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I have an 2006 Canon Rebel XT with the default (16-18mm???) lens. In all these years I haven't cleaned the lens or camera and I have got a little scratch (visible on pictures only when noticed keenly). The picture quality taken with this camera is not that great – sometimes even a point-n-shoot pictures are looking better.

Now that I have a newborn at my home, thinking of going in for a better option and this is where I need some suggestions.

Should I repair/clean the existing Canon Rebel XT? Or should I go in for a newer/latest model?

Here are few things to consider:

  • though I initially bought a DSLR with the intention of becoming a pro at photography I couldn't invest time and energy on that, and just used the DSLR at very basic level.

  • main intention for me now to go in for better option is not to miss the precious moments of the newborn

  • mostly I will be uploading the photos over social media n very rarely is going to ho for large prints

  • if there is any better point and shoot model which is as close to a DSLR, I would prefer that over a professional DSLR (Not way too compromising on overall picture quality for my above mentioned usage)

  • Is the scratch on the front of the lens? – mattdm Jun 14 '14 at 15:09
  • yes...its on the front-outer glass of the lens – Siva Jun 16 '14 at 19:00
  • In the case of expensive lenses, that's usually a reasonable repair. In the case of the kit lens, though, it's usually not worth bothering. However, you can take that as an excuse to upgrade the lens — see my full answer below. – mattdm Jun 16 '14 at 19:13
  • A scratch that is VISIBLE IN PICTURES, unless you are shooting at minimum focal length and smallest aperture, sounds like a SENSOR not lens scratch to me... – rackandboneman Nov 12 '18 at 20:09
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My personal druthers would be to keep the XT, buy a nice fast prime for portrait shots, and learn to use the camera. But. As a new parent, this is probably more trouble/time/effort/money than you want to spend. Particularly in light of the fact that you never really got to know your XT well enough to a) buy other lenses for it, or b) get better results from it than from a P&S, so it doesn't sound like you have a natural bent for photography. And there is nothing wrong with this. The vast majority of folks out there prefer a convenient camera for family photos, rather than learning the arcane ins and outs of camera settings and post-processing to make photos for their own sake.

I think what you probably want is a good enthusiast compact with some low-light capability (a larger than 1/2.3" format sensor, and a lens with a maximum aperture in the f/1.8-f/2.8 range), but that is small and convenient and easy to have with you at all times. You probably don't want to bother with interchangeable lenses for the cost/bulk--even with mirrorless cameras because juggling a baby, a diaper bag, and a camera bag can get to be a bit much. While you would probably be more comfortable with an even lower-end camera (smaller, more automation), the fact that you want "close to dSLR quality" is going to mean a push to higher-end P&S cameras with larger sensors.

I'd say, if budget permits, take a look at the Nikon Coolpix A, Canon G1X, Fuji X10/X20, or Sony RX-100 lines. If budget doesn't permit, then the Canon G and S, Panasonic LX, or Olympus XZ lines. Ideally, to me, you want a camera that can shoot RAW, has full Manual mode, and a flash hotshoe (so you can go off-camera flash, studio-style), so you can do a few things beyond the typical P&S shoot-and-you're-done if you feel the need to expand into more advanced image taking, but can also do all the fully-automated things P&S cameras do.

  • Most Smartphones have good cameras these days, and you usually carry them with you all the time. That might be quite enough in this situation. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Jun 23 '14 at 6:46
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There have been a lot of technological advances in the past eight years, the most visible of which will be noise performance in low light, overall speed, and convenience features like live view with a large rear LCD.

It sounds like you are not really taking advantage of your DSLR in more ways than just not using advanced features – you're only using the kit lens. One option might be to keep the same camera body and replace the lens, possibly with lower-cost constant-max-aperture f/2.8 zoom like those from Tamron or Sigma. If your main problem is a scratch on the lens, this would solve that and also offer you more flexible and potentially better photographic options. Repairing the kit lens is probably not worth it in any case — the cost will come close to its replacement value.

Additionally, by the way, the Canon 50mm f/1.8 is a great bargain and lovely to have for baby photos.

You could also invest some money in a wireless flash (or two!). There's really no better bang for the buck for improving portraits, although you do need to plan to learn how to do it.

Eight years is a long time, though. You are eventually going to want to replace that body. I think you should consider if the above suggestions sound worthwhile or horrible additional pain and time consumed. If it's the latter, you might want to look at an advanced point and shoot model instead.

The actual models (and even current top brands) change so quickly that we make it a policy of avoiding specific recommendations here, but, basically, pick anything that has a decently fast built-in lens and a larger than normal sensor, and the rest will follow. For specific suggestions, find a review like this April 2014 round-up from DPReview and pick any of those that appeal to you.

This isn't a matter of the DSLR being more "professional" — low-end DSLRs are aimed squarely at the consumer market. As I reread your question, I think that actually even the enthusiast point-and-shoots might be aimed differently from what you are looking for, so you could consider looking a step down from those. For social media / online use, any camera above the cheap-junk bottom level will do. One particular thing you might look for, give your list, is built-in WiFi or even cellular data, so that you can easily share your photos immediately.

  • Agree on the Canon 50 mm f/1.8 lens - relatively cheap and is very easy to do nice looking portraits with. You may want to spend a bit of time on learning how to tell the camera to use the 1.8 setting always. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Jun 14 '14 at 21:26
  • Another option is to buy a high-end mobile phone. Their cameras are very good and you tend to have the phone with you at most times, where you need to deliberately bring the DLSR. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Jun 14 '14 at 21:28
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Get a waterproof ruggedised outdoor point and shoot. They're child proof.

A camera close to a baby or small child is going to get splattered with milk, food, paint and more. It's going to get chewed, dropped and stepped on. Every door, catch and cover is going to be explored, pulled and twisted. Anything that can be removed (batteries, memory cards, lens covers) will get lost. Buttons and dials will be pressed and turned randomly, settings will be altered.

A waterproof P&S can be cleaned with a quick rinse under running water. They usually have interlocks on the doors and covers. They usually have a quick reset or Green mode. These are all good things with a small child nearby.

The moments you want to remember with a small child are unpredictable and fleeting. Don't miss them because you're messing with a camera, cleaning it, finding the batteries, or messing with the settings.

Keep it nearby with a clear memory card and charged battery, ready to grab and shoot.

Having said that, I absolutely agree with the other answers. It’s nice to have a higher spec camera with manual controls for the moments where a P&S isn't going to do the job, like in low light (birthday candles...) or where there's fast action (running, dancing...). Keep this camera on a high shelf.

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If you only intend to have great photos to share, you should consider a MILC with a viewfinder. You may be able to find one not too expensive on eBay. You'll have to research the models to see what suits you.

Sensors have improved a lot. A MILC is basically like a point-and-shoot but with interchangeable lenses. Olympus ones are great because they have stabilisation in the camera body, so any lens you stick to it gets stabilisation. Stabilisation is good for low light, among other things. The point of MILCs is that they have no mirror, so they can be smallish.

Mirrors are one of the classical solutions to the problem of how the user can view the same image as the film/sensor does. With film there was no way other than compromise or exquisite mechanical solutions (such as the mirror). With digital, you can just see in your LCD what the sensor is seeing. I personally can't shoot without a viewfinder, and MILCs have - the upper class ones - electronic viewfinders just for that purpose. Not currently as good as the real thing, of course, but they make do in many situations. The point is moot anyway for those who shoot without viewfinder.

I'm not interested in a MILC as a primary camera, but it might just be the thing for you. Not comparable to a top SLR, no matter what you'll hear, but still perfect for many usage patterns (and better where portability is important).

Oh - MILCs are expensive. It turns out that the most expensive part of an SLR isn't the mirror! That's why I said you should look at eBay. Given the market turnaround, some good equipment can be had for a fraction of their original price (and none are too old).

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    You should explain what the acronym MILC actually stands for. – Mike Jun 16 '14 at 14:11
  • @Mike normally I would agree, but the reason I don't is the reason why I (unintentionally) didn't explain it in the first place - it's probably one of the easiest acronyms to look for on one's own and the process is instructive. (I did give a brief explanation of what a MILC is.) – entonio Jun 16 '14 at 15:38
  • MILCs aren't always the best for tracking active subjects with AF. Even four years after this answer was written, MILCs are still playing catch up to good PDAF tracking systems. – Michael C Jun 26 '18 at 3:15

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