Ever since my wife and I planned our first trip to the United States together with our 3-year-old son Benni, I had this idea in my mind to give my son a digital camera and ask him to take photos of the world, of us, of the sightseeing that we do, the roads we travel etc.
The idea was to encourage him to do what I do with my own DSLR as well: Take pictures of the world the way I see it! Wouldn’t it be great for us and for him to have a collection of pictures that he took himself? Something he could be proud of. And for me, I thought, it would be super interesting to see what attracts his attention, what he aims at with his camera and what he thinks is worth taking pictures of?
I did some research on Amazon and other blogs, but couldn’t really find a “good” camera for my son. They were either too expensive, not robust enough or simply totally overloaded (we’ll get into that later). But finally, my search is over: I think I found the perfect camera for kids! And the award goes to the Rollei Sportsline 64! Keep reading to learn why…
Why a Camera for Kids?
Back in the days when I was a kid myself, I remember very well how proud I was of my first, very own camera. Back then in the 1980s and 1990s, there were no affordable digital cameras around. When I wanted to take pictures, I would have to ask my parents to cover the costs for a good old “analog” film as well as the costs for the development of the pictures!
Nowadays, with the rapid development of digital cameras, there are tons of options around and kids can take photos and experiment with them on their heart’s content, which is great!
Kids love having their own “adult stuff”! They love playing being grown-ups and they love having toys that allow them to do just that. They love writing their own stories. And they love to be creative. And finally: Kids in today’s world should learn about technology as soon as possible! A digital camera is a great way to get them interested and involved!
Take those three ingredients and you have the perfect answer why kids love having their OWN digital camera: Because it allows them to feel grown up and follow their creative nature! And it allows them to preserve their precious memories.
What Makes a Good Camera for Kids?
When I was doing my research, I tried to come up with an answer to the question of “What qualities make a good camera for kids? And what should be avoided?”
Here is what I came up with: A good camera for kids should…
- … be robust
- … have little to no movable parts
- … be able to deal with minor incidents (like water spills, impacts etc.)
- … be small and lightweight
- … be easy to use and have just a very few, basic buttons
- … ideally, come with some basic accessories (like a protective camera case and a wristband etc.)
- … have its batteries and its SD card protected in a way so that kids cannot simply get ahold of it (and lose or swallow it)
- … use off-the-shelf batteries instead of a special battery pack (so that we could simply buy replacement batteries in case they get empty while we are at the zoo or so, instead of calling it a day and having to drive home in order to charge it)
- … be distraction free (in terms of being a camera, and a camera ONLY and not include video games and/or a music player etc.)
That is MY list of criteria that I had to consider when I was looking for that number 1 camera to buy for my son. Did I miss something? If you come up with something I forgot about, please let me know in the comments below so that I can add it, will you?
What Are Your Options?
Now that we have the main criteria out of the way, let’s take a look at the most obvious candidates to give to your kids as their OWN camera:
Mobile devices like smartphones and tablet are probably the most obvious option to go for, you may think. Smartphones like the iPhone or modern Samsung devices have great cameras, and in many cases where you want to take a photo, they totally got you covered.
However, in my opinion, they fail as a camera to give to your kids for a bunch of reasons, the most important ones being:
- Smartphones and tablets are quite expensive (this may not be important if you have an old iPhone in your drawer anyways)
- These mobile devices have huge displays, which makes them exactly the opposite of being robust. Also, many of them, especially older models, are not at all waterproof!
- They are also the exact opposite of “distraction-free”. If you’ve ever seen a 3-year-old using a tablet, you know how quickly they can switch between apps and play a video game instead of taking a picture in seconds, even at their young age!
Now that last one is really critical to me: I wanted to make sure that the camera I get for my kid would be “distraction free”. What I mean by that is that when we grab it in order to take photos, the camera should do exactly that, and nothing else.
Action cams like GoPros or so are a better option. They are usually designed to do the heavy lifting and survive incidents like being dropped; and many of them are waterproof, which certainly is a plus! However:
- They are quite small and also have small buttons, which makes them hard for kids to use
- Most of them do not have a viewfinder, which does not help your kids either
- They usually have built-in batteries which means that it is hard to charge them on the go as you cannot simply replace the batteries
Special Cams for kids
When you search for “camera for kids” on Amazon, you will find a bunch of cameras that are made specifically for kids. One example would be the VTech Kidizoom DUO Selfie Camera.
Why does a CAMERA made for kids have to offer video games and/or music? I don’t get that! Battery life is an issue with pretty much ALL cameras, so why would you want to have your kids play games on this device? We live in a day where pretty much every single adult owns a smartphone. If I want my son to play a video game (which I am totally fine with every now and then), I can give it to him. He certainly does not need a camera that allows him to play games or listen to music.
Sorry for this rant! 🙂
What I’m trying to say: Kiddie Cams are a good idea, but they fail at a criterion that is very important to me. Hence my search went on. Finally, I came across a device that would be perfect for my son…
Introducing the Rollei Sportsline 64
While browsing amazon’s catalog for a while I stumbled across this hidden gem: The Rollei Sportsline64.
It’s a nice, small, affordable and easy-to-use camera. It is robust, it is waterproof and while the tech specs are not outstanding, the camera is certainly capable enough for a child. And if it ever happens to break it, well, doesn’t break the bank!
What I really like about it is the sturdy design. The black “bumper” you can see in the image above makes it easy to grab and hold for children. And with the shutter and the on/off toggle both on top of the camera, the two most important buttons are right there where your kid needs them. And it is easy to explain to them that those are the only two buttons they need to get started!
And it comes with (almost) everything you need to get started. The package includes a camera case, a wristband and even a set of two AAA batteries!
I noticed, though, that the camera drains the battery relatively quickly, which is one of the obvious downsides, so I would suggest ordering a set of rechargeable Panasonic Eneloop batteries along with the camera, as well as a 16 GB micro SD card. We’ll take a look at the grand total in the next section, so please stay with me here 🙂
As I mentioned earlier. The image quality certainly isn’t the best. Even in the Rollei’s price range, there are tons of cameras that offer a better image quality. But none of them proved so kid-compatible in terms of robustness and versatility.
Just so you get an idea of what this camera has to offer, here are a few snapshots that my 3-year-old son took just recently when we visited the Cologne Zoo together with some friends:
What’s in the Box
What I really liked about the camera is that it basically comes with everything you need to get started, except a micro SD card which you will have to purchase separately. Inside the box there is
- the camera
- a camera case
- a wristband
- two AAA batteries
- a USB cable (this is ONLY to transfer the images to your computer; not for charging, though)
- a manual
Is the Rollei Sportsline 64 Worth Your Money? A Word About the Grand Total!
When you are deciding to buy the Rollei Sportsline 64 for your kids together with the batteries and SD card that I suggested above, you are looking at a grand total of roughly $100.
Your SD Card
That may sound like a lot, and taking into account that your smartphone makes, without a doubt, better images without spending a single dime on top this may be a hard pill to swallow.
But: I purchased the Rollei Sportsline 64 for my son and he simply loves it. It is so easy to use and it is so much fun to go through the pictures he took together with him. I would, without a doubt, purchase it again and I am super happy I did in the first place. That smile on his face is just worth every single penny 🙂
The Good and the Bad of the Rollei Sportsline 64
Finally, let’s sum up what the Rollei Sportsline 64 has to offer and what its pros and cons are:
It’s affordable. Roughly 75 bucks for the cam isn’t cheap, but it doesn’t break the bank either. If you don’t already own rechargeable AAA batteries and/or a micro SD card then that will bring you to a grand total of round about $100.
- It is waterproof and robust which is both great when you are thinking about giving any device to a kid or even a toddler (which you can certainly do with this cam as long as you stick around for safety reasons).
- It is super simple and kid-friendly to use
- It doesn’t have any games or music. It’s just a camera. It takes pictures and videos. Distraction-free! Awesome!!!
- It comes with a free camera case, wristband and a set of AAA batteries
- The batteries drain quickly: When we tested the camera in the zoo, the batteries were dead at the end of our visit. Then again: Kids aren’t born energy savers, and they certainly won’t turn the camera on before and off after each shot. I bet that any smartphone’s battery out there would be dead three times sooner under these circumstances 🙂
- The image quality certainly is not a highlight. But at the end of the day, our son is proud of the photos he takes, and I don’t have to be scared that he will drop my smartphone, let alone my DSLR. He’s happy and that makes me happy!
The Verdict: My Final Thoughts About the Rollei Sportsline 64
To sum this review up: With the Rollei Sportsline 64, I found the perfect camera for my son. It offers everything I was looking for and my son is really happy with it.
Of course, the only real downside, the somewhat poor image quality, may be a deal breaker for you, especially if you are an enthusiast. But bear in mind: I am not suggesting this camera for enthusiasts. I’m suggesting to get it for your toddler, pre-schooler and maybe first-grader.
After that age, I’d say, your kids are probably capable of taking more responsibility and deal with more technological advanced cameras. So for any kid older than maybe 8 years, you’re most likely better off buying them a more advanced camera! Especially if you are an enthusiast yourself and want to introduce your kid to some more advanced aspects of photography.
But for kids between 3 and 7 years old, the Rollei Sportsline 64 is the ideal camera. It’s easy to use, it is rigid, it is waterproof and it is affordable! It may not be perfect in terms of the results that YOU as an adult can achieve with it. But it makes my son happy – and proud! And that’s exactly why I would suggest this camera to any mom or dad looking for a good digital camera for their kids.
Thanks for Reading My Article!
Thanks for taking the time. If you made it to this point, I’d love to hear from you what YOU think about my recommendation. Did I miss anything? Did you purchase the Rollei Sportsline 64 for your kids? If so, how do you like it? Did you get a different camera? If so, which one and why? Please let me know in the comments below!
All the best to you and your family,
Rollei Sportsline 64
Value for money9.0/10
- Waterproof and Robust
- Super simple and kid-friendly to use
- Distraction-free (no apps, games, music etc.)
- Comes with a free camera case and a set of AAA batteries
- Drains batteries quickly
- Image quality does not reach that of modern day smartphones