If you’ve got a budding David Bailey or Annie Leibovitz at home, then encouraging their creativity with their very own camera is a fantastic thing to do.
There are several cameras out there that have been specifically designed with kids in mind, while others will work well if they share some / all of these criteria. You can find a selection of these in T3's best camera for kids buying guide.
It’s also worth bearing in mind the age of the child you’re buying for. Younger children will be looking for something uncomplicated and easy to use, while those who are older and further along their photography journey may be better equipped for something more complicated.
For older children and teens, it might also be worth looking at our best entry-level camera options, too.
If you’re looking for a young child’s camera, however, here are some things to consider when making that purchase:
1. Good value
It stands to reason that it’s unlikely you’ll want to spend a huge amount on a child’s camera - especially a basic one which is just to gauge their interest.
Most specifically designed kids cameras won’t set you back too much, but you might find ones which offer a rugged design are a little more pricey - however this can still be considered good value if it’s more likely to last longer.
You might also want to think about older models, or even second-hand purchases, which will still give you a lot of camera for your money, without all the latest top-end wizardry.
There’s a couple of schools of thought when it comes to size for children’s cameras.
If you’re buying for a very young child (five and under), you’ll want something relatively large for them to have plenty of grip on, with large, tactile buttons that are easy to push and use.
Slightly older children might prefer a small camera which they can fit in a pocket ready to use whenever they feel inspired to take a picture.
3. Uncomplicated settings
While you want physical controls and buttons to be minimalist, large and easy to use, for children, you’re also unlikely to want something which has lots of different shooting options that are likely to confuse.
Cameras that have been specifically designed for children usually have just a couple of basic automatic modes which allow your child to concentrate on having fun, composing images and looking for subjects - rather than worrying about difficult manual settings and techniques.
As your child gets older, you might want to consider cameras that offer a greater variety of different modes, but are still pretty simple - such as “macro” for close-ups, “sport” mode and so on.
4. Tough exterior
Children are of course known for being a little clumsy, so it stands to reason that you’ll want a camera that can withstand more than just the odd knock or scrape.
Cameras designed with kids in mind will generally be fairly tough, waterproof, and drop-proof. You could also consider tough “adventure” style cameras which have generally been designed with activities such as scuba diving and mountaineering in mind.
5. Decent battery life
It would be foolish to expect a child to practice careful power management techniques. They’ll often leave a camera on, forget to switch it off, or take lots and lots of pictures in a row.
Therefore, it makes sense to look for a camera that boasts a decent battery life, one that has an automatic “off” function, or one that supports in-camera battery charging for power boosts on the go.
6. Image Quality
The reason why this is quite low on the list is that children, on the whole, are more easily impressed than adults.
You don’t need the best image quality you’ve ever seen to stoke their creative fires, with even older cameras and mobile phones being good enough to get them started.
That said, it shouldn’t be totally terrible, or they’ll quickly lose interest. Take a look at reviews with sample images to get a feel for the kind of image quality you should expect.
7. Fun Design
Last, but by no means least, a fun, colourful and vibrant design is more likely to attract your kids to actually use a camera.
Lots of cameras which are specifically designed with kids in mind use bright designs, so look out for those which offer their favourite colour - it also helps that they’re easier to find when dropped.