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Best cameras for kids 2021: the 12 best cameras for children and teens

Best cameras for kids
(Image credit: Future)

Searching for the best camera for kids? We've rounded up all of the best options for junior snappers of all ages in our guide below. So whether you're buying a camera for a toddler or a teen, you'll find some great ideas ranging from retro instant cameras to rugged compacts in our list, which has been ranked based on our extensive testing (by both adults and kids).

As you'd expect, there's no one-size-fits-all camera for children. Choosing the right camera depends on a range of factors, with the most important being age. A simple, robust camera makes the most sense for younger users. But for older kids who are starting to explore their creative side, you'll want one that features more in-depth modes and settings like manual controls.

Age and experience are one thing, but a child’s imaging interests will also weigh into your decision on the camera that’s right for them. Little learners who like to get hands-on with their hobbies might like the tactile features of instant camera prints, while those who love diving (literally) into the action will love shooting with an underwater camera or action camera.

Whatever their age or tastes, you'll find something suitable in the list below. All of the featured cameras in this buying guide have been picked because they offer a unique shooting experience for young snappers. Looking to teach your child the fundamentals of photography? Then something like the Lomography Konstruktor F, a modular camera that you build from scratch, is a good option. But for children at the more extreme ends of the age range, there's also the myFirst Camera 3 (for under fives) or the Insta360 Go 2 for budding teenage vloggers.

While a few cameras do feature abstract styling, we’ve made sure to stay clear of unimpressive ‘toy’ cameras which could hinder your young photographer’s progress in the hobby. Because budget is usually a significant consideration, we’ve also broadly opted for options that deliver a balance of bang-for-buck without breaking the bank. 

A great example is our current favorite camera for kids: the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11. An accessible and affordable instant camera, it’s pretty much the perfect entry point for first-time photographers, with replacement film packs available at pocket money prices. That said, every camera recommended below has been included for a specific scenario or age range. Read to the end and you’ll be well-placed to pick a camera that’s perfect for your kids. Who knows: it might just be the start of a lifelong hobby.

The best cameras for kids 2021:

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1. Fujifilm Instax Mini 11

The best place for kids to start with instant film photography

Specifications
Recommended ages: 5-18**
Camera type: Instant film
Paper size: Fujfilm Instax Mini (86x54mm with a 62x46mm picture size)
Lens: 60mm f/12.7 (34mm equivalent)
Viewfinder: Optical, fixed
Reasons to buy
+Auto exposure means fewer wasted snaps+Adjustable lens for easy macro shots+Well-priced film packs
Reasons to avoid
-Exposures a little too bright in the sun-Slippery body-Film costs can adds up

There's still nothing quite like instant film for sharing moments and cherishing them for years to come. Seeing the photo appear on paper, keeping it or giving it away – aah, that’s the stuff. If you’re looking for a starting point, there’s no better camera than the Fujfilm Instax Mini 11. 

Replacing the three-year-old Mini 9, the Mini 11 was launched in 2020. Design improvements include auto exposure with a variable shutter speed, plus a built-in adjustable lens with a close-up setting, which is ideal for selfie shots. In short, there'll be far fewer wasted prints, which is good news considering those costs can add up. 

The curvy design of the camera will no doubt appeal to younger photographers. It’s available in five colors and comes with color-matching accessories – a wrist strap and removable shutter buttons. 'Instax Mini’ paper used by the Mini 11 is legendary and available with numerous different border styles. 

The paper is readily available and well priced – and if you buy in bulk, it's even cheaper. That’s good news if your little one gets carried away taking multiple similar shots of their Lego creations. Most importantly, the look and color you get from Fujifilm’s ‘Instax Mini’ paper is simply divine and could inspire a lifetime hobby. 

Read our in-depth Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 review

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2. Lomography Konstruktor F

Charming build-your-own modular camera kit

Specifications
Recommended ages: 9-18**
Camera type: Film, build-your-own
Film size: 35mm
Lens: 50mm f/10
Viewfinder: Twin-lens reflex
Screen: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Building process is a good challenge+Customizable+Well priced
Reasons to avoid
-Plasticky-Slightly fiddly construction

Lomography is the ruler of 'alternative cameras' and one of its best models is a charming build-your-own camera kit called the Konstruktor F. 

Included in the kit is everything you need to build the 35mm SLR film camera, complete with customization sticker sets. This updated ‘F’ version is compatible with flash, although this is one of many optional ‘Konstruktor’ series accessories for this reasonably priced kit. Other accessories include a close-up twin lens kit and film pack bundle.

Our nimble seven-year-old assistant was at his limit with this complex kit, which takes in the region of 1-2 hours to make – it's possibly more suited to teenagers, depending on your kids' skills and patience. 

As you build, you truly get to see the internal mechanics of an SLR camera. We think the Konstucktor F is a fantastic option for those that love to build, see how things work and enjoy the fruit of their labour with a charming finished product. Alternatives from Lomography include the LomoMod No.1 kit, which is also well worth a look. 

iPhone SE review

(Image credit: TechRadar)

3. Apple iPhone SE (2020)

The cheapest new iPhone has a decent camera

Specifications
Recommended ages: 3-18**
Camera type: Smartphone
Resolution: 12MP rear, 7MP front
Lens: f/1.8 (rear) f/2 (front)
Screen: 4.7-inch touchscreen, Retina HD
Video: 4K 60fps
Reasons to buy
+Smaller size for smaller hands+Impressive camera+Great price
Reasons to avoid
-Single camera-Small and dated screen-No headphone jack

Yes, this is a smartphone rather than a dedicated camera, but the reality today is that the first camera a child uses (or at least the one they'll end up using the most) is likely to be on a phone. The tech in smartphone cameras is developing at a rate of knots and you can find great cameras in mid-range smartphones, with the new Apple iPhone SE (2020) being a great example. 

The iPhone SE 2020 is less than half of the price of a flagship phone and, thanks to its smaller size, is a good point-and-shoot possible option for a young one. Camera-wise, what you get is the same single 12MP sensor with f/1.8 lens as the iPhone 8, but photo quality is much improved. Powered by Apple’s latest A13 Bionic chipset processor, you get sharper pictures with a more accurate color reproduction. 

Photos are not quite to the standard of the iPhone 11 Pro Max, but not far off and are impressive for the significantly lower price. The biggest difference to Pro models is the limitations of the single lens, namely a less effective portrait mode. 

But as a first camera for kids, this smartphone opens up a whole world to explore, with its 4.7in screen and abundance of photo editing iOS apps.

Read our in-depth Apple iPhone SE (2020) review

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4. myFirst Camera Insta 2

An alternative and versatile take on instant film for youngsters

Specifications
Recommended ages: 3-8**
Camera type: Digital ‘instant film'
Sensor size: 1/2.3in
Resolution: 12MP
Video: Full HD 30fps
Screen: 2.4-inch
Reasons to buy
+Customizable cute design+Fun to use+Lots of paper included
Reasons to avoid
-Basic picture and print quality-Could break easily

Here we have an alternative and versatile spin on instant film in the cute shape of the myFirst Camera Insta 2. Available in blue or pink, this is actually a 12MP digital camera that prints onto thermal paper, meaning no need for inks.

Being a digital camera, pictures using the rear and selfie cameras are composed on the rear screen. Like other myFirst Cameras, there are plenty of templates to apply to those photos. 

After a photo is taken and print selected, the printed image comes out immediately on the installed roll of thermal paper. Generously, two rolls of paper (plus one roll of ‘sticker’ paper) are included in the box and can each print up to 60 sheets. 

Compared to the myFirst Camera 3 (see below), the Insta 2 is a little more engaging for little ones who can enjoy the printed pictures straight away or make their own photo stickers. There’s definitely a lot of fun to be had.

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5. myFirst Camera 3

The ideal camera for kids under the age of five

Specifications
Recommended ages: 2-5**
Camera type: Digital point-and-shoot
Sensor size: 1/2.3in
Resolution: 16MP
Viewfinder: N/A
Screen: 2-inch
Video: 1080p
Reasons to buy
+Cute design+Good size for little hands
Reasons to avoid
-Controls might be confusing at first-Limited features-Not as durable as it appears

If you're thinking about getting a first camera for a little kid, then there are a few ‘toy’ options with built-in games from V-Tech. But for a dedicated camera minus the games, myFirst have some cute options too, including the myFirst Camera 3.

Our seven-year-old tester declared this tiny point-and-shoot camera as "good for three-year-olds" on first sight. Certainly, its tiny form factor (available in blue or pink) and rubberized body encased in a ’shockproof pouch' will bring a smile. However, ideally you’ll avoid this plastic camera being thrown around too much.

In use, you have a simple fixed lens 16MP rear camera that features a macro mode, though you’ll need to show a young one how it’s done. There’s also a front-facing camera above the 2in screen for selfies. Hold down the shutter button and you get 1080p videos.

There’s a host of digital templates that can be added to photos which provide much entertainment, though hopefully your child won’t tire of scrolling through all of those options. This camera is best suited for kids under the age of five.

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6. DJI Osmo Pocket

Silky smooth handheld 4K video from a pocket camera

Specifications
Recommended ages: 9-18**
Camera type: Digital, action, v-logging
Sensor size: 1/2.3in
Resolution: 12MP
Video: 4K 60fps at 100Mbps
Screen: 1-inch touchscreen
Reasons to buy
+Stunningly smooth videos+Solid 4K video features+Great for motion timelapses
Reasons to avoid
-Not particularly durable-Accessories are costly extras-Microphone could be better

Shaky videos are no more with this pocketable handheld 4K video camera. The DJI Osmo Pocket is a tiny wand-shaped device, featuring a camera with gimbal that stabilizes video and the results are stunning.

It's since been succeeded by the DJI Pocket 2, which brings a larger sensor, but we reckon the original Pocket is more than enough for most kids to get started with their vlogging careers (particularly as its price tag is now more appealing).

For walk-around or even handheld sports action, you can expect very watchable 4K videos up to 60fps – that’s some crisp slow motion action. Truly, it’s a take-it-everywhere camera and a great, kid-friendly option for vlogging. Expect next-level videos from your family holidays and travels, especially in the hands of a teenager.

In use, a built-in port offers a physical connection to a smartphone, through which you’ll be able to view the scene on the larger screen and control the camera via DJI's app. Video transfers are quick and reliable, too.

The built-in microphone is okay, but we’d recommend attaching an (optional) external mic via a USB-C to 3.5mm adaptor for best quality audio. Yes, there are additional accessories that open up new functions for the camera, including selfie stick and a Control Wheel for a pan and tilt motion (great for dynamic time-lapses). 

It’s a sophisticated and truly portable bit of kit that will open up some great video techniques for older kids look to get started in filmmaking.

Read our in-depth DJI Osmo Pocket review

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7. Fujifilm XP140

For the young, rough-and-tumble adventurer

Specifications
Recommended ages: 5-18
Camera type: Digital, tough
Sensor size: 1/2.3in
Resolution: 16.4MP
Video: 1080p 60FPS, 4K 15FPS
Lens: 28-140mm f/3.9-4.9
Viewfinder: N/A
Screen: 3-inch touchscreen, 920K dots
Reasons to buy
+Handles whatever's thrown at it+Generous 5x optical zoom+Good features for the price
Reasons to avoid
-4K video is a let down-Screen could be brighter

The Fujfilm XP140 is a well-priced tough camera that's designed to be taken on any family adventure. As it’s fully waterproof down to 25m, shockproof to 1.8m, freeze proof to -10°C and dustproof, you can leave this practically indestructible camera with a young one and not worry about what condition it will come back in.

It’s equipped with a stabilized lens that has a generous 5x optical zoom (28-140mm) and produces photos with a 16.4MP resolution. That sensor is back-illuminated, so shoots clear pictures even underwater.

Subject recognition includes Eye detection AF and a self timer mode for improved portrait pictures. The camera is billed as having 4K video but the reality is more limited – this is a much more capable Full HD 1080p shooter, including a 4x slow motion mode and time-lapse recording. 

All pictures can be tagged with the GPS location and shared wirelessly to your smart device via Fujfilm’s app or even to a Fujfilm Instax Share printer (if you have one) for printing on-the-go. That same app also provides remote control of the camera. All in, this is a perfect budget option for the outdoorsy kid.

If the purse strings can stretch a little further, the more expensive Olympus Tough TG-6 is a little more capable though.

Polaroid Now

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8. Polaroid Now

An updated instant icon that’s accessible for kids

Specifications
Recommended ages: 8+
Camera type: Instant film
Paper size: Polaroid i-Type (107x88mm with a 79x79mm picture size)
Lens: 35-40mm equivalent
Viewfinder: Optical, fixed
Reasons to buy
+Classic i-Type film+Consistent autofocus
Reasons to avoid
-Inconsistent exposures-Expensive film packs

Its boxy, angular shape might make the Polaroid Now a bit tricky for very young kids to handle, but it’s also what gives the updated icon such retro appeal. 

Aping the chunky styling of classic Polaroid cameras, the Now features a slightly streamlined polycarbonate shell and a simplified button layout, both of which make it more straightforward for kids to shoot with. The Now also introduces a few improvements over the Onestep 2. 

Chief among them is a consistent autofocus lens, which eliminates some of the guesswork associated with instant photography. Exposure is less reliable, with the necessity of flash not always obvious, while the viewfinder doesn’t exactly match what the camera captures. 

All the same, with no shooting modes to mess around with, the Polaroid Now promises foolproof point-and-shoot fun for junior photographers – not to mention the joy of watching genuine Polaroid prints develop in front of their eyes. Although replacement film packs will require a lot of pocket money.

Insta360 Go 2

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9. Insta360 Go 2

A fine, hands-free option for budding vloggers

Specifications
Type: Action
Sensor size: 1/2.3-inch
Resolution: 9.2MP
Effective focal length: 11.24mm
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Max movie resolution: 1440p
Size, weight: 52.9 x 23.6 x 20.7mm, 26.5g
Reasons to buy
+Options for hands-free shooting+Charging case has built-in tripod+Impressive image quality for its size
Reasons to avoid
-Potentially easy to use-Not too many audio options-No 4K video support

It's not the best choice for small kids (partly because it's so easy to lose), but for young teens who are looking to learn the art of vlogging or creating YouTube videos, the Insta360 Go 2 is a fine new option.

Versatility is this tiny action camera's unique sell, with its range of bundled accessories making it even more adaptable out of the box than a GoPro. You get a magnetic pendant, which means its owner can effectively 'wear' the camera on their clothing, plus a very useful charging case that acts as a tripod. Plonk it down anywhere for shooting quick impromptu pieces to camera. 

Despite the lack of 4K video, the Go 2's 1440p footage is very impressive and easily good enough for a fledgling YouTube channel. That case means it's also one of the easiest action cameras to keep in good nick, and it's also water-resistant (if not quite able to handle swimming).

If your child is a fan of Despicable Me and those cheeky Minions, it may also be worth paying the slight premium for the excellent special edition that Insta360 has made with the Illumination studio. It’s exactly the same camera with the same specs, just with a charming Minion-themed coat of paint.

Panasonic TZ90

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10. Panasonic Lumix ZS70 / TZ90 review

Point-and-shoot travel camera with a 30x zoom

Specifications
Recommended ages: 7-18
Camera type: Digital point-and-shoot
Sensor size: 1/2.3in
Resolution: 20.3MP
Viewfinder: 1,166K dots
Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,040K dots
Autofocus: 49-area AF
Reasons to buy
+Huge zoom range+Excellent image stabilization+Wide range of features in small body
Reasons to avoid
-Small viewfinder-Image quality at the wide angle-More fragile than rugged cams

When smartphones shot to prominence for their image quality, the point-and-shoot camera market was severely hit. As such, class-leading cameras like the Panasonic Lumix ZS70 / TZ90 have had to up their game. 

A point-and-shoot travel-zoom is ideal for those after a small, do-it-all camera. A dedicated camera like the ZS70 / TZ90 could be a better and more versatile option for your child than a smartphone with all its distractions.

What you get here is a tiny camera crammed with great features. Its major selling point is the fully stabilized 30x optical zoom (24-720mm). Pictures may be a little soft at the edges when shooting wide, but it’s still a level-up from the zoom lenses found on today's best smartphones.

Other features include a 180-degree tilt ‘selfie' touchscreen and 4K video. Images can also be composed via the small electronic viewfinder (EVF), This is a rarity on such a small camera and could further kindle an interest down the line in more serious cameras.

Read our in-depth Panasonic Lumix ZS70 / TZ90 review

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11. Lomography Analogue Aqua

A reloadable film camera fitted with an underwater casing

Specifications
Recommended ages: 5-16
Camera type: Film, point-and-shoot
Film size: 35mm
Lens: 31mm f/9
Viewfinder: Direct optical
Screen: N/A
Autofocus: Fixed focus
Reasons to buy
+Underwater case expands possibilities+Color flash gels are fun+Simple to use film
Reasons to avoid
-Not the best picture quality-Film developing costs and lead time

Lomography has a range of 35mm film cameras that look and act a lot like disposable cameras. The key difference here is that film can be reloaded. Taking things up a level, the Lomography Analogue Aqua camera comes fitted inside a dedicated underwater case.

Preloaded with a vivid Color Negative 400 film, you can use this point-and-shoot analogue camera anywhere you like, including underwater to depths of 10m. Like its other reloadable analogue cameras, you get three color gels fitted by the flash. These gels can be configured for a number of colors to create fun flash lighting effects.

The 'simple use' reloadable analogue cameras all have gift-friendly price tags and are available in different colors and preloaded with different film types. While this ‘Aqua’ version costs slightly more, its underwater case does expand its picture possibilities, while offering additional protection. This is film photography at its simplest and the fun features and design will catch the interest of most kids. 

Google Pixel 4a

(Image credit: TechRadar)

12. Google Pixel 4a

The best pictures you can get from a budget smartphone

Specifications
Recommended ages: : 3-18**
Camera type: : smartphone
Resolution: 12.2MP (rear) 8MP (front)
Lens: : f/1.7 (rear) f/2.0 (front)
Video: 4K at 30fps, 1080p up to 120fps
Screen: 5.81-inch (1080x2340)
Reasons to buy
+Simple and effective camera+Good size for smaller hands
Reasons to avoid
-Single sensor camera has limitations-Not the most powerful phone for the money

Along with the iPhone SE (2020), which you can find higher in this list, the Google Pixel 4a is another great smartphone camera for kids. It offers great value considering its photographic power, and you can always buy it SIM-free without a data plan if you want to restrict its non-photographic features.

Like the iPhone SE (2020), Google shuns the typical mid-tier smartphone multi-camera approach, offering a solitary rear-facing camera with 12MP sensor (plus a single 8MP front selfie camera). Despite the limitations, its picture quality is fantastic.

The magic happens in Google’s intelligent software processing – you point and shoot in virtually any scenario such as night or portraits, and the processing does the rest for you with great results. Arguably, the Pixel 4a is one of the most simple and effective cameras available today. 

A neat feature is that some effects can be applied after the picture is taken and even on photos that haven’t been shot on the Pixel 4a. Portrait mode, for example, can be used on any portrait photo.

If the single lens limitations on features like zoom don’t matter to you, then the Pixel 4a is hard to beat.

Read our in-depth Google Pixel 4a review