Camera for a 4 year old?
November 4, 2015 7:01 AM   Subscribe

My four year old son is showing a lot of interest in our cameras, and I'd like to get him one of his own. I'm looking for recommendations from parents whose kid(s) have had and used one for a while and had a good experience with it.

A few requirements:

1. No irritating sound effects that cannot be disabled.

2. If possible, no games or built-in prompts to connect to the manufacturer's online environment to be shilled (e.g. V-Tech).

3. Bonus points if I can buy it somewhere other than Amazon.

Thanks in advance, hivemind.
posted by ryanshepard to Shopping (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
What about an instant camera? The Fujifilm Instax Mini comes up in searches, though I haven't used it myself. It seems like that sort of instant gratification might be nice for a kid that age. Granted, he won't be shooting Ansel Adams quality work, here, but still.
posted by papayaninja at 7:04 AM on November 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

My kids were super interested in our cameras when they were that age, and then we actually got them the vTech, and they didn't end up using them much (mostly because they were crappy and the pictures were terrible).

If you've got a spare iPhone/iPod Touch (do they have cameras?) or the android equivalent, that's probably what I'd go with. Super easy to use, and you want to be supervising this at least somewhat anyway, right? Might be able to find one used on your local Craigslist/equivalent/ebay for pretty cheap, since you don't need anything new. (The vTech is $60 on Amazon, and I was seeing old iPhones etc. for around that, maybe...)
posted by leahwrenn at 7:11 AM on November 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Some folks I know gave their daughter an old ipod specifically for camera use several years ago when she was 4 or 5. They disabled as much as they could so it really was pretty much just a camera for her. (They had a folder on facebook specifically for her photos and most of them were terrible as you'd expect but some were just adorable.) It seemed to be a great way for her to figure out how to take pictures she liked keep up an interest in it. They gave her a proper camera for her 6th birthday and now she's, gosh, probably 8 I think? and still talking photos.

I know "old iPhone" isn't the camera answer you were looking for, but the cameras on them are pretty good and a great way to get started.
posted by phunniemee at 7:12 AM on November 4, 2015

Best answer: Hawkeye Huey was using a FujiFilm Instax 210 when he was four and now he's had a successful kickstarter for his coffee table book. I wouldn't waste your money on kid specific cameras. Our were junk and even when the kids got a good shot, the camera ruined it.
posted by mattamatic at 7:26 AM on November 4, 2015

Response by poster: I should add that we're both flip-phone primitives, so no old iPhones are lying around.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:27 AM on November 4, 2015

We have an old Canon point and shoot that has seen better days that we've been letting our 4yo use. What he seems to like the best is being able to go back and see the pictures he's taken on the viewing screen. This is not the model we have, but we have something similar. Maybe you can pick up a used one on CL.
posted by vignettist at 7:32 AM on November 4, 2015

Best answer: We gave our four year old the earlier version (the s30) of this Nikkon. It's been great - she's still using it three years later. She loves to take pictures under the water, it is rugged, and simple to use. The pictures aren't show stopping, but that may be because she's six as much as it is the camera - I'm not sure, I don't use it.
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:44 AM on November 4, 2015

If you have a local flea market then it might not be a bad idea to visit and see what's there. I'd imagine for a 4 year old the main requirements (besides what you've said) are using an SD card for memory and either AA batteries or a built in rechargeable one.
posted by theichibun at 7:50 AM on November 4, 2015

Get him a GoPro on Black Friday and give it to him for Christmas. You will be the coolest parent in the world. They are pricy for a four year old but made to survive a four year old so it balances it out.
posted by myselfasme at 8:28 AM on November 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Nthing everyone who said get a real camera. We got this one for our daughter, Fisher-Price Tough Kid Digital Camera. It takes very poor quality pictures and the screen to view the photos is small and awful so you can't be sure how photos turned out. Our 4-year-old quickly abandoned it for our smart phones.
posted by bijou243 at 9:53 AM on November 4, 2015

There are a lot of form factor advantages for small consumers to this style of Canon PowerShot, which I'm sure you can still get somewhere other than Amazon.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:59 AM on November 4, 2015

You can pick up a used digital camera on ebay for next to nothing. I see a Canon Powershot SD600 for $20. Searching for digital cameras under $20 got me over 100 hits.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:05 AM on November 4, 2015

I would definitely recommend something real, and something cheap/old. I've had nieces / nephews have the same experience as others mention with kid-specific cameras (often way too low quality, and can barely see what they're taking a shot of). Given an older small handheld camera, though, they did really well.

Any older Canon Powershot, or the various Fujifilm point-and-shoot cameras could work; I'd trawl eBay a bit and see what you find. The top priority should be that it not be enormous, and that it have a reasonably sized screen with live preview -- my experience is that kids don't really get the knack for a viewfinder at that age, and want to hold it in front of them and look at the screen.

(As a bonus, most standalone cameras have a memory card that is removable and hardy enough to survive the destruction of the camera, so if you get something cheap and there's an accident you can probably still get the photos off and re-use the card in a replacement)
posted by tocts at 10:23 AM on November 4, 2015

I'd look at used point and shoots somewhere online like KEH, which sells used gear.

A quick look at point & shoots shows quite a variety ranging from $29 up.

KEH is very reputable and quite conservative in grading the condition of used gear.
posted by jrchaplin at 10:34 AM on November 4, 2015

Best answer: We bought a Pentax Optio for our then-5 year old who loved taking pictures and we still use it and love it.

- shockproof. Can be dropped a lot. can even be chucked during a tantrum!
- water proof. we love this! for so many reasons.
- no moving lens!!! This was so important to us. We lost a couple of digital cameras when the tiniest bit of grit stopped the lens from coming out and then, of course, it cost more to fix/replace than to buy a new camera.

Ours is very old now, I think from 2009, but it still works perfectly so maybe pick up a second hand one on ebay.

We still take this on every family holiday. It's great for jostling in luggage etc and for beach/pool fun. And comes in lots of colours.
posted by stellathon at 3:39 PM on November 4, 2015

When my kiddo started wanting to take pictures, we just gave him the old digital one we had lying around. When he broke that, we asked friends and found someone else who had another old one lying around. People always seem to have old ones lying around from when they upgraded. Ask your friends and see what they have before spending any money on it.
posted by katers890 at 5:22 AM on November 5, 2015

Consider an iPod Touch. The camera function is decent, and you have the added benefit of having a kid-friendly game/app platform as well. Fisher-Price make a line of cases called "Apptivity" for phones and tablets that will keep the device safe.
posted by sincarne at 8:50 AM on November 5, 2015

« Older E pluribus whatnot quotation   |   Best Books on Animal Cognition? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.