What's the simplest camera you can buy?

My mom is living alone with moderate dementia. A friend recently got her a bird feeder and she has become captivated by all the birds that now come to her porch. I’d like to get her a camera she could operate herself to take pictures of the birds. The problem is, even when she was young, she was THE MOST technologically challenged person I knew. She was always baffled by anything with buttons. Neighbors would constantly, like weekly, have to go help her fix her TV which she’d gotten into some mode and didn’t know how to undo. Today she can often, but not always, operate her phone to the extent of pressing the TALK and STOP buttons. (I’ve often called her to get no answer; calling later she says “I tried to answer but I couldn’t get that darned phone to work”.) I got her an “old person” remote for the TV, with exactly 6 single-purpose buttons. She still has trouble operating it.

So is there any digital camera available that would be possible for her to operate herself? The ideal camera would have an LCD screen and one big red “take a picture” button, period. She absolutely can’t navigate on-screen menus. I’m thinking there probably isn’t such a thing but does anyone know of anything?

Most point-and-shoots can do this, as long as you set them to Auto mode.
Just tape down all the controls besides power-on and the shutter release.

Get her an instant camera. One you show her how to load the film cartridge, the camera will take care of the rest. And she’ll much prefer having actual prints than an LCD screen.

Have you looked into a motion-activated mounted camera? She wouldn’t have to worry about doing anything, and could possibly see birds she might otherwise miss.

Camera Obscura.

That’s the one I was thinking of. My daughter got one for her birthday a few years ago. The pictures are pretty fuzzy, it’ll cost about 50¢-$1 per picture for the film and there’s a problem where pictures come out totally whitewashed (some say it’s old film, some say it’s a sensor issue).
Having said all that, it still might be your best bet. Get her a couple of cartridges and see what happens.

Your best bet might be an older iPhone or iPod with camera capability. But if she wants to actually *look *at the pictures she takes, she is going to need to do more than just press the “take a picture” button.

Look for a digital camera aimed at kids. Here’s an example, but it won’t work for your use case (doesn’t work well for moving subjects). You can sort through Amazon, but I would recommend finding a camera store in your area and calling them or going in and looking at their cameras.

I used an option like this for my kids when they were younger and they loved it. It didn’t take the best pictures in the world, but they had a lot of fun with it. Best of all, they’re designed to be simple.

I don’t know what specific camera might be good for your mother. It might be Mission Impossible. But:
–To take good picture of bird’s at a feeder, a telephoto (zoom) lens is going to make a big difference. A wide angle lens is going to provide tiny little bird-shaped specks.
–If mom is shooting through a window, then the camera is going to want to focus on the glass, or on the screen.
–High megapixel images will be a more of a problem than a benefit. Don’t go for 20MP thinking it will be better.

I like the canon Elph series. Some of the Lumix are nice too. They are point and shoot, you don’t have to mess with the settings. Don’t know if they would be too complicated for her; my 6 and 7 yr old nieces and nephews used them and got pretty good results. They have auto focus and will do some amount of zoom. You would need zoom for birds.

Another option is to set up an outdoor camera focused on the bird feeder, with a remote. The camera is already set up and focused, when she sees a bird she clicks the remote (either a physical remote or an app button on a phone). Some of these will auto feed the picture back to your email or screen. This would require very little on her part. But you’d have to set it all up for her.

Crayon and paper?