As most of the readers of this blog are aware, my primary business is as a fine art wedding photographer. And if there is one question that a photographer gets a lot it’s this one: “Which camera should I get!?” So, what are the top 5 cameras for moms who want to take decent pictures of their kids? Now, there are many things to consider when giving someone a selection of top cameras. This question could mean so many different things for each and every person. First, who’s asking this question? I get it from moms looking to take pictures of their kids, students wanting to learn photography, and photographers looking to upgrade. Second, what are you wanting out of your camera? Managing expectations is important because a camera itself will not make you a great photographer. So going in with the proper expectations is so important. Third, what is the subject matter you are hoping to capture? Is this for the scenery on all those hikes you do? Or maybe portraits of your kids? The answer to this question yields completely different responses. And finally, maybe most importantly, what is your budget? You can get a camera these days for anywhere from $200 to more than $20,000.
Who is this post for?
So who is this post for? Well, this is for our loyal readers who most ask this question. And that would be “moms.” I have more moms, sometimes called mom-tographers, ask me this than any other group. And so, I thought it would be helpful to simply give you some of my options for the top cameras for moms in order to take pictures of their kids and preserve their day to day memories. At the same time I want to be clear who this is not for: Professional photographers, snobby hobbyists, or any combo of the two. This isn’t some professional course on becoming a photographer and it’s CERTAINLY NOT a post that is communicating “just get a good camera and you’ll be a pro.” That’s just not the case. The right equipment is essential in any profession or art, but the right equipment doesn’t accomplish the profession or the art. The artisan does. With that said, the right equipment CAN help one be positioned to do their craft well. And so, this is simply a post for moms who don’t have the time (or the desire frankly) to learn the technicalities of photography but want a piece of equipment which can help position them as best as possible with minimal user input.
Film, Digital, Phone
There are many formats one could choose from and honestly, I love all of the formats for different reasons. But for the purposes of this post I’m not considering film cameras as they aren’t necessarily the most realistic options for moms who are just wanting a quick, portable option.
How about my phone?
I’m also not considering phones, which again, is a GREAT option. You can’t get more portable and beautiful than an iPhone 7 plus camera with a nice attachable lens. So yes, you could use your phone 100% of the time and you’d be a ok. But phone cameras aren’t enough for everyone. Some moms just want a “real camera.” And I totally understand that sentiment. As phone cameras get better and better so do traditional cameras. Along with quality and selection, price point is actually better than most of the top phones on the market now.
Ok, so I said I wasn’t considering phones, I’ll do that in another post. Nevertheless, if this is the route you want to go I recommend grabbing a good app and using it well (aka, developing a style you like and sticking with it to maintain a consistent look.
Camera Phone Lenses
In addition to the apps mentioned, grab yourself an attachable lens. Here are three I recommend (I’ll
elaborate at some point in another post).
The Top 5
Ok, so enough about what I’m not going to talk about, lol. On to the list. Here are my top 5 picks for best cameras for moms who want pictures of their kids and family.
Last Caveat: The Most Important Part of Your Camera
Don’t miss my ULTIMATE MOM-TOGRAPHER tip at the end of this post. It’s soooo important. More important than the list in my opinion. Actually, forget it being at the end of the post. I need to make sure you see this.
The most important thing that you need to remember when shopping for your camera is that the most important part of your camera is not what most people think! It’s not the body of the camera with the fancy stats and tech packed inside. Sure, that’s really important, but most cameras out there today have amazing “guts” inside.
The most important part in my opinion is your LENS. You’ve got to pick the right lens. And so, as a bonus for you I’m going to recommend one lens for each of the five cameras that I select at the end of the post. So be sure and look for this. (To give you a hint, my go-to portrait lens for any camera will be a 50mm.)
I’m a bit of an odd duck in the wedding industry. My primary gear is Sony– always has been– and I love it. I love the slightly unique look it gives my work from most of my colleagues’. So, maybe I’m a little bias starting off with the Alpha, but I know it deserves to be on this list. Here’s why:
- Compact and ultra-portable
- Very sharp images
- Wide ISO range (means you can shoot great pictures in low light
- Wifi Connectivity
- The smallest DSLR you’ll find (means you can get different lenses for it)
- Not as wide array of lens as Nikon and Canon
- Resale value not as high because Sony isn’t as popular as other brands
If you want my choice… you can stop here. I’ll make it simple on you. I believe Sony provides unbelievable images at a great price and with a unique technology. Get the a6000 here.
- Very nice entry level DSLR if you think you might want to upgrade in the future
- Numerous setups possible with the Nikon lens lineup
- Good price point
- User friendly but still plenty of user control for those that would like to learn the features
- Battery Life is superb
- Autofocus system not always reliable
- Not great tracking moving objects (which might be important when you’re trying to capture your kiddos being cute)
- Video system isn’t as good as competitors in my opinion (Sony Alphas and Canon 70D)
- Unlike the Nikon D3400 Autofocus system the one introduced in the 70D is incredibly accurate and should serve the user very well
- Video system possibly the best among the cameras listed here
- Canon lineup of lenses may be the best out there
- Image quality is great, but compared to the other similar but lower priced Canons it’s nothing overwhelming
- Dynamic range not as good as the Sony Alpha and Nikon D3400
- Electronic viewfinder is incredible and offers a live view that allows you to see the image as you take it; I consider this a really great feature for newer photographers
- Like the a6000 above this camera is mirrorless which allows it to be ultra-slim and portable
- Image sharpness and quality is stunning
- Battery Life
- Lack of inexpensive lenses
- Startup is slow
- Most expensive camera in this lineup
- The peace of mind that comes with choosing a company with a legacy and reputation like Canon
- Good feel in the hands for a camera of this size and level
- 50x Optical Zoom
- Wifi connected
- Price point is hard to beat
- Limited to just the one lens
- Size is in between a point and shoot and a DSLR which makes it kind of a “weird size”
Okay, so I know it’s not really the best for this list, but I really wanted to include a GoPro here because I think it provides a completely unique vantage point for documenting your family. It’s true that GoPro mainly targets outdoor, adventurous types, but I think it’s a really awesome option for families because of the durability it provides along with the compact portability. With both camera and video function as well as underwater use!
When David and I went to Iceland in 2015 we brought a GoPro along and had so much fun with it (see our Iceland pictures here). We documented a bunch of our drives through the mountains, brought it into hot springs with us, and took loads of pictures while not having to pull my bigger cameras out every three feet.
Priced at a moderate level, the GoPro Hero 5 provides you incredible quality for capturing everyday events and once-in-a-lifetime family trips.
The Lenses I Recommend:
- Sony a6000 and a6500: Sony FE 50mm 1.8
- Nikon D3400: Nikon AF FX Nikkor 50mm 1.8 (Splurge Pick: Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm 1.4G)
- Canon 70D: Canon EF 50mm 1.4 USM
- Canon SX530: Does not require purchase of lens
I sincerely hope that this post on the top cameras for moms has been helpful to all my mama friends out there and that it has encouraged you to grab the camera that is best for you! Don’t be pressured into something just because it’s the popular thing to have and don’t get suckered into some package that provides you stuff you don’t need. Pick the right camera body at the right price and then get the right lens for what you want to shoot.
As always, I’d love to hear what you end up picking and some of the reasons why. Also, maybe you already have your camera. If that’s the case I’d love to hear what kind you have and why you love it.
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