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08-31-2009, 05:51 AM   #1
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Please help me pick a camera for my son

I am planning on getting my son a compact camera for Christmas. He has shown a real interest in picture taking and I want to get him his own camera. He will be 4 1/2 at that time so that leads to some special requirements. I have tried looking around but have not found anything suitable. There are SO many models it is tough to sort through. I would appreciate anyone's suggestions.

Here is what I was thinking for criteria.

-Megpixels: Not important, but at least 4 would be nice.
-New or used.
-Does not need to be this years model.
-The smaller the form factor the better. (Small Hands.)
-Brand is not important.

-And the most important criteria is that the focus and zoom be internal to the body, because at his age, he is sure to hit the lens against something if it is extended.


-Finally I am only looking to spend $50 as I am sure it will get rough tretment and only last so long.

Thanks for everyone's time.

08-31-2009, 06:10 AM   #2
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Maybe it is worth considering some of the rugged, water resistant compacts or used older models in those lines:
'Waterproof' Camera Group Test (Q2 2009) Review: 1. Introduction: Digital Photography Review

Or else it is pretty hard to find fixed lens on compacts, because they all retract to be compact.
Another option are those ultra compacts that have vertical lens assembly and a mirror pointed to front, or very primitive cameras with completely fixed lens, like some of these:
http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/PZ10/PZ10A.HTM
http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/Z30FD/Z30FDA.HTM

I know my s5600 had IF and IZ, but the camera is not small. I've even accidentally submerged the front part of lens while doing water macro. Since it is all internal, luckily it has no openings on the lens barrel.
http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S5200/S5200A.HTM (supports only expensive proprietary memory card - xD ).

An interesting listing i almost bought for experiments:
http://cgi.ebay.com/Vivitar-Vivicam-3345-1-3MP-Digital-Camera_W0QQitemZ20036...d=p4999.c0.m14
Has no LCD though. Quality probably no better than mobile phone.
If you're not considering it say it pleas, as i just may get it (since its one of the rare ultra cheap cams that ship outside US).
# F2.8 lens
# Built in flash
Good points for such price.

I know that most of my suggestions does not match your target price, but those are just general directions. Similar cameras or older models of the same line used could fit your bill.
Btw, i just saw that there isnt digital mentioned anywhere in your post (EDIT: There is Megapixel recommendation, so you must be looking for a digital and the Vivitar does not match your description). The film changing, printing and waiting magic may seem interesting to the kid, like a Christmas after every roll. On the other side seeing the results instantly on a bright colorful LCD and shooting hundreds frames per day may provide even more joy and make him learn instantly.

Last edited by ytterbium; 08-31-2009 at 09:06 AM. Reason: error
08-31-2009, 06:33 AM   #3
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I have an interesting suggestion. An Olympus Stylus Epic - 35mm F2.8, weatherproof. Ok, maybe not the best for instant feedback, but I think at that age, less is better. Concentrating on composition is most important. That lens is sharp, the flash is powerful (for a compact), and the camera is very light, but not too small. Knowing that they would have to wait fir the film to be developed may add a sense of excitement and responsibility.

I'm always for less is more.
08-31-2009, 06:38 AM   #4
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Yes. Film camera has another feature. You still get full frame capture quality (as much as lens is capable) from even the cheapest compacts, as well as ready full size storage medium. Only thing i would worry is that 4yr old could accidently open cam with film in it. When going cheap digital you get very crappy pictures.

Btw the vivitar has very lomographics colour rendering:
Vivitar ViviCam 3345 Digital Camera Sample Photos and Specifications
I like...

By the way, i'd recommend paying attention to the LCD aswell. Many cheap or ultra compact cameras have no protection screen, glass (hard plastic - like your DSLR has for example) or other surface on top of the LCD, just the soft layer of plastic which makes the front surface of lcd. Easy to punch/press dead areas into screen.

Talking about your k20d, that's pretty advanced camera, so i think you should have some extended knowledge in cameras. Aren't my suggestions too primitive and simple to you? Maybe you just expect us to point some exact camera models.
In that case the 50$ requirement is pretty limiting for a new camera and you should be able to easily narrow the choices. Another thing is used cameras. It is hard to point some very good and old camera if no one is selling such used, or you never know how much one could ask. In used market one looks at what is available.


Last edited by ytterbium; 08-31-2009 at 09:15 AM.
08-31-2009, 05:11 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by ytterbium Quote
Maybe it is worth considering some of the rugged, water resistant compacts or used older models in those lines:
...
Or else it is pretty hard to find fixed lens on compacts, because they all retract to be compact.
...
An interesting listing i almost bought for experiments:
Vivitar Vivicam 3345 1.3MP Digital Camera - eBay (item 200366898264 end time Sep-23-09 18:31:16 PDT)
Has no LCD though. Quality probably no better than mobile phone.
If you're not considering it say it pleas, as i just may get it (since its one of the rare ultra cheap cams that ship outside US).
# F2.8 lens
# Built in flash
Good points for such price.
...
I think one of the water resistant compacts is the way to go, that is a good idea. It meets my criteria, except for maybe price, but that is why I am looking now -- so I have time to be patient.

That vivitar is intriguing but I will hold out for one with a screen, because that is one thing my son likes -- looking at the pictures he just took on the screen. He has been taking pictures with our cell phones.

QuoteOriginally posted by joeyc Quote
I have an interesting suggestion. An Olympus Stylus Epic - 35mm F2.8, weatherproof. Ok, maybe not the best for instant feedback, but I think at that age, less is better. Concentrating on composition is most important. That lens is sharp, the flash is powerful (for a compact), and the camera is very light, but not too small. Knowing that they would have to wait fir the film to be developed may add a sense of excitement and responsibility.

I'm always for less is more.
I think that would be great for some kids, but for my son, at his age and where he is at right now, digital is probably the way to go.

QuoteOriginally posted by ytterbium Quote
...
By the way, i'd recommend paying attention to the LCD aswell. Many cheap or ultra compact cameras have no protection screen, glass (hard plastic - like your DSLR has for example) or other surface on top of the LCD, just the soft layer of plastic which makes the front surface of lcd. Easy to punch/press dead areas into screen.

Talking about your k20d, that's pretty advanced camera, so i think you should have some extended knowledge in cameras. Aren't my suggestions too primitive and simple to you? Maybe you just expect us to point some exact camera models.
In that case the 50$ requirement is pretty limiting for a new camera and you should be able to easily narrow the choices. Another thing is used cameras. It is hard to point some very good and old camera if no one is selling such used, or you never know how much one could ask. In used market one looks at what is available.
That is a good point about the screen, and another good reason to go with one of the tough waterproof models.

I have only had my K20D for a couple months and before that I had only P&S. But I am really throwing myself into it and learning as much as I can. But simple is not bad in this case. He is only four after all. Basically I just want something that takes "real" pictures and something a little more resistant to rough treatment.

I think the water resistant compacts are the way to go. Now I just need to find an old used one for $50!

Thanks to both for the input and help!
08-31-2009, 05:42 PM   #6
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For a child *that* small, there are some cameras specifically made for children that don't seem to run much more than 40 or 50 bucks on Ebay. At that age, some bigger controls might be really much more useful, not to mention bumpers and things to grab onto, doubtless, breakaway straps to prevent any scary accidents or anything like that...

When he gets a few years older, depending on his temperament, check out a Lumix FZ-5, 7, or 8: while hanging around with some friends of the family, I'd pretty commonly hand mine over to a girl just a few years older: she had a great time running around buttering people up for me, (and she got some pretty nice snaps in there, too.) The automation is quite kid-friendly, too, turn to 'Simple Mode' and off they go.

While these models are extendey-lensed superzooms, they have some advantages there, in that if you put a UV on the lens-hood tube, the lens and the works are for all practical purposes closed off, and the hood makes a fair decent bumper: screw a rubber knob or handle on the bottom (I kept a Bogen mini-flex-head down there for my own reasons: this also proved really helpful for her, using the LCD. )

These cameras aren't really made to take punishment, like from rough kids, but don't need babying, and have the fun aspect of looking pretty much just like Serious Big People Things. Something to keep in mind for a while down the road, anyway.
09-01-2009, 06:08 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ratmagiclady Quote
For a child *that* small, there are some cameras specifically made for children that don't seem to run much more than 40 or 50 bucks on Ebay. At that age, some bigger controls might be really much more useful, not to mention bumpers and things to grab onto, doubtless, breakaway straps to prevent any scary accidents or anything like that...

When he gets a few years older, depending on his temperament, check out a Lumix FZ-5, 7, or 8: while hanging around with some friends of the family, I'd pretty commonly hand mine over to a girl just a few years older: she had a great time running around buttering people up for me, (and she got some pretty nice snaps in there, too.) The automation is quite kid-friendly, too, turn to 'Simple Mode' and off they go.

While these models are extendey-lensed superzooms, they have some advantages there, in that if you put a UV on the lens-hood tube, the lens and the works are for all practical purposes closed off, and the hood makes a fair decent bumper: screw a rubber knob or handle on the bottom (I kept a Bogen mini-flex-head down there for my own reasons: this also proved really helpful for her, using the LCD. )

These cameras aren't really made to take punishment, like from rough kids, but don't need babying, and have the fun aspect of looking pretty much just like Serious Big People Things. Something to keep in mind for a while down the road, anyway.
Thanks for those suggestions. You are right, I should look at the cameras targeted at children, too. Time to slog through Ebay!
09-01-2009, 09:15 AM   #8
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One of the water proof/impact proof tough cameras come to mind but for someone so young I dont think the quality matters so much, more the ease of use. I dont see any 4 1/2 year old complaining about noise or sharpness. Some kids that age are happy just with a plastic fake camera that doesnt even take pictures. Its good to go cheap since the chance of loosing or breaking the camera would be high

09-01-2009, 10:32 AM   #9
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APISTO, out of curiosity let us know what your choice will be
09-01-2009, 02:52 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by netuser Quote
APISTO, out of curiosity let us know what your choice will be
Will do!
09-01-2009, 05:29 PM   #11
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Do an ebay search for the Polaroid i733. A nice black camera for a boy (a girl could go with the i735 which is pink). 7 megapixels and tons on ebay for less than or around $50. Others in the Polaroid i series are good buys too. Although, I'm not positive how far the lens extends on them, though. You'll have to check on that, and look for one that's a fixed lens rather than a zoom for one that won't extend at all. This may be tough, as most digital compacts do have some kind of zoom range, albeit smaller ones.

I would not go with a film camera, as kids have little attention span and if they can't see the pictures right away, it's pointless. I would recommend a real camera over a toy one. The half toy, half real cameras are just as expensive (all go for around $35-$60) and have very low megapixels, and very tiny viewing screens on the back.

Last edited by K-9; 09-01-2009 at 05:35 PM.
09-03-2009, 12:25 PM   #12
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The Minolta Xt would fit most of your criteria. The lens zooms vertically inside the camera, the camera is flat and small, and you could find a used one online for very cheap. More info. here Megapixel.net Digital Camera News and Reviews and here DiMAGE Xt | KONICA MINOLTA
09-03-2009, 08:44 PM   #13
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