Our pick for the best camera for kids is the. It’s not a toy camera, nor is it particularly cheap, but it is very good at one thing that makes it a great choice for putting it in the slippery hands of youngsters: Survival. It is waterproof, drop-proof, crush-proof, and probably even dog-proof, so wherever it ends up and however it gets there, it should survive the journey.
Kids love to make art, and they also love using technology. The perfect artistic and high-tech tool for a kid is a camera. We’ve tested and evaluated a wide range of cameras and found a number which work perfectly for children, whether it’s a first-time snapper, or a more advanced model for underwater shots. The cameras we’ve chosen are durable and easy-to-use, making them perfect for kids who aren’t gentle with electronic devices. Here are the best cameras for kids in 2020.
At a glance
- Best camera for kids: Olympus Tough TG-6
- Best camera for toddlers: VTech Kidizoom
- Best cheap camera for kids: Fujifilm FinePix XP120
- Best instant camera for kids: Fujifilm Instax Mini LiPlay
Why you should buy this: A camera that can withstand pretty much anything, with advanced features to grow into
Who’s it for: Tech-savvy teens, adventurous kids, and even parents that want to snap photos at the river or beach
Why we picked the Olympus TG-6:
The Olympus TG-6 is durable enough to survive 50 feet of water, 7-foot drops, or 200 pounds of pressure on top of it — which means it can survive at the hands of most children (unless you’re raising Sid from Toy Story). But while there’s a handful of good rugged cameras out there, the TG-6 has some of the best specs, with a bright lens that allows the camera to take decent photos indoors and 20-frame-per-second burst shooting for keeping up with the most active kids.
Designed as a ruggedized point-and-shoot and not specifically as a camera for kids, the TG-6 is an excellent option for tech-savvy teens because there’s room to grow and learn beyond using the camera as a basic point-and-shoot. Some semi-manual modes, as well as some creative automated modes, are included for kids who want to really learn photography but are a bit too accident-prone to try a DSLR yet.
The TG-6 will also record things like the speed and location for outdoor adventures (you can disable this if you’re concerned about privacy). Other advanced features include Wi-Fi for transferring photos over to a smartphone.
The TG-6 is very close to the older model, the Tough TG-5, but the newest model is actually listed for less. If you find a good deal on a used one, the TG-5 is very close to the TG-6 except for some lens coatings and minor adjustments. But new, the TG-6 is currently the best value.
Read the Olympus Tough TG-5 review
Why you should buy this: A cheap, durable camera designed for small hands
Who’s it for: Toddlers and preschoolers, ages 2-5
Why we picked the VTech Kidizoom:
Finding a cheap camera isn’t hard, but the VTech Kidizoom has one of the best toddler-friendly designs out there. The design is durable enough for toddlers, although it is not submersible like the Olympus TG-5.
But it’s the Kidizoom’s ergonomics that are really make the camera suited for the youngest photographers. The camera has two grips on both sides, with two viewfinders. Why two viewfinders? Most toddlers really don’t get the concept of closing one eye and putting the other up to the camera. There is also a screen, along with large buttons and a big joystick for navigating the different options with little fingers.
Will the Kidizoom capture great photos? Not at all — it’s a 2-megapixel camera. The Kidizoom isn’t a camera for taking photos good enough to print or share; instead, it’s designed specifically to teach toddlers photography basics and to spark an interest in photography. We’re a bit more conservative than the manufacturer’s suggested age range on this camera, however, which goes up to age 8 — we can’t really see a child that old getting excited about it, but it’s certainly a hit among toddlers and preschoolers.
Why you should buy this: A durable, rugged camera that’s easily affordable
Who’s it for: Adventurous or accident-prone kids
Why we picked the Fujifilm FinePix XP120:
The Fujifilm FinePix XP120 is both durable and affordable. The camera is rated for 65 feet underwater, and is also protected against dirt, dust, and cold. The 16.4-megapixel sensor is paired with a 5x optical zoom lens which isn’t as bright as the lens on the Olympus TG-6, but the durability and features are excellent for the price.
The XP120 has a good 10-fps burst mode for photographing action. It also boasts a control scheme designed for easy operation while wearing gloves and it works well for kids smaller hands, too. With only a handful of controls, the XP120 should be easy for kids to learn and use. Wi-Fi is included, but a GPS isn’t — which is often a good thing for kids.
The XP120 has since been replaced by the XP140, but one of the best ways to get a budget-friendly camera for kids is to opt for a model that’s a few years old that isn’t missing out on too many features. The mix of durability, simple controls, and image quality beyond those 2-megapixel toy cameras make this a great option for kids that doesn’t break the budget.
Why you should buy this: The novelty of instant film is great for kids — but the screen can help prevent wasting expensive film
Who’s it for: Kids (and kids at heart) that prefer holding physical pictures over looking at pixels on a screen.
Why we picked the Fujifilm Instax Mini LiPlay:
Want to teach your kids that some things are worth waiting for, but don’t want to spend money on prints of your kid’s fingers and feet? The Fujifilm Instax Mini LiPlay is a film-digital hybrid that offers the experience of instant film with some of the convenience of digital. There’s a screen at the back so not every single photo is printed — since kids could easily go through a $15 pack of film in five minutes. But, the keepers you can spit out on credit-card-sized Instax Mini film.
The best part of the LiPlay is how fun it is to use — even for adults — and that could help spark a lifelong love for photography. The digital aspect means you can have the photos in print and in pixels, or even just in pixels. The sensor is just meant to print out tiny photos, so it’s not the best. But that digital sensor allows kids to keep taking pictures even when they have run out of film. Teenagers can use those digitals for sharing on social media, and the Instax prints for sharing in person.
The Instax Mini LiPlay isn’t perfect, but instant photography isn’t supposed to be. While not designed specifically for kids, the fun user experience, simple interface, and affordable price point makes the LiPlay a good instant film option for even the youngest budding photographers.
Read the Fujifilm Instax Mini LiPlay review
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