What is the best camera for a kid? This is a common question many people ask, and whilst there are differing views on the subject, and since this question recently arose in my own family I thought I would take time out and let you know what I consider is the best camera for a kid, and the reasons why – via a little story (that is real life)…………….
My 13 year old nephew has been using a phone to take photos and has decided that phonetography isn’t up to snuff, and wants to invest in a proper digital camera to take decent photos, and with thousands of different types of digital camera to choose from he is more than confused on what would be best, and not end up being a waste of money.
Since my nephew has an interest in learning how to take photos, as opposed to taking snaps, my instant thought was to leave the point and shoot cameras well alone. I appreciate there are some top end point and shoot cameras offering aperture priority mode, shutter priority mode, full manual mode and a host of other advanced features that are more than capable of capturing some stunning photos, like the Canon G1X I have as a backup, but I would never recommend learning the art of digital photography with one. The top end point and shoot cameras are just too fiddly.
Rather than buying a point and shoot camera, and then trading it in for a budget interchangeable lens mirrorless camera, and then trading that in for a dslr camera the best thing is to jump straight in with the dslr camera. I mean, what’s the point in spending all that money on cameras only to trade them in (and suffer a big loss on each) when you can save your cash and get what you need right off the bat? Buying a dslr camera was a no brainer.
I shoot Canon dslr cameras and always have done, so over the years I have made a significant investment in Canon branded photography equipment. Sine I shoot Canon I was keen for my nephew to shoot with a Canon 750D or something similar (at least initially) so he didn’t have to go and spend a lot of money on his own photography equipment in the first instance. I would hate to see the lad go and spend all his savings on photography equipment and then go and discover photography isn’t for him. Okay, so there is a market for used photography equipment, but (as I have found out many times in the past) you lose loads of money when selling on unwanted cameras and lenses. And as for the other accessories, most of them are worthless and it is difficult to give them away – let alone sell them.
Rather than buying a brand new entry level dslr camera I suggested he buy a used one in the first instance, which he didn’t seem overly impressed with. It was the thought of not having a sealed box containing a brand new camera he didn’t like the thought of, but I soon got through to him. The market is flooded with used (but almost new and barely used) entry level dslr cameras because, people like him (i.e. those who don’t like the thought of second hand equipment) buy brand new, give it a go and decide they want to stick to “phonetography”. Because of this there are loads of bargains to be had with used dslr cameras and, if photography isn’t of interest you can always sell it on for pretty much what you paid for it and not suffer a huge loss. I managed to persuade my nephew (I have to say that persuading a “know it all” 13 year old is a real mission) to buy used, and suggested a trip to a local camera shop to see what was about.
When we went to the local camera shop the sales assistant was insistent a mirrorless camera (and a brand new one at that!) was the best option for my nephew. I agree that mirrorless camera are the ideal size for youngsters (I used to shoot an Olympus EP1 and currently have a Sony A7 as a backup camera) but I don’t agree a mirrorless camera is the best choice for kids at all. Mirrorless cameras are expensive and not great value for money (perhaps this is why the sales assistant kept pushing me towards the mirrorless cameras?) Mirrorless cameras are not good value for money, and for someone who doesn’t know whether proper photography is for them or not, this is not good as it is all too easy to waste a lot of money.
Entry level/budget dslr cameras are intuitive, user friendly and the best cameras to learn with. Mirrorless cameras, like the top end point and shoot cameras, are too fiddly and require a lot of digging around in the menus to change the settings. Entry level/budget dslr cameras are not like and with everything easily to hand the learning experience is quicker, easier and as a result, more enjoyable.
Even though the camera shop had some used entry level/budget dslr cameras I made the decision not to let my nephew spend his hard earned money in the store.
Firstly, I didn’t like the sales assistant and his “I know best” attitude. All the bloke was concerned with was getting as much cash from my nephew as possible, and not on the best camera for his needs. The other issue with the store was the cost of the used entry level/budget dslr cameras – they were stupidly expensive and well over priced. I appreciate the camera store has to make a profit but the prices being charged for the cameras was daylight robbery!
Even though my nephew didn’t get his camera going to the camera shop proved useful as it gave him the chance to handle a few entry level dslr cameras (to make sure they weren’t too big), play around with the menus, and take a few test shots to see what they could do. Even though my nephew preferred the Nikon D3300 he realised that if he bought the Canon 750D he would have access to all sorts of my lenses (8 – 15 fisheye, 100mm f2.8L IS macro, 16 – 35 f4L IS and 100 – 400L IS among others) to try out all different types of photography and see if any of them floated his boat. Had he bought the Nikon he would also have to invest in a lens for it, and more lenses in the future to try out macro photography, sports photography and the like.
My sister (my nephew’s mother) wasn’t happy I dissuaded her son from buying the camera he wanted and that I should have let him buy his preferred Nikon. My sister hasn’t got a clue about photography, cameras and photography equipment or anything else photography related and because of her reluctance to believe a word I say (we have had the same relationship since we were kids) I couldn’t be bothered to tell her that I had actually done the kid a favour. Rather than battling with her I simply left it by saying he still had all of his money and he could go and buy whatever camera he wanted.
Despite my best efforts to help and offer my opinion, I have no idea what camera my nephew ended up buying or if he even bought one. Knowing my sister and the type of person she is I would guess that if he has bought a camera she would have told him to get the Nikon D3300 rather than the Canon 750D – Whatever suggestion I had she would advise my nephew to do the opposite. That’s the way she is (and always has been) and this time I hope my nephew has ignored his mother otherwise I fear he is going to make a costly mistake.
SO WHAT IS THE BEST CAMERA FOR KIDS?
Based on my experience with photography I would say that if you are buying a camera for a kid interested in learning about photography and wanting to know how to take photos rather than snaps my advice is:-
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.