Photography is a great way to engage creatively while having fun – and it’s never too early to start! With a camera in hand, children are free to explore the world around them and create lasting memories.
Finding the best camera for a child can be trickier than it may at first seem. As such, we’ve put together a list of the best options on the market to help you decide. Before our picks, you’ll also find a buyer’s guide to help you decide what types of features are important when picking a new camera for your child.
How to choose the best camera for your child
Ease of use: First and foremost, any camera for kids should be fun to use. The last thing a child wants is to be bogged down with menus or held up by clunky controls. In our roundup, we’ve tried to include cameras that are easy to set up and good to go nearly straight out of the box. We’ve also included a recommended minimum age to help you pick from the most appropriate options.
Durability: Kids have a tendency to push products to their limits, so it’s important to make sure that the camera is capable of standing up to whatever your child can throw at it. While older children may be fine with more delicate tech, for younger kids it may be worth considering shockproof and waterproof devices for maximum peace of mind.
Addons and extras: While many entries on our list are ready to shoot straight out of the box, some may require additional purchases over time. Digital devices often use rechargeable batteries, making an SD card the only extra required. Other cameras may need specialised batteries or film that you’ll need to keep on top of.
The best kids’ cameras to buy
1. Nikon Coolpix W150: The best all-round camera for kids
Price: £149 | Buy now from Amazon
With a shock- and waterproof design, intuitive controls, and a range of bright colours to choose from, Nikon’s Coolpix W150 is an excellent option for kids of almost any age. It shoots 13MP stills, records full HD video, and packs a 3X optical zoom.
What really sets the W150 apart is its user-friendly control layout. With a large shutter button on the right, and a record button on the left anyone can get up and running almost immediately. The menus are easy to navigate too, with creative presets for night, food, and macro pictures, as well options for filters, effects and borders.
Images and videos are stored onto an SD card, which you’ll need to purchase separately, but with pictures averaging 7MB even a modest-capacity card should suffice. The W150 is also compatible with Nikon’s Snapbridge app, so you can transfer the files to your smartphone instantly.
Key specs – Recommended age: 6+; Stills resolution: 13.2MP; Video resolution: 1920 x 1080; Focal length: 30-90mm (35mm equivalent); Zoom: 3x Optical, 4x digital; Battery: Rechargeable; Battery life: 220 shots; Shockproof: 1.8m; Waterproof: 10m; Weight: 177g
2. VTech Kidizoom Duo 5.0: The best first camera
Price: £42 | Buy now from Amazon
Designed specifically for younger children, the Kidizoom Duo is the perfect first camera. It features front- and rear-facing 5MP sensors, a 4x digital zoom, inbuilt effects, and it can even record videos.
The Duo’s controls are intuitively laid out, with large buttons on the grips for the shutter release and lens selector, while a wheel on the back initiates the zoom. Shots can be framed using either the binocular viewfinder or the 2.4in LCD screen.
The menu system is also simple and easy to navigate, granting access to a range of different filters and effects for photos, videos, and voice recordings. There’s even a selection of inbuilt games.
Easy to operate, fun to use, the robustly built Kidizoom Duo 5.0 is the ideal pick for kids aged three and up.
Key specs – Recommended age: 3+; Stills resolution: 5MP; Video resolution: 320 x 240; Zoom: 4x digital; Battery: 4xAA; Weight: 558g
3. Fujifilm Instax Mini 9: Best camera for instant fun
Price: £60 | Buy now from Amazon
Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 9 makes instant photography easy and accessible for all. Available in a range of five different colours, this round-edged camera is perfect for smaller hands and produces attractive prints.
The camera is completely automatic, with the only user control required being a simple brightness adjustment – select the sun for sunny days, the cloud for cloudy days – you get the idea. The camera has a fixed focus so you simply need to frame using the viewfinder and press the shutter button. A close-up adapter is also included that simply snaps onto the lens, allowing for arm’s reach selfies – there’s even a little mirror to make sure you’re in frame.
The credit-card sized prints take around 90 seconds to develop and are great for collecting in albums or sharing with family and friends.
Key specs – Recommended age: 6+; Format: Instax mini; Battery: 2xAA; Weight: 558g
4. Canon IXUS 185: Best budget compact for kids
Price: £99 | Buy now from Amazon
Compact cameras have had a rough few years, with the entry-level market all but eaten away by camera phones. However, coming in just shy of £100, the Canon IXUS 185 is a more-than-competent point-and-shoot that can compete with pricier smartphones.
Packing a 20MP sensor, it’s able to produce nice, high-resolution images, and with an 8X optical zoom it can obtain an impressive level of reach too. As it’s an entry-level compact, it’s not exactly bristling with features, but it’s well specced for the price. It features a smart auto mode, face detection autofocus, and an impressive minimum focus distance for up-close macro shots.
Given its slim, lightweight design, it isn’t the toughest camera on our list and so wouldn’t be ideal for younger children. But, if you’re looking to equip your teen with a decent dedicated camera that’s ideal for holiday snaps, the IXUS 185 will certainly do the trick.
Key specs – Recommended age: Teen; Stills resolution: 20MP; Video resolution: 1280 x 720; Zoom: 8x optical, 16x digital; Battery: rechargeable; Weight: 126g
5. Harman Reusable 35mm: The best for 35mm film fun on a budget
Price: £35 | Buy now from Urban Outfitters
Out with the disposable, in with the reusable – it’s 2020 after all. The single-use camera has been a kids’ holiday must-have for decades. While you can still pick up a classic disposable, they’ve been creeping up in price as of late. Enter, the Harman Reusable.
It operates just like a standard single-use camera, the only difference being that it’s reloadable. Made entirely from plastic, it’s lightweight and easy to carry but still feels robust enough to hand to a child. Feature-wise, it really couldn’t be any simpler; there’s a shutter button, a wheel for winding the film, and a switch to toggle the flash. That’s it, point and shoot.
For around the price of two regular disposables you can pick up the Harman along with two rolls of film and a wrist strap. The included film is black and white Kentmere film (which can be harder to get processed unless you have a darkroom at home), but the camera is, of course, compatible with any 35mm film, black and white or colour.
Key specs – Recommended age: 6+; Format: 35mm film; Battery: 1xAAA (included); Weight: 100g
Buy now from Urban Outfitters
6. Apple iPhone 6S (Refurbished): The best camera phone for kids
Price: From £189 | Buy now from Amazon
With smartphone camera tech improving with each new generation, the best compact may actually be a phone. While it’s no longer the flagship, Apple’s iPhone 6S was top of the heap when it launched, and still produces cracking photos and videos.
It features a 12MP main camera, a 5MP selfie camera, and can record video at up to 4K. As an IOS device, it also has access to a whole world of photo applications on the app store, and photos can be easily shared online.
As the iPhone isn’t quite as robust as some of the other entries on our list, it’s better suited to older children – and there are plenty of tough cases available to beef it up a little.
The hardware may be a few generations old now, but given the current price of refurbished examples, it’s really tough to top the 6S for the price. If you were already considering picking up a phone for your child it’s a great opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.
Key specs – Recommended age: Pre-teen and up; Stills resolution: 12MP and 5MP; Video resolution: Up to 3840 × 2160p; Battery: rechargeable; Weight: 143g
7. Polaroid Now: The best camera for retro charm
Price: £100 | Buy now from Amazon
The iconic white-bordered Polaroid print has decorated the bedrooms of teenagers for decades. While other instant cameras available, none quite match the cool aesthetic of the original.
The Now is the latest Polaroid to hit the market and the only modern iteration to feature autofocus. It offers basic controls for exposure, flash, and double exposure, but in practice, it’s an easy to use point and shoot.
The instant pictures are exactly what you’d expect from a Polaroid – dreamily soft, colourful, and oozing with nostalgic style.
The only thing to keep in mind is the cost of the film. Polaroid i-Type film can be a little costly, and so this camera is best suited to older children who can pace their shots.
Key specs – Recommend age: Teen; Format: Polaroid i-Type; Battery: rechargeable; Weight: 594g