Cameras for Kids
We live in a digital age in which our mobile devices are capable of capturing high-quality images. But remember when a camera was just a camera? With all due respect to technology, let’s ensure that the children of today and tomorrow grow up understanding and appreciating cameras in their own right. There are future artists and perhaps future legends among them, and we want to nurture their gifts and curiosities. To start them off right, it’s important to consider the following key points of buying cameras for youngsters between the ages of about three and thirteen.
Durability is one of those key places to start. A tough camera that can withstand being dropped and banged around a little is great. The Sakar Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Digital Camera features soft, rounded rubber handles that provide comfort while helping to cushion a fall, and the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Digital Camera of the same brand offers low-profile, protective bumpers on the sides and part of the top and bottom. Sakar also makes a NERF camera with rubber shielding.
Safety is important. The rubber that protects the cameras discussed above doubles as protection for users and bystanders. But there are other aspects of safety that also need to be considered. For the younger ones, who may still be putting toys and other small objects in their mouths, it’s best to stick to cameras with internal memory that don’t require tiny memory cards. Examples include the Sakar NERF, SpongeBob, Minnie Mouse, and Dora The Explorer digital cameras. Full-size SD/SDHC cards, like those accepted by the Ninja Turtles, Mickey Mouse, and Crayola cameras are a safer alternative to the smaller microSD size.
Looking for something water resistant or waterproof seems like a wise choice as well, and can make the experience all the more fun for the child in your life, as he or she will be able to capture photos and videos in the tub or by the pool. The Sakar SpongeBob Underwater Digital Camera can capture shots beneath the surface as far down as 30'.
Anyone can be easily mesmerized by the form and function of cameras, but there’s an additional something that really captivates a kid: SpongeBob, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mickey or Minnie Mouse, or another favorite character adorning a colorful exterior. B&H’s complete collection of Sakar digital cameras for kids displays a total of 10 different characters. The Hello Kitty, Monster High, and Cars 2 models, for instance, each include three interchangeable faceplates. You can even make Dora The Explorer talk by snapping a photo.
Think about shape and ergonomics, too. Many cameras feature interesting, irregular shapes and are designed to conform to the user’s hands for a comfortable, secure grip. Two great examples are the spaceship-like Sakar Crayola camera, which offers two convenient side grips, and the Ninja Turtles camera with its soft, curved rubber handles.
Compact and lightweight models are ideal for ease of carrying and handling, but also for safety, since lighter objects tend to do less damage when bumped, dropped, or thrown. Any of the cameras featured in this article will fill the bill, as all are easily stowed in a pocket or small pouch and are very light.
As far as resolution goes, 2MP should suffice if the user is very young. If you want to view images on a large computer or TV, or enlarge them in prints, a higher resolution is recommended for larger image sizes. Another advantage to having a greater file size is that it makes cropping easier. Most of B&H’s Sakar cameras have 2.1MP resolution, though there is a 7.1MP Hello Kitty among the racks.
A lot of cameras designed for an older age bracket are made with shapes that are also comfortable to hold. The front right side of Canon's PowerShot A1400, for instance, simply curves outward just enough to serve as a grip, while the rest of the camera is basically a slim rectangle.
As for the higher-end cameras recommended for pre-teens and teenagers, Vivitar’s ViviCam X029 and Nikon’s COOLPIX S02 offer 10.1MP and 13.2MP, respectively, for even more detailed images, and the Olympus VG-160 has 14MP and a larger sensor than the Nikon. Canon's PowerShot A1400 features an even greater 16MP and a sensor the same size as the VG-160’s.
When it comes to video, a common resolution for the entry-level cameras is about 640 x 480, which is standard definition. The Turtles, Mickey, Minnie, X029, SpongeBob, Dora, and Monster High cameras all shoot SD video, and the first 4 do so in 640 x 480 resolution. For clearer image quality on your computer or TV, go with the higher resolution of HD 720p offered by cameras like the VG-160 and PowerShot A1400, or even the full HD 1080p capabilities of the COOLPIX S02.
Cameras with just a few simple controls, such as all of the Sakar models discussed in this article, are a great fit for young novice photographers. All you really need is a power button, shutter release, and either an optical viewfinder or a display screen for preview and playback, though both would be best. The Dora The Explorer, Monster High, SpongeBob, Crayola, and PowerShot A1400 all have optical viewfinders. The multi–faceplate Hello Kitty, 7.1MP Hello Kitty, Minnie, Mickey, Ninja Turtles, and NERF cameras offer display screens averaging about 1.5” in size that allow for shot preview and/or review. The screens on the ViviCam 8400, X029, VG-160, S02, and A1400 range from 2.4-3.0”, and the last three allow for both preview and review. As an added bonus, the S02’s display is a touchscreen.
Zoom capability is another highly recommended feature. You probably want at least 4x digital zoom, though having optical zoom is ideal. The Hello Kitty 7.1MP, NERF, X029, VG-160, S02, and A1400 cameras all have 4x digital zoom, and the ViviCam 8400 offers 8x. The VG-160 and A1400 also provide 5x optical zoom lenses, while the S02 has a 3x one.
Advanced features to look for include preset scene modes for portraits, landscapes, night shots, and more. The VG-160, S02, and A1400 all feature this automatic scene detection, which enables them to easily choose pre-programmed settings ideal for many different situations.
It’s also important to pick out a camera with image stabilization. Otherwise, the pictures and video captured will be full of blur, especially if shot with zoomed-in lenses or in low light. The ViviCam X029, VG-160, COOLPIX S02, A1400, and Hello Kitty 7.1MP cameras reduce the effects of camera shake to provide clearer shots.
When shooting in more dimly lit environments, a camera with a built-in flash is recommended. Virtually all point-and-shoot cameras, including the S02, VG-160, ViviCam X029, Crayola, Minnie, Mickey, and Ninja Turtles models are flash equipped. With an ISO level of about 1600 or higher, like that of the VG-160 and COOLPIX S02, you can capture pretty clear shots in some low-light situations without flash. The A1400 features an ISO of 6400 for even better low-light performance.
Another fun and useful feature of select cameras is webcam capability. This adds versatility while providing an opportunity for young people to learn not only about photography, but also about computers. Sakar’s Dora, Crayola, and Cars 2 cameras can double as webcams.
Remember to look for cameras with fun effects, such as digital filters that users can select before the shot, or artsy modifications they can make post capture. Special effects like those on the VG-160, S02, and A1400 infuse familiar scenes with new and unexpected looks and moods. Anyone could have virtually endless amounts of fun playing with effects like drawing, watercolor, fisheye, miniature, and toy. Additionally, many cameras are bundled with software for image editing, sharing or both. These include the SpongeBob, Mickey, Minnie, Crayola, Monster High, multi-face Hello Kitty, COOLPIX S02, and VG-160.
That’s about everything you need to know to help you decide on an entry-level or intermediate point-and-shoot camera. The aspiring child photographer in your household will thank you and perhaps amaze you with the images they capture.