Digital cameras with features such as flash, digital zoom and on-camera graphics are now aimed at users as young as 3 years old. In Consumer Reports’ first-ever evaluation of kid cameras, two models — the VTech Kidizoom, $40, and the Lego Digital Camera, $60 — stood out among the five models reviewed.
The other three kid cameras were the Crayola 2.1 MP Digital Camera with Color Preview Screen, $35; the Disney Pix Jr., $50; and the Fisher-Price Kid-Tough Digital Camera, $40. CR also assessed a modestly priced regular camera, the Kodak EasyShare C123, $90. Cameras were put through their paces in CR’s labs, and the magazine sought the opinions of 30 kids aged 5 to 12.
You’d never mistake these toys for regular digital point-and-shoot cameras. For one, they have tiny LCD screens — little more than an inch in size — and their zoom capability is digital, which reduces image quality as it magnifies. Also, most don’t accept removable memory cards; you store photos using onboard memory, which ranges from 32 to 128MB, or several hundred low-resolution photos.
They’re generally larger, too, with big buttons that better suit small and inexperienced fingers. They come in bright, kid-friendly colors, and some include kid-only features: The Disney Pix Jr., for example, lets you add cartoon characters to your photos.
None of the kids’ cameras tested produced images that compared in quality to the regular digital camera they were compared to: the Kodak EasyShare C123. The VTech Kidizoom produced fair images overall, however, making it the best kid camera for image quality. With its bright appearance and kid-pleasing ability to add effects to images, it’s CR’s standout choice for kids 3 to 7.
For older children, age 7 and up, consider the Lego Digital Camera. It was judged easiest to use by the kid panelists, who also liked the option to build other Lego bricks onto the device. For tech-savvy kids 9 or older, CR says a low-priced regular camera is also worth considering.
That includes the Kodak EasyShare C123, a competent camera with some useful kid-friendly extras such as waterproofing.
CR’s other findings include:
— VTech Kidizoom Camera: Of the kid cameras tested, this model had the best image quality, though only by a slight margin; however, when enlargements were printed, detail was among the worst. Along with the Disney and Fisher-Price models, it also was among the more responsive cameras, with shutter delay that was shorter than that of the other two standouts.
— Lego Digital Camera: While its performance was undistinguished, like that of most other models, the Lego Digital Camera was judged among the easiest to use by the kid panelists. And it has perhaps the most striking design: It’s built from multicolored Lego bricks. You can’t take it apart, but you can build onto it with other Legos. You could embed the camera into the wall of a castle or the belly of a dinosaur, for example.
— Crayola 2.1 MP Digital Camera with Color Preview Screen: This green-and-white kid camera produced 8×10 enlarged prints with the best resolution among the kid cameras, though its shutter delay was not as short as most. The Crayola camera has a different look and feel from the others, mainly due to the grips on either side.
— Disney Pix Jr: While this Disney-branded camera is discontinued, you should still be able to find it at some online stores. It was among the models with short shutter-delay times, and its Disney themes may of course be a selling point for some kids.
— Fisher-Price Kid-Tough Digital Camera: This kid camera was among the models with short shutter-delay times, though, along with the VTech Kidizoom, it produced 8×10 enlarged prints with the poorest resolution. One of the kid panelists noted that the side grips and large buttons make it easy to use. She also liked the viewfinder — actually, it has two viewfinders, one for each eye.
Filed Under: Consumer Reports