How do I choose a cheap kid-friendly digital camera?

Summary: It’s easy to find an inexpensive, decent quality, kid friendly digital camera if you search for one with these few popular options and features.

Recently, a friend of mine asked about recommendations for a digital camera for kids. My young daughter has owned a few digital cameras in the past few years, so in this article I’ll describe the configuration that has worked out the best for us and for her.

So, these are the features I look for in a digital camera for kids:

1) For kids, you’ll want to choose a digital camera that does *not* have a motorized optical zoom, but a fixed lens instead. Fixed lens cameras are more likely to survive bumps and drops than are motorized zoom cameras. A motorized optical zoom lens is the kind of lens that protrudes from a camera’s body when the camera power is switched on.

2) There are several reasons I’ll suggest that you should choose a digital camera that uses regular AA batteries. Most importantly at a couple dollars each, AA batteries are cheap compared to proprietary batteries for some digital cameras. Also, If you decide to take your digital camera at the last moment, you won’t have to worry whether or not you’ve charged your camera batttry, since you can buy AA batteries at just about any store. In our family’s digital cameras, we typically use rechargeable Nickel-metal hydride AA batteries which can be recharged hundreds of times for pennies per charge.

3) Choose a digital camera that stores pictures on an SD flash memory card because SD cards are cheap compared to many other storage media. If you shop on the Internet, you can find some SD cards that can hold hundreds of high quality pictures for as little as several dollars each. Also, With an inexpensive SD-to-USB adapter, kids can easily move pictures from the computer’s SD card to their computer’s hard drive without the hassle of cables.

4) You’ll want a digital camera that has both an optical viewfinder and an LCD screen. An optical viewfinder is desirable because sometimes the bright outdoor sunlight washes out the LCD and makes it unusable for composing your picture.

Here’s a 3 Megapixel refurbished HP camera for $50:

The price is right and it meets the criteria above.

The description from Computer Surplus says this cameral will accept up to 128MB SD cards but other sources on the ‘net say it can be expanded to 512MB.

Chuck Eglinton

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