As a parent, there comes a point when the child you have photographed relentlessly since birth says ‘no more!’ and attempts to flip the script by photographing you. On the one hand this is a good thing as it means they are fast-approaching independence and can soon attempt other useful tasks like finally making you breakfast in bed or cleaning out the cat litter. On the other hand it presents a problem because it means they’ll need a camera. Unless you’re content to allow your ham-fisted progeny access to your near-priceless collection of Leica film cameras this then means that you will have to buy them one. With this in mind, I’ve complied an exhaustive check list of things to consider when camera shopping for your kid.

1. It needs to be shock-proof. It will get dropped. Often
There is nothing worse than watching a child smash your much loved camera on to a hard surface. Repeatedly. However it is beyond inevitable that this will happen. Children love dropping cameras, they find it funny. They particularly love the reaction that dropping cameras provokes in their parents. Stop the little buggers from enjoying themselves by buying a decent, shockproof camera. Although it is very hard to curtail your own knee-jerk, Pavlovian scream of ‘Careful!!!’ every time it happens, you will find that this lessens gradually as you learn to trust the sturdiness of your new purchase. A word of caution though, if you equip the camera with a strap or lanyard your child will just twirl it around their head like helicopter blades and even send it flying in to nearby rocks. Maybe don’t bother with a strap.

Modern cameras are ludicrously complicated. Many of them come with instruction books that are fatter than the bible and less straightforward

2. It needs to be water-proof
See all of the above reasons but factor in water damage. You will almost certainly take this camera on holiday (where it will probably get lost) and swimming pools / the sea will be involved. With a genuinely water-proof camera you can delight in spending hours trying to get an action shot of the entire family together, frolicking in the ocean spume. This might be a futile pursuit but at least your camera will survive the process – unlike your sanity.

3. It needs to be simple
This is where things begin to get tricky. Modern cameras are ludicrously complicated. Many of them come with instruction books that are fatter than the bible and less straightforward. Your young child does not need to know about advanced hybrid viewfinders or customisable Q buttons. They just need to know how to take a picture of daddy looking fat, funny and bald. Good luck in finding a camera that is simple enough for your child AND shock and water-proof.

4. It needs to be a proper camera
This may sound obvious but the market is saturated with ‘kids fun cameras’ and ‘starter cameras’ that are, frankly, a huge waste of money. It may be fun to own a camera in the shape of a donut or a talking Princess but not only will the novelty wear off very soon but the thing will smash in to million pieces the first time your child drops it (or when you suddenly fling it against the wall yourself because it’s electronic voice has become unbearable).

Unless your child is a photographic genius they will soon fill up a small memory card with out-of-focus shots of running-away cats, and Daddy’s bald-spot

5. Get a spare battery. Or two
Here’s what will happen when you get your kid a camera. You will give them the camera and they will use it for a bit but not switch it off. Then, later on when they want to use it again (and just when the once-in-a-lifetime event is happening that they have to capture right now or it will be the end of days) the battery will be dead and it will all be your fault. Even though you’re not the one who left it on and you told them again and again to turn it off when they’re not using it. You will have to keep the batteries charged anyway, that is yet another one of your functions now so just buy a charger and two batteries and stay alert.

6. Get a large memory card
Unless your child is a photographic genius and only ever takes solid gold keepers they will soon fill up a small card with countless out of focus shots of running away cats, the back of the driver’s seat, the inside of their pocket and Daddy’s bald-spot. You will then be required to delete these shots in order to make room for more works of art BUT you will find that your infant prodigy is inexplicably attached to large numbers of these out-of-focus, indecipherable images. Arguments will ensue along the lines of ‘You can’t take any more pictures until you delete some.’, ‘But I don’t want to delete ANY!!!!’ Save yourself all this bother by simply buying the largest memory card your budget will allow.

I cannot claim to have done a complete road test of every camera currently on the market but after several trials and a number of conversations with other Dads, we decided to buy Fred a Nikon S33. These are shatter-proof and waterproof and come in bright blue, white or yellow, which is good for spotting them when they go missing or get left at the beach. They are easy to use and have an array of ‘fun’ features like mirror image and bubble-face settings. Fred loves his and, after nearly four solid months of trying, has yet to break or get bored with it. We even got ours half price as an ex-display model off e-bay so it doesn’t need to break the bank and there are earlier models of the same camera (the S31 or S32) that are even cheaper. With any luck you might even get a decent photograph or two out of it. Or not, it all depends on how gifted your offspring is……

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