So what's the best camera for kids? It depends on their age, what you want them to . get from a camera and the size of your budget. We reckon it comes down to four things: fun, price, resilience (!) and long-term value.
UPDATE: Black Friday is coming! It's the perfect time to grab a bargain for your smaller family members so we've refreshed and updated our best cameras for kids guide with the newest and best bargains. You can check out all the latest camera prices on our special Black Friday Camera Deals page!
First, the price. Smaller kids have a limited attention span, an endless desire for novelty and incredible powers of destruction. For all three reasons it's best to keep the cost down and the fun factor dialled up to eleven, so an instant camera makes a great choice.
Fujifilm is on a roll here, with the brand new Fujifilm instax SQUARE SQ20 and like all instax cameras it's easy to use. If you can point it the right way, you're in. You can even get the Instax Square SQ6 in a Taylor Swift edition, whoever that is.
Instant cameras offer on-the-spot fun, but if you're looking for a longer-term camera you can take on holiday and the whole family can use, what could be more perfect than the simplicity and resilience of a rugged compact camera? They're easy to use, waterproof, often shockproof and will still work whether you've just pulled them out of the sea or your toddler's bowl of spaghetti hoops.
Older kids will regard all of this with utter contempt, of course. They'll want a camera that's equally good for instas, blogging, school projects and potentially an academic career in photography or the creative arts. This is where you need the long term value of a DSLR, and we've picked our favourites here too.
So here are ten top choices across a variety of categories, including some which may not feature on our our best camera list but are ideal for the little 'uns
Need something more specific? Make sure to also check out these further buying guides:
- The 10 best cameras for beginners
- The 10 best cheap cameras
- The 10 best compact cameras
- The 10 best cameras under £500 / $600
1. Fujifilm Instax Square SQ10
Instant prints for party animals, with handy extras we’d expect from a digicam
Type: Instant camera | Sensor: 1/4in | Megapixels: 3.7MP | Lens: Fixed 28mm f/2.4 | LCD: 3in, 460,000 dots | Viewfinder: Optical | Flash: Built in | User level: From kids to adults
Aside from the new square-format film pack, the most notable feature of the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ10 is the ability to review and edit your shots via a small LCD display on the camera’s back. Previously, Instax owners would have to point, shoot and hope that the lighting was right and the subject framed accordingly – now, your children can store up to 50 images in the camera’s internal memory or add a microSD card to extend storage space. You get to adjust and edit images in-camera and choose which ones to print, which could save you a bundle on film packs. If your family simply wants instant prints, however, Fujifilm’s cheaper Instax Wide, Mini and Mini 90 Neo Classic may do just as good a job.
2. Nikon Coolpix W300
A robust choice for bigger kids who want to enjoy underwater adventures
Type: Compact | Sensor: 1/2.3in | Megapixels: 16MP | Lens: 24-120mm f/2.8-4.9 | LCD: 3in, 921,000 dots | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: From kids to adults
A toughened camera is an obvious image-capture device to place in the hands of less careful members of the family, but Nikon’s Coolpix W300 is loaded with an array of other features. With 4K video, built-in GPS, Wi-Fi connectivity plus an altimeter and underwater depth gauge, your youngest can make like James Bond that's just been kitted out by Q. Also impressive is the 921,000-dot OLED monitor, plus the fact that the camera can function down to a depth of 30m underwater, which means it will be more than adequate for use in and around the pool or sea. A wide-ish zoom range from a safely internally stacked lens starting out at 24mm and going up to 120mm acts as a jack of all trades, so this could be the perfect camera for the whole family, not just the kids.
Read more: The 10 best action cameras
3. Olympus Tough TG-5
Strengthened snapper for the rough and tumble of active family life
Type: Compact | Sensor: 1/2.3in | Megapixels: 12MP | Lens: 25-100mm f/2.0-4.9 | LCD: 3in, 460,000 dots | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: From kids to adults
In its bright red finish, the TG-5 looks brilliant even when it's just sat on your beach towel, and its high-tech look is sure to be a hit with the kids. You don’t need to fret about them wrecking it either, as build quality is exceptional enough to inspire confidence. The camera has a fairly chunky construction, but still manages to be ergonomically designed, which, together with the well-placed controls, makes it simple to use in a variety of shooting scenarios and weather conditions. This little pocket-sized marvel can be dropped from a height of 2.1m and still work perfectly, and the latest-generation TruePic VIII processor and the ability to shoot 4K video clips at 30fps the icing on the cake for the next generation of vloggers.
4. Fujifilm FinePix XP120
Rugged camera that’s as well suited to the beach as it is the playroom
Type: Compact | Sensor: 1/2.3in | Megapixels: 16.4MP | Lens: 28-140mm f/3.9-4.9 | LCD: 3in, 920,000 dots | Max video resolution: 1920x1080 | User level: From kids to adults
It may not have the broad set of specs offered by several of its rugged rivals, but younger members of the family are hardly going to care as long as it is simple to use (it is) and does the job (it does). There are a range of fun filters included to keep the family happy and Wi-Fi connectivity for the transfer of images too, the latter an important, but perhaps overlooked, feature when most kids can't wait to share their adventures with their friends. You don't get some of the more advanced features to be found on competitors’ models, such as on-board GPS, although this Fujifilm camera is more reasonably priced than most. Incidentally those considering this model may also want to take a look at the newly announced Fujifilm XP130.
5. Ricoh WG-50
The Transformer-like design of the WG-50 is bound to appeal to kids
Type: Compact | Sensor: 1/2.3in | Megapixels: 16MP | Lens: 28-140mm f/3.5-4.2 | LCD: 2.7in, 230,000 dots | Max video resolution: 1920x1080 | User level: From kids to adults
We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to toughened cameras suitable for handing to the children and not having to worry about them getting trashed (the camera that is). The 16MP Ricoh WG-50 has a distinctively sporty and angular design, it's waterproof to a depth of 14m, and it's shock-proofed against a fall of up to 1.6m. Not only that, but it can even withstand a force of up to 100kg bearing down on it. Add dustproofing and the ability to keep shooting in temperatures as low as -10°C, along with an internally stacked 5x optical zoom lens, and the basic boxes are ticked, although video is capped at Full HD quality rather than 4K. What we love most about it, though, are the six LED lights arranged around the lens for illuminating close-up subjects, whether on land or submerged in a rock pool.
6. Canon EOS 200D / Rebel SL2
Great as an introduction to proper photography for bigger kids and students
Type: DSLR | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens: via Canon EF mount | LCD: 3in touchscreen, vari-angle 1.04m dots | Viewfinder: Optical | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Max video resolution: 1920x1080 | User level: Teenager to adult
OK, so you may not initially think of a DSLR when considering a camera for the kids, but this recent option from Canon certainly ticks three key boxes in being small, light and easy to use for school age children and students. This also features some grown-up specs to get them hooked, namely 24.2MP sensor and a 3in vari-angle touch screen. Canon sees this as a way to tempt smartphone photographers to step up to their first proper camera. Its proportions make it perfect for smaller hands while the menus are nice and clear. The picture quality is very good too, with accurate white balance and well-saturated colours. It's not the cheapest Canon DSLR but it's our favourite for size, features and long-term usefulness.
7. Nikon D5600
Nikon's junior-level D5600 is ideal for more advanced teenage photographers
Type: DSLR | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens: Via Nikon F mount | LCD: 3.2in touchscreen, vari-angle 1.037m dots | Viewfinder: Optical | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Max video resolution: 1920x1080 | User level: Teenager to adult
Like the Canon EOS 200D, this Nikon DSLR for beginners offers a relatively high-resolution 24.2MP APS-C sensor at its heart, together with a slightly larger 3.2in touchscreen with a vari-angle pivot for adventurous experimental photography. First-time DSLR users upgrading from their smartphones or tablets might not be impressed that it shoots full HD video not 4K, but the bigger sensor makes up for that in video quality. The bundled 18-55mm kit lens is usefully compact too and at 420g it’s not too weighty either, while the fuss-free body is crafted from a single piece of strong polycarbonate. Operation can be as easy as pointing and shooting, with Nikon’s 39-point AF system being swift and reliable in response. Will it tempt kids away from a smartphone? It will when they see what it can do that their smartphone can't.
8. Polaroid OneStep 2
One for kids both big and small, with plenty of retro charm
Type: Instant camera | Lens: 106mm | Viewfinder: Optical | Focus modes: Macro, Normal and Landscape | Flash: Built in | Self timer: Yes | User level: From kids to adults
Most of us adults can recall the ubiquity of the Polaroid brand in our own childhoods. So, for those former kids, who are now big kids, the OneStep 2 should be an easy sell. With the famous brand now under the ownership of the group of instant film enthusiasts who stepped in to continue producing Polaroid film once the brand collapsed (aka The Impossible Project), the OneStep 2 embraces a retro design inspired by the original OneStep from the 1970s, and it's just as easy to use too. Producing large, square-format instant prints (using Polaroid I-Type film), it does mean you’ll be paying quite a bit more per print compared to its Instax rivals, but if you’re happy to pay for that luxury and keep a tight set of reins on more trigger-happy children, then both you and they will love the OneStep 2.
9. VTech KidiZoom Duo
Aka ‘My First Digital Camera’, the KidiZoom Duo is aimed at the very youngest wannabe photographers
Type: Compact | Sensor: 1/2.3in | Megapixels: 0.3MP | Lens: Not specified | LCD: 1.8in | Max video resolution: 160x120 pixels | User level: Age 3+
VTech makes a range of brightly coloured, big-buttoned, entry-level tech gadgets for kids, and this is its current digital camera offering. Build quality is great, with its oversized rubbery build absorbing the shock of occasional drops, with big meaty grips on either side of the recessed lens for small hands to get enough purchase. While the camera and its controls may be relatively big for the average intended user, the specs aren't anything to get a photo enthusiast hot under the collar, with 640x480 (VGA)-quality stills and 160x120 video. On the back is a 1.8in LCD for composing and reviewing shots, through which you can also play five built-in games, so you've got a backup if the novelty of taking pictures wears off.
10. Fujifilm Instax Mini 70
Cheerful and cheap way to share the thrill of instant analogue photography
Type: Instant camera | Lens: 60mm f/12.7 | Viewfinder: Optical | Focus modes: Macro, Normal and Landscape | Flash: Built in | Self timer: Yes | User level: From kids to adults
Another firm favourite, and a cost-effective way to get the family into instant photography via this strictly analogue device, which is a little more advanced than Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 9, but not quite as sophisticated as the same manufacturer’s Instax Square SQ10 (above). Aside from the fact that little ones will need to be supervised so that their fingers don’t obscure the built-in flash when taking shots vertically, it's an ideal option for kids because just about everything is fully automatic, including the essentials of focusing, exposure and flash. There's even a mirror on the front to help your kids get their selfie face on. For kids parties and more, this could prove a winner – as long as the little ones don’t go too mad with the packs of instant film, that is.
Read more: The 10 best cameras for beginners
Read more: The best instant cameras