An increased amount of questions related to appropriate GoPro camera for children came to our inbox recently. It seems that you are thinking about Christmas gifts for your kids. Today, I want to help you with this topic:
In this blog post, I highlight important factors which might be considered when choosing a GoPro camera for older kids.
But most of this post focuses on another action camera, VTech Kidizoom, which is made specifically for kids. It is supposed to be an action camera for younger kids (4-9 years old). Great tool for their first filming and photographing experience.
This camera, often called GoPro for kids, is waterproof and mountable like a real GoPro. But it is even smaller and 10x cheaper! And it has special features for kids like funny filters and games. Are you expecting the catch? Then read further. I prepared a review to show you all the details about this camera, including pros and cons.
The Best GoPro for Kids
Before we jump into VTech Kidizoom detailed review I want to give you some suggestions about a real GoPro camera, in case you have older kids.
When you started to ask:
What is the best GoPro for kids?
I was actually thinking: why not to give my older GoPro to my kids? It is point and shoot camera, easy to use. If I would make initial settings then the kid would just push one button to start and stop recording. Plus with its wide angle lens, everything fits in the frame.
I would definitely think about GoPro camera with LCD display. Without seeing what is in the frame, kids might be confused and not entertained by filming. Then it depends on your budget. Currently (2016/12), you have 3 following options, ordered from the best and most expensive one:
1. GoPro HERO5 Black
- waterproof without a housing – which also means the sound quality is not compromised
- voice control could be fun for kids (my kids are already trying to repeat the commands I say)
- the highest quality of image & sound
- shaky video looks more stable compared to other GoPros
- the absence of a housing means less protection against impacts and scratching the lens (but you can buy separate lens protection)
- highest price (around $400 now)
Personally, I would buy this GoPro if the price is not the most important factor.
2. GoPro HERO4 Silver
- high-quality image
- lower price (around $320 now)
- needs a housing to be waterproof – sound quality is lower
3. GoPro HERO with LCD
The third option is the oldest model of GoPro camera.
- lowest price (around $270 now)
- needs a housing to be waterproof – sound quality is lower
- the lowest image quality
When the Size Matters the Most
I would mention one more option. Do you plan to place the camera on your kid’s head to do the following unique shots?
For short periods of time, it is fine to use GoPro cameras mentioned above. But classic GoPro pushes the helmet forward into the kids’ eyes and they might not like it for longer periods of time.
If the majority of shots would be taken from an extension pole mounted on a helmet I would consider smallest and lightest GoPro HERO5 Session camera.
- the smallest size
- lower price (currently $300)
- waterproof without a housing
- no LCD display
I would give my kids a real GoPro as soon as they do not smash things on the ground (when they go to school?). I actually let them play with my GoPro from their very early age. They tried to eat it 🙂 But I never left them unattended with the camera.
In these days, my kids are 2.5 and 3.5 years old. They can change from the nicest little princesses to angry monsters just in a second. You might have heard about tantrums. I am not comfortable to give them four hundred bucks camera and let them smash it on the ground. It is durable but if you really want to destroy it you might be successful.
So I did a deep research and the best option seems to be VTech Kidizoom Action Cam. I decided to buy it for my kids for Christmas, but open the box even before they do under the Christmas tree. The reason is you 🙂 Maybe you want similar Christmas gift for your kid. I would like to provide this review of this kids’ action camera to help you decide.
VTech Kidizoom Video Review
If you prefer to watch, here is a detailed video review to show you how to prepare the camera for use and how it all works in action.
You can find more details in the following text.
Size and Weight
Let’s start with basic features. VTech Kidizoom action camera is smaller and lighter compared to a real GoPro.
|GoPro HERO5 Black||VTech Kidizoom|
|length||2.45 in (6.2 cm)||2.35 in (6 cm)|
|height||1.75 in (4.4 cm)||2.2 in (5.6 cm)|
|thickness||1.3 in (3.3 cm)||0.9 in (2.3 cm)|
|weight||4.2 oz (118 g)||1.7 oz (49 g)|
Small size and weight are perfect for kids or babies when they wear the camera on themselves. This factor might be significant when the camera is placed on the kid’s head, as mentioned earlier. GoPro was a little bit heavy for extended pole mounted on our kid’s helmet.
Action Camera Made for Kids
This camera is for 4 up to 9 years old children.
Unlike a GoPro which has a touchable display, VTech Kidizoom Action Cam has a regular display only. Six different camera modes (activities) are displayed by picture icons so your kid should intuitively know what it does:
- Stop Motion Video
I believe that even younger kids can easily work with the camera. They can change its modes by Left or Right buttons on its side. Or directly make a photo or a video by buttons on the top.
I just assume that parents should help with a few initial steps before they give the camera to kids. I will mention them in a moment.
There is a great kid-friendly feature. When kids stop recording the video an icon of Playback appears directly on the screen so they can immediately view their video. I can imagine how they laugh together watching their short movie.
All photos and videos are accessible also later when going to Playback mode from home screen. Kids can also delete any file there.
Funny Effects and Cartoon Themes
And there is much more for kids! The camera allows applying effects and cartoon themes to photos or videos. Kids might easily cycle through all effects by pressing Left or Right buttons when they are in Photo or Video mode.
Here are a few examples of photo effects:
Video effects are even more fun because they are moving. For example, an ocean scenery with moving sea plants and bubbles coming across the frame during shooting.
In another effect, there is a snowman and great snowflakes are falling down across the screen. I bet my baby girls will scream when they see this snow theme. They are pure Texans which means they saw snow only once in their real life. Every time they see snow on TV they are immediately excited, screaming and running like crazy around 🙂
Check these effects in the video review above.
Note: video effects are not available in the highest video resolution 640 x 480. You need to decrease it in the Settings mode if necessary.
VTech Kidizoom camera offers another entertainment for kids. Games are easily accessible from Home screen when selecting game controller picture icon. Kids can choose from these 3 games:
- Super Boarder – kid is a hero on the surfboard, jumping over the obstacles and collecting the coins
- Mountain Bike – kid rides a bike and must collect the stars while avoiding barrels
- Crazy Captain – kid must give a parachute to the toy falling from a plane to help it land on the ground safely
This might be funny for children when they have a break.
Stop Motion Video
Last activity Stop Motion Video is launched by an icon of running kid from Home screen.
The camera takes a sequence of photos in the selected time interval until the recording is stopped. Photos are automatically compiled into a stop motion video. Then kid can choose the music which is added to the video. The choices are terrible but my kids like these kinds of “music” 🙂
You can see an example of stop motion video in the video review.
Note: stop motion videos are at 320 x 240 resolution.
As in the previous mode, time-lapse is a sequence of photos taken continuously at designated time intervals. The difference is that these are separate photos, not compiled to a video. Also, music cannot be added to a photo.
This function is not available as a separate mode and you might need to help your kid if necessary. Follow these steps:
- from Home screen go to Settings mode
- press Right button couple times and find Time-Lapse
- set the time interval
- go to Photo mode – through Home screen or by pressing Photo button on the top of the camera
- when you start recording, pictures are taken at the selected time interval
- stop recording when you are done
The Photo mode will now make every photo as a sequence of multiple photos until stopped. If you want to take just single photos again, you need to go back to Settings and set time-lapse to Off.
Settings are accessible from Home screen under tools icon. You can set a bunch of different things like:
- time-lapse recording – set the time interval between photos
- camera screen auto-off – set the time after which camera turns off automatically
- self-timer – set the countdown before a photo or a video is taken
And a few more in advanced settings:
- memory – shows how much is used, you can format memory card here too
- video resolution – choose from 3 levels, more details in the next section below
- indoor light frequency – if you see flickering in the preview screen, change this setting
- aspect ratio – you can leave an actual scale of an image or fit it to the screen size
I assume that parents will set these things if necessary. Especially if your kid doesn’t read yet.
Quality of Photos, Videos & Sound
Let’s get to the features where you can expect cons.
VTech Kidizoom camera makes photos at 640 x 480 resolution (0.3 MP).
You can choose from three video resolutions:
- 640 x 480 – the highest quality video, available only when external memory card is used
- 320 x 240 – best resolution for video effects and stop motion video
- 160 x 120 – use if you need smallest file size and kid will playback the video on the camera screen only
I recommend to playback videos directly on the camera screen. If you want to watch it somewhere else choose devices with small screens like smartphones or tablets. Otherwise, it might hurt to watch it on TV or computer 🙂 See my video review for examples.
The image and sound quality are bad when compared to any camera you are used to. Do not expect that you take some shots with this camera and include it to your vacation video.
But I guess that kids don’t care about this. Especially if they playback the videos directly on the camera display. Not a big deal, if you count this device as a camera for small kids, not a serious primary tool for your own videos.
Mount It Like a GoPro
I am glad that VTech Kidizoom is also mountable anywhere including kids themselves. VTech mounts work similarly like GoPro accessories. But they are not compatible with each other.
Unlike a regular GoPro, VTech Kidizoom basic package already includes several mounts:
- waterproof case
- camera holder (open shell)
- flat adhesive mount + mounting attachment
- bike mount
- wrist strap
The most important is a waterproof housing. This makes the camera waterproof up to a depth of 6 feet (2 meters) for 30 minutes. It might also help against impact when the camera becomes a victim of baby’s tantrum. You can work with the camera as normally – all the buttons are fully accessible. But the sound quality is compromised when the camera is closed in this waterproof case.
Another mount is camera holder. At first, I thought the camera will fall out from this open shell. But the lens keeps it at the right position and it is not that easy to get it out even if I tried intentionally.
I prefer to keep the camera in the waterproof housing rather than the open shell. It is the safest way how to protect the camera against wet conditions and potential impact.
Both mounts, waterproof case and open shell, have the hole on the bottom. There goes the screw from mounting attachment or bike mount.
Mounting attachment is then clicked to the adhesive mount which has a sticky side. This is how you can attach the camera to a flat surface like a surfboard, skateboard etc. Mounting attachment allows adjusting the camera angle.
If you want to attach the camera to a slightly curved surface like helmet, add the extra two double-sided adhesive tape strips.
Bike mount might be used for attaching the camera to any stick, for example, on a bike. At first, you must take a screw out on one side of the mount. Then you can attach the mount on the stick. It has a rubber insert for increased friction between the stick and the mount. Put the screw back and tighten both screws. These screws allow adjusting the mount on the sticks of various sizes. Finally, you can also tilt the camera to any desired angle.
The camera itself, as well as the waterproof housing, has two hooks on the corners. You can use one of them to attach a wrist strap. Well, don’t expect anything sophisticated as GoPro wrist strap. This is just a tiny leash without any adjustment to the kid’s wrist size. But it is better than carrying the camera just in bare hands.
If you need a demonstration how to use these mounts please check out my video review above.
There are even more mounting options – chest mount, head mount etc. Check this all-in-one kit here.
Prepare the Camera Before Use
Imagine how kids are excited while unpacking Christmas gifts. Excitement reaches the top level when they finally have their new toy in their hands. But instead of jumping right into the filming they observe how you try to switch the camera on, insert a memory card, charge a battery etc. Excitement has gone, annoyance is coming…
I highly recommend to be prepared ahead! It is not difficult but it takes a while. Here are easy to follow steps so you don’t forget anything.
1. Insert Memory Card
VTech Kidizoom Action Cam has internal memory 128 MB which allows capturing only 2.5 minute long video in medium resolution (320 x 240) or 600 photos (0.3 MP). But without an external memory card, the camera cannot record video at the highest quality.
I wanted to provide more memory space and shoot highest quality video so I bought this external memory card.
To place the memory card into the camera you must find the rubber cap on the side of the camera which says microSD. Replace it and push the memory card into the slot.
Then put the rubber cap back.
2. Master Power Switch
Move the master power switch from 0 to 1. Find it on the bottom side of the camera, see the picture above.
You don’t have to switch it off after every use, only if you will not use the camera for a long time.
3. Charge the Battery
Attach USB cable to the micro-USB port which is on the other side of the camera, under rubber cap (USB in the picture above). Insert the other end of the cable to any USB port, for example, to your computer.
A message appears on the camera display that the battery is charging. It might take up to 3 hours to fully charge the battery. You will see the message on the screen when it is done. Then the camera automatically turns off.
4. Set Date and Time
When you turn on the camera for the first time (Home button), you will need to set date and time. Press Left or Right button to change the value and confirm by OK button. Then use the Right button to move to another item and repeat changing the value.
5. Ready to go!
Give the camera to your kid and enjoy the special moments together.
Download Photos and Videos to PC or Transfer Back to Camera
In the future, you might need to download photos and videos to your PC. Attach the USB cable the same way like during charging the battery. Find removable drive called VTech 1707 (or USB Drive). The other drive VT SYSTEM is for system data only, don’t use it. Open the folder DCIM and there you have all the photos and videos recorded by the camera.
If you want to transfer pictures or videos back to the camera you need to copy the files to folder DOWNLOAD. Use subfolder PHOTO for photo files and subfolder VIDEO for video files. Do not transfer files created by other cameras, as these might not be compatible with VTech Kidizoom.
Total price around $50 including tax – very nice and affordable Christmas gift. I already know that my kids will have enough fun for that price.
How Kids Like It
So far as I played with the camera I am very excited and I cannot wait to give it to my kids as a Christmas gift. It would be nice if it starts a passion similar to mine. I wish they will learn the basics of capturing videos / photos and work with the camera.
[After Christmas UPDATE]
I gave the camera to my older daughter under the Christmas tree. She was super excited, as I expected, and started experimenting immediately. She pretended the moves I usually do when shooting – it was funny 🙂 But I didn’t expect that my younger daughter would want her own camera too. She wasn’t really able to operate the camera but wanted “to shoot” too.
My older daughter showed to her younger sibling the video she captured and they laughed a lot together.
I also like that I could give the camera to my daughter and don’t have to worry about it. I left a responsibility on her and she takes it seriously. She always packs the camera when we go for a trip. Heartwarming to see such a young enthusiastic filmmaker!
In our case, it was definitely worth it to purchase this camera. I know for sure that we have to buy another one for my younger baby girl.
And what is your experience? Will you give your kids their first camera or they already have one? Please let us know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading this review, I hope it helped.
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