An amazing thing happened the other day. Gavin and I were making some quick holiday cookies and when we were finished we were admiring our “break and bake” abilities. He then said to me, “Mom these cookies look so good, hang on, I’ll go get my camera.” Before I knew it he had his Playskool Showcam at the counter, taking a variety of different pictures of the cookies, then admired his images displayed on the back of the camera.
The Playskool Showcam is one of the newest, kid-friendly digital cameras. When we received a free sample to review a few months ago, Gavin kind of ran around the room, randomly taking pictures that weren’t honestly recognizable. What a difference a few months makes. He is certainly pre-disposed to picture taking, and both Gavin and I have learned a lot from my husband’s professional photography training. So our personal life certainly provides ample opportunities for him to see how we use photography daily. After we took our photos he asked me if I was going to put it on Facebook. With the advancements of tablets, smartphones and social sharing sites, picture taking and uploading images instantly is just a part of our culture.
In addition, I’ve had requests from readers on my ToyQueen Facebook site regarding what types of digital cameras for children are on the market and what are the best cameras for kids. In no particular order or preference, here are some kid-friendly options:
1. Playskool ShowCam (shown above)- $59.99
The ShowCam utilizes 4 “AA” batteries. The picture taken is displayed on the back of the camera and the camera itself looks similar to an adult digital SLR camera. With the flip of a switch on the front of the camera, children are able to project their pictures onto the wall and scroll through them as a slideshow. Images can be downloaded to a computer, and there are some on-camera editing features that will allow children to add silly faces, effects and frames, which can be seen while they are projected. The image quality on back of camera isn’t great but the picture is recognizable. At this time, I can’t find the exact resolution of the images and for quick moving kids images most of the images are frequently blurry (seen to the right). The camera has toddler friendly durability, a large storage capacity given that it holds up to 1,000 images, fun editing features and the ability to share the images instantaneously on the wall for friends and family.
2. VTech Kidizoom – $49.99
Several years ago on About.com Toys I reviewed the VTech Kidizoom camera. The Kidizoom is a 1.4 megapixel camera with zoom capabilities that takes both images and video. Editing software is available on-line, but it also includes some on-camera video games and editing features. In general this camera is extremely difficult to use in low light situations, and the screen on the back of the camera is quite small for viewing. You can read a full review of this camera on About.com toys here.
3. LeapFrog Creativity Camera – $19.99
This isn’t an actual camera, but a cover for an iPod Touch or iPhone that allows kids to use your smartphone for taking pictures with their app. This is recommended for kids ages 3-6. Certainly the screen on the back of the camera cover is that of your smartphone, so it’ s bright and easy to see. I haven’t specifically used this particular camera, so I can’t attest to it’s durability, but the image quality for both images and videos is most likely much better than a toy camera given the fact that you are using the iPone’s resolution, ability to zoom and embedded higher megapixels.
4. Tablets – $69.99-$149.99
Many educational tablets now designed for children have picture taking abilities. The LeapPad2 and LeapPad Ultra have both front and rear cameras, while the VTech InnoTab3/3s has a rotating camera for images and video. Again, low light situations can impact the quality of the images and video, but for a little extra money, children can engage in educational games, listen to music, and watch videos downloaded onto the device.
5. Real Digital Camera – prices vary, many under $50
Though some people may lose their digital cameras, most often in our house, we tend to upgrade our electronics because newer versions have better features. Sometimes the older versions may not meet our needs, but they are still in great working order. There are dozens of digital cameras sold at Best Buy and other retail stores for under $50 that frequently include a lot more mega pixels then what you can purchase for the same price with a kid friendly digital camera. Totally up to parental discretion, but if you are looking for a better chance at a clear image in the off chance your child has amazing paparazzi photography skills, this may be an option for your family.