Here is one choice:.
Kodak C340, available "refurbished" (it's probably new but if it's not, it has the same guarantee as new and it comes complete in a new box) at kodak.com for $71.95..
5MP, 3x optical, autofocus, has a viewfinder, closeup mode focus of 5 inches, SD cards, AA batteries, movie mode has sound, very nice picture quality for the price. It's the lowest cost camera I see that has the features your son will need..
It has A/V output, which can be adapted to use as a webcam, but you'll need other software and hardware for that. It might be better to just get a $30 webcam for that use..
I'd suggest a cheap web camera to start out with. It'll be completely adequate and likely much easier to use with a computer to begin with. They also don't need a remote to trigger them so you don't have to worry about wiggling the camera when you capture the image..
I'm a fan of the Logitech series of Web cams. They used to come with a simple stop motion utility to boot (but if you have a dedicated one, that's even better)..
I used the Logitech 4000 for this short film:http://www.galaxy12.com/gallery.html (click on Aliens Attack).
Get an inexpensive tripod, and tape the feet to the floor or table, get some inexpensive reflector lights, and you're ready to go...
The upcoming Nikon Coolpix L14 is supposed to have a "stop motion" feature. To quote from their press release:.
"Stop-Motion animation for more creative fun Stop-motion makes it easy to create animated films within the camera. Users can shoot models, move them, shoot them again and, when done, have the camera processes the images to deliver professional-looking results using the timing of preference.".
This new Nikon was announced in August and should be hitting the stores any day. The list price is supposed to be $149.99 but the street price will probably be $20 less...
I went ahead and started them out with a cheap logitech webcam ($39.99). I turned them loose with my work laptop. Here's hoping it doesn't get trashed. We'll see if they stick with it for a while and maybe we will upgrade. I found some great software at http://www.stopmotion-software.com/ It was easy enough for them to just start making animations. I may also use it to do some time-lapse videos at work..
I absolutely loved your short animation!!! It looks like it was a family affair. Very nice..
Thanks for all of the replies...
Excellent! I'm sure they'll have a great time with it! Later if they're really into it, you can get expensive SLR's slaved to the computer, but for now that would be overwhelming if they just want to make stuff move (and not entirely necessary to get good at the animating part of it)..
Thanks for the compliments. It was just my wife, the rest is 'credit' padding for the 'it looks long, but isn't' element of the joke...