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Buying a Digital Camera for Kids

How to Choose Just the Right Camera

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Buying a Digital Camera for Kids

Learning to Use a Camera

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Most kids are fascinated by digital cameras. Capturing a friend or family member in a still shot is a lot of fun and, as photographers know, taking pictures can help you view your world in different ways. This guide is designed to help you choose the best type of digital camera for your child. It is broken down into three sections, or stages, that describe what type of photography experience a child is looking for. The age guidelines are simply there as a starting point. Kids progress in their own timeframes, and some will be more interested in “serious photography” than others.

Stage 1 – Toddler through Early Elementary

What They Like About Photography:

  • Turning the camera on and off on their own
  • The cause and effect of pushing a button and having something happen
  • Seeing someone or something through an LCD display
  • Seeing themselves on the display or in a picture
  • Doing things like Mom and Dad

The Types of Pictures You Can Expect to See:

  • Pictures of the floor, the ceiling or partial shots of people and objects
  • Multiple pictures of the same person or object

What to Look For in a Camera:

  • Since Stage 1 usually applies to younger kids, you’ll want a sturdy camera designed for small hands
  • Completely automated features, including flash and focus
  • A picture resolution/storage space combination that can hold a lot of photos
  • Controls that are easy to use and understand

Stage 2 – Early Elementary through Middle School

What They Like About Photography:

  • Capturing favorite things, people and places
  • Capturing memories, such as vacations, field trips, birthday parties
  • Being trusted with a digital camera of their own
  • Printing pictures or using them for cards, journals and scrapbooks

The Types of Pictures You Can Expect to See:

  • Posed and candid shots of friends, pets and family members (be prepared for a lot of pictures of you!)
  • A lot of pictures from each life event, including field trips, vacations and parties
  • Some “glamour shots” of themselves posing with friends or doing silly things

What to Look For in a Camera:

  • Easy to use and understand
  • Sturdy and inexpensive, in case it is dropped, lost or stolen
  • Mostly automated features, but some control over things like the flash and zoom
  • Good resolution (clear photos), but not so high that the pictures eat up storage space
  • Just for fun: special effects, such as captions, clip art, etc.
  • Customizable camera cases and straps for the fashion-conscious

Stage 3 – Middle School and Older

What They Like About Photography:

  • Capturing friends and favorite places/ items
  • Exploring sense of self with self-portraits and photos with friends
  • Self-expression and a creative outlet
  • Editing photos and possibly creating scrapbooks, collages and journals
  • Printing photos, using them on web pages or otherwise sharing them

The Types of Pictures You Can Expect to See:

  • A lot of group shots, particularly of friends
  • More artistic pictures of nature, architecture and people
  • Self portraits, either alone or with friends, that display different aspects of their personality.
  • Expect to see more expressions of sexuality in the photographs as that is an important part of exploration for this age group.

What to Look For in a Camera:

  • A reasonably priced, “adult” camera
  • Control over flash and zoom and possibly other more advanced features
  • Some kids may still enjoy customizable faceplates or “fashion” cameras
  • Mostly automated features, unless they are showing a more serious interest in photography
  • Expandable memory options
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