My son was excited by photography until one feature of this Kidizoom camera led him astray

Boy with camera
(Image credit: Future / Adam Juniper)

I'm unsure Kidizooms and their ilk work for all kids, and this is why. A few years ago my son discovered an old digital compact camera lying around the house. It was a batter old Olympus with a powered zoom – the exact model escapes me. It seemed to engage his interest in photography despite the busted screen and lack of child-friendliness. We decided to get him his own children's camera.

At the time, I didn't think to consult the best kids's camera list (in fact I have to admit I handed the entire decision over to my partner). The result was that my son received a colorful little camera which was much better designed for his little fingers, and clearly a good bit more robust. The image quality certainly didn't match, but that didn't stop him from engaging with the device – a promising start, but there was a sting in the tail. Or should I say the OS.

VTech Kidizoom 5.0

This isn't the kid's camera we chose for my son – it's a better camera but the Kidizoom does have games. (Image credit: VTech )

The problem was, however, that while the damaged Olympus had (and has) a thumb-sized hole of dead pixels in its LCD display, it is a device with a singular purpose. In auto mode, you can take a photo and some pleasing whirring and clicking takes place inside as the AF makes its choices and (as often happened since my son liked to play indoors) the flash charged and fired.

He really liked the flash. A bit too much, in fact. But it did mean that indoor images were suitably lit so he came to appreciate the delay from shooting to viewing on a computer. Regrettably, he also viewed the flash as something of a fun weapon — a good part of the motivation for the kid's camera!

Anyway, not only did the children's camera lack a 'real' flash – a bit of a disappointment for him – but the working LCD display was, as it is on the Kidizoom, the gateway to a range of low-quality games using the buttons as directional controls. As soon as he found this, the camera might as well not have had a lens. He lost any interest in taking photos because of the option of games, and he explored these himself. 

Hope for his photography was not lost, though; a couple of years have passed since the photo above was taken and he still likes to play with the Olympus (and is less interested in pointing the flash into people's eyes now he has a better conception of Santa's naughty list!)

As it transpires, several of the DCW team have run into similar issues with kids distracted by on-camera games. Luckily my colleague Kalum recently reviewed the game-free My First Camera 2 (which even comes with a bath-friendly underwater housing). The Kidizoom range, on the other hand, is clever because it has adapted to encompass things mummy and daddy use – watch and phone stylings are on offer. It's great that there is the choice, but on reflection, I know which route I'd take!

We keep a guide to the best kids cameras and best drones for kids, which both offer options for different age groups.

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Adam Juniper
Managing Editor

With over 20 years of expertise as a tech journalist, Adam brings a wealth of knowledge across a vast number of product categories, including timelapse cameras, home security cameras, NVR cameras, photography books, webcams, 3D printers and 3D scanners, borescopes, radar detectors… and, above all, drones. 

Adam is our resident expert on all aspects of camera drones and drone photography, from buying guides on the best choices for aerial photographers of all ability levels to the latest rules and regulations on piloting drones. 

He is the author of a number of books including The Complete Guide to Drones, The Smart Smart Home Handbook, 101 Tips for DSLR Video and The Drone Pilot's Handbook