Rebel Review

The XSi Canon Rebel

by Betty A. Muscott, Child Photographer

Real Kids Photographer

Real Kids Photographer

Obviously the very first thing you will need to photograph your children is a camera, and selecting the proper camera can present a real challenge if you are not well versed in camera technology. Today the most important buzz word seems to be “pixels”, or how many pixels does the camera create when it takes the photograph?

Pixels: What Are They?

Any image, whether on film, on your computer or on your television screen consists of thousands (or millions) of small dots which are called “pixels”. The word “pixel” is a contraction of the phrase “picture element”. The number of pixels which can be displayed on a screen or photograph is referred to as the resolution of the image or picture.

When deciding on a camera it seems that the important factor is the number of megapixels available when describing the digital camera’s resolution. Megapixels is simply a calculation whereby you multiply the number of horizontal pixels of an image times the number of vertical pixels of an image. For example, if you multiply 2272 pixels by 1704 pixels your arrive at 3,871,488 or roughly 4 MP (megapixels).

But How Many Megapixels Do I Really Need?

A camera which is rated at 8 MP will provide a digital image which will produce an exceptional 8” by 12” photograph, and a very high quality 13” by 19” photograph. Typically the only photographers who need cameras with greater than 8 MP are professionals who are creating images for print or art.

Camera manufacturers want you to believe that more megapixels are better, but unless you plan on printing very large photographs (for example 4’ by 6’) those extra pixels won’t provide much additional benefit.

However, the more megapixels the more latitude you have when it comes time to work on your mages in a program such as Photoshop. The reason is that every time you modify an image some pixels may be lost, thus decreasing the resolution of your image.

So What Else Is Important?

Of equal, or more importance is how easy the camera is to use and how clear the instruction manual is. Over the years I have purchased many cameras, and I can tell you from experience that if the instruction manual is not clear, or if you don’t bother to read the instruction manual, operation of your camera may be difficult at best and the results of your efforts disappointing.

Canon Rebel XSi Digital SLR Camera

Canon Rebel XSi Digital SLR Camera

This is the reason I personally recommend the Canon Rebel XSi camera. The manuals for Canon cameras are well written, easy to understand and help you quickly learn how to use all of the features on the camera.

For example, as I read through the manual for one of the Canon cameras I own and work with the camera I find myself saying “now that makes sense”. In other words, Canon has figured out how to construct their cameras so that the way it operates makes sense. If it is not easy to use you won’t want to take a lot of photographs.

The LCD Display:

Another important item on your camera is the LCD (liquid crystal display) display on the back of the camera. Here is where you can determine if you have framed your photograph properly, whether you need to hold the camera horizontally or vertically, and what your lighting situation looks like.

After you take the photograph and look at the image on the LCD display you may see a number of spots on the camera flashing. These are telling you that there are no pixels there; in other words blank spaces in your photograph. This is not good.

Another important item that you can view on your LCD display is the histogram. The histogram will show you the distribution of pixels for your image. If they are off to one side or another you will need to retake the photograph so that they are all more towards the center with none on either side.

Canon 18-200mm Zoom Lens for the Canon Rebel

Canon 18-200mm Zoom Lens for the Canon Rebel

But more about histograms in another article.


To begin with a smaller lens in the range of 18 to 55mm will work quite well, but as you progress the next step would be to purchase the Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Standard Zoom Lens for Canon DSLR Cameras which gives you the capability to zoom in on subjects further away.

I would not recommend image stabilization for photographing children because image stabilization simply slows down the camera and lens. In other words, when you press down on the shutter release button the camera will not take the picture until the camera has made its adjustments and is ready. However, most lenses give you the option of turning the image stabilization on or off.

Flash Unit:

An adjustable flash unit is very important when photographing children. While point-and-shoot cameras are handy to carry, there is always the problem of red eye. This is caused by the reflection of the flash back at the camera from the subjects eyes. There is also the problem of photographing your children indoors when the background disappears into a black hole.

The solution to these problems is an adjustable flash unit where you can bounce the light off of the ceiling or another bright surface. This will then allow the camera to capture the background and avoid the reflection of the flash in your subjects eyes. In this case if you purchase a Canon Rebel camera then I recommend the Canon 430EX Flash Unit

How To Hold The Camera:

When photographing children they are constantly on the move. In order to avoid blurring the picture it is best to hold the camera with two hands, one on the camera itself and the other under the lens on the front of the camera.

This provides a stable platform for taking your photograph and will result in photos of your kids you will be proud to share with family and friends.

My Recommendation

The truth is I can do almost as much with the Canon Digital Rebel XSi 12.2 MP Digital SLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens as I can with my most expensive Canon EOS Digital camera. This camera will deliver great photographs with enough resolution to create stunning poster pictures and gorgeous prints on canvas. The only addition I would make to the Rebel Camera would be the Canon 430EX Flash Unit.

This additional lens would give you the ability to zoom in to photograph your children while playing at some distance from you. However, please note that a lens of this size is somewhat heavy, and will require you to hold both the camera body and lens in order to eliminate the possibility of blurring your photograph.

I hope this information has been helpful to you, and that you will photograph your children as often as you can. Trust me, you will be glad you did!


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