Searching for the best cameras for kids? You've come to the right place. There are scores of options out there for all age groups, so we’ve done all the legwork for you with the help of our trusty seven-year-old assistant. Whether you're looking to buy a camera for a toddler or teen, there'll be an option in this guide for you.
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to finding the best camera for your kid. You’ve got various age ranges, skill levels, experience, interests, and photo scenarios to consider.
With variety in mind, this roundup features some of our favorite cameras across these wide-ranging types, including ‘toy', build-your-own, instant, tough, smartphone, point-and-shoot and vlogging (yes, the kids are all about vlogging these days).
Okay, we haven’t gone as far as including the Lego camera. But every other kind of snapping device is here, including a more serious interchangeable option for those who want a beginner-friendly camera that will last into adulthood. After all, age is just a number, and if your young one is taking to image-making, why hold them back with a limited toy camera?
Another factor is budget. In general, we have opted for pocket-friendly options, aiming to find the best bang-for-buck in each camera type.
As you read about each type of camera, you’ll learn what scenarios it is good for, so you can make a decision on which one is best. Our descriptions are infused with input from a discerning seven-year-old, so you can get the view from both sides of the photographic fence, too.
What we hope is that you’ll find a camera in here that sparks a new hobby in your kid, whatever their age. Time to get snapping...
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
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.
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.
If you want a camera that can grow with your kids' skills, then an interchangeable lens model is the way to go. Right now, our pick is the Canon EOS M50.
Whether you're shooting in auto modes or taking full control and swapping lenses, this is a great option for the older kids or even younger ones that have really taken a keen interest in image-making.
For a first-timer, you need a beginner-friendly camera with intuitive menus that walk you through those learning stages, and the Canon EOS M50 is still one of our favorites. It’s a simple shooter with stunning image quality.
You get a large APS-C sensor, a huge picture size of 24.1MP, backed up by a lightning fast and reliable autofocus. The 3in vari-angle touchscreen is great for shooting from any angle, plus the viewfinder gives clear viewing in bright light.
Those into video might feel limited because 4K videos are cropped by 1.6x, but 1080p videos are great. Lens choice is still limited, but the collection is growing. Overall, for those getting serious about photography, the EOS M50 is a great choice.
Read our in-depth Canon EOS M50 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.
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.
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.
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