If you’ve got smaller kids you’ve probably toyed with the idea of giving them an old camera you’re no longer using to document the world. I did this, the camera… it survived… but most of the time my oldest was using it was me saying “don’t touch that, don’t push that, don’t format the storage, don’t push the lens back in, don’t don’t don’t.”
It was not a pleasant experience for either of us as older cameras were not designed for little hands or the prospect of falling three feet every 95 seconds.
myFirst contacted me a couple of months ago, back when we were first entering lockdown and offered to ship over a myFirst Camera Insta 2 for review… I thought this might be a perfect time for my kids to start documenting their pandemic experiences.
We’re going to divide this up into what it is, what my kids have done with it, and what annoys Paul because you know, there can’t be a product that doesn’t annoy me somehow.
What is the myFirst Camera Insta 2
To start with, it’s got a thermal printer built in so you can take a photo and if you like it, print it. It’s got a removable Micro SD card, ships with a 1 gig card but you can grab up to 32gb for $8 these days, so if you kiddo needs more storage, it’s not a huge deal.
The camera advertises a 12MP lens but the default quality is set at 9MP. There’s no separate quality settings for front or rear camera and no evident quality difference that I can tell.
Each picture on default settings come out to about 350K per picture (stored in JPG format,) so even at a gig there’s quite a bit of picture room. Video, that’s another story. About 5 minutes of video is going to run you 700 megabytes so should your kid be attempting YouTube Kids, might want to grab them a larger SD.
Some of the accessories that come with the thing are a Micro SD to USB adapter should you want to plug the SD card directly into a computer, or you can plug a MicroUSB cable (I believe it’s included,) from the camera into a computer, or they’ve got a couple of ways to plug it into a cell phone or iPad it appears. Haven’t played with that yet.
The thermal paper is pretty easy to load unless you have a child near you and then somehow the roll will explode. I really don’t know how that happened but it did.
The print quality, it’s ok. Reminds me a little of old video photo booths. Each print takes about eight seconds.
This is just a gallery of some of the photos. The videos we’ll do another time. I’ll talk about quality in the next section.
What I’m seeing
Several of these are very blurry, this is caused by this:
Paul complains about something
There are some issues I have with the camera that could probably be sorted out pretty easily.
The first is the image quality – it may be a 12mp camera (images above in 9MP mostly,) but the JPG encoding they’re using is abysmal. Here’s a photo of an eye for reference:
The picture is well lit, the eye is pixelated, artifacty, and otherwise appears to have a very old style of smoothing/compression. That’s about 1/8th of a 250K jpeg. Similar image quality can be obtained for a fifth the size usually.
Whatever RAW data to JPEG conversion software they’re using is meh, or they’re not capturing 9MP properly. This reminds me a bit of some of the issues with cell phones seven or so years ago or so where there was a library that was public domain that became garbage. Still, not horrible, you’re not getting this for them to submit for poster printing.
Printing: I have yet to have my kids be able to print two photos without intervention. As you can see above, a 4yo and a 7yo are incapable of pulling the photos off in a straight line, so we end up with a minor jam every time unless I pull them off.
I will note, it’s easy to pull the photos off. Anyone over 10 should be able to do it. My 7yo SHOULD be able to do it. Nope.
As such we’ve just implemented a “don’t print” rule. They can print when they’re done with the camera, I’ll pull the photos off, all good.
My next complaint is where they put the main camera. Both kids know not to touch it, hell I know not to touch it, but everyone touches it. The side with the camera needed a little grip or feedback bumps to let kids know they’re just about to oil the lens up again.
My guess is the device is able to be updated. Everything about it screams that you can flash firmware and that it’s pretty quality. My hope is the jpeg quality gets handled in a firmware update as it’s making several photos at 9MP like 2MP photos.
The white faceplate for the thermal paper area was not a great idea. Half an hour with kids and you’ve got a brownish camera. Maybe it was a great idea.
Lack of a flash means low light photos are out, however it also means your kids aren’t able to blind everyone over and over and over again. So there’s that.
Overall, it’s good. It’s the kind of camera I dreamed of when I was a kid and having to pay $6 for a 10 or so Kodak instant print pack (and had to pay for a flash bulb strip). Thermal printer paper claims about 180 sheets (pictures) for $10, or 90 sheets for the thermal sticker paper which is what you’ll have to peel off the walls.
You also probably can use other thermal paper, but who knows. Looks like standard receipt thermal.
I’ve watched these cameras fall, get wet because it started raining, and they’ve survived my kids for a while, so pretty quality.
You can grab a myFirst Camera Insta 2 on the manufacturer’s website. It’s currently priced at $99.
Both cameras are 12mp, firmware being updated, jpeg compression being looked at, not waterproof.