Searching for the best camera for kids? From simple instant print cameras to rugged action snappers, we’ve tested all of the top options for junior photographers. So whether you’re shopping for a toddler or a teenager, you’ll find top recommendations for all ages in this buying guide.
There’s no one-size-fits-all camera for kids. What’s right for one child won’t necessarily suit another. Younger users, for example, will probably benefit from a camera that’s straightforward, robust and easy to handle. On the other hand, for older kids who are starting to experiment with creative photography, you’ll want something with more modes and manual controls.
You should also think about the interests of budding photographers. Some of the best cameras for kids have bright, tactile physical features to engage little learners who like to get hands-on with their hobbies, like the myFirst Camera 3. Others – such as the Fujifilm XP140 – are built waterproof and tough to go anywhere and everywhere with adventurous youngsters.
Every camera included in the list below has been recommended because it offers a great shooting experience for kids. From DIY cameras that kids can assemble themselves to more advanced digital compact options for would-be vloggers and travel photographers, our buying guide includes cameras for every age group, interest and budget. That said, we’ve steered clear of underwhelming ‘toy’ cameras which could hold back a child’s imagination.
Our top pick for the best children’s camera is currently the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11. It’s accessible, affordable and features an adjustable lens that allows learners to try their hand at macro photography. It’s an ideal entry-point for junior snappers, producing lovely instant prints. Replacement film packs won’t break the bank, either.
But different kids might find a better fit with something else from the list below. Each recommendation has been picked to suit a specific interest or age range, to help you find the ideal camera for the kid in question.
- These are the best laptops for kids
The best cameras for kids 2021:
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Instant photography is ideal for little learners and no camera epitomises point-and-shoot simplicity better than the Polaroid Go. Pretty much the dinkiest instant print camera you can buy, its cute, compact form is perfect for small hands to get to grips with.
Controls are simple, too, with just a smattering of buttons on the retro-inspired shell, plus a neat digital shot counter for keeping track of snaps. Fixed focus and lack of a macro mode do place some limits on creativity, but also make shooting with the Go a straightforward and accessible experience for kids of all ages.
As they get more adventurous with their photography, youngsters can override the Go’s automatic flash and experiment with double exposures. Credit card-sized prints aren’t the biggest, but they do delivery those dreamy pastel tones and dark contrasting shadows so evocative of instant photography.
Film refill packs do cost more than the average pocket-money budget, but the Polaroid Go is still an entertaining, easy to use and portable way for children to get in on the photographic fun.
- Read our in-depth Polaroid Go review
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.
- Read our in-depth Insta360 Go 2 review
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
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.
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