What Digital Camera Should I buy my Child?

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Olympus-Stylus-720-SwDarren, my son 7 year old son has been showing increasing interest in photography but I’m nervous to let him use my Nikon D80 for fear of it ending up getting damaged. Can you recommend a more suitable digital camera for a 7 year old? – Bill

It sounds like you might have a budding little photographer on your hands Bill.

There are quite a few cameras that might suit your son (with more being released every few months).

I’d recommend that you go for something that is both rugged and easy to use.

One such camera that I had a chance to play with for half an hour was the Olympus Stylus 720SW.

While you’ll find cheaper cameras than the 720SW, this camera is much tougher and is built to withstand being dropped by as much as 1.5 meters. It’s got a rugged metal casing and a lens mechanism that is all built into the camera itself.

Not only this – the Olympus Stylus 720SW is waterproof to a depth of three meters (around 10 feet) and is dust proof.

Olympus also make a nice camera in terms of shot quality as well as ease of use so your son should be able to take some nice shots in Auto mode but also grow into using some of this camera’s more advanced features. It’s got a 7.1 megapixel sensor, 3x optical zoom and comes in three fun colors (blue, pink and silver – OK, two fun ones and silver).

As I say – it’s not a cheap camera and won’t suit everyone’s budget but if it’s robust nature saves you having to replace it every year – in the long run it’ll save you some cash.

If your son loses interest in photography – it’ll also make a nice second camera for you as it’s a reasonably slim and portable one that you’ll find handy on those days when you don’t want to haul around your DSLR.

What digital cameras have DPS readers bought for their children? Do you go for the cheaper ones that you don’t mind getting broken or pay a little extra for a ‘rugged’ one?

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • Brian

    I can only recommend that you don’t get a camera with an operable zoom lens. My 5 year old has also taken to the camera and I too didn’t want to let him get his hands on my D70. We had a Nikon Coolpix 3100 with a zoom lens that moves in and out and he (as I should have anticipated) dropped it on the lens and jammed the motor. I took the camera apart and got the lens to operate sometimes. The rule for that camera is do not try to use the telephoto zoom.

  • I think that’s a decent price for a ruggedized, water proof camera. I might get one myself but I already have the Kodak v610 to fulfill my need for a compact camera. Btw, I really like that my Kodak has 10x zoom and the on-camera panoramic stitching is great as well.

  • Have to be out of your mind to let a 7 year old even near a Nikon D80. I love that camera.

  • I have a daughter who I bought a digital camera for this past Christmas. She was only 4 1/2 at the time, so my thought is go cheap…it will probably get broken. WHAT I LEARNED, that even a young child will be careful with a ‘toy’ they are very interested in AND going cheap on a digital camera is really the waste of money. I spent $40 on a camera that barely worked out of the box, with SLOOOOOWWWW performance and terrible picture quality. I think she’s finally forgiven me for the ‘crappy’ camera mom bought her…maybe. So, I am definitely going to go for quality next time around…will definitely be checking this camera out – also love that it comes in pink. What more could a girl want?!

  • I think the decision of cheaper vs rugged is really dependant on how old the child is.

    I’d be really inclined to go with a cheap or used one for young kids, under 8. 8-12 is kinda midrange, you could go either way.

    12 or up, you want to teach them more about responsibility with the nicer model but you still want it rugged for any accidents.

    Anyone with actual parenting experience wanting to correct me on this? I’m kind of talking out my bottom.

  • avlor

    My son (age 6) is interested in photography too. He and I joined our local camera club together this year. I wasn’t willing to share my rebel XT with him. So, I bought him a Kodak easy share C653 (6 MP). So far we’ve been happy with it. Has alot of ISO range, decent little zoom and options that a small child can understand and some to “grow into”. I think the parent has to look at how well the child takes care of his or her toys to determine what they need for “ruggedness” in a camera.

    I was also was thinking if he loses interest, I’ll “inherit” the camera to put in my purse.

  • This is a little too “childish” for a 7-year-old, but I think the Fisher Price Kid-Tough Camera is a remarkable idea.

    http://www.fisher-price.com/fp.aspx?st=2621&e=mainproduct&acccat=cameracc&mainid=37019&pid=37019

    I wish people would upload more pictures from these cameras to flickr 🙂

  • Len

    Instead of investing in a camera that may be too much for him (and you might not be happy with later on as a “secondary camera”), why not start him off gently with several of the inexpensive “single-use” digital cameras?

    Kids love doing things with their parents – take him out shooting with you at first, then once he understands how to use the camera let him go outside some afternoon (with someone watching discreetly, of course) and shoot whatever he want … I suppose you’ll have to judge from there what else he might or might not be ready for.

    Don’t be too surprised at the results, either … young people don’t see the world the same way we do!

  • mantislee

    My son is 3 years old and has an interest in taking picture since he sees me doing it all the time. I have a Casio Exilim EX-S3 that I got used from eBay, actually when he was born. The camera is extemely rugged, I carry it in the same pocket as my wallet on a daily basis, it has caught a wave or two on the beach by mistake and keeps on ticking. The interface is also very easy to use, fixed focus, auto flash. My son is able to turn the camera on and hit the bigger button to take a picture with ease.

    Only drawback that my son is still learning is how to move his fingers out of the way of the lens, but I’d imagine an 8 year old would figure that out pretty quick.

    Good luck!
    ml

  • I have a 720SW, and it’s a great camera. The kids are constantly running off with it and dropping it — of course, they’re 2 and 4. It’s nice to not get all stressed out over it. It’s also a great camera for me when I go places I can’t take my SLR, especially when it’s raining. It’s small enough to fit in your pocket (not much bigger than most cell phones).

    My kids also have their own camera — it’s the Fisher Price Kid-Tough camera Jess mentions. It’s pretty cool, and even my 2 year-old can use it pretty well. That one’s been dropped more than once too. It’s completely rubber coated and it just kind of bounces around when it hits the floor. Although, it is kind of “childish” for a 7 year-old. Plus the pictures are not of the best quality — but most 2 and 4 year-olds don’t care.

  • Darren,

    Months ago I saw the ScobleShow episode where Robert Scoble and Thomas Hawk hung out with Heather Champ of Flickr and JPG fame. She talked about a bunch of things, but her Polariod thingy got me thinking.

    So I bought a nice new-skool/old-skool Polaroid camera. Yes, it’s not digital but it’s great for my 7 year old. We go on photowalks together and she get’s to ask me questions and I get to help her with the basics. Right now I’m helping her focus on framing her subjects within the correct range and to remain aware of the lighting, (ie: keep the sun behind you)

  • When I was seven, I used a remarkably simple digital camera, the Trendmasters 91062–so simple, in fact, that if you turned it off, you lost the pictures. Technology has changed so much since then (and that was only 7 years ago) that I would recommend my 3rd camera to a child (a 4MP Canon S400) because of its incredible ruggedness and scratch-proof screen. I only just replaced it after about 4 years of use. Just make sure whatever you get comes with some easy-to-use software that’s fun for kids, as was the Ulead software that came with that Trendmasters camera oh-so-many years ago.

  • here is the “child’s perspective”

    My first camera was a fairly good one back in its day, it was one of the first HP digital cameras! Brick size, and about the same weight all for the massive 1MP (kneel to the almighty power of the Megapixel)
    My second one was a Casio EX-Zlim, very nice and stylish, still have it. Now I got a mid level camera, Pana FZ-50, very nice…

    I guess I was a responsible kid, never dropped any of my old cameras. Maybe if I did I would have more cameras under my belt

  • Jim

    I opted for a sub $100 digital for my 8 yr. old daughter this past Christmas. If she drops it is toast. However, I showed her why the strap is there and she dutifully wraps it around her wrist whenever we go out. Works great, she has fun. Everyone is happy.

  • Digital photography is fantastic for children. Having bought very successful cameras for my two and four year-old nephews, I’d say that, rather than buy cameras “for children” (i.e. brightly coloured plastic, fixed focus plastic lenses, and no memory card support and ultra low-res sensors), anything budget AND second-hand/refurb’d/end-of-line from your favourite retailer or on-line auction site is far better.

    If the child in question breaks things all the time, they don’t deserve anything in my book!

    I bought Oli (aged 4) a refurb Olympus C-160 for £35 ($70 but such things are cheaper in the States) and Timmy (his two year-old kid brother) something similar from Oregon Scientific.

    Things to look for: big shutter button, optical viewfinder (especially if the other photographers in the faily are dSLR users), solid lens cover, AA batteries (most kids have a stock of rechargeable for their toys). I’d look for anything 3 megapixels or above – it’s sad when your budding photographer takes a great pic and you can’t even get a 6*4 print out of it.

    My father bought my first, fully manual film SLR when I was seven. I’ve never looked back – but I think I would have learnt so much more if today’s digicams existed back then!

  • Grant

    I bought this camera for my 9 year old for the exact reasons that you mention and it has been a wonderful decision. It takes excellent shots and has survived many bumps and scratches. She even dropped it in the bath once and it survived (in fact the shots she took in the bath are brilliant). I’d give it a 5 star rating out of 5 if you have the budget.

  • When I was 7 years old I had an SLR system, but it was film and not digital. Digital cameras are a lot more breakable and would definately agree with going for a rugged one. Kids with cameras can get some amazingly creative pictures. Some of my best were taken in my childhood.

  • I didn’t have a camera at 7, but when I was 10 I got my first digital camera. Very basic, low MP – it was for a trip I was going on with school. That’s where my interest for photography started. (Now 15 with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7, want to go for the Canon 400D (Rebel XTI).

    Agree that it has to be rugged – a friend has the Olympus 720W and it’s a very nice camera, the price is a little bit more but it’s worth it IMO.

  • Patty

    I bought my first SLR when I was about 13 – a friend wanted to sell it, I dropped it — voila! It was mine! (It broke only the light metering system, so I bought an extrenal and all was great.)

    My daughters have always gotten my more simple cameras as I upgrade – so they’ve gone through a bunch and, as I have evolved, they have evolved as well. The last one was a Canon PowerShot, which my youngest took everywhere with her, until our last trip to Japan, where our hosts asked if they could gift her with a Canon IXY model that wasn’t even released in North America yet – chocolate and gold. And that has been a wonderful camera for her too! The ability to make a short movie is geat for kids too!

  • While I don’t have kids myself, I work for a school district, and am responsible for purchasing digital cameras for several elementary schools. Basically, take the abuse a camera would get with one kid and multiply it by 25, and you’ve got the situation.

    There is a balance to maintain between price and quality. If you’re only shooting snapshots and using the images in PowerPoint, for simple prints, etc., kids can be very forgiving about image quality. If you’re trying to teach the finer aspects of photography, that’s another matter. We test drove some really cheap ($15) cameras, and found them to be completely unsuitable. These things ate batteries, and the replacement costs as they failed (constantly) would have easily added up to the cost of a better camera. Add to that the fact that half the images were unusable. At $15, you don’t get an LCD preview.

    I think the suggestions made here are excellent, and these have been proven as I’ve made purchases for my schools.

  • Rick

    My daughter finds herself content with my old CoolPix 4200. She is always pretty conscious of the camera and is careful to treat it properly.

    But, being my daughter I know the day is coming that a clumsy moment will come at the worst possible time and the camera may or may not survive it. Until then, she cranks out really good shots with it and she seems to be having fun. And for me, that is all that matters.

  • My parents got all three of my kids digital camera for this last Christmas.

    I’m going othave to second the “Don’t go too cheap” mindset of a few other commentors. All three were kind of off brand cameras but they got the oldest one (10) that was “less cheap” since she’s more likely to take care of it. I don’t recall the brand or type but it’s a pretty decent little camera.

    The other two on the other hand got these cheap models. The screen is tiny, the battery life sucks (two pics off of my rechargeable AAA batteries) and the quality is pretty bad. Alsot he interface is confusing. The youngest (6) doesn’t seem to care as much about the cheap camera being cheap, she loves it but my son went through a period of frustrated anger over his camera.

    His seems to work less effectively than my daughter’s despite being the same camera but at the same time he tends to have less patience and attention for things and I showed him how he needs to hold the camera steady until ti actually finished taking the picture and told him not to use the flash since it tended to white out everything and he’s a little less mad at the camera.

    Still, they only hold about 12 pictures and I thing the memory whipes itself out when the batteries are removed.

    Anyway, the moral is, don’t go too cheap.

    After a bit of research, this is the camera my older daughter got.
    http://www.dxgtech.com/product_jpg/DCC561.jpg

  • Aim

    I bought my 5 yr old the Fisher Price camera for Christmas and she loves it. it is really tough and takes decent pictures. good for learning.

  • Julie GV

    The Olympus Stylus 720 is a nice camera, I have bought the 770 which goes 30 feet (10m) underwater and it fits my most of my needs. The good part about this camera for a child it the freedom to configure the camera. It offers many funcitonality and mode to get your child to familiarize with advanced condepts of photography. (It only misses f-stop and the time the aperture stays open)

    It’s a great camera which even you might have fun to play with for its underwater functionality 😛

  • Last Christmas we bought my wife’s little sister (13) a camera: the cheapest half-decent one we could find, a bottom of the range Nikon.

    It hasn’t left her side since Christmas day and a few weeks later we were forced to go buy a set of nimhs and a charger.

    She loves it, it was cheap, and if she trashes it, no big loss (though she doesn’t get told that of course, and she does look after it, wonderful kid that she is.).

    Our call therefore would be: first kid’s camera – go cheap and cheerful, expect it to get trashed. Its only got to live a year after which it can be replaced with something good or binned as appropriate.

  • My brother is four (almost five) and i’ve been teaching him how to focus manually with my Canon Rebel XT. He’s very interested in learning and improving quickly. Although he is super careful and knows not to touch the glass, i’ve been thinking of getting him

  • My brother is four (almost five) and i’ve been teaching him how to focus manually with my Canon Rebel XT. He’s very interested in learning and improving quickly, as well as taking. Although he is super careful and knows not to touch the glass, i’ve been thinking of getting him his own camera, so i don’t have to share mine (i’m away a lot anyways), but the problem is that i still want to teach him all out the manual parts of cameras, and if i don’t get him an SLR i won’t be able to as much as i’d like. i’m considering, though, to someday upgrade to the Canon 5D and just give him my XT. i’ll just have to wait and see if that’s even possible on my budget.

  • teomat

    Could not spend that much cash on a seven year old. Not a particularly good choice of camera there purely due to the cost. a fuji finepix 1300 1.3megapixel would be more than enough and at has to be one of the cheapest second-hand cameras on the market.

    Nearly $300 on a camera for a 7 yr old? Ouch!

  • Vic

    I have handed down my first digital camera to my grand-daughter (9 year). It’s a Kodak DC3200, 1.3 meg pixel. She has taken resonable snaps and because it’s simple and it’s easy to use. I hope she will graduate to a bigger and better digcam soon. On Oplympus 720SW, there was a good article in Australian Photography, March 2007 on the same subject “Kid’s Digicam” by P A Greco in Q&A.

  • I wouldn’t mind if my 7 year old played around with the Nikon D70, but she not allowed anywhere near my Canon 30D 🙂

    Seriously this is a great article and subsequent comments are great. I’m hoping to convince my wife to let me buy a camera for my daughter, but there is still some convincing to do. cheers/peter

  • Jay

    I tend to change digital cameras more than most people, so I usually will give my son (11 years old) the old camera. Recently, I bought a Canon A80 very cheap and used it as the camera I carried everywhere – then I bought the Olympus 770SW for my daily camera. I gave the A80 to my son. First time he used it, it got dropped in 5′ of water. Had I known they were going to a lake, the 770SW would have been the better choice!

  • Ken Mason

    I finally let my 8 year old grandson use my Pentax WG-2, it’s indestructible and trust me he has put it to the test! He has dropped it off the balcony (about 10 feet up), left it in the rain and has used it in sub freezing weather. His pics aren’t to bad since the only lesson we’ve had was on composition.

Some Older Comments

  • Ken Mason February 2, 2013 01:13 am

    I finally let my 8 year old grandson use my Pentax WG-2, it's indestructible and trust me he has put it to the test! He has dropped it off the balcony (about 10 feet up), left it in the rain and has used it in sub freezing weather. His pics aren't to bad since the only lesson we've had was on composition.

  • Jay May 30, 2007 12:48 am

    I tend to change digital cameras more than most people, so I usually will give my son (11 years old) the old camera. Recently, I bought a Canon A80 very cheap and used it as the camera I carried everywhere - then I bought the Olympus 770SW for my daily camera. I gave the A80 to my son. First time he used it, it got dropped in 5' of water. Had I known they were going to a lake, the 770SW would have been the better choice!

  • Peter Emmett April 20, 2007 06:29 pm

    I wouldn't mind if my 7 year old played around with the Nikon D70, but she not allowed anywhere near my Canon 30D :-)

    Seriously this is a great article and subsequent comments are great. I'm hoping to convince my wife to let me buy a camera for my daughter, but there is still some convincing to do. cheers/peter

  • Vic April 20, 2007 04:13 pm

    I have handed down my first digital camera to my grand-daughter (9 year). It's a Kodak DC3200, 1.3 meg pixel. She has taken resonable snaps and because it's simple and it's easy to use. I hope she will graduate to a bigger and better digcam soon. On Oplympus 720SW, there was a good article in Australian Photography, March 2007 on the same subject "Kid's Digicam" by P A Greco in Q&A.

  • teomat April 20, 2007 03:38 pm

    Could not spend that much cash on a seven year old. Not a particularly good choice of camera there purely due to the cost. a fuji finepix 1300 1.3megapixel would be more than enough and at has to be one of the cheapest second-hand cameras on the market.

    Nearly $300 on a camera for a 7 yr old? Ouch!

  • madelaine April 20, 2007 12:27 pm

    My brother is four (almost five) and i've been teaching him how to focus manually with my Canon Rebel XT. He's very interested in learning and improving quickly, as well as taking. Although he is super careful and knows not to touch the glass, i've been thinking of getting him his own camera, so i don't have to share mine (i'm away a lot anyways), but the problem is that i still want to teach him all out the manual parts of cameras, and if i don't get him an SLR i won't be able to as much as i'd like. i'm considering, though, to someday upgrade to the Canon 5D and just give him my XT. i'll just have to wait and see if that's even possible on my budget.

  • madelaine April 20, 2007 12:22 pm

    My brother is four (almost five) and i've been teaching him how to focus manually with my Canon Rebel XT. He's very interested in learning and improving quickly. Although he is super careful and knows not to touch the glass, i've been thinking of getting him

  • Ian Worthington April 20, 2007 09:35 am

    Last Christmas we bought my wife's little sister (13) a camera: the cheapest half-decent one we could find, a bottom of the range Nikon.

    It hasn't left her side since Christmas day and a few weeks later we were forced to go buy a set of nimhs and a charger.

    She loves it, it was cheap, and if she trashes it, no big loss (though she doesn't get told that of course, and she does look after it, wonderful kid that she is.).

    Our call therefore would be: first kid's camera - go cheap and cheerful, expect it to get trashed. Its only got to live a year after which it can be replaced with something good or binned as appropriate.

  • Julie GV April 20, 2007 05:11 am

    The Olympus Stylus 720 is a nice camera, I have bought the 770 which goes 30 feet (10m) underwater and it fits my most of my needs. The good part about this camera for a child it the freedom to configure the camera. It offers many funcitonality and mode to get your child to familiarize with advanced condepts of photography. (It only misses f-stop and the time the aperture stays open)

    It's a great camera which even you might have fun to play with for its underwater functionality :P

  • Aim April 20, 2007 01:17 am

    I bought my 5 yr old the Fisher Price camera for Christmas and she loves it. it is really tough and takes decent pictures. good for learning.

  • Josh Miller April 19, 2007 11:46 pm

    My parents got all three of my kids digital camera for this last Christmas.

    I'm going othave to second the "Don't go too cheap" mindset of a few other commentors. All three were kind of off brand cameras but they got the oldest one (10) that was "less cheap" since she's more likely to take care of it. I don't recall the brand or type but it's a pretty decent little camera.

    The other two on the other hand got these cheap models. The screen is tiny, the battery life sucks (two pics off of my rechargeable AAA batteries) and the quality is pretty bad. Alsot he interface is confusing. The youngest (6) doesn't seem to care as much about the cheap camera being cheap, she loves it but my son went through a period of frustrated anger over his camera.

    His seems to work less effectively than my daughter's despite being the same camera but at the same time he tends to have less patience and attention for things and I showed him how he needs to hold the camera steady until ti actually finished taking the picture and told him not to use the flash since it tended to white out everything and he's a little less mad at the camera.

    Still, they only hold about 12 pictures and I thing the memory whipes itself out when the batteries are removed.

    Anyway, the moral is, don't go too cheap.

    After a bit of research, this is the camera my older daughter got.
    http://www.dxgtech.com/product_jpg/DCC561.jpg

  • Rick April 19, 2007 09:58 pm

    My daughter finds herself content with my old CoolPix 4200. She is always pretty conscious of the camera and is careful to treat it properly.

    But, being my daughter I know the day is coming that a clumsy moment will come at the worst possible time and the camera may or may not survive it. Until then, she cranks out really good shots with it and she seems to be having fun. And for me, that is all that matters.

  • Tom aka RandomConnections April 19, 2007 08:59 pm

    While I don't have kids myself, I work for a school district, and am responsible for purchasing digital cameras for several elementary schools. Basically, take the abuse a camera would get with one kid and multiply it by 25, and you've got the situation.

    There is a balance to maintain between price and quality. If you're only shooting snapshots and using the images in PowerPoint, for simple prints, etc., kids can be very forgiving about image quality. If you're trying to teach the finer aspects of photography, that's another matter. We test drove some really cheap ($15) cameras, and found them to be completely unsuitable. These things ate batteries, and the replacement costs as they failed (constantly) would have easily added up to the cost of a better camera. Add to that the fact that half the images were unusable. At $15, you don't get an LCD preview.

    I think the suggestions made here are excellent, and these have been proven as I've made purchases for my schools.

  • Patty April 19, 2007 11:04 am

    I bought my first SLR when I was about 13 - a friend wanted to sell it, I dropped it -- voila! It was mine! (It broke only the light metering system, so I bought an extrenal and all was great.)

    My daughters have always gotten my more simple cameras as I upgrade - so they've gone through a bunch and, as I have evolved, they have evolved as well. The last one was a Canon PowerShot, which my youngest took everywhere with her, until our last trip to Japan, where our hosts asked if they could gift her with a Canon IXY model that wasn't even released in North America yet - chocolate and gold. And that has been a wonderful camera for her too! The ability to make a short movie is geat for kids too!

  • Matt April 19, 2007 10:01 am

    I didn't have a camera at 7, but when I was 10 I got my first digital camera. Very basic, low MP - it was for a trip I was going on with school. That's where my interest for photography started. (Now 15 with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7, want to go for the Canon 400D (Rebel XTI).

    Agree that it has to be rugged - a friend has the Olympus 720W and it's a very nice camera, the price is a little bit more but it's worth it IMO.

  • Ed O'Keeffe April 19, 2007 09:41 am

    When I was 7 years old I had an SLR system, but it was film and not digital. Digital cameras are a lot more breakable and would definately agree with going for a rugged one. Kids with cameras can get some amazingly creative pictures. Some of my best were taken in my childhood.

  • Grant April 19, 2007 08:52 am

    I bought this camera for my 9 year old for the exact reasons that you mention and it has been a wonderful decision. It takes excellent shots and has survived many bumps and scratches. She even dropped it in the bath once and it survived (in fact the shots she took in the bath are brilliant). I'd give it a 5 star rating out of 5 if you have the budget.

  • Puplet April 19, 2007 08:51 am

    Digital photography is fantastic for children. Having bought very successful cameras for my two and four year-old nephews, I'd say that, rather than buy cameras "for children" (i.e. brightly coloured plastic, fixed focus plastic lenses, and no memory card support and ultra low-res sensors), anything budget AND second-hand/refurb'd/end-of-line from your favourite retailer or on-line auction site is far better.

    If the child in question breaks things all the time, they don't deserve anything in my book!

    I bought Oli (aged 4) a refurb Olympus C-160 for £35 ($70 but such things are cheaper in the States) and Timmy (his two year-old kid brother) something similar from Oregon Scientific.

    Things to look for: big shutter button, optical viewfinder (especially if the other photographers in the faily are dSLR users), solid lens cover, AA batteries (most kids have a stock of rechargeable for their toys). I'd look for anything 3 megapixels or above - it's sad when your budding photographer takes a great pic and you can't even get a 6*4 print out of it.

    My father bought my first, fully manual film SLR when I was seven. I've never looked back - but I think I would have learnt so much more if today's digicams existed back then!

  • Jim April 19, 2007 08:43 am

    I opted for a sub $100 digital for my 8 yr. old daughter this past Christmas. If she drops it is toast. However, I showed her why the strap is there and she dutifully wraps it around her wrist whenever we go out. Works great, she has fun. Everyone is happy.

  • mike April 19, 2007 08:41 am

    here is the "child's perspective"

    My first camera was a fairly good one back in its day, it was one of the first HP digital cameras! Brick size, and about the same weight all for the massive 1MP (kneel to the almighty power of the Megapixel)
    My second one was a Casio EX-Zlim, very nice and stylish, still have it. Now I got a mid level camera, Pana FZ-50, very nice...

    I guess I was a responsible kid, never dropped any of my old cameras. Maybe if I did I would have more cameras under my belt

  • Nick Aldwin April 19, 2007 07:59 am

    When I was seven, I used a remarkably simple digital camera, the Trendmasters 91062--so simple, in fact, that if you turned it off, you lost the pictures. Technology has changed so much since then (and that was only 7 years ago) that I would recommend my 3rd camera to a child (a 4MP Canon S400) because of its incredible ruggedness and scratch-proof screen. I only just replaced it after about 4 years of use. Just make sure whatever you get comes with some easy-to-use software that's fun for kids, as was the Ulead software that came with that Trendmasters camera oh-so-many years ago.

  • Trevor Carpenter April 19, 2007 07:59 am

    Darren,

    Months ago I saw the ScobleShow episode where Robert Scoble and Thomas Hawk hung out with Heather Champ of Flickr and JPG fame. She talked about a bunch of things, but her Polariod thingy got me thinking.

    So I bought a nice new-skool/old-skool Polaroid camera. Yes, it's not digital but it's great for my 7 year old. We go on photowalks together and she get's to ask me questions and I get to help her with the basics. Right now I'm helping her focus on framing her subjects within the correct range and to remain aware of the lighting, (ie: keep the sun behind you)

  • Brian Auer April 19, 2007 06:00 am

    I have a 720SW, and it's a great camera. The kids are constantly running off with it and dropping it -- of course, they're 2 and 4. It's nice to not get all stressed out over it. It's also a great camera for me when I go places I can't take my SLR, especially when it's raining. It's small enough to fit in your pocket (not much bigger than most cell phones).

    My kids also have their own camera -- it's the Fisher Price Kid-Tough camera Jess mentions. It's pretty cool, and even my 2 year-old can use it pretty well. That one's been dropped more than once too. It's completely rubber coated and it just kind of bounces around when it hits the floor. Although, it is kind of "childish" for a 7 year-old. Plus the pictures are not of the best quality -- but most 2 and 4 year-olds don't care.

  • mantislee April 19, 2007 05:44 am

    My son is 3 years old and has an interest in taking picture since he sees me doing it all the time. I have a Casio Exilim EX-S3 that I got used from eBay, actually when he was born. The camera is extemely rugged, I carry it in the same pocket as my wallet on a daily basis, it has caught a wave or two on the beach by mistake and keeps on ticking. The interface is also very easy to use, fixed focus, auto flash. My son is able to turn the camera on and hit the bigger button to take a picture with ease.

    Only drawback that my son is still learning is how to move his fingers out of the way of the lens, but I'd imagine an 8 year old would figure that out pretty quick.

    Good luck!
    ml

  • Len April 19, 2007 05:41 am

    Instead of investing in a camera that may be too much for him (and you might not be happy with later on as a "secondary camera"), why not start him off gently with several of the inexpensive "single-use" digital cameras?

    Kids love doing things with their parents - take him out shooting with you at first, then once he understands how to use the camera let him go outside some afternoon (with someone watching discreetly, of course) and shoot whatever he want ... I suppose you'll have to judge from there what else he might or might not be ready for.

    Don't be too surprised at the results, either ... young people don't see the world the same way we do!

  • Jess April 19, 2007 05:03 am

    This is a little too "childish" for a 7-year-old, but I think the Fisher Price Kid-Tough Camera is a remarkable idea.

    http://www.fisher-price.com/fp.aspx?st=2621&e=mainproduct&acccat=cameracc&mainid=37019&pid=37019

    I wish people would upload more pictures from these cameras to flickr :)

  • avlor April 19, 2007 04:56 am

    My son (age 6) is interested in photography too. He and I joined our local camera club together this year. I wasn't willing to share my rebel XT with him. So, I bought him a Kodak easy share C653 (6 MP). So far we've been happy with it. Has alot of ISO range, decent little zoom and options that a small child can understand and some to "grow into". I think the parent has to look at how well the child takes care of his or her toys to determine what they need for "ruggedness" in a camera.

    I was also was thinking if he loses interest, I'll "inherit" the camera to put in my purse.

  • Andrew Ferguson April 19, 2007 04:44 am

    I think the decision of cheaper vs rugged is really dependant on how old the child is.

    I'd be really inclined to go with a cheap or used one for young kids, under 8. 8-12 is kinda midrange, you could go either way.

    12 or up, you want to teach them more about responsibility with the nicer model but you still want it rugged for any accidents.

    Anyone with actual parenting experience wanting to correct me on this? I'm kind of talking out my bottom.

  • Jill April 19, 2007 04:42 am

    I have a daughter who I bought a digital camera for this past Christmas. She was only 4 1/2 at the time, so my thought is go cheap...it will probably get broken. WHAT I LEARNED, that even a young child will be careful with a 'toy' they are very interested in AND going cheap on a digital camera is really the waste of money. I spent $40 on a camera that barely worked out of the box, with SLOOOOOWWWW performance and terrible picture quality. I think she's finally forgiven me for the 'crappy' camera mom bought her...maybe. So, I am definitely going to go for quality next time around...will definitely be checking this camera out - also love that it comes in pink. What more could a girl want?!

  • Roger Bourland April 19, 2007 04:39 am

    Have to be out of your mind to let a 7 year old even near a Nikon D80. I love that camera.

  • Raoul April 19, 2007 04:20 am

    I think that's a decent price for a ruggedized, water proof camera. I might get one myself but I already have the Kodak v610 to fulfill my need for a compact camera. Btw, I really like that my Kodak has 10x zoom and the on-camera panoramic stitching is great as well.

  • Brian April 19, 2007 03:53 am

    I can only recommend that you don't get a camera with an operable zoom lens. My 5 year old has also taken to the camera and I too didn't want to let him get his hands on my D70. We had a Nikon Coolpix 3100 with a zoom lens that moves in and out and he (as I should have anticipated) dropped it on the lens and jammed the motor. I took the camera apart and got the lens to operate sometimes. The rule for that camera is do not try to use the telephoto zoom.

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