If your family loves traveling, odds are you have a few kids who love taking pictures. As much as you may wish to encourage their budding love for travel photography, you are probably not too thrilled about handing them your expensive cell phone to do so. With so many cameras on the market, choosing the best kids’ camera can be overwhelming, especially if you have no idea what you’re looking for. We know you want to find a camera for your kids that will be durable and easy to use, but will also take great photos.
This best kids’ camera buying guide will help you figure out exactly what type of camera you should buy for your child, and will recommend models based on important features, price points, durability, and ease-of-use.
What Is A Good First Camera For A Child?
Remember, just because you are buying a camera for your child, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to buy a kids camera. In fact, unless you are buying a toy camera for a toddler, we recommend buying a sturdy camera that isn’t specifically geared for kids.
In this guide to the best kids’ cameras on the market we will teach you:
- How to choose the best camera for your kids without compromising photo quality.
- How to decide whether you need a digital camera for your kids or a kids instant camera and the differences between the two.
- How to avoid wasting your money on a cheap kids camera that won’t produce pictures worth taking.
Of course, there’s a lot to consider when choosing the perfect kids’ camera and not every camera will be suitable for your child, but if you simply want to buy our all-time favorite camera for kids without reading the back story, you can do that too.
Our top choice for the best kids’ camera is the Fujifilm FinePix XP120 Digital Camera. Keep reading to find out why we’ve chosen this model.
Compare The Best Digital and Instant Cameras For Kids
Should You Buy an Instant Camera or a Digital Camera for Your Child?
The first thing to decide when choosing the perfect kids camera, is whether you want to purchase a kids digital camera or kids instant camera? More than likely, you will be looking for a digital camera for your child, but there are also a few great instant cameras worth considering. Here’s a break down of the pros and cons for each.
Instant Camera For Kids- Pros and Cons
Polaroid-style cameras have made a comeback in recent years, and are a great choice for kids who want instant results that they can hold, study, or hang.
Instant cameras are larger than standard digital cameras and easy for little hands to hold making instant cameras a great option for younger kids and toddlers.
The downside to instant cameras is that the photo quality is often lacking and the film can be expensive. The upside is that kids have to learn to compose their shots carefully before snapping the shutter.
We recommend you only choose an instant camera for kids if you are comfortable with teaching them to be cautious with their shots and you are comfortable with the expense of purchasing film.
- Larger and easier for small hands to hold
- Teaches photo framing skills
- Photo Quality is often lacking with instant cameras
- Film is expensive and children will need to be taught to be cautious before snapping pics
Digital Cameras For Kids- Pros and Cons
Digital cameras, by comparison, allow your kids to snap hundreds of photos that can be downloaded to a computer, edited, and printed cheaply.
Overall, digital cameras will be less of an investment than an instant camera, but you’ll have to remind your kids to carefully frame their shots so you don’t end up with thousands of photos cluttering up your computer.
- Ability to snap hundreds of photos
- Easily downloaded, edited, and printed
- Inexpensive to print photos
- Kids need to be taught to carefully snap quality photos to avoid over cluttering the storage
How to Choose the Best Kids’ Camera for Your Child
This guide to the best kids camera has been divided into the following categories:
- Features needed in a camera
- Best cameras for toddlers and young children
- Best digital cameras for younger kids
- Best digital cameras for older kids and teens
- Best Instant Cameras on the market
We have spent hours researching the best kids’ cameras so that you can make an informed decision about which model to buy for your child. Our top picks were chosen because of their reliability, durability, affordability, and ease of use, and we’re pretty confident that you will find a great kids’ camera from our list of favorites.
In addition to choosing the type of camera you want to purchase for your child, you will also want to consider the age of your child, how interested he or she is in photography, and, of course, how much you want to spend on a camera for your child. Here are some camera features you should think about before choosing the best camera for your child.
Durability is an important factor, whether you’re buying a camera for a toddler or a teenager, but the younger the child, the more that durability matters. For kids younger than 7, choose digital cameras that are shockproof and will survive meeting the pavement on numerous occasions. For kids under 9, it’s wise to choose a camera without a digital zoom. Moving lenses are often the first thing to break on a digital camera, so it’s wise to start with a fixed lens and switch to a zoom lens as your child’s interest in photography grows along with their level of maturity and responsibility.
Your child’s first camera does not need to have a lot of bells and whistles. Changing a bunch of settings is unnecessary for young children, but can be fun for older kids who are curious about using them. For kids under 7, auto-focus and automatic settings will allow them to take consistently good photographs without a lot of fuss. Older kids will appreciate the challenge and creativity that comes with choosing different settings and manual controls.
Your kids don’t need to be able to print professional-quality photo prints, but if you plan on making prints, you should look for cameras with decent picture quality. By the same token, a child who is interested in photography as a hobby will want better quality photos than a child who is just playing around with a cool new toy. The picture quality of a digital camera is determined by its sensors and pixels, and generally speaking, the higher the picture quality, the higher the cost.
Start your younger child out with an affordable, durable camera, sacrificing picture quality and extra features. As your child’s interest in photography grows, you can choose to spend a little more for a better quality camera with more advanced features. Another option is to start your child off with a used digital camera, which may provide better quality for less money.
The Best Cameras for Toddlers and Young Children
The under 5 age group is really the only age group that we would advocate buying toy cameras, which we recommend with reservations. Toy cameras should be large, with big buttons for little hands. They will come in a variety of bright colors, and many will include games or other bells and whistles to keep kids interested.
These make great first cameras for toddlers, but don’t expect high image quality. When all is said and done, they are still just toys that can also take photos. Here are our top picks for the best cameras for toddlers and kids under 5.
Omzer Kids’ Camera: A Rugged Camera for Toddlers
The Omzer Kids’ Camera is a chunky, large-buttoned camera for kids that is also extremely durable. It comes with a soft silicone cover that protects it from drops and is shock-absorbing. Not only does this camera take pretty good photos (8 megapixels), it also shoots 1080p HD video, has a 4X digital zoom, and comes with a rechargeable battery.
Dual cameras let kids take selfies, and more advanced features include a self-timer, date setting, and a flashlight. A 2-inch LCD screen makes it easy for kids to playback their photos and videos.
A 16 GB SD card is included with the purchase of the Omzer Kids’ Camera, and several kid-friendly colors are available, including blue, pink, red, and even camouflage.
- Rechargeable battery
- Not suitable photo quality for making prints
- Not great in low light
VTech Kidizoom Spin and Smile Camera: Popular Camera that Includes Games
The VTech kids’ camera is one of the most popular on the market today, and overall, it gets positive reviews from users. It’s a 2-megapixel camera designed specifically for kids, with easy-to-grip handles, colorful graphics, and big buttons that are easy for little fingers to push.
Extra features include a voice-recording feature, a rotating lens for selfies, automatic shut-off after three minutes, and 256 MB built-in memory, plus the capacity for inserting up to 32 GB of additional memory with a micro SD card.
With the VTech kids’ camera, kids can edit their photos with stickers, frames, and effects, connect it to a computer for printing and sharing photos, and play a variety of in-camera games made especially for kids.
- Sturdy with large buttons
- Easy to use and understand
- Kid-friendly editing and effects
- Automatic shut-off
- Sup-par image quality
- Uses 4 AA batteries, which can get expensive
- Low storage capacity – must purchase a separate microSD card for extra storage
Ourlife Kids’ Camera: Action Camera for Young Kids
If you are looking for a super rugged, waterproof camera with lots of features, check out the Ourlife Kids’ Camera, and an 8-megapixel camera with a built-in flash, 1080p video capabilities, face detection, and a self-timer. Kids can play around with 12 different in-frame photo effects, plus additional video filters. The Ourlife camera is waterproof to 100 feet and includes a mounting kit so your child can attach it to a tripod, or even a bicycle for creative photography. There is an LCD screen for easy viewing, a rechargeable battery, and space for an SD card (not included).
- Rechargeable battery
- Automatic shut-off
- Limited battery life per charge
- Sub-par photo quality
- On the small side
The Best Cameras for Older Kids (age 7-11)
This is a great age to experiment with photography! Your kids are curious about how things work, are exploring their creativity, and may develop a serious interest in taking photos. For this reason, we encourage you to purchase a real camera for them to shoot with. Using a toy or a camera meant for young kids will likely frustrate them, and may even convince them to give up their interest before it’s even begun.
Durability and simplicity is still important for kids in this age range, but you should also look for cameras with more features that produce higher-quality images. Here are our choices for the best cameras for older children.
Fujifilm FinePix XP120 Digital Camera: Best Waterproof Camera for Kids
The Fujifilm FinePix XP120 Digital Camera is our favorite all-around camera for kids and also the best waterproof camera for kids that we’ve found, and while we’ve placed it in the 7-11 age group, it’s great for teens and adults too. The most impressive aspect of the Fujifilm is that it is water, shock, freeze, and dustproof, so basically perfect for the most adventurous kids.
The Fujifilm works underwater, features a 16.4-megapixel sensor, and takes print-quality photos. It also takes full HD 1080p video, works well in low-light, and has built-in Wi-Fi capabilities for easy sharing. There are a few different shooting modes (but not too many), a built-in flash, 5X optical zoom, and a self-timer. All-in-all, this is a great little camera that will provide years of use and can withstand just about anything.
- Rechargeable battery
- Incredibly durable
- Good picture quality
- A bit pricey
- Short battery life
- Buttons are on the small side
Canon PowerShot ELPH 190 Digital Camera: Best Point-and-Shoot Camera for Kids
The Canon PowerShot ELPH 190 Digital Camera is an inexpensive point-and-shoot camera that is small and lightweight, with an impressive list of high-end features. Older kids will appreciate that this is not a toy, but it is also not as durable as the Fujifilm and may not withstand the rugged treatment that many kids will give it. Still, if your budding photographer is ready to try out a few more advanced features, the Canon is a great entry-level model.
10X optical zoom and image stabilization makes it easy to compose great hand-held shots, even in more difficult lighting situations. The 20-megapixel sensor takes high-quality photos that can be enlarged and printed, and kids can choose from different focus ranges for optimally sharp photos. Fun shooting modes include macro, sports, night scenes, fisheye effect, toy camera effect, and monochrome. The Canon also includes a rechargeable battery, self-timer, and built-in flash, and it shoots 720p high definition video.
- Rechargeable battery
- Good battery life
- Good picture quality
- Less durable than other models in this list
- The focus is not always sharp
Bigshot DIY Digital Camera Kit: Best DIY Camera for Kids
As a camera, the Bigshot DIY Digital Camera Kit won’t win any awards, but it makes up for sup-par photo quality with its opportunities to learn about a variety of STEM topics, including optics, mechanics, electromagnetism, electronics and image processing. The Bigshot is a DIY camera kit that kids build themselves. Once it is assembled, kids can take photos with their project and they will likely have a better idea of how a camera works. The Bigshot includes a 3-megapixel sensor, LCD screen, a rechargeable battery, and rotating lenses.
An interactive online guide describes key learning concepts, making this a great projectl for budding scientists. The Bigshot DIY Camera Kit is recommended for kids 8 and up.
- Great opportunity for learning camera mechanics
- Rechargeable battery with a hand crank for extra juice
- 3 rotating lenses
- Poor image quality
- Small screws make it difficult for younger kids to put together
The Best Cameras for Teens and Tweens (age 12+)
Tweens and teens are ready to start experimenting with manual camera settings to take more creative compositions, and some will also be ready to experiment with using interchangeable lenses, external flashes, remote triggers, and tripods. If all this makes your head spin, don’t worry. Photography equipment can be added over time as your child expands their knowledge and interest. For now, you should focus on finding a quality camera that will enable teens to build their confidence and skill as a photographer.
The following cameras are suitable for enthusiastic tweens and teens all the way to adults. These are quality cameras that take professional photos. They are more expensive than the cameras in other categories but still affordable for the array of advanced features they include.
Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital SLR Camera: Best Beginner DSLR for Teens
The Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR is an entry-level DSLR camera with an affordable price tag. It comes with an 18-55mm lens and built-in Wi-Fi, as well as the ability to shoot full HD 1080p video. A 24.2 high-resolution sensor means that your teen can create huge prints without sacrificing quality. Beginners can shoot photos in fully automatic mode with excellent results, and more experienced users can tweak the shutter speed, aperture value, and exposure compensation for more specific results.
There are a variety of lenses available for Canon Rebel DSLR models, but the kit lens is incredibly useful for beginner and intermediate photographers. This is a great first DSLR for budding photographers.
- High-resolution photos
- Rechargeable battery with long life
- Built-in Wi-Fi
- Not very durable (probably wouldn’t withstand being dropped)
- Slow autofocus
- Can’t choose a fully manual setting
Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera: Best Mirrorless Camera for Teens
There are many similarities between DSLR and mirrorless cameras and just as many differences. Like DSLRs, mirrorless cameras can use manual settings for more creative shots, can shoot in RAW for advanced editing, and include the ability to change out lenses based on your needs. Mirrorless cameras are quite a bit lighter than their DSLR counterparts and usually include an electronic viewfinder, which will shorten the battery life.
The Sony Alpha a6000 is a solid mirrorless digital camera that has been a top choice for photographers for the past several years. The basic kit comes with a 16-50mm lens, includes a huge 24-megapixel sensor, and is compatible with all Sony E-mount lenses. It can shoot 4K video, has Wi-Fi capabilities, and full manual controls.
This is a great camera for on-the-go teens, as it is small and portable making it among the best mirrorless cameras for travel, but still takes professional-quality photos in all lighting conditions. It is especially useful for teens who want to experiment with more advanced photography techniques or videos.
- Portable and lightweight
- Large sensor for high-resolution photos
- Rechargeable battery
- Wi-Fi capabilities
- Fast continuous shooting
- 4K video
- No touchscreen
- Short battery life
- Not particularly durable
Olympus Tough TG-6 Waterproof Camera: Advanced Waterproof Camera for Teens
The Olympus Tough TG-6 is a huge step up from our favorite kids’ camera, the Fujifilm FinePix XP120 Digital Camera, but it is quite a bit more expensive, which is why it didn’t win as the all-time favorite. Like the Fujifilm, the Olympus is water, dust, freeze, and shockproof. Photo-quality is significantly better than the Fujifilm and is worth the extra cost if your outdoor-loving teen wants to experiment with underwater photography or take photos during extreme adventure sports.
This rugged little camera features a 12-megapixel sensor, image stabilization, GPS tracking, a fixed 3” LCD screen, and precise autofocus for sharp details. It can shoot 4K video and features 5 underwater shooting modes. The Olympus excels at macro photos, but also includes a 4X optical zoom, and is great in all types of lighting.
- Good quality photos
- Pretty much indestructible – waterproof, shockproof, crushproof, and dustproof
- Rechargeable battery
- Two color choices – red and black
- Compact and lightweight
- Extra lenses and accessories available
- No manual controls
- Confusing menu
The Best Instant Cameras for Kids
Instant cameras are in a category all their own. These are popular cameras for kids because they make it possible to snap and print photos instantly, just like the original Polaroid that many adults remember from the years of film cameras. Instant cameras are not the best choice for the youngest children, as they will likely use up the film quickly. They also aren’t a great choice for serious photographers, as there are no manual controls and the printed photos are often dark.
Instant cameras are great for artists, parties and special events, and for kids who want instant results and the vintage look of Polaroid-esque photos. It’s quite a niche product, but an instant camera is also a lot of fun for a relatively small investment. Just remember that the cost of that printable film paper definitely adds up. Here are our top choices for instant cameras for kids.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera: Small and Colorful Instant Camera for Kids
Small enough and cheap enough for most kids, whether they’re into photography or not, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera comes in lots of color choices, includes a selfie mirror, and a constantly firing flash. A brightness adjustment dial helps you get perfectly-exposed shots and a close-up lens attachment is available for macro shots. The film takes about four minutes to fully develop, and a 10-pack of photo paper runs about $6.
- Great color choices
- Selfie mirror
- Film can get expensive
- Poor photo quality
Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera: The Next-Generation Polaroid Camera for Kids!
The Polaroid snap Instant Digital Camera features ZINK Zero Ink printing technology in a portable package. ZINK technology means no messy ink in your pocket. You can print beautiful 2×3 prints at the touch of a button. Unlike the Fujifilm Instax above, the Polaroid Snap is more like a traditional digital point-and-shoot with the added ability to print photos.
The camera features a 10-megapixel sensor, MicroSD storage capacity of 32 gigabytes, and even a self-timer. Choose from three picture modes – black and white, color, or sepia, and then save the photos to your memory card and print for instant gratification. The Polaroid Snap does not allow you to turn the flash on and off, and while the photos are better than many instant camera models, they can’t compete with other digital cameras or even smartphones.
- Very portable
- Comes in different colors
- Rechargeable battery
- Weak flash that fires randomly
- Poor photo quality, especially in low light
- 50 sheets of printer paper will run about $25
Giving your child a camera is a great way to show them the world in a whole new light. Photography is a fabulous artistic medium and is perfect for encouraging creativity, fine motor skills, and even a love for the outdoors. Whether you’re shopping for a toddler or a teen, we hope you’ve found the perfect kids’ camera from our list of favorites.