Skip to main content

The best camera for kids in 2020: family friendly cameras for all ages

The best camera for kids in 2020: family friendly cameras for all ages
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Choosing the best camera for kids is a fantastic way to encourage a new hobby in a child. Give them a creative outlet, a new toy to play with that's also educational, and you could be amazed to find yourself with a little budding photographer on your hands. With a wide selection of cameras for kids out there, you have plenty of choice on your hands.

When picking the best camera for kids, the most important factor to think about is the age of the child for whom you're buying. After all, a teenager is going to want something pretty different than a toddler! You want to strike the right balance between simplicity and technical capability. We've included a camera for toddler sin our round-up, as well as some instant cameras that are good for most ages, a few all-around digital compacts to suit the whole family, and lastly some more technical DSLRs that'll be attractive to budding photography students.

So, no matter whether you're after a camera that's effectively a toy, or one that's a little more educational, we've covered all of your bases in this guide . We've picked out cameras that are known for being straightforward, easy-to-use and nicely robust, so they'll be able to withstand being accidentally dropped a time or two. There are even some waterproof cameras on here, which are the best choices if you're looking for something to take on a family beach holiday.

We're confident that no matter what you need, at least one of the cameras on this list will suit you. So let's get to the best cameras for kids!

Best Black Friday cameras for kids deals so far

Fujifilm instax Mini 7S | was $59 | now $29.99
US deal The instax Mini 7S uses Fujifilm's most widely-avalailable instant Instax Mini film, which gives you 10 shots per pack and gives prints measuring 2x3in, which develop in front of your eyes a few seconds after you take the picture. This red only model is a one-day only deal from Adorama, so hurry if you want it!

View Deal

instax SQ6 | was £124.99 | now £89
UK deal We have a feeling that this deal on the instax SQ6 won't hang around for long, as it's already sold out at some retailers. The SQ6 has a dedicated Selfie Mode that automatically focuses on your face for the crispest results. It also uses the larger instax Square film. View Deal

The best camera for kids in 2020

Pre-school

We've included just one camera in this section 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)

1. VTech KidiZoom Duo 5.0

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

Type: Compact | Sensor: 1/2.3in | Megapixels: 5MP | Lens: Fixed (4x digital zoom) | LCD: 2.4in | Max video resolution: 320x240 pixels | User level: Age 3+

Rubberised build absorbs shocks
Easy to use
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.

(Image credit: Oaxis)

2. Oaxis myFirst Camera 2

A more advanced camera for young kids

Type: Compact | Sensor: not stated | Megapixels: 8MP | Lens: Fixed | LCD: 2in | Max video resolution: 320x240 pixels | User level: Age 4+

Comes with underwater housing for pool and beach use
Compatible with microSD cards
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

Type: Instant camera | Lens: 94.96 - 102.35mm | Viewfinder: Optical | Focus modes: Normal, Double Exposure | Flash: Built in | Self timer: Yes | User level: From kids to adults

Great image quality
Easy to use
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

The best cameras for kids: Kodak Smile Instant Print Camera

(Image credit: Kodak)

4. Kodak Smile Instant Print Camera

This hybrid instant/digital camera saves the pictures it prints

Type: Instant camera | Film type: Zero Ink (ZINK) | Image size: 2x3in | Lens: 32mm f/2.8 | Minimum shooting distance: Not given | Shooting modes: Colour, B&W | Flash: Built-in | Self-timer: Yes | Viewfinder: LCD screen | User level: Beginner

Slim, colorful design
microSD slot storage
ZINK prints aren't quite as good Instax or Polaroid ones
Limited battery life

The Kodak Smile Instant Print is a digital instant camera – a modern update of instant photography that combines the best of analog with the beauty of digital. This cute, colorful camera is essentially a miniature printer with a lens – it uses ZINK (zero ink) technology to produce 2x3-inch sticky-backed prints, which are perfect for kids to swap, share and stick everywhere. The camera's 5MP sensor is ideal for images of this resolution, though the pictures are definitely more like printouts than instant film… not that kids will care! The ability to add up to 256GB of microSD memory means that kids can snap to their heart's content, then cherry pick the images they want to print. The integrated battery keeps the camera nice and small, though you only get around 40 prints per charge – a far cry from the 120-160 shots you get from Polaroids. The buttons are big, bright and straightforward, so this is a good option for tech-savvy little ones. 

• Best digital instant cameras

(Image credit: Fujifilm)

5. Instax Mini 11

Instant print goodness, straight out of the box

Type: Instant camera | Film: Fujifilm instax mini instant film | Lens: 60mm | Viewfinder: Optical | Focus modes: Normal, Selfie | Flash: Built in | Self timer: No | User level: From kids to adults

Easy and fun
Inexpensive
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, the Ixux 185 could be ideal for teens

Type: Compact | Sensor: 1/2.3in | Megapixels: 20MP | Lens: 28-224mm f/3.2-6.9 | LCD: 2.7in, 230,000 dots | Video: 1280x720 | User level: Beginner

Super-slim
Simple for kids to use
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 (know 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, and – like any of these cameras for kids - retailers that offer a long guarantee and accidental damage options are to be recommended.

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

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 | User level: From kids to adults

A solid 5x zoom
Great price
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. 

8. Fujifilm FinePix XP130

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

Inexpensive next to ruggedised rivals
Advanced filters
Image quality could be better
No GPS, which many rivals offer

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. There is a more recent Fujifilm XP140 that adds 4K shooting, but is currently not really worth the substantial price jump. Rugged point and shoot models like this one are amongst the best cameras for kids.

(Image credit: Olympus)

9. Olympus Tough TG-6

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

Raw format support
Decent range of accessories
Fiddly zoom control
Image smoothing at high ISOs

In its fire engine-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

Type: Action camera | Sensor: 1/2.3in | Megapixels: 10MP | Lens: Fixed | LCD: 2in touchscreen | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: From kids to adults

Affordable
Waterproof and tough
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 it 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 perfect for budding engineers!

Type: 35mm SLR | Lens: 50mm f/10 | Viewfinder: Twin-lens reflex viewfinder | Focus modes: Zone focusing | Flash: Optional (sold separately) | Self timer: No | User level: Teenagers and up

Fun DIY project
No batteries needed
Viewfinder awkwardly placed
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 Meccano kit. It’s pretty complicated and will take a good 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)

12. Nikon D3500

A beginner DSLR that is a great camera for photography students

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) | User level: Beginner

Interactive 'Guide' shooting mode
Solid performance; good handling
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.

Read more: Nikon D3500 review

(Image credit: Canon)

13. Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D / EOS 200D Mark II

Great introduction to proper photography for bigger kids

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 | User level: Teenager to adult

Easy to use with a polished interface
Great Live View AF performance
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 relatively recent 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: Sony)

14. Sony A5100 with 16-50mm lens

It's a little old, but the A5100 is a great vlogging option

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.3 | Lens mount: Sony E | Screen: 3-inch 180-degree tilting, 922k dots | Viewfinder: No | Max burst speed: 6fps | Max video resolution: Full HD | User level: Beginner

Very compact
'Pancake' power zoom lens
No viewfinder
16-50mm kit lens not great

Launched way back in 2014, the Sony A5100 was always intended as a camera for beginners. While it doesn't have a viewfinder (so users have to rely on the monitor screen) and the 16-50mm pancake zoom lens it often comes bundled with doesn't have the best optical quality, the A5100 does have a 24MP APS-C sensor that's competitive even in 2020 and a 180º flipping screen. With mirrorless being the photographic technology of the future and Sony set as the fashionable name in cameras, buying into the Sony E-mount system could prove handy for your young budding vlogger. 

Read more: