Reviews of Kids’ Digital Cameras
Children’s Digital Camera Reviews: The Good, the Bad, and the Blurry
By Chris Jordan
I remember my first camera, way back in the Dark Ages. It was a Polaroid with a disposable flashbulb that stuck on the top. Oh, the quality was so poor, but I didn’t care. There was something magical about sitting there shaking the photo and waiting for it to show up. A couple years later I got the highly coveted disc camera. The photo quality was probably even worse. It couldn’t be enlarged beyond the 3 x 5 print without the photo image completely degrading.
I loved both of the cameras, blurry photos and all. Loved being able to take photos of my friends and myself while we pretended to be Barbizon models. Yes, they are definitely cringe worthy now, but I am happy to have them. With the advent of digital cameras geared specifically towards children, and not having to worry about the price of film and developing, even younger children can have the experience of taking their own photos.
With so many out there how do you know which camera you should chose for your child?
With the help of four of my seven children (4.5, 6, 8, and 10 years old), I did extensive tests on four of the more popular models currently for sale right now.
First I think it is important to ask yourself what your goal is in buying your child a camera. Preschoolers just like to point and click away, the final product is not as important to them. They see the image on the viewfinder and are happy to move on without giving it a second thought. Older children, however, have the expectation that they can not only view their photos but print them out. Finally, if your child is not old enough to hold still while taking a photo they are not going to turn out sharp no matter how fabulous the camera might be.
Disney Pix Click Camera
The Features: 1″ color LCD screen, VGA digital resolution (640 x 480), stores up to 200 photos, a 2x digital zoom, built-in auto flash (SRP $$49.99)
I wanted to like this camera, the Disney Pix Click Camera. I had high hopes for it coming out of the box. It is a nice weight, has a nice feel in your hands, has enough features that older children could potentially enjoy using it, you know if it actually worked well.
- No eye viewfinder. You need to look at the LCD screen. Personally I am old school and like having my eye and nose pressed up against the camera while I take a photo, but I realize that many people don’t care anymore. So this in and of itself might not be a problem, however this camera has a very poor quality LCD screen. The images are nearly impossible to make out when trying to take a photo, which makes it very much a crap shoot. And forget about being able to see anything on LCD screen in low light situations. As I told my 8 yr old son, “Just point and hope for the best.”
- It is .3MP. That is a very low resolution, think poor quality cell phone pictures. The flash completely washes out the subject. And even without the flash in good natural light the pictures are high contrast with very little in between.
- The rubber end cap that covers the USB port broke off the first time I opened it.
- Cannot accept SD cards for additional photo storage.
- This is the only camera out of the bunch that consistently frustrated my children.
Priced around $49.99 it is geared for the young elementary school aged child.
Run away from this camera. If your child isn’t old enough to handle a 5MP $100 camera just wait another year. Don’t be lured in by the Disney name and the Highschool Musical or Hannah Montana graphics on the front. if your child balks at this tell him or her that Hannah Montana is most certainly not using this camera herself.
The test photos:
Found at: Amazon
Nickelodeon Sponge Bob Square Pants 1.3 MP Camera
The Features: SD compatible slot expandable to 2GB, Internal memory: 32MB stores 200 photos, flash can be turned on and off or set automatic, zoom 4x
- Coming out of the box I was sure that this one was going to be my least favorite camera. It is small, smaller than is comfortable for grown-up hands. My 6 yr old, however, thinks that this camera is the bees knees.
- It stores up to 200 photos on the internal memory and also has a slot of an SD card up to 2GB. It has a view finder that looks like you are looking through vaseline, in fact I checked a couple of times to make sure that there was not some sort of plastic film covering it. But since this LCD has the same issues in low light as the Disney Pix Click camera above, it is nice to have any sort of view finder to use especially in low light situations where you can not see a thing on the LCD screen.
- The photos have greater amount definition, this is the only camera out of the bunch that is 1.3 megapixels, with some mid tone ranges in there with the high and low lights.
- My 6 yr old loves the self timer feature on this camera.
The view finder and LCD screen could both stand to be improved. If children could see better they would be able to take better photos.
For the 6-9 yr old set this camera is great. Don’t expect great works of photographic art that you will be able to blow up and hang on the wall. But for photos of their friends, their food, the television, this little camera is a winner. Once they learn how to hold perfectly still you will be able to print out 4×6 photos.
The test photos:
You can’t tell from the photos but it was a sunny day.
Found at: Best Buy
The Features: .3 megapixels with 1.8″ color screen, double viewer or LCD screen for easy photo taking, SD card slot for extra memory, three preschool games, changeable faceplates, 16MB internal memory.
- This was tested out primarily by my 4.5 year year old daughter. The manufacturers age range for this camera is 36 months to 6 years.
- .3 megapixels, again pretty poor, this camera has a double eye view finder like a view master as well as a large 1.8 ” LCD screen
- It has a 16MB internal storage and an SD card for external memory. It is a fat camera with large bumpers which make it easy to hold onto. But honestly, children in this age range can’t hold a camera still enough to take non blurry photos. By encouraging my daughter to rest the camera on the table or the back of a chair, she was able to get some nice photos.
- There are fun photo editing features on the camera that allow your child to add frames, or noses, or silly hats to the subject. Sure, those can be slightly fun, but after looking at 50 photos with a pig nose across the center you grow tired of that. My daughter had over 400 photos on the internal memory and a single set of batteries has lasted for a week.
- My daughter was able to figure out all of the features by herself in no time.
- There are two options for the shutter button, one on the top of the camera where the button traditionally is and one on the back where your thumb usually is (the large blue OK button).
Games on the camera? Eh, I could do without those. They just chew through the batteries. And really it is supposed to be a camera, not a toy.
For a 4 or 5 year old child this camera, the VTech Kidizoom Camera has everything that they could possibly need. The tough plastic keeps the camera safe if it is dropped, kicked, used as a step stool. A younger 3 yr old would most certainly not be able to figure out the features.
The test photos:
Found at: Amazon
Fisher Price Kid Tough Digital Camera
The Features: Two settings: low .3 mega pixels, high 1.3 megapixels interpolated. This means you are not getting better quality photos and in fact your photos lose some of their sharpness, 8 MB internal memory also accepts SD card, much less internal memory than the VTech or other two choices lithium button battery provides backup power, unique to this camera automatic flash.
- The prime selling point of this camera, like the VTech, is the ability to withstand drops, bumps and other toddler abuse while still functioning.
- This camera has the shutter button on the front, where your child’s fingers naturally curl around. Unlike the traditional shutter button up on top which makes the child adjust their hand and shake the camera.
- The tiny lithium battery keeps enough power to the camera so that while you are changing the AA batteries which power the camera all the images will not be lost.
- Photos are easily reviewed by pressing the arrows on either side of the LCD screen.
- It is way too easy to delete the photos on this camera. As my son discovered when his almost 3 yr old brother picked up the camera and began randomly clicking buttons.
- There is a two eye view finder, however this does not line up with what you see on the LCD screen.
For a 3 yr old who is constantly reaching for your camera, the Fisher Price Kid Tough Digital Camera would be a better choice of camera over the VTech above.
The test photos:
Found at Amazon.
The Fisher Price and the VTech cameras are both geared toward the same market, 3-6 yr olds, and have the same price point. The quality of the photos and the ease of use make these two fairly comparable.
The overall winner of the camera testing was the Sponge Bob camera. 1.3 MP, the all important self-timer to photograph oneself in front of the television, lightweight and smaller sized for smaller hands make this the obvious choice for the 6-9 year olds. I wouldn’t recommend this camera for children much younger than this since it is not protected with heavy duty plastic, the way the VTech and Fisher Price cameras are. But keep in mind that both of those preschooler cameras are sold in the toy departments.
By popular demand (just read the comments), here is our follow-up review of additional Digital Cameras for Kids. We review the Polaroid Pixie Camera, the Discovery Slide & Shoot Digital Camera, the Little Tikes My Real Digital Camera, and the Diego Npower Digital Camera.
When Chris Jordan is not busy testing out cameras, she’s just wonderfully busy. Follow her daily memoirs at Notes from the Trenches.