The self-build camera aims to give children a snapshot of how technology works.
Bigshot is a science project for kids that needs to be assembled in a specific order to work properly.
An online guide explains the science behind the technology and why owners need to follow the exact assembly steps.
“It’s about getting kids interested in technology and photography,” said Bigshot creator Professor Shree Nayar. “Kids are great at picking up how to master software, but few understand the hardware platform they use to play games or send email.
“Bigshot is designed to explain the ‘what and why’ of technology as well as demonstrating what the end product can do.
“We not saying here’s a digital camera, learn how to use it. We’re saying here’s a pile of bits and how they work and interact together and if you put them together in the right order, you will have a digital camera.”
Bigshot also helps photographers consider what happens when the battery runs out and how to select lenses for different views.
Like wind-up radios, the camera has a crank for powering up when the battery runs out. On the front is a rotating wheel which lets photographers select regular, 3D and panoramic shots.
Nayar acknowledges other companies produce toy working cameras for children, but believes his product has an edge because it is based on learning about the science rather than just emulating a grown-up camera.
Bigshot comes with a £58 price-tag, with royalties on the sales going to fund sending the kit cameras to underprivileged children worldwide.
The camera has taken seven years to come to market after testing in India, Japan, Vietnam and America.
“Bigshot is very carefully thought and tested,” said Nayar. “Each component has to be safe for children to handle and snap together, and while they are figuring out what goes where, they are learning how the hardware system works.
“Owning the camera is not only about taking and sharing pictures but a learning experience as well.”
The first batch of sales are limited to the US and Canada, but Nayar hopes they will soon take-off worldwide.
One issue that the professor may have to face is how smartphones with built-in cameras are taking over from sales of standalone digital cameras.
The Camera and Imaging Products Association in Japan reckons camera shipments are down 48% year-on-year and the market is splitting into enthusiasts who buy cameras and happy snappers who use their phones to take pictures.