Best camera for kids 2021: easy to use and durable

Easy to use and difficult to break – choose the best camera for kids with our handy guide

Included in this guide:

A little blonde girl on a beach taking a picture with one of the best camera for kids

Children, especially the really young ones, remain as one of the only sectors in the market to not have a smartphone which they use for taking pictures, so it makes sense to get them one of the best cameras for kids.

Giving a camera to a young child can be a fantastic way to unleash their creativity, as well as getting an alternative viewpoint on your family trips, holidays and memories.

There’s a number of cameras on the market which are specifically targeted towards children, but there are also a number of entry-level cameras which are aimed at everybody but make a lot of sense for a younger crowd. 

It’s quite likely that, for most, budget is going to be your primary concern here – so we’ve chosen a range of models which hopefully won’t break the bank. Then there’s also durability - after all, most children are clumsier than most, so you want to be sure that a camera can hack the trials and tribulations of having a miniature tyrant as its owner – such as an action camera.

If your kids are a little bit older, they might be starting to think a little more serious about photography. As such, we’ve included an option for a fantastic first DSLR – set your children free and watch them turn into the next David Bailey, with any luck.

Likewise, one of the more affordable best compact cameras or best mirrorless cameras might be more suited to teenagers, as these will have more features that they can learn to use.

If you think your child would appreciate a physical print after the end of a shoot, then you should also check out T3's guide to the best instant cameras.

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What is the best camera for kids?

Choosing the “best” kids camera is quite a difficult task, since there’s quite a high number of variables. For example, if you have a very young child, picking something like the VTech Kidizoom 5.0 makes a lot of sense, but if you’ve got a teenager in your charge, the likes of the Instax Mini 70 is more likely to appeal. 

That said, for all-round family versatility, we’d have to pick the Nikon Coolpix W150. With its bright colours and easy-to-use handling, it’s great for children, but it’s also something you might want to grab for days out to the beach, zoo and beyond, too. It’ll withstand a few knocks and scrapes with ease and could just ignite the snapper bug in your children, too.

How to choose the best camera for kids

Probably the most important thing you can consider is how much your child is going to use a camera. If it’s just a passing fad, or something that you think will only be brought out for holidays and the like, it makes sense to go for one of the cheaper models. 

However, if you think they’re likely to take this a little bit more seriously, investing in something which will last them longer probably makes more financial sense in the long run. 

It’s also worth thinking about the kinds of activities your kids are going to want to photograph. The tough / rugged cameras will see them right at the beach or at the swimming pool, but don’t be put off by the others if your kids are a little less rough and tumble.

Here’s our list of the best options to consider for your pint-sized paparazzo today…

The best kids cameras you can buy today

Nikon W150T3 Best Buy Award

(Image credit: Nikon)

1. Nikon Coolpix W150

A great family camera ideal for trips to the beach and beyond

Specifications
Weight: 177g
Waterproof: 10 metres
Video: Full HD
Battery Life: 220 shots
Sensor: 13.2 MP 1/3.1-inch
Reasons to buy
+Affordable+Waterproof+Shockproof+Simple operation
Reasons to avoid
-Image quality not great-Low-quality screen

Available in 4 vibrant kid-friendly colours, the W150 is the ideal family camera. It is simple to operate, with large chunky buttons and a range of easy-to-use beginner-friendly options. It also uses icons, rather than words, for many of the settings, which is another bonus for young children. It’s waterproof and shockproof, making it well placed for a trip to the park, or a bit of rough play in the playground. You likely won’t end up with masterpieces from the W150, but with its affordable price and tough credentials, it’s a great little starter to pique your kid’s interest.

Fujifilm Finepix XP130T3 Approved Award

2. Fujifilm Finepix XP130

Another budget-friendly tough point-and-shoot

Specifications
Weight: 207g (including battery and memory card)
Waterproof: 20 metres
Video: Full HD
Battery Life: 240 shots
Sensor: 16.4MP 1/2.3-inch
Reasons to buy
+Good price+5x optical zoom+3-inch screen
Reasons to avoid
-Limited image quality-No 4K video

Probably the biggest selling point of the XP130 is its low price point. Available for under £150, there are much better rugged cameras available on the market - but if you’re looking for something cheap and cheerful for children, it’s well worth a punt. While the Nikon W100 would be well suited to the under 5s, the XP130 probably suits the age range 5-10, with its slightly more complex operation. It’s got a 5x optical zoom and is waterproof, shockproof and all the usual tough credentials that we’ve come to expect from models such as this. Image quality can best be described as average, but it does well in bright light - so it should be perfect for holidays and sunny day trips. The bonus is that your kid can drop it, dunk it in the swimming pool and get sand all over it and it should still survive.

Instax Mini 70T3 Approved Award

3. Instax Mini 70

Kids will love the instant print nature of this fun point and shoot

Specifications
Weight: 281g (without battery or film pack)
Waterproof: No
Video: No
Battery Life: 300 shots
Sensor: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Selfie mode+Fun to use+Cheap initial outlay
Reasons to avoid
-Film costs can soon mount-No digital preview

A sweet camera that introduces kids to the notion of analogue photography, the Instax Mini 70 gives your child something tangible to hold in their hands with each shot - probably something that seems extremely novel for anybody under, well, about 30. The camera itself is cheap, but be prepared to shell out for film (Instax Mini) if your kid gets snap happy. One of the most fun aspects of the Instax Mini 70 is the “selfie” mode, which we’ve heard are quite popular with the younger generation. If you have a slightly bigger initial budget, it’s worth looking at cameras like the SQ10 which combine analogue with digital, giving you the scope to only print out the best shots.

VTech Kidizoom Duo 5.0T3 Approved Award

4. VTech Kidizoom Duo 5.0

Cheap, cheerful and well suited to very young children

Specifications
Weight: 522g
Waterproof: No
Video: 320x240
Battery Life: Not listed
Sensor: 5MP
Reasons to buy
+Super cheap+Two lenses+Easy operation
Reasons to avoid
-Low resolution sensor-No tough credentials

Coming in at under £40, it goes without saying that it’s unlikely that the Kidizoom Duo 5.0 camera is going to produce any stunning masterpieces, but in terms of getting kids interesting in photography, it does a fantastic job. It’s got two lenses for switching between taking normal shots and taking selfies - and there’s also a range of other fun features including a voice recorder, a photo shaker, games and a photo editor. It even includes a viewfinder for composing through to make your little one feel like a “real” photographer, too. In terms of toughness, it’s not officially rated, but the rubberised grips should mean it can withstand a small bump or two.

Nikon D3500T3 Approved Award

5. Nikon D3500

A camera which makes sense as a first DSLR for slightly older children

Specifications
Weight: 415g (with battery and memory card)
Waterproof: No
Video: 1080p
Battery Life: 1550 shots
Sensor: 24.2MP APS-C
Reasons to buy
+Great price+Great battery life+Guide mode for beginners
Reasons to avoid
-No touchscreen-No Wi-Fi-No 4K video

For slightly older children, the Nikon D3500 makes for a great choice for a very first DSLR, and you can pick it up for under £400 including a standard kit-lens. The D3500 features a Guide Mode which is fantastic for understanding exactly how all the different functions work - making it the perfect learning tool for your child. With the option to add different lenses should your kids get really into it, the D3500 is a flexible option which can be used right out of the box to get impressive shots. On the downside, it doesn’t have a touchscreen - something which might seem like an alien concept to children in 2019, while there’s also an absence of Wi-Fi (Bluetooth is included though).

GoPro Hero7 WhiteT3 Approved Award

6. GoPro Hero7 White

The perfect first time action camera, available at a great price

Specifications
Weight: 92.4g
Waterproof: 10 metres
Video: 1080p
Battery Life: Up to 146mins
Sensor: 10MP
Reasons to buy
+Cheap+Small size+Tough credentials
Reasons to avoid
-No 4K-Basic controls

GoPro’s entry-level camera is a cheap and cheerful option for kids, giving you a rugged and waterproof action camera for under £180. Kids will likely be at home with the touchscreen operation, with its simplified settings making it easy to capture quick videos and photos without much effort. It shoots Full HD, rather than 4K, but otherwise for the price it’s actually extremely well featured - making it something the whole family might want to borrow (if they can get near it). Kids will also likely love the ability to control the camera by voice, telling it to take a photo or record a video while they’re out and about. All in all, it’s the ideal first time little camera to fit neatly into your kid’s life (and their pocket).

Kurio Snap Digital CameraT3 Approved Award

(Image credit: John Lewis)

7. Kurio Snap Digital Camera

A camera/toy hybrid for littl’uns

Specifications
Weight: 231g
Waterproof: No
Video: Yes
Battery Life: Unknown
Sensor: 3MP
Reasons to buy
+Allows editing on the device+Designed to be entertaining
Reasons to avoid
-More of a toy

If it’s your little one’s first foray into photography, you may want to break them in gently. The Kurio Snap Digital Camera is just as much of a toy as a camera, allowing kids to take photos and videos, decorate them with more than 100 digital stickers and frame on the device. They can even draw on their photos and create flipbooks and slideshows, which will probably keep them busy for hours. 

Little artists can share their creations, play games and listen to music on the gadget, which has a re-chargeable battery and is suitable for kids over the age of 4. It’s not an option for those who have expressed a serious interest in taking photos, but more of a toy for those who just like to express themselves in every way possible. At £79 it’s not a cheap toy, but it does tick a lot of entertainment boxes

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT30 Waterproof CameraT3 Approved Award

(Image credit: John Lewis)

8. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT30 Waterproof Camera

A complete holiday package

Specifications
Weight: 0.14kg
Waterproof: Yes
Video: 720p
Battery Life: 250 pictures
Sensor: 16.1MP
Reasons to buy
+Good resolution+Waterproof and tough+Good value

The Lumix DMC-FT30 is built for active lifestyles, making it perfect for kids! The 16.1 megapixels camera offers better resolution than many built for mini-mes and has 4x optical zoom and 8x intelligent zoom. There’s a Creative panorama function, allowing shots to be stitched together, plus various filter effects for teens who are used to tinkering with their pictures as they take them. One of the camera’s big plus points is its MEGA O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) to help little hands take less blurry shots and there’s the ability to record videos in high definition, which is ideal for capturing singalongs at birthday parties. Built to last, the rugged-looking camera is capable of surviving 8m under water, while its also dustproof, shockproof up to 1.5 metres and freezeproof down to -10 °C, meaning it might just survive everything a toddler has to throw at it.

Sunnylife Underwater Malibu CameraT3 Approved Award

(Image credit: John Lewis)

9. Sunnylife Underwater Malibu Camera

A film camera for cool teens

Specifications
Weight: Unknown
Waterproof: Yes
Video: No
Battery Life: Unknown
Sensor: Full-frame
Reasons to buy
+Incredibly affordable+Retro appeal
Reasons to avoid
-Mixed results!

You might remember the anticipation of getting holiday snaps back as a kid or as a teenager, before the age of smartphones and digital cameras. The good news is, a new generation are embracing the excitement of film and Sunnylife’s Underwater Malibu Camera will delight your trendy teen and give you change for £20. The basic case is as plastic as it comes, but is designed to be used underwater, making it perfect for holidays. It has a focus-free, f/90 28mm lens, meaning your photos probably won’t be great, but it will be easy to capture atmospheric moments fuss-free. However, it’s the camera’s retro design, including a thumb wheel film advance and the fact it takes 35mm film that gives it its appeal, allowing teens to shoot film super cheaply and have the fun of getting unexpected results back from the chemist’s. Best of all, film is cheap and the camera itself costs £16.

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Amy Davies
Amy Davies

Amy Davies is a freelance journalist that covers cameras for T3 and many other sites. She is also Features Editor at Amateur Photographer magazine and, when she's not writing about cameras, she's probably taking pictures of her cute dog.