As I mentioned in my last post we bought Tuesday a second hand digital camera for Christmas. I have done a lot of research on digital cameras for children and the basic consensus is, yes, they are some what indestructible, but the picture quality is terrible. Now, I’m a bit of a picture quality snob, but it’s not just bad by my standards. We’re talking 2 mega pixels max, and that’s for a $60 camera that includes games (Vtech Kidizoom). Needless to say that was not what I was looking for. So I waded through inexpensive digital point and shoots currently on the market. They actually had too many features and were too nice for what I wanted (too nice meaning, Tuesday will not know how to change her shutter speed, so I don’t need that feature). What I finally decided to do was check out digital cameras that were fairly inexpensive about 5-7 years ago. I really wanted one with a viewfinder (as opposed to just composing your shot via the screen on the back), but quickly realized that was going to be out of the $20 limit I had imposed on myself. Also if it could be cute, I knew Tuesday would appreciate it. I settled on the Polaroid i733 circa 2007 (yes, Polaroid brand, no, not an instant camera). Here is the actual auction I won, the camera (in hot pink) cost me $12.99 and shipping was $8.85 so I went a tiny bit over my budget.
day 2: the grocery store
Common problem: finger in front of the lens
Yes, this thing is made for adults. And it was a little tricky for Tuesday to get the hang of. Up until now she’s just stuck camera shaped things in front of her face and pretended to “photography like mama”. But she’s had it for over a week now and besides wanting to get too close to things she’s getting much better. I commonly find things like this on the card:
Pictures of her beloved books.
My favorite one so far:
Bj to Tuesday, “what are you doing?”
Tuesday to Bj, “I”m taking a picture of the dirty potty!”
(more on that to come…)
So let me run down a few pros and cons and then let you in on some tips.
-awesome color, she loves her little pink camera
-minimal buttons on the back make pushing something accidentally very difficult
-adjustable exposure compensation (great if you constantly notice photos too over/under exposed)
-seems pretty durable so far, after all it’s 5 years old and is working great
-easy to find second hand, and the price is super reasonable
-eats batteries for breakfast, lunch and dinner (but her constantly using the flash is a big part of that)
-not designed for children’s hands
-battery compartment can not be screwed shut, so you must trust your child not to open it
-must push down the on button for a second or two (it doesn’t seem like a long time unless you are almost three and want it on NOW)
Some tips and tricks:
-I managed to go through the menu settings and change things to make the camera work much better for us. There are two menus, one that you view from the camera mode and one that you access when viewing a picture (playback mode). Everything I learned about the menus was from playing around, as my camera came with out a manual. I suggest that you:
1.set the date and time, this is totally awesome for seeing what she takes picture of while I think she’s napping!
2.turn off the zoom! I think the camera’s ability to turn off the zoom is a great feature.
3.turn off all beeping/noises except for the shutter release. I found that Tuesday wanted to press the buttons on the back just to get that sound (probably because we don’t have anything else that makes a noise like that). As soon as I turned off the beeps she left those buttons alone.
4.turn on power saving options. Having the camera’s back screen turn off as soon as possible when not in use saves a lot of battery.
5.save your kid some heartache and be in charge of the flash. If you’re going to be outside, turn it off, if you’re going to be in low light turn it on (easily accessible button on the back of the camera.
-I think teaching your child how to use the playback function is great! Tuesday now knows how to push the tiny button on the back to see what she took pictures of, and she knows how to get out of that function to take pictures again.
-Even though the camera didn’t end up costing much, it is still a camera and I believe it should be treated with respect. One of the huge reasons I don’t like the idea of cameras that act like toys (big, plastic, with games, etc.), is that I don’t think they would seem that special to a child. Tuesday certainly thinks her camera is special. I bought a case for it (a funky green one with a wrist strap) that is easy to open and close. She is welcome to take her camera anywhere, but it must be in the case. She can use it anytime she wants, but she has to turn it off when she is done. I have had no problems getting her to follow these “rules” she wants it to keep working after all. My friend asked me how it takes drops, but I don’t know because Tuesday’s never dropped it. Of course she’s only had it for a little over a week, but I’ve found that she has been very careful with it. Tuesday is almost exactly three.
-Let them experiment, and gently guide them to take better pictures. At this point in the game we don’t talk about composition, color, depth of field or anything like that. I’m talking about the basics. Hand placement so fingers are not in front of the lens/flash. Which buttons do what. That getting too close takes blurry photos. I want her to have fun most of all, and if she gets something I can print out for her, or share with friends and family, that’s awesome. Really I want to just cut out frustration by guiding her to get the photo she wants to see. So for example when she’s pointing the camera at Nana and getting photo after photo of feet because she moves at the last minute, I can show her how to be still and aim at Nana’s face. If she pulls away and wants to do her own thing, no problem.
-There really is nothing like seeing your pre-schooler’s view, even if it’s of you un-showered, checking your iPhone in bed 🙂