There is only one way that will allow you to take a ton of photography gear on a family trip and get away with it. Hook your family on photography.
My wife is a lost cause, so I decided to try and lure my 5 years old daughter into the photography dark side. I got her a camera. Specifically, the Vtech Kidizoom Plus Pink Digital Camera. Below you can find my reasons for getting this camera as well as my thoughts and review. I would also love to hear your thoughts about getting a camera for your little one, share them in the comments.
The Things I Kept In Mind While Shopping For a 5 Years Old
Before I go into my kinda in depth review of the camera, I wanted to share some of the reasons that got me into buying this specific model in the first place.
I was looking for a camera for kids. Now this is an important thing to remember as (in my mind) kids have a very different set of requirement from their digital picture taking friend.
1. It is pink
Believe it or not, this actually was one of the key factors in choosing a camera. My daughter loves pink, and while giving her a camera will make me a 9.9 cool dad, giving her a pink camera will make me a complete 10 cool dad. (The only really competitor on this was the Fisher-Price Kid-Tough model.
2. Megapixels are not an issue
It takes photos. You can watch on the little (1.8″) screen / TV / computer. This is good enough. Kids don’t care about mega pixels. So I was OK with getting a camera that has low MP count.
3. Good-solid-fall-resistant build
I figured anything less would simply be throwing my money away (I was right, less than 10 minutes after package was open, little son got jealous and up in the air it went).
Had to be around 50-60 USD. It is a kids camera.
There were lots of other considerations to take into account, but those four were the major ones. The Vtech Kidizoom was a close finalist Vs the Fisher-Price Kid-Tough, and it won. Why? More in the review.
Vtech Kidizoom Plus Pink Camera Review
1. Image quality
I was looking for this one kinda hard, but could not find it. On the other hand I don’t really care. For its intent it provides great images. Sure – the size is small, it is grainy in the smallest shade. Guess what it is OK. It is being judged on different parameters. My daughter was thrilled to take images even if they were grainy. Actually, some of the images have a nice Lomo quality to them, which I kinda liked.
When it comes to indoor pictures, it is a bit more complicated. Under low and medium light the quality was very poor. The Kidizoom features a flash, but it is often to weak to light a subject that is more than a meter and a half away. Fun? Yes. Usable? Only sometimes.
2. Viewfinder and screen
The screen is fairly small, 1.8″. If you use metrics, this means a bit bigger than a biggish postage stamp. IT performed OK while in the shade, but was almost impossible to watch in bright dun light (ironically enough, the best image quality is produced under strong sun light).
To compensate, the Kidizoom comes with a unique view finder. It actually ahs two view finders, so the young photog does not have to blink one eye close to use it. This worked out quite well for my daughter, and she adjusted from sing the screen to using the double viewfinder and back in no time.
3. Buttons and usability
I love the way the Kidizoom is built. It feels strong and I think that my daughter felt the same. She did not have to worry about the camera not getting damaged and could focus on her photography. The camera is coated with elastic rubber (pink rubber) that protects it from falls and minor bumps. The batteries and SD card slot are protected by screws. Very child safe.
There are very few buttons on the camera, which I think is a very good idea for kid’s camera. Each button has exactly one functionality like shoot; change mode / view. I was amazed at the time it took my (not that techie) daughter to get a grasp on operating the camera. Another good thing is that the shutter button is duplicated. In addition to its traditional location – top right index finger – it is duplicated to the back of the camera, next to the screen. This is easier for small hands to use. (Thanks Darwin for our opposable thumbs)
Last on this category is battery time. One nice thing is the indicator on the screen. Another coolness is the auto off feature. As kids are, the camera goes to auto off more often than it is being turned off intentionally. Since the LCD is always on, this is a major power saver. We are still running on the same 4 AA bats since we bought it. Over 300 pictures and many many six-cards-memory-games.
4. Movies, Tricks and inline games
One of the best features on this camera is that it has built in pirate hats, goofy eyes, weird noses and set of built in picture frames. Those can be applied in a primitive in-camera image editor. Or, better yet while the image is being taken. The camera puts them on the screen, and all you need to do is frame your father so it has a pig’s nose. This simple feature provided tons of fun and amusement.
The movie quality on the Kidizoom is very close to its image quality, kinda poor. I am not going to get into this very deeply. I will mention, though that it is one of the most lovable features of the camera. My daughter spends infinite amount of time taking movies. The only thing to remember is that movies are memory consuming, so you may want to get an extra SD card. The only rival to the movies is the …
… games. The camera comes with three very basic inline games: 3three-pairs-memory-game; a four-piece-puzzle-game and a TIC-TAC-TOE. It is very obvious that she is my daughter. She gets that glazed look in her eyes whenever she starts playing and it is virtually impossible to make her stop. Is this a good feature for a camera? Not sure.
5. Editor and bundled software
Don’t use them. After each shoot out we download the pictures to the computer and look at them. We discuss a bit (if she has patience) and go on. I figured using more software and prolonging the image taking process will take the fun out of taking pictures for here. She’ll have plenty of time to master actions, layers and masks when she turns six.
All and all I am very happy with this purchase. And so is Liri, My daughter. I got mine via a Toys R Us store in Frederick, Maryland (59.99) which was a bit cheaper than the one @Amazon. I also got some great service and assistance as the store was closing. I’m definitely coming back there if I get the chance.
Up till now we have hours of fun with the camera, and Liri is really starting to get the hang of it. She has a great eye and seems like she has a natural talent for composition. (I wonder if all kids are like that, and we, as adults, have to re-learn those skills?).
We take the camera everywhere we go now, and Liri is definitely on my side of the force when it comes to photography.
– Kidizoom Digital Camera – Pink @ Amazon
– Kidizoom Digital Camera – Blue @ Amazon (yep, one for boys too)
– VTech Preschool Kidizoom Junior Pink @Amazon (A slightly lower end model. Still pink)
– Kidizoom Digital Camera – Pink @Toys R Us