Friday, August 11th, 2006
Review: Kid Tough Digital Camera by Fisher-Price
My daughter began taking pictures with moderate success a couple months ago, shortly after her second birthday. She has been using adult compact digital cameras.
After I wrote a post, Digital Photography for a Two-Year-Old, a reader alerted me to a new digital camera for children. The idea of a kid-friendly camera offering instant gratification with an LCD screen was too much to pass up. I bought. My daughter played. I tested. There is a lot to love and hate about Fisher-Price’s Kid Tough Digital Camera.
You press a power button next to the 1.3 inch LCD screen, grab the camera’s two big rubber handle grips, put your eyes up to two viewfinder windows, frame your shot, and click the shutter button with your right index finger. Your picture appears on the LCD. That’s it.
The camera stores about 60 images in 8MB internal memory. Additional storage is possible via an SD memory card slot. While changing out the AA batteries, a tiny pen-type
battery retains images stored in the 8MB internal memory so that they
are not lost.
The camera comes with PhotoShow Deluxe image management software, though I did not use it. I just plugged in the USB cord and copied the images to
- The camera’s design is superb. The camera is rated for 3-year-olds, but my 26-month-old daughter was taking pictures in seconds. The handle grips are perfectly placed. Snapping pictures is fast enough for a kid, with a shutter sound to tell the child the picture was captured. The photo displays on the LCD for a few seconds and then disappears with a beep.
- The camera is auto-everything, including its flash. A child only has to point and shoot.
- Pictures are easily reviewed with two arrow buttons next to the LCD screen, along with a delete button. My daughter doesn’t use these controls yet, though for a brief period she enjoyed hitting the delete button.
- The USB port for downloading images is behind a sliding tab, a design I wish would replace the rubber end caps on my adult cameras.
- A wrist strap is built into the base.
- The camera’s sturdy design accommodates drops, dings and bangs, or so I assume. That’s one of the camera’s selling points.
- The picture quality is very poor. The image resolution is a lowly 640×480 pixels. When my daughter captures images, they are significantly distorted, even when using the flash. Camera shake is an issue for her, but even when I capture images they are very soft. Some of the focus issue is likely due to the camera’s fixed lens (it’s sort of like using a disposable camera). Our indoor pictures were especially grainy and dark, even with the flash, unless taken next to a window (though I realize now I didn’t include really bad ones in my samples below). Outdoor images suffered from severely blown highlights (bright or shiny objects become white).
- The LCD playback display is low quality. You can discern outlines and major features, but it is very grainy and I found it unusable outdoors.
- The camera uses 4 AA batteries in a compartment secured with two screws. It’s a shame the camera doesn’t have a battery which is rechargeable from within the camera. At the very least, the battery compartment should be made child-proof without screws. Who wants to pack a screwdriver for a day at the beach?
|My daughter’s photos (click to see unedited originals):|
P.S. If you’re wondering why I never mentioned my Italian greyhound before, it’s because the folks pictured are friends.
|My photos (click to see unedited originals):|
Fisher-Price dramatically misunderstood its customers. My daughter would be happy with a non-functional toy camera that beeps. For a $70 toy camera, the real customers to satisfy are the parents.
The promise of digital photography is its ability to empower novices to
take good pictures by just pointing and shooting. It’s so easy a
toddler can do it, and so a toddler’s photos should look just as good. I want at least 50 percent of shots my daughter takes to be technically fit, even if she’s aiming at our cat’s butt.
Parents who would pay $70 for a kid camera would pay $100 for a vastly improved one. A fanatic like me would pay $200 or even $300 for a rechargeable-in-camera battery, improved focus and color, anti-shake technology and higher resolution output.
I want to hang my daughter’s pictures in my home. I want to show them off and encourage her interest in the art form. Unfortunately, this camera is a poor solution, with images printable at 4"x6" at most, and even then, not so nice. We’ve had the camera for a week and I waffle every day as to whether I’m going to return it to the store. I’m confident my daughter could master the controls of an adult compact digital camera within the year.
Am I too harsh? Would the average parent be happy with fuzzy, dark or off-color images? Yes, if Amazon reviews of these blue and pink cameras are any indication. For the first edition of this camera, I suppose it’s not too bad. My daughter was just born too early.
Buying note: Despite my review, some of you will say, "Hey, that’s still a cool camera!" So, be aware I found Target brick ‘n’ mortar stores selling a red edition of the camera (unlike pink and blue versions I see online) and packaged it with a bonus 32 MB SD card to compliment the camera’s internal memory, all for the same $70 price tag.