The Bottom Line
A year ago, I had a chance to review the Vtech Kidizoom Plus children's camera, and I found it was an OK camera for kids for the price. It was more of a toy than a serious camera, which is a good idea for really young children.
This year, Vtech has sent me the Kidizoom camera, which is the model that's less expensive than the Kidizoom Plus. The Kidizoom is missing a flash, along with a few other features, and has a smaller LCD versus the Plus.
Still, when you can find the Kidizoom for about $20 less than the Plus, it makes a big difference in comparing these cameras. I gave the Kidizoom a slightly better star ranking than the Plus, because I don't believe the slightly better features in the Plus are worth the extra $20.
The Kidizoom is a fun toy/camera combination for children under 8 years of age, but if you have a child looking to learn more about photography or to shoot photos that are large enough to print, seek out a more traditional camera.
Image quality is hit and miss with the Kidizoom, as you might expect. Indoor photos tend to be a bit dark, which isn't surprising when using a camera with no flash. Outdoor photos aren't too bad in image quality, but they tend to be a bit underexposed. For a young photographer, however, the image quality is adequate, especially considering this toy camera can be found for less than $40.
If you shoot any sort of moving objects, such as other kids or a pet, you'll end up with quite a few blurry photos, unfortunately. Camera shake can be a problem, too, for some indoor photos, and this is a problem many kids are going to have with this camera, as they probably will not really be thinking about holding the camera steady. If they shoot mostly outdoor photos, they'll be happier with the image quality.
The Kidizoom can only shoot at either 1.3MP or 0.3MP of resolution, which obviously is a pretty small image. The Plus can shoot at up to 2.0MP, but neither toy camera has enough resolution for anything but small prints or sharing on the Internet.
You'll only find a 4x digital zoom -- and no optical zoom -- with the Kidizoom, meaning using it typically causes a loss in image quality.
The camera's autofocus works better over a distance than in close-up photos, although the focus will never be pin sharp with this model. If you're standing too close to the subject, the photo probably will be out of focus.
You can perform some minor editing functions with the Kidizoom, including adding a digital frame or digital stamp to the photos. You also can "twist" the photos a little bit with the editing, but the Kidizoom would be a lot more fun if it had more extreme editing options.
No memory card is needed with the Kidizoom, as it has enough internal memory to hold thousands of photos and dozens of movie clips.
The Kidizoom's movie mode is pretty easy to use. You can shoot video at a small resolution, and the digital zoom is available as you shoot video. I was surprised that the video quality wasn't too bad. The Kidizoom's video function actually works a little better than the still image function.
Not surprisingly for a kids camera, the Kidizoom's response times are well below average. Startup is takes a few seconds, and shutter lag will cause you to miss a photo of a moving child or pet. However, the Kidizoom's shot to shot delays are minimal, which is good for an impatient child looking to shoot a dozen photos back to back.
The LCD is pretty small, which is typical for a children's camera. It measures 1.45 inches diagonally, but the images on the screen tend to be really jerky as you move the camera. The Kidizoom's LCD cannot keep up with the moving images quickly enough.
Otherwise, for such a small screen, the image quality isn't too bad.
The first time a child uses the camera, he or she probably will need help with setting the date and time, but, after that, the camera should be usable without much help just for shooting photos.
If your child wants to use any of the camera's effects or the movie mode, he or she probably will need a little help. The toy camera's limited settings all are available through the Mode button, and the settings then are displayed on the screen.
The menu uses icons and one- or two-word descriptions for each feature, which should help children understand them. All of the primary features and functions of the camera -- playback, editing, games, photos, and videos -- are available through the Mode button.
The Kidizoom has only three games, and they're extremely simple. Only the youngest kids won't become pretty bored with these games pretty fast.
The Kidizoom is aimed at children ages 3-8, and I believe that's an accurate age range for this camera. Kids in the 7-8 age range who are familiar with electronics already may become bored with the Kidizoom fairly quickly, though.
The dual handgrips and the two "viewfinders" on this toy camera mean you can hold this camera like binoculars, which is a natural reaction for children with a camera. Trying to teach young children to close one eye to look through a traditional camera's viewfinder is really tough, so this design is great.
You place two AA batteries inside each handgrip, which makes the Kidizoom well balanced. It is a large toy camera, but it doesn't feel too heavy or bulky. Unlike the Plus's battery covers, which are screwed in place, the Kidizoom's battery covers can be opened by pressing a lever. This could be a little dangerous for small children, who perhaps could open these covers and get the batteries loose. If you're worried about this, I'd recommend going with the Plus. It's also possible a child could open the USB cover and jam something into the slot.
The Kidizoom is really easy to use, with a simple button structure. The only button on the top of the camera is the shutter button; you also can shoot photos pressing the OK button on the back. The other buttons on the back are a four-way button, the Mode button, a power button, and a cancel button.
The Kidizoom is designed to be a really inexpensive toy camera, as evidenced by the fact that Vtech did not include a USB cable with the camera for downloading photos. Hopefully, you have a spare cable that will fit this camera around your house already.