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I’ve so far worked with Point and Shoot cameras. I primarily used them to capture family moments and vacations. Nothing particularly artistic

Recently, I was involved with a wedding where I was introduced to DSLR cameras. I’m not artistic, but two things about DSLRs stood out for me:

  1. The Raw Image format can be touched up more than a JPEG.
  2. Due to the larger image sensor the DSLR image seemed better.

I’m thinking of switching to a DSLR but I’m not sure how to go about the lenses. This leads to my question:

Which DSLR Lens would be closest to the Point and Shoot?

Alternative Question: Which is the most popular DSLR Lens focal length for family pictures and vacations?

I’m not artistic and I’m not looking for the bokeh effect or any other artistic image. I’m just looking to capture a better image i.e. better color information. I’m wondering which DSLR lens would give me the same focus as a Point and Shoot i.e. keep as much of my picture in focus as a Point and Shoot.

CLARIFICATION: This is the heart of my question. For "keep as much of my picture in focus as a Point and Shoot" I meant: a focal length that closely matches the focal range of a Point and Shoot (without any adjustments as mentioned below.)

I know Point and Shoots have a zoom, but I’m looking for images without the additional zoom that point and shoot cameras provide i.e. turn on the camera and click.

CLARIFICATION: I think one of the benefits of Point and Shoot cameras is they have a fairly good zoom if you do some adjustments. The zoom that you get with these adjustments is what I refer to as "additional zoom". Here, I'm referring to the default zoom i.e. default focal length that the camera achieves without adjustments.

At the moment, I don’t have a camera, but I would mostly be going in for a Nikon or a Canon. I'm wondering if I can get the Lens focal length (prime or zoom lens) and the f-number for a novice. Its a bonus if it would be fairly cheap.

CLARIFICATION: I'm sorry if StackExchange does not allow recommendations. Please ignore my last statement. Instead please provide me with the specs of the lenses i.e. focal length, f-number that are freely available.

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    Can you clarify what you mean by: "...for images without the additional zoom that point and shoot cameras provide i.e. turn on the camera and click." Do you mean no waiting between the time you turn the camera on and taking a picture (shutter delay)? Or something else? Zoom is usually about focal length. – inkista Aug 20 '17 at 21:00
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    Also, stackexchange as a whole doesn't do purchase recommendations. DPReview might be better for that. We can tell you what features to look for, but we typically don't guide to specific products. I would also say "fairly cheap" and dSLR don't belong in the same sentence. You may want to see: What do I need to consider to choose between dSLR, mirrorless, or a compact as my first “serious” camera? – inkista Aug 20 '17 at 21:04
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    "keep as much of my picture in focus as a Point and Shoot" is the key problematic requirement. P&S cameras have much smaller sensor, when compared with DSLR, so that "normal lens" is much wider for P&S (10mm P&S vs 50mm full-frame). This creates much more depth of field. Larger formats usually produce less depth of field at the same field of view due to that. 10mm lens doesn't even exist for full-frame cameras – Oct18 is day of silence on SE Aug 20 '17 at 21:04
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    @aaaaaa There are 10mm and shorter fisheye lenses available for FF cameras - the EF 8-15mm f/4, for instance. Rectilinear lenses are getting very close - the EF 11-24mm f/4, for instance. – Michael C Aug 20 '17 at 21:15
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    The statement I think one of the benefits of Point and Shoot cameras is they have a fairly good zoom if you do some adjustments. is confusing to me. Many consumer point and shoot cameras have a very large zoom range; it is a typical selling feature. What "adjustments" do you mean? What does "fairly good" mean to you? – mattdm Aug 21 '17 at 0:33
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Which DSLR Lens would be closest to the Point and Shoot?

If you're asking how do you find the dSLR equivalent focal lengths to what the lens on your point and shoot camera has, you do it like this.

  1. Identify the point and shoot camera. So, say, for example, you have a Canon Powershot ELPH 190 IS.

  2. Look up the camera's speeds to see what the "equivalent" focal length of the lens is. In this case, 24-240mm. (The actual focal length is 4.3-43mm and it's printed on the front. The camera uses a 1/2.3" format sensor, and that size sensor has roughly a 5.5x crop factor).

  3. Find out the format size of the sensor in the dSLR you're going to buy. The two sizes for most dSLRs are APS-C or full-frame. If you're going to get a full frame camera, then you just need the full-frame equivalency (e.g., 24-240mm). If you're getting an APS-C camera, if it's Canon, the crop factor is 1.6x, if it's anybody else, it's 1.5x. So, you'd need the equivalency divided by the crop factor. So, a Canon lens that would be the same as the 190 IS's, would be 24-240/1.6 => 15-150mm. With a Nikon lens, it would be 24-240/1.5 => 16-160mm.

However. Equivalency doesn't mean the lenses will give you identical images on the two different formats. The only things that's equivalent is how much of the scene is covered (angle of view). Depth of field will be different. And that's how much of the scene is in focus (or at least acceptably sharp). Larger sensors and longer lenses will have a thinner depth of field. The background may be blurred more with a dSLR even with an equivalent lens. And magnification from the lens's focal length isn't the same as the "cropping" of a smaller sensor.

Which is the most popular DSLR Lens focal length for family pictures and vacations?

The 18-55 kit lens is probably the most popular I-was-there-in-front-of-things vacation shot lens. Because it comes in the box with the camera. :) Whether it's the best fit for you and what you want to shoot can depend on what/how you shoot and how big a budget you have.

I know Point and Shoots have a zoom, but I’m looking for images without the additional zoom that point and shoot cameras provide i.e. turn on the camera and click.

CLARIFICATION: I think one of the benefits of Point and Shoot cameras is they have a fairly good zoom if you do some adjustments. The zoom that you get with these adjustments is what I refer to as "additional zoom". Here, I'm referring to the default zoom i.e. default focal length that the camera achieves without adjustments.

Are you talking about digital zoom? Or...? zoom is adjusting the focal length, so this is still confusing.

please provide me with the specs of the lenses i.e. focal length, f-number that are freely available.

None of them are free. :) And those two specs: focal length and maximum aperture pretty much are the main ways you define a lens. What will be a good fit for you depends on what/how you shoot and your budget. Generally, the more extreme a lens is (i.e., the shorter or longer the focal length, and the bigger the max aperture) the more expensive it will be. The $300 and less lenses are relatively few in number. You may want to rethink whether or not you actually need an interchangeable lens camera, because this gets expensive very quickly, particularly if you like to purchase new. I tend to say that with a dSLR or mirrorless setup, you need at least a budget of $1000 to get a basic setup of a body and two or three lenses.

Some compact cameras these days have sensors in them that are the same size as those in dSLRs and can offer very similar image quality and controls over the image. And 1"-format sensored "enthusiast compacts" can be a much better compromise for a beginner, with a lower-cost starting point and a lot less gear lugging than a dSLR.

See also: What do I need to consider to choose between dSLR, mirrorless, or a compact as my first "serious" camera?

  • Thank you very much @inkista. Your formulas/calculations above were exactly what I was looking for. I understand the issue with the Depth of Field, esp. I like the simulator at dofsimulator.net/en I think I should have used the word "widely" instead of "freely" above. Thank you for your idea about "enthusiast compacts" I will look into them. – O.O. Aug 22 '17 at 21:30
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I'm going to focus on this:

Alternative Question: Which is the most popular DSLR Lens focal length for family pictures and vacations?

A typical compact camera with a 10× zoom lens might have a focal range specified as "24-240mm"; a higher-zoom "×" compact may be both wider and (lower focal length at the "zoomed out" side) and go significantly longer. For marketing reasons, this number is given as a value which roughly approximates the field of view of a 35mm film camera with a lens with those same values.

The actual focal length is much smaller, because the compact camera's sensor is much smaller. An entry-level camera will also have a smaller sensor than 35mm film (as will some very nice mid/high-end cameras). This sensor is typically ⅔ the linear size of 35mm film, which works out to saying:

On an APS-C DSLR (like most < $2000), the focal length 16-160mm will give you about the same field of view as you'll get with that "24-240mm" 10× point and shoot.

Most cameras in this range come with a a kit lens which covers 18-55mm, and there's usually a matched 55-200mm longer zoom. The kit lens will cover most "family pictures and vacations" images just fine, and if you want more "reach", adding the matched longer zoom will help. (You could also get a "superzoom" which has a range like 16-300mm in one lens, but this will cost more, have lower image quality, and be big and heavy. Whether that's worth the tradeoff is up to you.)

It's important to note, though, that for equivalent framing and print size, there will be much less depth of field from the larger-sensored DSLR. Even though the DSLR will almost certainly have a better and faster autofocus system, you will have to pay attention to focus like you never had before.

Overall, a DSLR will give you a lot more options which can result in better technical image quality, but you will have to understand and work with those options. If you just buy a DSLR and treat it like a point and shoot and hope that it'll magically create better images, you're going to be very, very disappointed.

  • Thank you @mattdm. You seemed to say similar things to inkista. I'm sorry I cannot select two answers as correct, but I think this is what I was looking for. – O.O. Aug 22 '17 at 21:34
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Based on what you just said, stick with a "point and shoot" type of camera and just buy a more expensive model that includes the features you need. Those usually give you a better image quality and also allow you to shoot in raw.

I don't think DSLR is what you're looking for. Sure, a DSLR would give you better image quality and more versatility, but it's definitely not cheap nor easy.

  • Thank you. I did consider this, but since I'm doing financially well I think I can afford the DSLR prices available online. This question was regarding the focal length of DSLR lenses. – O.O. Aug 20 '17 at 22:26
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For just walking around with one lens an inexpensive 18mm-200mm zoom like the Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II probably offers the closest photographic experience to a point and shoot.

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