majority of our blog pics. But nevertheless, we’re excited to have finally reached the 21st century of digital photography with our new purchase and we look forward to learning how to use it a bit better so we can get ready for the bambino and upgrade the ol’ blog. Here’s hoping we don’t drop the darn thing…
Psst- Some of the links included above are Amazon Affiliate links.
Update: Over two years later we’re still loving our camera. Here’s the 50mm lens that we got for better photos of moving things in low light (aka: Clara & Burger) along with pretty detail shots, and an update post about how we’re liking our camera in general here.
Congratulations!!! Getting a DSLR is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve had mine for about 2 1/2 years, and here are some tips I always pass to friends with new cameras.
–I shoot almost exclusively in Aperture Priority. This lets me control depth of field, amount of light entering the camera, etc. And, shooting in one mode is a great way to learn how your camera works and how changing this one setting affects everything else. Manual is great, but I generally only use it when the lighting is unusual.
–I generally leave my camera on the continuous shooting mode so I can catch shots I might miss otherwise — this is especially important with little ones who like to wriggle around a lot. Because of this I end up with a LOT of photos to sort through, but this way I almost always get at least one photo in a series that’s not blurry — even in low light or with a lot of movement.
— I absolutely agree with getting the “nifty fifty” — it’s a great little lens and cheap to boot.
— I really like Scott Kelby’s “The Digital Photography Book” (and its sequels, books 2 and 3). Scott’s a little cheesy in his writing, but I learned more from those books than from anywhere else.
Good luck to you!
Melissa S. says
Many people have recommended that you buy the 50mm f/1.8. While it is a WONDERFUL lens, you’ll probably hate it for your camera. The Nikon D3000 (and many of the Nikon consumer model cameras- the 5000, 40, 50, and 60) do NOT have on-body autofocus motors. Therefore, any lenses that do not have built-in autofocus motors (they will be labeled “AF-S,” where the S stands for Silent Wave, Nikon’s name for their autofocus motor) and you will have to manually focus them on your camera.
I often caution new camera purchasers to consider getting at least a D90, which does carry it’s own AF motor. The cheaper cameras cost less in the beginning, but the lenses can be much more expensive, plus many of them are DX specific, meaning if you ever get a body with an FX detector you won’t be able to shoot full-frame.
Wiggs (The Beholder) says
I have a Nikon DSLR too – get ready for some serious fun!
One tip for you (I’m sure someone else has said it, but just in case): having a small f-stop (meaning a shorter depth-of-field) is a dream in low-lighting situations. Especially once you have your bebe, you’ll want to keep your f-stop on the low-end so you can have her sweet face in focus and not have to worry about lighting.
Exciting new purchase! And, PLEASE dont drop it. I dropped mine and it’s been in the shop since OCTOBER! Can you believe? I feel sick about it. Have fun with your new toy. Can’t wait to see all of the new pretty pics on your blog.
Michelle Kersey says
Congrats on your new Camera! I’m super jealous! One day…. I will have a DSLR!! My SIL just got one for her bday Nikon D5000 Took pics of the kids today with it…. gives some beautiful shots compared to a point n shoot!
Congrats on your new purchase! My husband and I got a Canon T1i for Christmas to supplement our Canon point & shoot. We have a new niece (born just last month), so we used that as our excuse to upgrade! Nikon and Canon are both great brands — you can’t go wrong with either!
I just wanted to mention a neat little tidbit that I read in a book: I noticed in the nursery that the sunlight comes in through the window pretty strong. To use the natural light to your advantage, you can temporarily hang a frosted shower curtain over the window to diffuse the sunlight for portrait shooting of the bean. I’m looking forward to more fancy pictures from your new fancy camera!
Paige Graham says
I am a total Nikon fool! I am OCD about my Nikons and have three! I LOVE them! I’m so glad you guys got one because they are so super durable. I’ve had the same D80 for 4 years and use it ALL the time! It is my professional camera and I shoot models, events, and landscape with it.
Goodness, I can go on forever about cameras and Nikon, but I won’t, I’ll just leave it at this: Good job!
http://www.thepioneerwoman.com has fabulous, easy to follow photography and photoshop tutorials on her website- along with great recipes and funny stories about her life and family. I’ve found it to be a great resource.
Enjoy your purchase!
Nice camera! I just bought a Nikon D5000 in January and am loving it. It was the high school class that got me saving:)
I have the D5000, which I believe is pretty much the D3000, but with video. I love it! Two things that might be of interest:
1. Pioneer Woman. I’m sure it’s been suggested already, but amazing resource.
2. Professor Kobre’s Lightscoop. Allows you to use your on-camera flash and bounce it off a wall or ceiling to avoid that washed-out flash look. For $25, it’s a pretty cheap way to make low light photos look a ton better!
We bought a Nikon 3000 this November too!! Best Buy After-Thanksgiving sale. We got the camera, 2 lenses, an extra battery, 8 GB memory card and a camera bag for $599. What a difference it makes! I convinced my husband to buy an SLR *even though we just bought a Canon Powershot in October* for us to use when our baby is born in June. Now he is addicted to it. :)
Christie Stearns says
I haven’t commented in a while but just wanted to say YAY!! Hubby just bought a Nikon D5000 and he has been loving it. I got myself an in-betweener, the Canon Powershot SX20is… it’s bigger than my pocket camera and has a 20x zoom and all the manual features so it’s a good thing for me to learn with before I get a DSLR someday. We are both really enjoying our cameras.
I wanted to suggest this blog in case you haven’t come across it… Digital Photography School (http://digital-photography-school.com/) I love all of their posts and find TONS of great tips. They also do in depth camera reviews and they have probably done the D3000 so you could check that out, might have some good tips.
HUGS! Can’t wait to see the baby soon :) :)
You’ll especially love how a dslr shoots photos faster than a point and shoot. Because kids move faster than you’d think! It really makes a difference!
If you don’t want to drop it, ditch the cheapo neckstrap that comes with the camera. I bought a really nice Lowepro neoprene neckstrap for my DSLR and my old SLR, and it was definitely worth it! It’s much nicer on my neck (that camera gets heavy!) and it’s much sturdier. Plus, it has a “quick release” but in 5 years, my camera has never released itself. :-) I also have a lens cap leash on my lens cap so I don’t lose it.
If you have the money, a flash is a great thing to have. I LOVE my external flash. LOVE LOVE LOVE. I have the SB600, but I think there is a flash that is even cheaper than that one now. The SB600 ran me about $250 about 2 years ago.
I LOVE to shoot in RAW. It’s more of a pain in the neck, but it’s nice because you can go back through and make adjustments to your color, exposure, etc… that make the pictures look so much nicer. I don’t always to it for everyday photos (because you HAVE to go back through them), but for really special stuff, I do.
Getting a DSLR is a great idea, especially with young children! They move so fast, and the cameras are just so fast. My DSLR (a Nikon D70) is almost 5 years old and it’s still wonderful! I have a Nikon point and shoot as well, but there are just times a girl needs her SLR! :-) Congrats on the new camera! You’ll love it!
I bought the same camera from Amazon and love it. It changed my life!
Lara C says
Congrats! I have a D60 and love it – and the quality of pictures is stunning. Have fun!
Hi guys! I’ve been following your wonderful blog for a few months now and I absolutely adore it! I DIY’d my new headboard with your Ikea Lack side table brilliance!
Anywho, welcome to the Nikon family! I’m a photographer and I shoot with my D300 all the time. I love it! You two got a pretty great deal on yours (somehow you manage to get great deals on everything! Bravo!).
If you want to see some D300 shots, I have loads on my website.
Keep on keepin’ on!
Congrats on your new camera! I have a Nikon D40X and I love it so much. Ree Drummond of Pioneer Woman has published some great photography tutorials on her blog (http://thepioneerwoman.com/photography/) and I’ve found them really helpful. Her free Photoshop actions are also a lot of fun, definitely check them out!
betty in munich says
I too hope you don’t drop the baby….ohhh you meant the camera! ; )
Amy Shotts says
I have been saving for a DSLR as well and once I get one, I plan to take one of these on-line classes. She also has books.
Congrats on the purchase! Right now, I’m hosting a series called 12 Weeks To Better Photography on my blog–the lessons (linked in my sidebar) are really wonderful! Just change the url to say “weekone” or “weektwo” instead of whatever week we are on :)
We’ve actually been checking them out in our Google Reader (of course you’re one of our regular blog reads). And we love it! Here’s hoping we can pick things up as well as you have.
I have another question for you. How about a video camera? I’m torn between the Canon Rebel XS and T1i (with a video feature). I have a regular video camera but it’s just so clunky and outdated and instead usually take small video clips with my point and shoot camera. What do you use for video???
We actually use a combination of our Flip video and a super old (10+ years) camera that John got when he was younger to make all the videos on our site, so we have no suggestions for any top of the line new models yet. Perhaps that’ll be something we look into down the line, but we must admit we’re super happy with our Flip Mino (here’s the link to the one we got).
Profit From My Closet says
Oooooh so glad you posted about your new camera. I’ve been comparing camera for my new found love of photography and have been finding it so hard to choose.
You two are the best!
I am just impressed that you have been using a P&S (for the record, I use the same camera for my blog, with mixed results). Congrats on the upgrade, and good luck learning how to use your new DSLR. When I upgrade, I think I am going for a Canon. I have both Nikon and Canon DSLRs at the office and the Canon outperforms. But, both are great brands.
I forgot to add, I have seen some great tutorials offered up by various bloggers. Namely food, but the advice stands! 101 Cookbooks and Smitten Kitchen come to mind. Perhaps you can start paging through the blogs with photography you admire and look to see if they have how-to sections :-)
I have a D80 and LOVE it. I almost exclusively use the “Nifty Fifty” portrait lens for pictures of my daughter (seriously, that lens was the best $120 I have ever spent). I also love my external flash –the in camera flash looks like crap (no better than a point and shoot flash. When I first got it, about a year after the camera, I nearly blinded and deafened my family–taking pictures and then screaming “Look at how amazing this is!” after every photo.
I just found your blog through OhDeeDoh–love your daughter’s nursery!
This may have been mentionedalready and I know there are a ton of great blogs out there with photography lessons and tips, but Erin Cobb has great personal and professional blogs for her photoraphy and is currently doing a series of tips for “MWAC’s” (Mom with a camera). She’s only on week 2 and so far her lessons have dealt mostly with composition opposed to technical tips, but she’s an amazing photographer so all her stuff is very inspiring (and she has one of the most adorable families I’ve ever seen).
Enjoy your new toy!
Sorry, her phtography blog can be found here:
It’s been a few days, but I just wanted to offer my two cents in response to Yvette’s comment. She said she’s “torn between the Canon Rebel XS and T1i (with a video feature).” Unless you get a great deal on the Canon T1i, I would save your money (put it toward the purchase of a new camcorder or get a Flip like the Youngsters) and go with the Canon XS (or XSi) instead.
If you just shoot little clips from time to time, you might use the video function, but as other reviewers on Amazon.com will tell you, the T1i is not a video camera. It doesn’t auto-focus and it automatically stops recording when a file size gets to be 4GB — this can be limiting if, for example, you wanted to record a dance recital or a football game.
As a proud and very happy owner of a Canon T1i, I highly recommend it, but don’t let the video feature be the reason to buy it — first and foremost, it’s an SLR camera, same as any other of the Rebel models!
You guys will defiantly want this lens. You can’t get a cheap nifty fifty for that level nikon and this is wider angle- which is better for house shots for you.
i have the nikon d40 (essentially previous year’s model to what you have), and it’s true you have to get AF-S lenses to be able to auto-focus with this model camera. i have the aforementioned 35mm f1.8, and i love it. i never take it off my camera. i have a five-month-old, and i have learned to shoot in manual in the past few months. i have pictures of her that capture the faces and expressions i want to remember. now if someone could just get some pictures of me with her . . . =) best to you with photographing your little lady!
Meggan Taylor says
My best friend with my new camera was my community center. there were 2 classes designed for those learning how to use their new SLR camera. super helpful! then there was a Canon class offered the next semester to be better suited to the canon menu. each class was $60 – $65. worth 100’s!
You’ll be so glad you got this camera BEFORE baby is born. It really does make a difference in your pictures.
I’m taking a class right now to learn how to shoot manual. Something you might be interested in the future. It’s at http://www.503galleries.com/workshop.
Hey guys – I hope you don’t mind that I leave this note here (I wasn’t sure how else you’d see it) but I was just scanning your FAQs for some information and saw your mention of the new camera (YEA); being a Nikon DSLR owner myself, I couldn’t help but notice that (I think?!) there was a typo: you noted that you have a Canon D3000 (rather than a Nikon). I know you all are big on clean and typo-free writing (which I LOVE!) so I thought I’d send you a quick note. I don’t mean to nit-pick at all as I LOVE your site but just thought that you’d appreciate the find. Keep up the good work!!
Eeks! What an oversight! Thanks so much for the tip. Off to fix it!
Rachel Elizabeth says
I’m still trying to teach myself how to use my DSLR but it’s really fun. And even untrained I still get better pictures than I did with my point and click.
So I just saw this post and I just got this camera! I am really enjoying reading all the wonderful tips everyone is giving you! So much to learn!
I have the very similar D5000 (got a refurbished model) and I loved it more when I got a different lens from the kit lens which I see you have. I second the poster above who said the 50mm 1.8 is a great lens but will not autofocus with your camera. I have the 35mm 1.8 and it is great for baby shots as well as house shots. It’s not quite as wide angle as you can get with your kit lens, but it actually works great indoors as far as lighting and distance from subject. I think 50mm is a little too close in for most things (you can always crop from the 35mm!) but if you want a 50mm, invest in the 50mm 1.4. Another $450 beans but supposed to be an excellent lens and the 1.4 lets in a whole lot more light than the 1.8. The 35mm is more than adequate and I’m sure you will be in love. I hardly ever use my flash, even at dusk. I’ve been told a shoe mount flash will change my life but most of the time I’m in situations where the flash would be disruptive, so I prefer the lens. (of course having both would be sweet, but I had to pick one because of budget)
The pioneer woman’s photography tutorials are very helpful.
Good luck, hope you enjoy your purchase!
Absolutely LOVE your blog! We DIY’ed our entire house ourselves as well! I also just got a Nikon D3000 for Christmas and I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I’ve taken some pretty great pictures with it, check out my blog: http://thelittleyellowhouseblog.blogspot.com/
You can also find some of our home renovation stories on there!
Hey Youngsters, now that your camera baby and real life adorable Clara have been around over a year I wanted to see how you are liking your Nikon over the longer term? Still pleased with your choice? I just bought a 150 year old house and am blogging my adventure, but all pics are still being snapped via iPhone and it is time to upgrade. I’d love your thoughts as I prepare for the splurge.
Yes we’re still very much in love! We’re really excited actually because they just announced that they now make a “nifty fifty” lens that works with our camera so we’re planning to order that (it has a faster shutter speed so we can catch even more Clara action). Hurrah.
andrea p says
Hey guys, congratulations on your blogaversary! Where has the time gone??!
I was just wondering what camera bag you use for your DSLR? Did it come with a bag when you bought it off Amazon? Any recommendations? Thank you & congrats again! xoxo
We got a bag on amazon.com, just a simple Nikon carrying bag that fits it (I think it was recommended on the bottom as a “related item”). Hope it helps!.
andrea p says
We finally took the plunge and ordered the Nikon D3100 for Christmas! I would love to know what accessories you own in addition to the camera body & kit lens? (filters, addtional lenses, strap, tripod, flash, etc) Do tell! A “camera bag crashing” of sorts :)
We have a 50 mm lens that’s made to work with our camera and a Nikon camera bag. That’s pretty much it! We use the stock lens for almost all of our interior shoots and just use the 50 mm one for Clara pics (like her monthly photos) since it’s better at close stuff (and keeps her from getting as blurry) while the stock lens is a wider lens, so it’s better at capturing a whole room. Hope it helps!
andrea p says
Thank you Sherry! You never cease to amaze me with your quick detailed responses! I have heard great things about the 50mm lens….definitely something to think about in the future :)
Sure! Good luck!
Ashley @ The North Carolina Cowgirl says
How do you like your new camera? I have a NikonD5000 and I love it! I spent close to $800 for it but it was money very well spent. I love that that I can switch it to manual or automatic. I also love that you can edit pictures on the camera. :)
Rikki Bezzant says
What compatible nifty fifty lens did you end up buying for the Nikon D3000?
Here’s an update post with a link to the exact lens. Hope it helps!