Best Camera for portraits?
I need a better camera than I currently have for taking portraits of my children. I am considering the Panasonic FZ20 or the Konica Minolta Z200... can anyone telling me which has a faster reaction time? It seems that I miss all my good shots with my current camera. If there is another camera that would be better for portraits in the $500 price range, I'd love to hear about it. Thanks so much!..

Comments (9)

Hi Debbie, Portrait photography typically would not be dependant on "reaction time". You probably are talking about "shutter lag", which is the time the camera needs to determine exposure and focus, move the lens to the proper position, charge the flash, and fire the shutter. Since all of this takes place within 0.5 to 3 seconds (depends of camera), and since evidently this is too long for you, then it would seemt that you are taking action shots more than portraiture. Not trying to be picky - but knowing more about what you are trying to do would allow others to be more helpful, if possible. Since any camera with manual settings can be used for portraits, you might look at other specifications to help narrow down the list of choices. It would be helpful to know how many mp's you need (or at least how big a picture you would print), how much zoom you would like, whether or not the size of the camera or what type of battery it uses would matter.

There are many cameras with similar lag times, but they vary greatly in their features. If you choose to reply with a more specific list of wants, I will try to answer, but I will be offline until the end of the week. However, Mr. Gillette and a few others will certainly be helpful when they see this thread, so hopefully they will chime in as well.... PhilR...

Comment #1

The reviews here show both those cameras being very fast when using "pre-focus," that is, the camera shutter is pressed part way, the camera will focus and then at the right moment you finish the release. Most cameras have this feature, btw, so if you are otherwise happy with what you have, you might want to check the manual and see if you can do this before swapping cameras. Part of the problem with fast moving kids is it's hard, even with prefocus, to judge when to take the shot. A camera with an electronic finder will have some added delay as the sensor sees the picture then loads it to the finder. So they can be a bit slower to use or require more anticipation than an optical finder camera. I think you (we all) may find it difficult to take quick shots of kids.

It's work to get used to trying to anticipate but anticipation is the key. If you expect continuing action, sometimes cameras with burst modes will provide a series of shots that can help catch the right moment...

Comment #2

Thanks so much for your advice, Phil. I have asked a couple other questions here and you have always been so nice to respond. Actually, I am trying to take good portraits of my two year old triplets - so they are kind of like action shots. I just seem to miss their smiles, etc every time with my current camera (an Olympus C720). With my 35 mm Minolta, I can catch their smiles and actions every time, but I want a good camera like that but in digital. I would like to have at least 5 mp's, a pretty decent zoom (as I have an older son in sports, and I also seem to be always using my zoom on my current camera) - more than 3X for sure.

I also want to be able to expand with this camera - i.e., I am in the process of learning more about photography, and I want a camera that can grow with me. I don't need it to be small and fit in my pocket - I have other cameras that can do that if necessary. I have gone through Steve's digicam site but still keep coming up with quite a few that might meet my needs. We don't have any stores that carry the cameras I am looking at, so I might just have to order sight unseen (I live in a tiny town, quite a ways from any major city). Thanks so much....

Comment #3

I have a friend who has a Canon Rebel, and she always seems to be able to catch the shots (she has two year old triplets also). I know this is a lot of camera though, so I was hoping to not have to spend that much money. But, maybe I have to go the SLR route in order to get a better picture. My current camera is only 3.0 mp's, so I do need to get a camera with more mp's... I just don't know if I can go with something a bit cheaper like the Panasonic FZ20, or if I need to spend the extra money and go with something like the Canon Rebel. I do prefocus my current camera whenever I take pictures, but it is still SLOW....

I have done that, and I am still REALLY wanting a new one. Tax refund may be gone after this purchase! Thank you so much for your help! Debbie..

Comment #4

Hi Debbie, Had time to check in once more before the movers unplug everything. I think a "mega-zoom" would be a great idea for an all-round camera, but I don't know of any 5mp mega's with image stabilization (such as the FZ20) that uses AA's. At any rate, I think you should consider the Minolta Z3, which although is 4mp, does have pretty good lag times, a large zoom with image stabilization, and uses AA's. It also has a very good movie mode, which is something that is lacking in most other mega-zoom's. You can add conversion lenses and an auxilliary flash to this camera, and it will also allow you to set exposure settings yourself, should you one day learn how. I personally don't think that a difference of one mp is worth worrying about.

If you don't think you need IS, then you could consider the 6mp Fuji S7000, which is a mega-zoom that uses AA's. Uh-oh, gotta go - there's a guy with a cardboard box and a big roll of tape standing in the doorway... PhilR...

Comment #5

I know you are probably gone now, Phil, but just thought I'd point out that I don't care that much about what battery type I use... I like using AA, but I don't care enough to chose a camera based on that. I still think I want to go with 5 mp... I will start digging around concerning the Minolta Z3 (with 5 mp). Or do you think the FZ20 will meet my needs if I don't care about the batteries? Thanks - have fun packing! (I assume that's what you're doing!) Debbie..

Comment #6

I had used film slrs for years before trying digital some aspects of the responsiveness were very frustrating, however, the Fuji S602 easily dealt with 80-90% of my needs. I've recently acquired a dslr and the responsiveness is way, way up compared to a digicam. Which is what you'd expect. I'd suggest trying to borrow your friends camera or trying it out while you are with them (although 2 sets of triplets together sounds like critical mass!) and getting a feel for how it handles. Also try to get a feel for how many shots she doesn't get compared to the good ones she shares (most of us cull the disasters before sharing ). Most of the cameras are more than capable of keeping up with kids and motion and focus, the difficulty is keeping the camera on the action.

You can use a digicam or a dslr in the simplest automatic modes and the high end digicams are certainly capable of plenty of more advanced uses as well...

Comment #7

Thanks Craig... when I looked up my shutter lag on my current camera, it was 1.6 seconds for autofocus, and .3-.6 on the few cameras that I'm looking at. I think that's a pretty big improvement, so maybe that will be good enough for me. (My friend lives about 2,000 miles away, so I can't really play with her camera... I just see her beautiful shots and get jealous!). Debbie..

Comment #8

Hi Debbie, I have owned the Panasonic FZ20 for a couple of weeks now and I am very happy. I also have small children and have managed to take excellent shots. The camera's autofocus is swift and accurate and there is virtually no shutter delay if you prefocus. It also has a powerful flash in case you zoom in from the distance during one of those priceless moments. I also own a Canon Powershot G5, which while delivering superb images, has a lot more trouble focusing in low light. The battery life is very good in the FZ20.

They sell generic ones on ebay for less than $10 and they work fine. In short, I can wholeheartedly recommend the FZ20 to take impromptu shots of your kids. I am attaching samples I took of my 2-year-old son, Tanner. Attachments:.


Comment #9

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.


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