Here’s another one to add to the list: Fisher Price. That is, if you’re four years old.
Our Kid-Tough digital camera model has been in service for a couple of years, and it’s survived tumbles down steps and splashes of juice (both apple and grape) without incident. The camera doesn’t claim freeze-proofing, but it’s probably not a good idea to let the kids play near the freezer anyway.
The guts of the camera are no-nonsense. Fisher Price outfitted this camera with a 0.3 megapixel sensor, for photos that clock in at 640x480 px resolution. Fisher Price was clearly thinking about pixel density here, smartly packing fewer pixels so the cameras somewhat smaller sensor could absorb more light for better performance.
Some image samples that show the detail the camera is capable of capturing:
One-Upping Other Cameras
In a move that beats even the biggest players in the game, Fisher Price offers something you’ll never see in cameras from any of the other major players such as Canon, Nikon and Sony: built-in memory. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and he’s gifted this camera with a stunning 256 MB of memory — that’s 2,000 photos you can store right in the camera. Other camera companies, you’re on notice.
Another feature that’s long since gone from digital cameras is the ability to use normal alkaline batteries. Fisher Price won’t make photographers pay for those silly rechargeable batteries — four AAA batteries are all it takes to get a year or so of casual use out of the camera. If you’re on vacation and your camera runs out of juice, just pop into a convenience store to get new batteries. You’ll need to also purchase a screwdriver since the battery door is child-proofed.
Another feature that no other manufacturer can claim is the dual-eye viewfinder. This camera has not one, but two viewfinders, one for each eye. Sadly, the view doesn’t line up well with the screen, and doesn’t respond to the 4X digital-only zoom, so it’s recommended to compose with the generous 1.4-inch color screen.
It’s not perfect, of course. Though the blue rubber feels great in the hand, the buttons feel a bit spongy. Startup takes a few seconds, and shutter lag is pretty bad on this camera, rating at about a full second between the push of the button and the digital “click” sound of a picture being taken. Menu options are pretty slim, though in practice the interface of this camera is much easier to use than a Sony.
Digital zoom only is disappointing, but that’s the price paid for toughness. The built-in lens lacks a filter thread, and so hopes of doing a long exposure were dashed, though as you can see, the camera seems to like longish exposures anyway:
Only the steadiest of hands in the best of light need apply.
And while the green thunderbolt design on the front of the camera is appealing, it’s not for everyone. This design is replaced by flowers on the pink version, because gender stereotyping.
Finally, Fisher Price doesn’t offer professional support services for this camera, and the support answers on their website are basically their social media teams shrugging their shoulders. That said, using the camera is pretty simple — Apple’s Image Capture software, which can pretty much capture footage or photos from just about anything, works fine on this camera. All you need is a standard USB cable, which sadly, is not included in the package.
What I Liked
- It’s actually tough.
- Small file sizes are easy on the hard drive.
- Will teach your kids to appreciate cameras like the Holga. Actually, just get the Holga.
What I Didn't Like
- No wireless functionality.
- No built-in flash or orientation sensor.
- Can’t seem to get a good 13x19-inch print on my Canon Pixma Pro-10 from the camera.
- Camera seems to be permanently locked to April 11, 2011 for the date on files.
You can purchase the camera new for $149 on Amazon, though it’s frequently cheaper on online auction sites, and you’ll get the benefit of pre-germed cameras, which will make your kids tougher as they fight off infections.