Recommendations needed: inexpensive kids' camera

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cwsmith's picture
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Recommendations needed: inexpensive kids' camera

Our family will be heading to SoCal this summer for my sister's wedding. I'm looking for an inexpensive digital camera for my daughter, but I have a few questions that the Fritters are best qualified to answer:

• There are lots of variations available in the Disney KidPix line: Hannah Montana, Pirates of the Caribbean, Princesses, and the like. I know that a few years ago, reviews of Disney cameras on Amazon.com seemed to conclude that Disney cameras wouldn't work with Macs: no software, no iPhoto support, wouldn't even show up on the desktop. Is this still the case, or has Disney changed its ways now that Steve is one of the major shareholders?

• There are lots of other cameras available at places like Target or WalMart (don't remember the brand name) which specify Windows support, but make no mention of Mac support. Anybody have any experience with these bargain-brand cameras on Macs, either positive or negative?

• Nickelodeon has a line of kids' digitals, with Dora the Explorer, Diego and other characters, which specify Mac support, but they're three times the price of the KidPix line. Again, anybody have either positive or negative experience with this line?

• Can anyone recommend a particular inexpensive camera that they've used successfully with a Mac? Where might I purchase such a device? What kind of price range can I expect?

I don't particularly want to buy an expensive ($60 or more) camera for my eight-year-old, but I know it's easy to spend a lot of money, $20 at a time, on cameras that won't work. Looking forward to your comments.

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I know that Target is selling

I know that Target is selling some 3.0mp Polaroid digicams for under $50 - I recall seeing one for $25. It looked to take SD memory - so the camera connection wouldn't necessarily be there - just get a card reader. Another option is eBay or craigslist.

I bought a 5.0 mp camera (hp photosmart) for my wife a few months back at the CompUSA "everything must go" sale for $50 including a printer dock. Deals are out there, it's just a matter of looking.

The HP's are pretty durable inexpensive cameras. Then again - my digicam is a digital rebel - so I don't have too much experience with the point and shooters aside from the HP Photosmart cameras that have served me well.

Jon
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One of the issues with the ol

One of the issues with the older cheapos is that they often used non-standard photo formats. I'm sure most have switched to JPEG since, but the super cheap ones with limited storage might still be using proprietary image formats. Anything that uses external storage, as you mention, is likely to use a standard format, I would hope.

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I'll second grabbing one of t

I'll second grabbing one of the old HP cameras. My first digital was an HP, and while short on features, it had a fixed focus which makes it easier to use for young photographers.

One of the problems of the dedicated 'kids' cameras, is their proprietary software and lack of standard card slots. Grab a cheap older digital with SD or CF card, a card reader for your Mac, and you're all set. No need to worry about software compatibility.

In fact, I don't have the included software for my current Canon camera installed. I find it easier to just use a card reader than bother with the fussy, bloated apps that come with the cameras.

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I would look at a used nikon

I would look at a used nikon coolpix. Mine has held up to being dropped many times, has only 3 buttons which makes it easy to use if you don't get into the menus and gives decent pictures with 2.11 mp and even has software that worked in os 9. Also support for it is built in with os X, only downside is that it uses a proprietary connector on the usb cable instead of just a mini-usb plug.

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No "kidpix"

Those little $20 Disney cameras are still nothing but boat anchors (and not very good ones at that) for Mac users. There *is* an experimental Linux driver that works on them (and a number of other cheap/keychain cameras that have similar guts), but that doesn't help you.

For an eight year old girl I'd probably say your best bet is to poke around and see if you can nab a "real" digital camera at a closeout price, *if* you think she's responsible enough to handle something roughly as fragile as, say, a pair of decent binoculars. (Go by the kid's track record, here. Some eight year olds are okay with such things, others you couldn't trust to carry a steel pipe a block without either somehow bending it around a tree or losing it entirely.) Kodak, HP, Samsung, and FujiFilm all make "decent" if somewhat clunky cameras that can be snagged in the $70-$120 price bracket that will take much nicer pictures then any "kiddie" camera.

(Just looking at circuitcity.com they have quite a few digital cameras under $100, including a Samsung S73 (in pink, no less) for $72 and a Fuji FinePix for $90. Both have 3x optical zoom, digital image stabilizers, blawblaw, all the cool stuff kiddie cameras don't have. My old FinePix lasted through six years of thoughtless abuse, including several drops on concrete, so I'd worry more about most kids losing it then breaking it if the newer ones are at all similar.)

If your kid falls into the "can't trust them with anything" category something you might look at is the Argus Bean. Can't vouch for whether it works directly with iPhoto or not but it looks tough, uses standard SD card memory, and goes for about $60. (Note I'm referring to the "grownup" Bean, not the $20 "Sprout", which only has its built-in RAM and seems to use the same Mac-unfriendly guts as all the other little keychain cameras.)

--Peace

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