I currently own a canon entry DSLR and a couple of lenses (kit 18-55, 50 1.8 and a 70-300). I am also expecting a baby soon and I plan to take many pictures of her.

I have been thinking about switching to a micro four thirds camera because they are lighter and I will likely carry it with me more often than an SLR, thus enhancing my chances for better pictures (without falling into the bad quality of compact cameras)

In the other hand, mirrorless are not so fast to handle and the AF is probably slower. This makes me think that I could lose some good picture opportunities when she starts moving faster.

Does anyone have any advice about using mirrorless cameras for babies/kids photos? Should I stick with Canon or go for a m4/3?

  • Mirrorless doesn't have to mean 4/3rds - the Sony SLTs are very compact and compare very well to SLRs. A friend of mine has an SLT-55 and a 50mm 1.8 that produces some fantastic shots, and it's not much bigger than, say, a Panasonic Lumix. Oct 16 '12 at 11:28
  • 2
    I have no experience with mirrorless but I can tell you: IME you will need fast lenses and high iso. A flash is good but is not always ideal when the baby is very young. I have a crop factor camera and I would be glad to have a FF (for the larger sensor/pixel and so better high iso quality). I face these issues everyday. I often use iso 1600 even if quality is not stellar, because that's what I need.
    – Francesco
    Oct 16 '12 at 11:34
  • check out the Sony RX100. Small enough to have with you always. Oct 16 '12 at 11:51
  • 2
    @ElendilTheTall Sony SLTs aren't really mirrorless. I believe you are thinking of the Sony NEX cameras. They are mirror less but have APS-C sized sensors (the same size as non-fullframe DSLRs), so you can achieve the same depth of field, dynamic range, and ISO performance. The Sony NEX-5N for instance has the same sensor as a Nikon D7000/Pentax K-5/etc. It's a really great mirrorless camera. Sony SLTs are the same size/weight as the comparable Canon/Nikon DSLRs. The SLT-A55 you mention, is actually even larger than a Nikon 3100/3200 or the OPs Canon Rebel.
    – camflan
    Oct 16 '12 at 14:15
  • @camflan - I'm glad someone realized the size of those Sony's :) One more thing to note is that those with APS-C sized sensors require larger lenses. I haven't tried the new models with Phase-Detection on-sensor but the other ones unfortunately cannot keep up in autofocus speed compared to current DSLRs.
    – Itai
    Oct 16 '12 at 14:39

My advice goes for no, don't switch.

You always have the backup camera in your phone; do you currently even try capturing pictures with that when your big DSLR is away? If not, I suspect the real reason why you're not taking pictures now is not the size of your camera. It's probably either lacking time or dismissing opportunities to actually take some photos. For keeping memories, phone pictures will often be good enough; they sure beat having no picture at all. If you have plenty of failed phone pictures to show, then yeah, you might need something in between.

Try carrying the DSLR with only one lens, say the nifty fifty. This is much smaller than lugging the whole kit around, and not really that much bigger than a mirrorless would be, and solves quality issues in genres where a camera phone comes weakest (low light, action). If needed, a 40mm pancake lens would even give you a more compact system.

Changing camera systems is a pretty major investment compared to starting using what you already have. With a baby coming, there are already many expenses and reduction in income per capita to worry about.

  • I was not aware of the 40mm. it is tiny indeed. Oct 16 '12 at 12:29
  • 4
    I wouldn't suggest a 50mm on a crop-sensor camera for babies/toddlers. Nature designed them specifically for intimate viewing (you know, so they get fed and nurtured and such), so they tend to look best from in closer and with a wider view than you'd use for adults or older children. Faster is good, but fast and wide(ish) — 50mm full-frame equivalent is really pushing it — is better for little 'uns. The wider end of kit lenses, say between 20-30mm, will render the intimacy baby pictures crave.
    – user2719
    Oct 16 '12 at 20:42
  • 1
    As Always Stan is giving a sound advice: I always find the 50 too long and in fact ended taking a 24 1.4 which is for me much better in terms of field of view. The fact that it's a bit (!) faster helps, too.
    – Francesco
    Oct 17 '12 at 6:37
  • With size in mind, the tiny EF 24mm f/2.8 might also be an option.
    – Imre
    Oct 17 '12 at 7:47

No one would say you should but it's not that you couldn't!

Size is a big issue and I understand. I run a digital camera site and the absolutely most frequent complaint about any DSLRs by far is that they too big and end up staying at home. You can work on discipline to take it with you and enjoy top image quality and crucially fast autofocus speed. Plus, as someone suggested, you can get a smaller lens.

Mirrorless systems have gone a long way since their introduction. Some approach the speed of DSLRs in good light and yet are much smaller. The latest generation from Olympus even have comparable image quality: OM-D E-M5, E-PL5 and E-PM2, from largest to smallest. When light levels drop, so does their AF performance. They still do well but do not match top DSLRs. You can somewhat close the gap by using small bright lenses though.

One of those will certainly do if you compare this to leaving your DSLR at home! Nikon also has a series of mirrorless which ultra-fast AF in good light but they seriously drop in AF speed when light is low. Pentax mirrorless are much slower. I have not tried Canon's. Sony has mirrorless systems too but some are as big as a DSLR. The smaller NEX series now has phase-detect on sensor on the latest models but I am not sure you it performs. Panasonic AF is fast but the last ones I tried were slower in low-light than the Olympus ones.

You haven't said about what else you take pictures of. If it were that you did not really need a DSLR for anything else, switching is a great choice. You can always keep more than one camera. Family photos is the reason I kept a small camera around and it predates mirrorless! It is less intimidating and I get more candid photos from the young ones with the small cameras. They do great for small prints and emailing but wouldn't hold up to a large wall print.

  • Sounds like someone needs to get a Canon EOS-M in their hands!
    – dpollitt
    Oct 16 '12 at 15:10

No, keep your DSLR camera. With 50 1.8 you will make wonderfull portraits of your baby. The only plus for compact camera is that is lighter, but, first couple of months your baby will be at home so you will not need to carry the camera out. With home lighting, it is better to use DSLR because it gives you much more quality in low lights.. It is important not to use flash when picturing your baby, so DSLR is much much better choise for baby/children photography. Later, if you are not satisfated for some reasons, replace your DSLR camera. But wait until your baby is born, don't miss the opportunity to have wonderfull portraits.


If you already have Canon as a system, you might want to look into EOS-M. The benefit with Canon's new mirrorless line is multi-fold. For one, you would still have full APS-C sized sensors, rather than the much smaller form factor of m4/3. Additionally, EOS-M is still an EF mount, and with an adapter you could use all of your current EF lenses on an EOS-M mirrorless camera...which makes it a very economical option.

EOS-M also has an a hotshoe, which allows you to use hotshoe devices like flash (90EX for the M system), if you need it (which, for photographing a baby, you probably will.) The system is not super cheap, its about as expensive as a new entry-level DSLR, and it is only just now supposed to be hitting shelves in the US. It may not quite be available in the time you need it, sadly, but I do think it could be a great option for you if you can get your hands on it, as it is still EOS and EF, and will work with your existing lenses.

  • One thing to note is that it sounds like the user is very interested in size/weight constraints. Using EF lenses with the EOS-M requires an adapter as outlined here: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/25605/… How do you think the AF will perform on the EOS-M jrista?
    – dpollitt
    Oct 16 '12 at 15:13
  • Well, there are EF-M mount lenses as well...two or three of them are available at launch. There is a very nice pancake lens, as well as a zoom. From a size/weight standpoint, those should do nicely. My point about the ability to use EF/EF-S lenses was simply that it is possible, and he could use the existing EF lenses he has with an EOS-M quite readily...an option not quite as easy with other brands. As for AF, I am not sure. Canon does have PDAF technology, but for some reason they combined it with their rather slow CDAF tech in the 650D, so the results aren't great. Can't say about the EOS-M
    – jrista
    Oct 16 '12 at 17:13
  • Right, I know you know, but I was just making sure the poster knew too :)
    – dpollitt
    Oct 16 '12 at 22:59

The best camera is the camera you have with you.

So if the size of a DSLR is an issue with you I'd recommend looking into getting a smaller mirrorless camera. Also I found that for taking pictures of children you have the advantage that mirrorless cams are less obtrusive and more important near silent.

Get something like a Fuji X100 and you will also have a good optical viewfinder!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.