Too old for Fisher Price, too young for Canon
December 11, 2011 3:55 PM   Subscribe

My soon to be 10 year old daughter just told me she wants a camera for her birthday. What to get?

She's too old for the heavy duty Fisher Price kid cameras, but judging by the fact that she lost both her iPod and DS for an entire summer, she's not quite responsible enough for a really nice digital camera. What's a good mid-end digital camera for a 10 year old? I'd like to keep it under $100, but that's not a firm number.
posted by Ruki to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
What does she want to do with it? Is it mostly for posting things online/capturing quick moments with friends, mostly for taking awesome shots of buildings/landscapes/vacation stuff, mostly for making funny videos?
posted by SMPA at 4:28 PM on December 11, 2011

The Canon A1200 is cheap, takes 12 megapixel photos, shoots pretty fast at 1600 ISO, and takes AA batteries (one less thing to lose). A great starter camera. You may also be able to get the A1100 or A1000 for less on used camera sites.
posted by Mercaptan at 4:28 PM on December 11, 2011

Oh and it does HD video, has a Program mode with bona fide exposure adjustments, has a wide lens, and is reasonably compact. So not too old for a Canon. If you want something more durable, there are waterproof/shockproof cameras out there, but they'll run closer to $200-300.
posted by Mercaptan at 4:31 PM on December 11, 2011

Have you looked on Craigslist (or Ebay, I suppose)? A used camera would probably fit your budget and be a bit less precious, and digital cameras are mature enough that a camera from 3 or 4 years ago is probably still quite good.
posted by misterbrandt at 4:40 PM on December 11, 2011

We bought our 10-year-old one of these cheap Polaroid point-and-shooters at Target. It doesn't have a lot of features, it just takes pictures. I had an old memory card kicking around, so we didn't need to buy one, which was a nice bonus. It does eat AA batteries at a good clip. It has been just fine for taking pictures of the TV screen, the cats, and herself.
posted by briank at 5:00 PM on December 11, 2011

I don't have a camera recommendation, but when my daughter wanted a camera, we also got her a cheap digital frame so she could display all of the pictures she liked without having to get them all printed all the time.
posted by artychoke at 6:17 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

A note: I got my 10 year olds cameras for xmas, and it was a GREAT gift. However, I bought each a different camera, and noted only one major difference.
Get a camera with rechargeable batteries. The one that takes AA batteries is a pain in the ass.
posted by asavage at 6:41 PM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

I gave my daughter my old Nikon when I upgraded (she was 7 at the time) and I agree that AAs are a royal pain. However, if you do go that route, leave room in your budget for rechargeable batteries and a charger. She uses the camera to look at her photos and videos all the time and it eats batteries like potato chips.

These are Consumer Reports Top 5 cameras that cost $100:

• Samsung PL20
• Nikon Coolpix L22
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3
• Olympus Stylus 5010
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP1

The top 3 score 52 (out of 100), 4 and 5 score 51, all are considered "Good." (The top point and shoots overall score 66.) The Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 (#3) stands out for having "Very good" video quality, image quality and versatility.
posted by looli at 7:02 PM on December 11, 2011

I'm a grown adult and I'm still torn on the rechargeable/AA divide. On one hand, I do have a big battery charger I can load up with rechargeable AAs to throw in my purse, and in a crisis I can buy batteries anywhere. On the other, the batteries never make it back to the charger.

It feels to me like rechargeable cameras give way more bang:buck for life. The upside is if you get one with a normal (non-proprietary) mini-USB cable port, replacing a lost charger is no big deal as you've probably got reguar-to-mini cables all over the place, and a little AC USB wall plug is a few bucks - cheaper than batteries. That would actually be (or actually IS) one of my priorities for my next cheap purse camera: standard mini-USB cable port. I loved my little red sub-$100 Samsung purse camera, but then I moved and I have no idea where the damn cable is.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:03 PM on December 11, 2011

Response by poster: Honestly, I'm not sure what she wants it for, as she just brought it up tonight. She's an artsy type, an excellent cartoonist who loves to draw (I've promised her that if she can keep her room clean, I'll let her re-arrange her room to set up a little studio space). Printing isn't a huge concern because all my printing supplies are a business write-off, but I know she'd love the idea of digital frame, so I'll definitely get her one. We also buy AA batteries in bulk because of various game systems (we do have a recharger system, but it's awful, so maybe we'll upgrade). She's also getting a fairly new secondhand laptop because her grandfather just upgraded, so she will have a space to upload her pictures. If she's interested in photo manipulation, her uncle is a graphic design professor, so we can get her any software she needs. Looking forward, I think she'd appreciate something with video, because she's really into Lego and I think learning about stop motion would blow her mind.
posted by Ruki at 7:19 PM on December 11, 2011

I picked up a Canon A490 at one of the big box stores for around $60 last Christmas to give to my 5-year-old; astoundingly he hasn't managed to break it yet, and has had a lot of fun with it. Compared to the "kiddie" cameras out there, it's a world apart, but is still relatively easy to use, takes AA batteries, and he has a lot of fun with it.
posted by jferg at 7:44 PM on December 11, 2011

We bought a plain old Kodak EasyShare for our kids and they've been great with it. It does do small videos (my 13yo stepdaughter is most into this) and takes nice clear pictures, with easy intuitive functions. It takes regular AA batteries (you can use rechargeables if you want to), which for kids I'd recommend over a camera that takes a specialized battery (like mine). And it'll only cost you around $100.

My standard recommendation with kids and cameras (or anyone, really; it's been a lifesaver for my husband and me as well) is to get a decent neck lanyard, rather than the wrist lanyard that they all seem to come with, and train her on putting the lanyard around her neck whenever she wants to take pictures. It's helped our cameras live significantly longer lives, and may also help with the getting-lost factor.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:47 PM on December 11, 2011

Best answer: What to get her? Definitely a photography class -- one that will acquaint her with the various options available in every camera. It can be a serious asset to be the person in a group who takes decent photos, it's fun, and it may help her appreciate the camera as a serious tool (even if it's just a small point-and-shoot camera).

Get a camera small enough to fit in her pocket, if possible. I have a small Canon that's awesome.

Make sure you have enough rechargeable batteries, AA or otherwise, for two complete sets; she can use one set while charging the other.

If you get AA or other batteries, look for Eneloop brand rechargeables. If the camera and/or spare batteries are left on the shelf, fully charged, they'll still be charged when she's ready to use them. I think other brands work this way, but I've had some Eneloops for years that are still awesome.

The guys at the local camera shop here were incredibly helpful in helping me find the right gear for me; I too didn't need anything really fancy. Please support the local camera shop, as that kind of expertise is very helpful.

On preview: If she becomes really enthusiastic about photography, she might quickly pass the point at which you're able to count that much printer toner and photo paper as a business expense. Kids can take a _lot_ of photos -- and that's a good thing! You'll probably feel a lot better using rechargeable batteries, too, if she goes through them as quickly as I suspect. A photography class can help her learn how to get away from using flash all the time, though, which will definitely help with battery life.

The vast majority of cameras have video capability now, I think, so you shouldn't have to worry about that as a constraint.

She has time and interest _now_, so I say get her a real, but small, camera. Prices aren't that high.

Also - you can have her name and phone number engraved on the camera, so that if she loses it, there's a chance it will be returned.
posted by amtho at 7:48 PM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

With $50 and some craigslist combing, you'd do much much better than you would at Target with the same amount of money - same goes for higher budgets. Also, you don't need video capbilities to do stop motion! Just a tripod and a plain ol digital camera. Skip the polaroid/generic brand junk - they're universally terrible. Just get something a little older from canon or nikon or something, a basic point and shoot with two megapixels or something. AAs are nice, but in my experience cameras go through them so fast that rechargeable is a lot better and easier (the notable exception being traveling abroad or to exotic places where charging is harder than buying AAs).
posted by R a c h e l at 9:25 PM on December 11, 2011

My daughters (now 13 & 15) have had cameras for their use for several years. The ones that lasted the longest before breaking down (and they will find way to break them) were the small Canon 1100 series. I'm not sure if they still make them. The Canon A series Powershots held up and were easy to import from. We got a waterproof Olympus for my youngest and it's a huge pain to get images off of.

I second the photography class idea. Both my daughters enjoyed them.

I suggest AA/AAA powered cameras when possible. Rechargeable batteries are inevitably empty unless you, the adult, take the responsibility to keep them charged at all times. If you go rechargeable, get a second battery that lives in the charger at all times.

The main feature my girls wanted was shooting video. To them, if you removed the ability to take photographs, they wouldn't be too upset. They _loved_ making goofy movies with their friends.

Lastly, again seconding the idea to label the camera with a name and phone number. We use a Brother P-touch. When it gets misplaced, you have a chance to get it back.

Good luck.
posted by Argyle at 9:29 PM on December 11, 2011

Don't forget pawn shops. They'll have cases full of digital cameras of all shapes and sizes and a wide range of price points.
posted by chazlarson at 10:10 PM on December 11, 2011

Yeah, avoid the "toy" cameras. I bought one once and its sensor was no better than a webcam. I think 10 is old enough to handle a real camera, and $79 or $99 will get you a nice Kodak EasyShare or Nikon CoolPix kind of a deal. I have a Kodak M590 that I got on sale for $99 and it's a pretty awesome little camera.

AA versus internal rechargeable: internal rechargeable ones can be more convenient if one keeps it charged. But AA cameras are nice because you don't have to wait for it to charge up when it runs out of juice. Hint: buy the blue and silver Energizer Lithium batteries. They last forever in digital point-n-shoots. In my last camera, a cheapo "heavy duty" battery lasted 4 shots before the low battery light came on. A standard Duracell lasted maybe 20. Ditto for rechargeable AA batteries. Meanwhile, the Energizer Lithium would last literally hundreds of shots. They are expensive, but more than pay for themselves in longevity.
posted by gjc at 4:57 AM on December 12, 2011

Since several people above talk about printing, my only advice is to identify the nearest pharmacy or big box store with the cheapest price per print and train her on how to use their digital printers. Not only is the quality fantastic but prints are only between 15-30 cents.

There's no reason to spend money on a printer and overpriced ink.
posted by exhilaration at 11:40 AM on December 12, 2011

Response by poster: We ended up getting her the Canon A1200. She was super excited. Thanks for your help!
posted by Ruki at 7:49 PM on January 10, 2012

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