Grandma loves her snaps
November 22, 2011 10:47 AM   Subscribe

Grandma needs a new camera and I'd really like to switch her over to a digital camera. But are there any cameras built for seniors?

So Grandma LOVES taking pictures of the grandkids, but she's a gigantic technophobe. She had a film camera a few years back, and when it broke I got her a very simple point-and-shoot film camera. At least I thought it was simple. She didn't tell me -- FOR TWO YEARS -- that she never figured out how to get the film into it. So she's just been using those crap one-use disposable cameras.

The thing is, she does use some technology very well: She uses a computer, and emails, and surfs the web and has her favorite message boards. So I think if I get her a digital camera she'll love sharing those pix with all her online friends and family.

So what's the best camera for a senior? I tried googling, but got some not very thinly disguised advertorials which I don't trust. I'm looking for big buttons. For possibly very few buttons. The simplest possible interface. Does it exist??
posted by BlahLaLa to Technology (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What about a simple Canon point and shoot with one of those WiFi SD cards that automatically downloads the pictures from it on your home network?

I have a Canon 1100iS (Ixus in some markets) and it couldn't be simpler most of the time. Point and shoot in the purest way, maybe zoom at most. The only complicated thing is downloading which could potentially be avoided by the Eyefi card:
posted by Brockles at 10:51 AM on November 22, 2011

Marco Arment (of Instapaper fame) wrote about this very topic last year. Not sure if that same model is still available, but perhaps you can find its descendant.
posted by Nothlit at 10:52 AM on November 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

Seconding the link from Nothlit, except get an EyeFi and a pre-paid flickr account that you renew for her every christmas.
posted by Brian Puccio at 11:13 AM on November 22, 2011

(Also, there's nothing wrong with film. In the camera to pictures in your hands in less than an hour. While I do shoot film myself, I lean heavily towards Provia and Velvia.)
posted by Brian Puccio at 11:14 AM on November 22, 2011

My septuagenarian mom is pretty much a techno-dope and she uses her Canon SD without any trouble. She never copies the pictures off, but that's really more of a computer thing. If she can use webboards she can probably use Picasa.
posted by rhizome at 12:42 PM on November 22, 2011

Whatever you get don't forget to tell or show her how to also get those photos printed if she wants. You might think it's obvious and easy, but that just baffles some people and they're too embarrassed to ask about all the options they can use.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:11 PM on November 22, 2011

I think as far as "full package" deals, Kodak Easyshare offers a fairly simple solution. They're not the best at everything, but do everything pretty well (simple easy to use cameras, dedicated printers, digital picture frames, management software (easyshare), etc). That might be a worthy route to take if just simply for the ease of integration with different'll ensure you'll get copies of all the latest photographs instead of getting calls on how camera A works with software B to print on printer C.
posted by samsara at 1:22 PM on November 22, 2011

I bought my sixtysomething technophobe dad a Canon A495 last year, which was somewhat cheaper than the one Marco Arment recommended, but has a similarly simple interface. I'd underline his point about finding a model that takes standard AA batteries: it limits your choice, but managing chargers and model-specific batteries can be especially irksome.

The options for printing are much more diverse these days: as I discovered this weekend, you can upload a stack to a drugstore website and pick up the prints from a local store within an hour.
posted by holgate at 1:34 PM on November 22, 2011

When I sold digital cameras (admittedly awhile ago now), I always recommended Kodak cameras to customers with similar gifts in mind. At least at the time, they were the easiest to operate. One major factor in this was the size of symbols and other writing on the camera body; older eyes strain to read that stuff if it is too small.
posted by postel's law at 1:46 PM on November 22, 2011

Does Grandma also need a new phone? I just gave my not-very-technical mother my old iPhone 3GS, and she's already taken dozens of photos. You can't get much simpler than the iPhone camera, either. It basically has one button.

The photo quality isn't amazing but it's probably fine for casual snaps. The camera on the iPhone 4S is comparable to a cheap point-and-shoot, but of course the newer model costs more.

Just another angle to consider.
posted by Georgina at 1:53 PM on November 22, 2011

Seconding a phone camera, eg a hand-me-down iPhone or whatever. The big problem with an actual digital camera is that the pictures get trapped on it. With a phone it's easy to email the picture, or put it on Facebook.
posted by w0mbat at 3:26 PM on November 22, 2011

I'm old and know little to nothing about iPhones and iTunes and iWhatevers, also next to nothing about cell phones, etc, but I'm pretty capable with the computer. I've had a Kodak EasyShare camera for several years now and I love it! Getting used to it was pretty simple - for the first year I think I only used the "Auto" setting - didn't bother with any of the other setups (for snow, sun, portraits, close-ups, action shots, etc) and I was nutso happy about the pictures I got. Everything about the camera is easy to figure out and I still can't get over being able to take all the kazillion pictures I want without having to worry about wasting film. Your grandmother's gonna love it. I have a skinny little cable thingy connected to a USB port on my computer and when I want to download photos I just plug it into the camera and turn it on. I have Picasa, and after quite a bit of doing, finally figured out how to get the photos into Picasa instead of the stupid file where Kodak hides the photos (that's the one problem with Kodak that still drives me nuts sometimes). But I set up an account with Walgreens and when I want prints, I just send the photos I want to print via the internet to Walgreens and pick them up later the same day - nothing to it, and I don't have to buy all that ink (the prints are very inexpensive).

I always loved taking lots of pictures when kids were little, but this digital stuff is a whole new world! Your Grandma's going to be tickled.
posted by aryma at 10:44 PM on November 22, 2011

We just got an elderly relative a new digital camera and she didn't feel comfortable using it because the new one didn't have a "look through the little hole" view finder—only a big screen on the back. So, an actual "look through the hole" viewfinder might make the camera more user-friendly.

Also, the new camera above, eschewed any physical controls and instead all of the settings were done through a barely-responsive touch-screen—this alone would have been enough for the camera to be returned.

In the end, we got her a camera that wasn't too small to hold easily, that had a "hole" viewfinder (as well as the standard "here's the photo you just took" screen, of course), and had a physical dial that she could just set on EASY (or whatever it's called) and forget about it.

So, tl;dr, I suppose I would make sure Grandma has some input in picking her new camera—let her hold a few different models/kinds and pick out her favorite. Also, find a good photo place near her with friendly people, where she is welcome to just come in and hand them her camera (not some tiny memory card) and just tell them "Please print the photos from my new camera that my wonderful grandchild bought me".
posted by blueberry at 11:35 PM on November 22, 2011

iPhoto with photostream and the photos will automatically be uploaded / transfered to a mac, so grandma doesn't even have to do anything to get the photos of the camera.
iPhone 4S, although expensive, takes great photos.
posted by flif at 1:54 PM on November 24, 2011

Thanks for all the help, everybody. We gave Grandma a choice of several gifts, and she ended up. Choosing something else altogether, so we never got the camera. But hopefully this info will be helpful to someone else in the future.
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:33 PM on December 22, 2011

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