A first camera for kids (& a look at Hudson’s first travel photos)

The requirements for kids’ cameras are fairly universal: drop-proof, waterproof, easy-to-use, and well-priced.

We did a lot of research and landed on the Nikon Coolpix W100 Underwater camera. It’s a real camera that works well for kids, rather than a toy, but I think it’s worth spending a bit more if your child wants real pictures.

We wanted something very simple to use—easy-to-touch buttons, not too many bells and whistles—and it has fit the bill. It’s an entry-level digital camera that will actually take clear photos, but it’s intuitive. It’s also Wifi compatible, which is nice even if your grade-schooler won’t be sharing photos on social media. It just means you can see what they’re capturing more easily—or send them to be printed right away.

I especially like that Hudson can easily take videos. His narration is priceless. As for other features? I like that there aren’t too many. Remember that most of us don’t use all of the features our cameras offer. Even zoom is secondary, as they’ll get better pictures if they just move with their body.

It can be taken down to 33 feet and comes in handy for snorkeling, but it also fit the bill when Hudson would try drinking from a fountain in Rome and come back soaked from the chin down. And it’s shockproof, too! He never intentionally threw it against a wall, but he came close a few times when his “flossing” got a little too vigorous at the Vatican.

This could be a quick post, simply to recommend the Coolpix, and give you a few reasons why, but I’d love to share some of Hudson’s photos over the years and share some of our experience with his having a camera…

We first gave Hudson a camera—a little VTech KidiZoom—before our first trip to Italy. He filled up its 800-photo memory card in a matter of days, mostly with blurry shots of pigeons and statues, of cobblestone streets and shoes. It’s fun to see what really grabbed his attention.

This one of bronzed, fabulous legs in platform heels was my personal favorite. As with any amateur photographer, shoes and selfies of his own feet figure prominently in his portfolio.

The Vtech KidiZoom is fun for a preschooler—it’s chunky and easy to operate, and it lets them experiment with how they observe the world and make images, which makes it a popular option for a first camera. There’s just 256MB of built-in memory, but VTech adds a built-in microSD card rear with capacity from 1-32GB cards. It also has an auto shut-off to save battery life. I wish it didn’t have games, however, and the images aren’t good enough for older kids who actually want to produce the kind of results they see in books or magazines.

Months later, in Mexico City, we loaned an old point-and-shoot, adding a silicone casing, and the results were a lot more fun.

I love the combination of images—extremely edited down, mind-you—that show our travels from a completely different perspective. As for adjustments, I just usually increase the contrast in all of his photos.

For Thailand, he used our old Canon Powershot. It was a good solution, especially when we added a neck strap rather than a wrist-one. He was far less likely to set it down somewhere and walk off without it. I highly recommend adding one.

His photos are wonderful! He often used the camera as a way to interact with people and I was amazed at how many more portraits he took than I ever do. These are just a few of what we discovered…

(He even got the guard to wink at him!)

Of course there were feet, too. And food, and animals, and advertisements…

Since then, we’ve done more research to find just the right camera for him, at nearly age 7.

And that led us to the Nikon Coolpix W100 Underwater camera, which was his Christmas present from us this last year.

First, he brought it along to New Mexico.

And then to Italy! (Where, I just noticed, he’s wearing red salt water sandals again!)

I’ve just about finished downloading all of the pictures and hope to work on the travelogue from that trip in the coming week, and watching Hudson’s videos and seeing his pictures (yes, even one dispatch from the toilet), has been such a treat!

Of course, you don’t need to be traveling to enjoy experimenting with photography. It would be wonderful to see the places around you, that you’re accustomed to seeing every day, through their eyes.

Have you got any tips about choosing a first camera to add? 

P.S. Travel journaling with kids.


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