There are two basic camera types you can consider for photographing your family, point-and-shoot and SLR (Single Lens Reflex). Point-and-shoot is small and very compact. It can fit in your pocket. SLR is larger, a bit heavier and needs to go into a medium size purse or a camera bag.
Which one is best for you? I recommend having both. The point-and-shoot is a great little camera to have on hand for capturing those quick moments as they happen. It’s easy to pull out of your purse and and start snapping. The SLR is for those times when you know you want to capture something specific and you are willing to have a larger camera in your purse.
Recently, my family and I went to Aruba for the holidays. I purchased a small little point-and-shoot to take with me. It was the first time I have traveled without my big camera gear. The separation anxiety was pretty severe but I made a promise to my family that image taking will not be the focus of our vacation. I felt so free not to be bogged down with a 40lb camera bag full of lenses and external flash units. Do I regret not taking my big gear? Yes and no. I really wished I had an SLR for some of the images but for the most part, I had more fun with my teeny camera. It was so great to be able to pull out this cute looking baby blue contraption and just start clicking away. I wore it on my wrist like a piece of jewelry. It was fun! Did it produce great images? They were good enough for our memories but did not capture images the way I normally would. If my little point-and-shoot had the ability for manual exposure control, I could have created better images. If the lens allowed me to open the aperture a bit more I would have created even better images. But in the end, I was very happy with the memories I captured because this camera allowed me to do something else. It allowed for some super cool stealth maneuvers, something I just can’t do with a giant lens and a heavy camera body. So I was able to capture incredible moments, that happened so quickly, without having to walk around strapped to massive gear. I was even able to capture images of my husband and I together just by holding out my hand and pointing the camera at out faces. That was super Cool!
If you have an interest in photography I suggest you have both a point-and-shoot and an SLR. But if you decide to invest in the larger camera you need to take advantage of it and this will entail learning a little more about photography in general. Don’t be afraid of the technical stuff. Once you understand the three most important functions of your SLR - aperture, shutter and ISO - you will be well on your way to mastering some great photo capture.
I did find an SLR camera that is very compact. Have a look at this one – The NEX-5K from Sony
Taken with my little blue Samsung point-and-shoot