Today’s guestpost by Jenn Fletcher is part of a post exchange — you can read my post about owning a photography business with a partner today on KEH Blog. — SK
When thinking about purchasing a camera for a child, there’s a few options to first consider: how old is your child? How responsible is he or she with the handling of objects (are they particularly clumsy, gentle, respectful)? What’s his or her attention span like? And how interested in photography or creative outlets is your kiddo? There is of course, also budget to consider. I’m going to break down a few different affordable (all under $100) and kid-friendly camera options for all budgets and design tastes.
These are the ones that are specifically designed for children. They are typically made of plastic, with a one-touch shutter release option, and come in fun colors and designs. The good thing about these cameras is that they are simple to use, and can typically withstand more abuse. The downsides to these cameras is that with almost all models, the quality is very poor. Does the quality matter that much to a young child? Probably not, but the usability life on these is much shorter, and the price tags on many of these types of cameras aren’t low enough compared to other options to make them a bargain camera option. Prices on this type of camera typically range from $15-$80. I would suggest these cameras only for children under six years of age. A few examples of these types of cameras are the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Learning Camera ($13), Fisher-Price Kid-Tough Digital Camera ($35), Uncle Milton Pet’s Eye View Camera ($50), and Playskool Dance Cam ($63).
Used or Refurbished Cameras
Both of these are great options when you want better quality for a good price. This could be your old point-and-shoot that you still had when you decided to upgrade — you can pass along that camera to one of the children. If you don’t have one, it’s fairly easy to find an inexpensive used or refurbished camera from a retailer. The digital point-and-shoots are better for a 12 and younger crowd, while the digital SLRs are great options for teenagers who are interested in photography. If you have an older child who is really interested in getting into photography, then an older manual film camera is also a great option. These cameras allow much more growth, exploration, and learning for the older children than a point-and-shoot will.
When purchasing a used or refurbished camera, it’s best to stick with reputable camera companies over buying on eBay or Craig’s List. Any of the more well known camera companies that sell used equipment have trained technicians that inspect the functions on the camera to ensure that they are working properly. Most companies also offer a return policy and warranty which you won’t be receiving from Craigslist. Prices on used and refurbished cameras range far and wide depending on brand, model, and condition. You can find some older models for under $50, and then they can go up into the hundreds. Keh, Used Cameras, Adorama, and B&H Photo are all reputable companies.
Other “just for fun” options
If you’re looking for something that is just pure fun there’s even more options! These may be great ideas for kids, or just for the kid at heart. Lomography cameras are film cameras that currently come in a variety of styles and designs. Most of them take 35mm film, which can be processed at any local developing lab. Most of these cameras are also affordable, made of plastic, and are based off of a main special effect function, such as the fish-eye, or the action sampler.
In addition to the Lomo cameras, there are other really fun designs like cameras made to resemble juice boxes, chocolate bars, and even cameras that make meowing kitty-cat sounds! These are just pure fun and novelty and can usually keep a little one’s interest for the longest of the three categories, but most of these are film cameras, so keep in mind that the instant gratification and ease of downloading doesn’t exist with most of these. Plus, there’s the cost of film and film developing to consider. Prices for these cameras can range anywhere from $10- $180.