The 10 Best Cameras For Kids
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in April of 2016. If you have a budding Ansel Adams, Annie Leibovitz, or David Bailey in the family, treat him or her to one of these cameras for kids. Specifically designed to withstand the somewhat rough treatment doled out by young photographers, and priced so that it won't hurt too much if your little one gets bored with the hobby, these models can still manage to produce good quality images and videos. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 11, 2020:
When selecting the proper camera for a child, there are a number of factors to consider, ranging from their age to their level of maturity, needs as a budding photographer, and your budget. With these factors in mind, we’ve made a few adjustments to our rankings.
Some items were replaced because newer models introduced more appealing features. The Vtech Kidizoom Pix, for example, was swapped out for the Vtech Kidizoom Duo Selfie, as it offers a flash and reverse camera that lets kids get in on the fun of taking pictures of themselves. The Seckton Kids Camera wound up replacing the Pannovo Mini for similar reasons.
Newcomer Vtech KidiZoom Creator Cam earned its spot thanks to distinctive features of its own, including a tripod that can double as a selfie stick and green screen material that helps little ones make movies with special effects.
In some cases, the rankings changed because of their general appeal to young users. For instance, while the Nikon D3500 is undoubtedly an excellent starter DSLR for kids in their teens who are serious about their hobby, its price and complexity make it suitable for only a limited age range. The Olympus TG-6 Tough, on the other hand, with its vibrant design and tough casing, better justifies its price and new position.
November 07, 2019:
There were a handful of examples on our previous list of models produced very cheaply in foreign factories that didn't have the legs to last in the marketplace, and their inevitable availability issues caused us to remove them. We wanted to avoid similar models in this ranking, which brought our total number of models down to eight.
Given the peril in which most kids are liable to place their cameras, we wanted to find at least one additional option to the Nikon Coolpix W150 (an upgrade from the W100) that offered some waterproofing or shock proofing, and we found that in both the GoPro Hero8 and the Olympus TG-6 Tough, two very capable cameras that are liable to see very different usage patterns. The size and mounting options available to the GoPro make it a bit more of the adventure camera, where the Olympus will likely find its way to the somewhat tamer family vacation.
As a big fan of what Sony's done throughout most of their lineup, it was only due to age that we wanted to remove their point-and-shoot that we included last time around, and it's sad to say it, but they haven't come up with a viable replacement for that part of the market since then, instead choosing to focus on their mirrorless full-frame sector.
Lomography Konstruktor If you're looking for a photography option that might also appeal to budding engineers, the Lomography Konstruktor might be worth a look. It provides the materials and instructions for your favorite kid to build their own 35MM SLR camera. lomography.com
Images In Training
Some of the cameras on our list have a smile capture feature, for example, that snaps a photo automatically when it detects a smiling face.
As children, the majority of us incurred continuous costs to our parents if we showed any interest in photography and wanted to do any significant amount of shooting. That's because the cameras of our childhoods ran on film, an expense that only ever got more expensive as the years wore on, racking up costs on both ends of the shooting process.
Now that everything photographic is digital, cameras for kids have an amazing and inexpensive experience to offer young, budding artists. Starting your kids out early has never been easier either, as a lot of the cameras on our list offer features that help your little ones figure out some of the most important techniques that go into capturing a great image.
For starters, they're going to have direct access to a camera that isn't your smartphone, helping to greatly reduce the risk kids present to anything both electronic and expensive. Just like the phones they see you using, however, they'll get instant and progressive feedback from the scene in front of them and from the pictures they take, teaching them instantaneous and invaluable lessons about composition.
Timing is one of the other incredibly important aspects of photography, and while getting to look back over their shots immediately will help teach them where they went wrong, it isn't where the lesson stops. Some of the cameras on our list have a smile capture feature, for example, that snaps a photo automatically when it detects a smiling face.
Cameras for kids are usually priced to sell, but even if you don't think that these cameras are particularly expensive, you don't want to get stuck replacing them if you don't have to. That's why a lot of the manufacturers of kids' cameras include waterproofing and shock-proofing technologies to ensure that their camera will last as long as possible in the hands of even the most reckless children.
Older, Wiser, And Better At Photography
If the digital age bores you, or scares you, there are old-fashioned kids' cameras out there, as well. For example, some children's cameras shoot an instant film akin to the old Polaroid stock that was so popular in the 80s and 90s. It isn't quite the same, as the film sizes are different, and the development times are ever-so-slightly longer (Polaroid, even in bankruptcy, has held their chemical development formula under lock and key), but the experience is much the same.
Additionally, these are the cameras on our list that are waterproof and shock-proof, so you don't have to worry about drops and spills damaging valuable hardware.
Of course, one of the most important things for you to consider when evaluating the kids' cameras on our list is age appropriateness, and exposing children under a certain age to little envelopes of deadly chemicals probably isn't a good idea, especially if they have an oral fixation of any kind.
Along that same line of inquiry, you'll notice that some of the cameras on our list look significantly as though they were designed for use by much younger children. Their buttons are bigger and there are generally fewer of them, their view screens tend to be a bit smaller and a lot cheaper, and their colors and patterns are louder and more eye-catching. These tend to be the safest and easiest cameras to use with the youngest photographers.
If you're dealing with a slightly older child, somewhere closer a range between five and ten, there are more professional-looking cameras on our list with little design features meant to maximize lifespan and performance in the hands of a child. These cameras look like slightly more rugged point-and-shoots, and their menu systems are significantly simplified compared to their adult counterparts. Additionally, these are the cameras on our list that are waterproof and shock-proof, so you don't have to worry about drops and spills damaging valuable hardware.
Still further up the age range, there are a few cameras on our list that are intended for kids getting closer to their teenage years. These are the kinds of cameras you buy for a kid who's already shown an interest in, and even a talent for, photography, as they will allow young shooters to take that next step toward professional quality. They're not much different from a lot of the full-fledged point-and-shoot models out there, but we've chosen them for our list based on their simplicity and ease of use relative to that market.
A Coming Wave Of Artists
From the early days of photography in the 1800s on through to more recent decades, photography as a kids hobby wasn't a particularly safe idea. If you wanted to take your film to a professional lab for development and printing, you'd pay pretty high premiums for the pleasure. Having a child in the darkroom with a bunch of chemicals, however, wasn't the best option either.
Once smaller, mechanized photo processing labs began cropping up in department stores in the 80s and 90s, more and more parents handed their 35mm cameras off to their kids from time to time, allowing them to get a taste for the medium. After that, disposable cameras hit the market, flooding households with easy, reliable cameras that posed no financial risk to the family, and that overwhelmed department store photo labs with NSFW pictures.
With the advent of digital photography and cell phones with cameras built into them, more and more kids can find photography at earlier and earlier ages. With the kinds of digital and film cameras on our list that manufacturers design specifically for younger demographics, it's only a matter of time before we see an explosion of work from new, young artists.