Recommendations for your kid’s first camera

Guest post by Jenn Fletcher

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

thirty eight

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.

Kid-Specific Cameras

The Uncle Milton Pet's Eye View Camera.
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

Agfa Optima 1a 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

My Diana Mini 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.

Comments on Recommendations for your kid’s first camera

  1. It may seem crazy but the Olympus Stylus Tough is a great option for kids. We bought one before we had our girl because my husband is a bit notorious for breaking cameras and we wanted something waterproof and shockproof. Now that she’s old enough to be interested in pushing buttons we give it to her to play with on occasion. It’s a great size for kid hands, easy to use buttons and because it’s digital she gets the reward of seeing what she just snapped on the screen on the back. Because it’s waterproof we can go swimming with it and don’t have to fear drink spills and it’s tough build, well, we’ve all dropped it a few times with not a scratch to be seen yet.

  2. As a photographer (and toy camera fanatic) I love this blog! I’m wondering if it would be a fun idea to have a couple of these at the studio for kids to play around with before or during their photo session. Thanks for sharing!

  3. i just got a dslr camera and before that hubby and i each had canon 1100s. we were thinking of just handing one of them down to our five-year-old rather than selling one and getting him a kiddie camera. he’s pretty good with a point-and-shoot, i gave him my really old one when he was 3, so i think he can handle the more delicate ones now. he did leave the old one on so the battery is shot, but it was on the verge anyway!

  4. Love this post! I gave my daughter her first camera when she was 3 (one of the toy types) but she quickly graduated to a digital point and shoot by the time she was 5.

    I was interested in reading the post about starting a photography business with a partner but the link appears to be broken. 🙁

  5. My son loves to take pictures, mostly of his feet and his stomach, but we’re working on the concept of pointing the camera up and out before clicking the buttons. 🙂 I made a slideshow of all the pictures he’s taken and it’s pretty neat to see the world from his perspective.

    I just let him use my camera – maybe someday I’ll buy a nice new one for myself and let him have the old one!

  6. I bought my daughter a Kodak EasyShare C195 for her fifth birthday this year. I mostly picked that one because it came in purple. Unfortunately, she has a little difficulty working the on/off and movie buttons.

    I also got an Eye-Fi card for the camera as well; it automatically uploads every photo she takes to her private flickr account (for sharing with family and friends). That helps eliminate the hassle of processing and uploading the photos, although doesn’t help her with understanding curating-and-sharing part of photography.

    It is delightful to see her photos and what she thinks is important to capture. Her ability to pick out and focus in on a single subject — the pattern on the floor, a piece of carrot– is pretty cool.

  7. My son is 3 and loves to take pictures at the track and of the most random things. We purchased him the Fisher Price Kid Tough Digital Camera. It has lived with falling in the pool, being ran over by a demo car and the occasional dog nibble.

  8. Something that has stayed with me fo 10 years is an exhibition of photographs taken by disadventaged primary school children in I think Texas. The exhibition was in Oslo I think. The photos were amazing and very personal. It sounded like photography had been a really life-changing force for some of those kids and I can still vividly picture one girl’s self-portraits. I’m really excited about Aidan being old enough to start capturing images of his life.

  9. If you have a really old point and shoot that no one would want, I highly recommend letting a really young kid loose with it. I recently presented my 19 month old with our old digital point and shoot. He’s good about letting me put the wrist strap on him before he runs off, though I know that the poor camera may suffer injury at some point. Just in the last week, he’s started getting intentional about what he wants to take a picture of. “Bah!” he exclaims, then runs off to a favored cardboard box and arranges it just so before mashing on the shutter button until the flash goes. Then it’s “Cah!” and off to take a picture of the cat. Now, that doesn’t mean the thing he’s taking the picture of is fully in the shot, or even in it at all, but it’s pretty fun to watch nonetheless! He likes to see the photos after I put them on the computer, but mostly a quick look at the results just makes him want to get back to taking photos again. Some of the photos are actually kind of cool. I figure I’ll make a chronological photobook of the most interesting ones at some point.

  10. Used holga cameras (if you can find them – they’re relatively easy to find online) can make good cameras for kids. Especially if said kid is into scrapbooking. Very artsy pictures!

  11. My son got a Samsung point & shoot for Xmas when he was 2.5, because it was cheaper than lots of the kiddie ones ($59), and 10 megapixels rather than 640 x 480. We sent it back for a fix during the warranty period, and that was enough to teach him to be very careful with it. And, best of all, he’s taken some amazing shots!

  12. I’m a photographer and my (then 4-year-old) daughter wanted to be involved in what I was doing. So I bought her the VTech Kidzoom camera. She loves it and now, even 2 years later it works great! She went through batteries rather quickly (playing games) so I bought rechargeable ones – problem solved. Granted, this camera doesn’t take high quality photos, but until my daughter gets out of her destructive stage it’s perfect!

  13. My 3 year old started out with one of the Fisher Price “built tough” kiddie cameras, which was a pain in the butt and took super crappy pictures, and broke fairly quickly, as did the next “kid tough” camera we bought. So now I pick up old digital cameras at garage sales for $5 or less; they last just as long as the special kid ones, and tend to have video (which she, now 7, and her sister, LOVE) and are rechargeable battery friendly.

  14. Miss 2 1/2 is obsessed with photography atm, whether a camera on a smart phone or a digital camera she picks it up and starts taking photos, our daycare is awesome and really supporting her with this so totally thinking of a little camera for her. Awesome piece!

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