After spending a half-hour deleting pictures of your child’s blurry feet, you may just conclude that he or she needs their cameras. Or the realization may come after seeing your child has shown a genuine interest in photography. Decide which of the two your child is closest to will help you determine which digital camera is right for you and your family. We reviewed dozens of digital cameras for kids to identify The Best Digital Cameras For Kids ideal for toddlers and those best for teens. We found the cameras that can be hitting the adventures and the waterproof ones your little one can take swimming. No matter what you’re looking for, we have the right choice for you.
Probably the most important thing you can consider is how much your child is going to use a camera. If it’s just a fad or something that you think will only be brought out for holidays and the like, it makes sense to go for one of the cheaper models.
However, if you think they’re likely to take this a little bit more seriously, investing in something which will last them longer probably makes more financial sense in the long run. It’s also worth thinking about the kinds of activities your kids are going to want to photograph. The tough/rugged cameras will see them right at the beach or at the swimming pool, but don’t be put off by the others if your kids are a little less rough and tumble.
1. VTech KidiZoom Duo 5.0
VTech makes a range of brightly colored, big-buttoned, entry-level tech gadgets for kids, and this is its current digital camera offering. Build quality is great, with its oversized rubbery build absorbing the shock of occasional drops, with big meaty grips on either side of the recessed lens for small hands to get enough purchase.
While the camera and its controls may be relatively big for the average intended user, the specs have been improved with the most recent edition of this camera with a 5-megapixel sensor, coupled with 4x digital zoom. On the back is a 2.4 in LCD for composing and reviewing shots, through which you can also play five built-in games, so you’ve got a backup if the novelty of taking pictures wears off. The camera uses 4x AA batteries and a micro SD card, which you will need to buy separately. So the best camera for kids? Yes, but only if they’re very young.
2. Polaroid OneStep 2
Most of us adults can recall the ubiquity of the Polaroid brand in our childhoods. So, for those former kids, who are now big, the OneStep 2 should be an easy sell. With the famous brand now under the ownership of the group of instant film enthusiasts who stepped in to continue producing Polaroid film once the brand collapsed (aka The Impossible Project), the OneStep 2 embraces a retro design inspired by the original OneStep from the 1970s, and it’s just as easy to use too.
Younger kids won’t get it, but older teens will appreciate the retro vibe. Producing large, square-format instant prints (using Polaroid I-Type film), it does mean you’ll be paying quite a bit more per print compared to its Instax rivals, but if you’re happy to pay for that luxury and keep a tight set of reins on more trigger-happy children, then both you and they will love the OneStep 2.
3. Fujifilm Instax Square SQ10
Aside from the new square-format film pack, the most notable feature of the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ10 is the ability to review and edit your shots via a small LCD on the camera’s back. Previously Instax owners would have to point, shoot and hope that the lighting was right and the subject framed accordingly – now, your children can store up to 50 images in the camera’s internal memory or add a micro SD card to extend storage space. If your family simply wants instant prints, however, Fuji film’s cheaper Instax Wide, Mini and Mini 90 Neo Classic may do just as good a job. The Instax cameras aren’t designed specifically for youngsters, but their low cost, chunky handling, and novice-friendly simplicity mean they are amongst the best cameras for kids to use.
4. GoPro Hero7 Silver
A GoPro camera is a terrific thing to bring along on a family holiday, able as it is to capture all your adventures in crisp detail as well as stand up to the rough and tumble adventure that is life with kids. The GoPro Hero7 Silver is a perfect choice, more affordable than the current models in the Hero range, but still with more than enough functionality to capture fantastic images and videos. While it lacks the sophisticated features of its more expensive contemporaries, there’s plenty of great stuff here; 15fps burst shooting is nothing to sneeze at (and you do get 4K video at 30fps)! The whole family can have a huge amount of fun with a GoPro, and this affordable version is the ideal choice.
5. Olympus Tough TG-6
In its fire-engine-red finish, the Olympus Tough TG-6 looks brilliant even when it’s just sat on your beach towel – and it makes sure that it’s easy to find when you drop it in the snow or in a pool of water which it can survive down to 15m / 50ft! It’s also available in a sleek black if your kids prefer the high-tech Batman look. As well as being waterproof, the camera can survive drops of 2.1m / 7ft, as well as being crushed by anything up to 100kg / 220lbs (and it’s also freezeproof to -10°C / 14°F, should it somehow get left in the fridge or freezer!). It’s quite an advanced camera, with lots of features and functions (such as excellent macro and microscope modes) should you want them, as well as a crisp 4K video and has a great zoom range of 25-100mm.
6. Fujifilm FinePix XP130
It may not have a broad set of specs offered by several of its rugged rivals, but younger members of the family are hardly going to care as long as it is simple to use (it is) and does the job (it does). There is a range of fun filters included to keep the family happy and Wi-Fi connectivity for the transfer of images too, the latter an important, but perhaps overlooked, feature when most kids can’t wait to share their adventures with their friends. You don’t get some of the more advanced features to be found on competitors’ models, such as on-board GPS, Although this Fuji film camera is more reasonably priced than most. There is a more recent Fujifilm XP140 that adds 4K shooting but is currently not worth the substantial price jump.
7. Fujifilm Instax WIDE 300 Instant Film Camera
The Fujifilm Instax is the marquee name for instant cameras and film and the company offers several variations, including the Instax mini 8 cameras and the Instax mini 9 cameras in several kid-friendly colors. The cameras have a fixed Fujinon 60mm f/12.7 lens, a simple viewfinder, a built-in flash, and five exposure settings. Like the Polaroid 300, the Instax mini 8 and mini 9 create credit-card-sized prints and work with specialized Instant Color Film that offers vibrant colors and fast development time; some have rainbow-colored borders, as opposed to the standard white. The Fujifilm Instax 210 Instant Film Camera and the INSTAX Wide 300 are a bit more sophisticated and utilize a wider film format. Their form factor is styled more for adult tastes but can be equally applicable for kids.
8. Nikon Coolpix W100
Nikon’s waterproof, easy-to-use, and inexpensive Coolpix W100 is our top choice for younger kids. It sells for around $150 and is rated to survive drops from 5.9 feet and go as deep as 33 feet underwater. It’s a perfect first camera thanks to big, easy-to-press buttons and a tough design. There’s a newer version too, the W150, but it doesn’t make any significant changes—either serves as a good first camera for younger kids.
9. Lomography Konstruktor
Looking for a project to do with your school-age child? The Lomo Konstruktor is a learning tool and a camera. It is made of an all-plastic 35mm SLR that comes to you in pieces. After removing all of its parts from plastic trees, it’s up to you to build it. At just $35 it’s not a big investment, and even if you never run a roll of film through it, it teaches budding engineers what makes a camera work.
10. Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 cameras
At just $70, the Fuji Instax Mini 11 is a perfect first instant camera. It’s inexpensive (though you have to feed it film, at roughly $0.70 per image), and has big rounded edges so it’s comfortable to hold. Everything is automatic—the only thing your kids will have to learn is how to pull the lens out to focus close enough for selfies.
11. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III
If your budding photographer has outgrown a point-and-shoot, think about an interchangeable lens camera. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is stylish and available at a good price at press time—around $500 with a lens. It shoots 16MP photos and 4K videos and offers a stabilized Micro Four Thirds format image sensor.
Your teen or tween can get started with the bundled zoom lens, and if you have old manual focus SLR lenses in storage, you’ll be able to use them with the camera by adding a simple mechanical adapter. It’s an entry-level model, so it doesn’t have the most advanced feature set, but it offers plenty of room for young ones to learn the ins and outs of photography.
12. Canon PowerShot Elph 190 IS
The Elph 190 IS is a solid choice for elementary and middle school kids—it’s not ruggedized, so keep it away from the young ones. It’s very small but packs big zoom power and Wi-Fi. Aside from the zoom, it doesn’t offer an advantage over a flagship smartphone in terms of image quality, but at $160, it’s a lot less expensive compared with an iPhone 11 or Galaxy S20.
13. GoPro Hero7 Black cameras
If your kid is more into video than stills, an action camera like the GoPro Hero7 Black is a good choice for making videos of their bike or skateboarding adventures and has strong stabilization so it will work well as a vlogging camera too. It’s tough enough to withstand drops, records sharp 4K video, and can go as deep as 33 feet underwater. The Hero7 is the latest model (that’d be the Hero8), so you can get it for around $230, a big drop from its $400 debut price.
14. Canon ELPH 180 / IXUS 185 cameras
If you’re after a starter camera for your kids that won’t cost a fortune, Canon’s long-established ELPH and IXUS ranges are a sensible place to look. The ELPH 180 (know as the IXUS 185 outside North America) is a beginner’s model that delivers 20MP via its 1/2.3in the sensor. But the 8x optical zoom should offer enough for young photographers who want to shoot a range of subjects.
Light sensitivity is limited to ISO 100-ISO 1600 (with auto mode delivering a max of ISO 800), but at this price, it’s hard to pick faults and it’ll likely prove sufficient as a first ‘proper camera for many young snappers. For more ambitious youngsters, the menu options yield some digital filters they’ll enjoy experimenting with. And while there’s no full HD video recording, the 720p capture is perfectly reasonable for the price. It’s available in black, red, or silver, and – like any of these cameras for kids – retailers that offer a long guarantee and accidental damage options are to be recommended.
15. Nikon D3500
The Nikon D3500 has a brilliant ‘Guide’ shooting mode that acts as a fully interactive tutorial of photography and it is delivered via the rear LCD screen. It explains how, when, and why to use different camera settings for the best effect, simply and efficiently. But D3500 can also be used in fully manual mode, so it’s ideal for photography students to learn how camera settings work and why. It’s not as sophisticated as the Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D, but it’s not as expensive, either, and there is a huge range of Nikon lenses you can use with it.
The overall image quality and performance are very good, and the 5fps burst rate is sporty for an entry-level DSLR. If you like the look of it, we advise getting this camera bundled with the Nikon AF-P DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens – other kit lenses are available which might bring down the price, but this is the best one to go for.
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