Skip to main content

The best camera for kids in 2021: cameras for children of all ages

Included in this guide:

Best camera for kids
(Image credit: Getty Images)

So, you're looking for the best camera for kids? Perhaps your child is showing an interest in taking pictures on your smartphone or tablet, and you think you might have a budding David Bailey or Annie Leibovitz on your hands. By all means, nurture that gift! There are loads of great cameras out there for children, some of which are expressly for younger people, and others that just happen to suit them.

If you're picking the best camera for kids, the first thing to think about is the age of the child for whom you're buying. If you're shopping for a toddler, then something brightly colored and simplistic is the way to go, but beyond that things start to get more complicated. Is this a holiday distraction or a tool for a student? That will affect what kind of camera you buy.

Our guide is divided up into four sections. First we've got a couple of toddler-appropriate cameras that are great for pre-school little ones. Next, we round up our favorite instant cameras that allow kids to instantly print their images. Next, a few family favorites good for holidays and days out; these include some tough cameras that are waterproof and can take a few knocks. Lastly, we pick some more sophisticated cameras for students.  

The best camera for kids in 2021

Pre-school

We've included just a couple of cameras in this section. This is because although there are a lot of cameras for very young children on the market, they are not very sophisticated and could be outgrown very quickly.

(Image credit: VTech)

Aka ‘My First Digital Camera’, this is the best camera for young kids

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor: 1/2.3in
Megapixels: 5MP
Lens: Fixed (4x digital zoom)
LCD: 2.4in
Max video resolution: 320x240 pixels
Color options: Blue or pink
User level: Age 3+
Reasons to buy
+Rubberised build absorbs shocks+Easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-Watch out for older versions still in some stores with much lower resolution-Low-resolution LCD screen

VTech makes a range of brightly colored, 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 have been improved with the most recent edition of this camera with a 5 megapixel sensor, coupled with a 4x digital zoom. On the back is a 2.4in 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. The camera uses 4x AA batteries and a microSD card, that you will need to buy separately. So the best camera for kids? Yes, but only if they're very young.

Read more: VTech KidiZoom Duo 5.0 full review

(Image credit: Oaxis)

2. Oaxis myFirst Camera 2

A more advanced camera for young kids

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor: not stated
Megapixels: 8MP
Lens: Fixed
LCD: 2in
Max video resolution: 320x240 pixels
Color options: Blue or pink
User level: Age 4+
Reasons to buy
+Comes with underwater housing for pool and beach use+Compatible with microSD cards
Reasons to avoid
-Not suitable for very young children-Low-resolution video

This 8 megapixel camera is designed for kids aged around 4 to 8, and comes with a decent set of features to keep the curious mind occupied. It has an 8 megapixel camera, but still video quality is reduced to a very low-res 320x240 pixels. An appeal of this model is that it comes supplied with a waterproof housing, that can be used at depths of up to three meters (10 feet) – but you do need to check the housing is secured properly before diving into the pool! Another fiddly operation is inserting and removing the optional microSD card - but this does at least mean that the user can take lots and lots of pictures. Available in bluish or pinkish color to suit different tastes!

Instant fun

Instant cameras have made a comeback! They're perfect for kids of all ages – even young ones,  because they're big, chunky and simple to use. And for that endless succession of kids' parties that seems to last for about a decade, they offer some instant picture swapping fun to keep the party vibe going. They also mean you don't have to spend half a day printing photos on your inkjet printer – the camera does all the work.

In addition, instant cameras are a fantastic way to help occupy younger kids with a tactile and fun project. Why check out our full guide to the best instant cameras, or pick up an Instax photo album and have a fun afternoon sorting through your child's prints together – after all, it's never too early to get them used to a comprehensive file sorting system! 

(Image credit: Polaroid)

3. Polaroid Now

One for older kids, with plenty of retro charm

Specifications
Type: Instant camera
Lens: 94.96 - 102.35mm
Viewfinder: Optical
Focus modes: Normal, Double Exposure
Flash: Built in
Self timer: Yes
Color options: White, black, red, mint, pink, green, orange, yellow, or blue
User level: From kids to adults
Reasons to buy
+Great image quality+Easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-Exposure sometimes inconsistent-Film is pricey per shot

Embracing retro cool while still incorporating modern-day features, the Polaroid Now is a fantastic introduction to the charms and quirks of analogue image-making. Previous cameras in this resurrected Polaroid line have included the OneStep 2 and OneStep+, but this one out-shoots them both with better image quality and an improved flash. On the flip side it's a little simpler in operation with fewer specialist modes, so while this might frustrate serious photographers, it makes it a perfect choice for kids. Images look fantastic with a single tap of the big, bright, unmissable button, thanks to the improved metering system ticking away behind the scenes, and the prints make for a perfect display in any home (the only downside being that they're a little costly per pack).

Read more: Polaroid Now review

Best instant cameras: Kodak Mini Shot 3

(Image credit: Kodak)

4. Kodak Mini Shot 3 Retro

This hybrid instant/digital camera saves the pictures it prints

Specifications
Type: Instant camera
Film type: 4PASS All-in-One Cartridge
Image size: 3x3in
Lens: Not specified
Minimum shooting distance: Not given
Shooting modes: Filters, exposure control, bordered, borderless
Flash: Built-in
Self-timer: No
Viewfinder: 1.7 inch LCD
Color options: Yellow/black or white/black
User level: Beginner
Reasons to buy
+Cheap and cheerful+Very portable
Reasons to avoid
-Still not as good as film-No internal storage

Kodak's Mini Shot 3 is a tidy little digital instant camera that's great for anyone who doesn't want anything too complicate. It  houses a proper little printer that uses Kodak's 4PASS all-in-one cartridges to spit out little square prints, 3 inches by 3 inches. The colors pop a good deal better than some other instant cameras. The camera overall is pretty cheap, and running it isn't too expensive either, making it a good option if you want to shoot instant on a budget. It also produces 10MP digital photos that you can save via Bluetooth on the app (and you do have to do it this way; there's no internal storage). A cheap option that's good fun for anyone - and thanks to having a digital camera, can bee a lot cheaper to run than normal instant cameras.

(Image credit: Fujifilm)

Instant print goodness, straight out of the box

Specifications
Type: Instant camera
Film: Fujifilm instax mini instant film
Lens: 60mm
Viewfinder: Optical
Focus modes: Normal, Selfie
Flash: Built in
Self timer: No
Color options: Pink, white, blue, purple, or gray
User level: From kids to adults
Reasons to buy
+Easy and fun+Inexpensive
Reasons to avoid
-Can't disable flash-Image quality varies

One of the easiest Instax cameras to use, this new version of the trusty Mini series is a great choice for kids. Its Auto Exposure mode produces great results in a range of lighting conditions, and though it can be a bit temperamental sometimes, you'll likely be mostly pleased with the images it spits out. Instax prints look great as ever, small and full of fun, and loading them is as easy as it ever was. The camera is powered by two regular AA batteries, and the flash reliably gives every image a burst of light (and we do mean every image; there's no way to disable it). Inexpensive, user-friendly and full of fun, kids big and small will have a great time with this one.

The best instant cameras

Family favorites

Whether you're looking for a gift for a hard-to-please teen or a camera simple enough for the whole family to use, a low-cost point and shoot camera fits the bill perfectly. Or, if you think you need something tougher, many underwater compact cameras are also shockproof and freezeproof, which covers three household hazards at least.

(Image credit: Canon)

6. Canon ELPH 180 / IXUS 185

Smooth, sophisticated and stylish, this camera could be ideal for young teens

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor: 1/2.3in
Megapixels: 20MP
Lens: 28-224mm f/3.2-6.9
LCD: 2.7in, 230,000 dots
Video: 1280x720
Color options: Red or silver
User level: Beginner
Reasons to buy
+Super-slim+Simple for kids to use
Reasons to avoid
-Entry-level specs-LCD screen isn't huge

If you're after a starter camera for your kids that won't cost a fortune, Canon's long-established ELPH and IXUS ranges are a sensible place to look. The ELPH 180 (known as the IXUS 185 outside North America) is a beginner's model that delivers 20MP via its 1/2.3in sensor. But the 8x optical zoom should offer enough for young photographers who want to shoot a range a subjects. Light sensitivity is limited to ISO 100-ISO 1600 (with auto mode delivering max of ISO 800), but at this price, it's hard to pick faults and it'll likely prove sufficient as a first 'proper' camera for many young snappers. For more ambitious youngsters, the menu options yield some digital filters they'll enjoy experimenting with. And while there's no full HD video recording, the 720p capture is perfectly reasonable for the price.  It's available in black, red or silver.

Read more: The best point-and-shoot cameras

(Image credit: Sony)

7. Sony Cybershot DSC-W800

This is a good price for a compact family camera with a 5x optical zoom

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor: 1/2.3in
Megapixels: 20.1
Lens: 26-130mm f/3.2-6.4
LCD: 2.7in, 230k dots
Max video resolution: 1280 x 720
Color options: Black or silver
User level: From kids to adults
Reasons to buy
+A solid 5x zoom+Great price
Reasons to avoid
-Low resolution video-Not shockproof-LCD is small

This is a no-frills family compact, that looks the part, even though can be bought at a really low price. Time has left the specification of this camera by – as proven by its low-resolution 720P video shooting. But with a 20 megapixel sensor and an stabilized 5x optical zoom it is more than capable of producing pictures that most smartphone cameras will not get in as close to. There are some neat extra touches too – such as Smile Shutter Technology which takes a picture when your subject is looking suitably happy. 

(Image credit: Fujifilm)

8. Fujifilm FinePix XP140

Fujifilm's rugged camera is a waterproof, affordable hit for kids

Specifications
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: 4K
Color options: Yellow, green, gray, or blue
User level: From kids to adults
Reasons to buy
+Inexpensive next to ruggedised rivals+Good 25m waterproofing
Reasons to avoid
-4K is rubbish-No GPS, which many rivals offer

Tough cameras are a great choice for kids because, well, they're tough. They don't mind being dropped in a pond, thrown against a wall, coated in mushy peas or whatever else a child might think up. Case in point, the Fujifilm FinePix XP140, which also earns points for being less expensive than other tough cameras on the market. It's waterproof down to 25m, shockproof against drops of 1.8m, freezeproof, and dustproof. Perfect for days on the beach or any kind of holiday you can think of. It also takes pretty decent pictures, making it a good choice for a slightly older kid with a burgeoning interest in photography. Granted, the 4K at 15p is extremely ropey and not worth bothering with, but most kids probably don't care. 

(Image credit: Olympus)

Strengthened snapper for the rough and tumble of active family life

Specifications
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
Color options: Red or black
User level: From kids to adults
Reasons to buy
+Raw format support+Decent range of accessories
Reasons to avoid
-Fiddly zoom control-Image smoothing at high ISOs

In its eye-catching red finish, the Olympus Tough TG-6 looks brilliant even when it's just sat on your beach towel – and it makes sure that it's easy to find when you drop it in the snow or in a pool of water which it can survive down to 15m / 50ft! It's also available in a sleek black, if your kids prefer the high-tech Batman look. As well as being waterproof, the camera can survive drops of 2.1m / 7ft, as well as being crushed by anything up to 100kg / 220lbs (and it's also freezeproof to -10°C / 14°F, should it somehow get left in the fridge or freezer!). It's quite an advanced camera, with lots of features and functions (such as excellent macro and microscope modes) should you want them, as well as crisp 4K video for filming adventures, and has a great zoom range of 25-100mm. 

• Olympus Tough TG-6 review

(Image credit: GoPro)

10. GoPro Hero7 Silver

Inexpensive but highly capable camera for adventurous family holidays

Specifications
Type: Action camera
Sensor: 1/2.3in
Megapixels: 10MP
Lens: Fixed
LCD: 2in touchscreen
Max video resolution: 4K
Color options: Gray
User level: From kids to adults
Reasons to buy
+Affordable+Waterproof and tough
Reasons to avoid
-No zoom lens

A GoPro camera is a terrific thing to bring along on a family holiday, able as it is to capture all your adventures in crisp detail as well as stand up to the rough and tumble adventure that is life with kids. The GoPro Hero7 Silver is the perfect choice, more affordable than the more recent models in the Hero range, but still with more than enough functionality to capture fantastic images and videos. While this older model lacks the sophisticated features of its more expensive contemporaries, there's plenty of great stuff here; 15fps burst shooting is nothing to sneeze at (and you do get 4K video at 30fps)! The whole family can have huge amounts of fun with a GoPro, and this affordable version is the ideal choice. A GoPro isn't a camera for kids specifically, but their ruggedness and ease of use make them ideal for older children tackling new adventures and outdoor pursuits.

Read more: The best GoPro cameras

(Image credit: Lomography)

11. Lomography Konstruktor F

This build-your-own camera kit is perfect for budding engineers!

Specifications
Type: 35mm SLR
Lens: 50mm f/10
Viewfinder: Twin-lens reflex viewfinder
Focus modes: Zone focusing
Flash: Optional (sold separately)
Self timer: No
Color options: Black
User level: Teenagers and up
Reasons to buy
+Fun DIY project+No batteries needed
Reasons to avoid
-Viewfinder awkwardly placed-Could be challenging to build

For those who are looking for a little more of a project, it’s worth looking at the Lomography Konstruktor F - a fun build-it-yourself kit that gives you all the parts you need to assemble a fully functional 35mm SLR film camera in a matter of hours. There’s no need for glue or anything else – like an Ikea table, everything’s in the box, and there are a few extra screws for the inevitable moment one disappears through a gap in the floorboards. Be aware, though – this is not a simple Lego set. It’s pretty complicated and will take a long time, and we wouldn’t recommend it as a project for kids younger than mid-teens. The Konstruktor F also comes with stickers, allowing it to be customised as the user pleases, and once it’s ready it functions by and large pretty well – though the controls are a little fiddly and the top-placed viewfinder might give you a crick in the neck. The finished SLR is plasticky, crude and basic by any standards, but it's an excellent grounding in how film cameras actually work.

Students

If your kids have reached the age where photography has become part of their coursework, you need a more serious camera. Even here, though, you won't want to spend a fortune on a camera that might get forgotten about in a year, or crushed under a pile of rucksacks in the back of the school bus. For this section, we've picked two DSLRs, and a bargain mirrorless camera... 

See also
Best cameras for film
Best student cameras for school and college photography courses
Best camera for film students

(Image credit: Nikon)

A beginner DSLR that is a great camera for photography students

Specifications
Type: DSLR
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 24.2MP
Lens mount: Nikon F (DX)
Screen: 3in, 921,000 dots
Max burst speed: 5fps
Max video resolution: 1080p (Full HD)
Color options: Black
User level: Beginner
Reasons to buy
+Interactive 'Guide' shooting mode+Solid performance; good handling
Reasons to avoid
-Fairly basic controls-LCD has no tilt or touchscreen

The Nikon D3500 has a brilliant ‘Guide’ shooting mode that acts as a fully interactive tutorial on photography, delivered via the rear LCD screen. It explains how, when and why to use different camera settings for best effect, simply and efficiently. But D3500 can also be used in fully manual mode, so it's ideal for photography students learning how camera settings work and why. It's not as sophisticated as the Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D, but it's not as expensive, either, and there is a huge range of Nikon lenses you can use with it. The overall image quality and performance is very good, and the 5fps burst rate is sporty for an entry-level DSLR. If you like the look of it, we advise getting this camera bundled with the Nikon AF-P DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens– other kit lenses are available which might bring down the price, but this is the best one to go for as it offers vibration reduction to cut down on shaky shots.

Read more: Nikon D3500 review

(Image credit: Canon)

Great introduction to proper photography for bigger kids

Specifications
Type: DSLR
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 24.1MP
Lens: Canon EF-S
LCD: 3in touchscreen, vari-angle 1.04m dots
Viewfinder: Optical
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 5fps
Max video resolution: 4K UHD at 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p
Color options: Black
User level: Teenager to adult
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use with a polished interface+Great Live View AF performance
Reasons to avoid
-9-point AF system is slightly basic

OK, so you may not initially think of a DSLR when considering a camera for the kids, but this option from Canon certainly ticks three key boxes in being small, light and easy to use for school age children and students. A great all-round choice is the  EOS Rebel SL3/EOS 250D which boasts great autofocus and 4K video. It also features some grown-up specs, 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 colors. It's not the cheapest Canon DSLR but it's our favorite for size, features and long-term usefulness and the best camera for kids starting in college.

Read more: Canon EOS Rebel SL3/EOS 250D review

(Image credit: Fujifilm)

Smaller than a DSLR, but just as fun to use, and great value

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 24.2MP
Lens mount: Fujifilm X
Screen: 3.5in vari-angle touchscreen, 2,760k dots
Viewfinder: EVF, 2,360k dots
Max continuous shooting speed: 8fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Beginner/Intermediate
Reasons to buy
+Big 3.5-inch vari-angle touchscreen+Good 4K video features+Neat lightweight design
Reasons to avoid
-Regular CMOS not X-Trans sensor-Current stock shortages

The Fujifilm X-T200 is light and compact, but looks and feels like an old-school 35mm SLR film camera. Best of all, the X-T200 has a big new 3.5-inch vari-angle touchscreen with twice the resolution of most rivals and a 1:6 aspect ratio perfectly suited to video. It also has an electronic viewfinder and can shoot 4K video as well as 24-megapixel stills. Its 15-45mm kit lens is electrically powered and is a bit of an acquired taste, but it's really compact and offers a much wider angle of view than most kit lenses, making it ideal for interior shots and big landmarks. We loved the X-T200 when if first came out, and we still do, though the global pandemic seems to have caused stock shortages that are making the X-T200 harder to find right now.

• Recommended kit lens: Fujinon XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ
Read more: Fujifilm X-T200 review

Read more:

Chris George

Chris George has worked on Digital Camera World since its launch in 2017. He has been writing about photography, mobile phones, video making and technology for over 30 years – and has edited numerous magazines including PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Digital Camera, Video Camera, and Professional Photography. 


His first serious camera was the iconic Olympus OM10, with which he won the title of Young Photographer of the Year - long before the advent of autofocus and memory cards. Today he uses a Nikon D800, a Fujifilm X-T1, a Sony A7, and his iPhone 11 Pro.


He has written about technology for countless publications and websites including The Sunday Times Magazine, The Daily Telegraph, Dorling Kindersley, What Cellphone, T3 and Techradar.