Kids love taking pictures! You might not want to hand over your phone to a toddler, so finding a kid-appropriate "real" camera is a great alternative. Something that's kid-sized, hard to break, and lets them take photos and see them on the back of the camera.
The grandparents surprised our son with his own camera for his fourth birthday. It was definitely the favorite gift, and has expanded his creative world!
Here's my review of the VTech Kidizoom Camera Connect after owning it for a few months.
VTech Kidizoom Camera Connect
This camera is perfect for a preschooler's hands: it's lightweight and has two handholds. The rubbery plastic outside is just the right amount of protection from bumps and falls.
It actually has two viewfinders, like binoculars, because young children are not usually good at shutting one eye at a time. This is a genius feature that really speaks to the usability of this camera, since most adults don't even realize that one viewfinder is frustrating for some children.
There is a slot for a microSD card to extend the memory. We haven't felt the need to do this, since the internal memory itself holds about 800 pictures. The pictures can be transferred to the computer using the included USB cord.
After a few minutes of inactivity the camera automatically turns off, which saves battery life. Unfortunately, the camera does use up batteries very quickly, so this is an important feature.
The VTech Camera Connect has an internal memory of 128 megabytes, or about 800 pictures. Obviously, that means that individual picture files are 1) quite small and 2) low quality. The camera in your smartphone is more sophisticated than this. Then again, this is a child's toy, and it doesn't my child one bit.
The technology in the camera is appropriate for a 4-5 year old, but limiting for a older child.
The camera needs a lot of light to provide a fast shutter speed, which means that almost all indoor pictures will be blurry. This could definitely annoy an older child, especially one that might have used a camera phone or compact camera and is aware of the quality possible from a camera.
However, this was intended as a play camera for a young child, so I don't expect printable quality. If you're interested, the pictures themselves are only 1280 by 960 pixels.
You can see the "best" photos my four-year-old took in a month period in this post. Obviously, I didn't include the several hundred pictures that we terribly blurry/dark or incredibly boring, so recognize that those are the best 20 pictures or so out of his first 500 pictures.
This software inside the camera software is very easy to use. It's pretty self-explanatory; my son figured out a few settings before I did! There is a short instruction booklet if you need help though.
Unfortunately, the sound effect on this camera are really loud! You can turn it down, but there are no parental controls to be able to "lock" the sound off. I turn the sound down all the time, but the camera is so easy to use that my son knows how to turn it all the way back up. A silly issue, but one that can get annoying.
My biggest frustration with this camera is that it has video games on it. Since when does a creative toy have to entertain our kids? What happened to playthings that opened the minds of our children and allowed them to explore their world, be creative, and use their imaginations?
So I wish this camera was JUST a camera: adding useless games to "entertain" just distracts my child from the opportunity to be creative himself.
The VTech Kidizoom Camera is intended for the 3-8 year old range. I don't completely agree with this range, and think that most children would be happiest with this purchase at the young end of that spectrum.
This is really a camera for young kids, who are interested in the picture taking phenomenon, but not worried about quality yet. It's perfect for ages 4-5, but I think the 6-8 year old range would do better with a camera that can take higher-quality pictures.
If you have an slightly older child that can handle the responsibility of an actual camera, I would probably spend a bit more for an entry level point & shoot. In a few years we'll probably do just that, but this works great for our needs right now.
This VTech Kidizoom Camera we bought: it was called the Camera Connect when we purchased but is now called the Camera Pix. There are pink and blue versions, both around 35 dollars.
The thirty-dollar range seems like a fair price point for a child's camera, especially since it can be played with time and time again.
Ideally this is the type of toy that provides a jumping off-place for creative play: my son has set up his own little photo shoots with his toys, and will also seek out his camera to record important moments (which apparently include cereal for breakfast and the garbage man coming).
At this stage, all my four-year-old really wants to do is take a picture and be able to see it on the camera screen. This camera does that, but the professional photographer in me recognizes it could be so much better.
However, for a child's toy, I think this is an appropriate choice to get kids "seeing" with a camera and start exploring photography. We'll definitely be moving up in quality and price, within a few years though.
- Sturdy, durable build, with a double viewfinder
- Easy to use, kid-friendly software
- Can add more storage with a memory card
- Automatic shut-off
- Decent price point for hours of creative fun
- Definitely low quality pictures
- Eats through batteries pretty quickly
- No parental controls to lock sound low or turn off games
If you're interested, check out the reviews on this camera at Amazon.