A good kids' camera can open up a whole new world for a child. Whether they dream of being future social media influencers, or they just want to take a stab at exploring their artistic side, having a camera as a kid can supercharge their creativity while being a ton of fun. If your child has started asking for your cell phone to snap some selfies, it may be time to investigate a starter camera for your kid.
We tested nine kid-friendly digital cameras to find the best for budding photographers and filmmakers. During our testing, we shot dozens of photos, hours of film, and we put every camera through the clumsy rigors of a careless seven-year-old. Our favorite, which rose above the pack for its durability and usability, is the Kidamento Model K(available at Amazon). It's a terrific little camera that takes better-than-expected photos, is small enough to fit in a kid's hand, and is super durable. Also topping the list was the Olympus Tough TG-6 (available at Amazon) for older kids, and our Best Value pick was the Prograce Kids’ Digital Camera (available at Amazon).
Here’s to seeing the world through your kids’ eyes—and here's to getting your cell phone back.
Here are the best digital cameras for kids we tested ranked, in order:
Kidamento Model K
Olympus Tough TG-6
Prograce Kids’ Digital Camera
Vtech Kidizoom PrintCam
Kodak Smile Instant Print
Vtech Kidizoom Duo DX
Kidamento Model K
This cutie little kids' digital camera made us swoon over its diminutive size, soft and grippy body, and its intuitive and easy-to-use features. In fact, this camera was so easy to use that we never once had to break out the instruction manual. Just take it out of the box, charge it up, and watch your kids snap away.
Out of all the cameras tested, the design of this one elicited the greatest squeals of delight from our testers. The soft rubber exterior not only looks adorable, it has a comfortable and grippy feel and makes the camera nearly indestructible. If you’re looking for a digital camera for kids that will encourage young shutterbugs to hone and develop a love for photography, this is the camera you absolutely should buy.
What we liked best about this kid-friendly digital camera is that it puts photo-taking above all else. That may seem like a no-brainer, but the most common complaint with kids’ cameras is they can be so stuffed with games that they do nothing to develop foundational photography skills.
The Kidamento Model K, however, was obviously designed by photo buffs. This camera can take photos up to an astonishing 48-megapixels, making it a formidable camera as far as photo quality is concerned. We also liked that looks and feels like a shrunk-down DSLR, yet is automated to get the best possible photos for a young child who hasn’t yet honed their photography chops.
A large viewing screen allows kids to easily frame their photos, and cute little frames, icons, and emojis allow kids to put their personal stamps on picture taking. We love that it has a built-in selfie cam (because kids love a good selfie) and it also comes with a brilliant little app that allows you to easily download pictures to your phone or tablet over Wi-Fi.
An F2.8 lens ensured that all photos we took were crisp and the intuitive touch screen is laid out in a way that will most easily translate to a more complex camera, once your budding paparazzo is ready for a more challenging piece.
A kiddie-take on a GoPro, the 5-megapixel Prograce is a tiny, mountable camera housed in a waterproof and shockproof plexiglass casing, making it a solid choice for young adventure-seekers with a budding interest in photography. It comes with a full suite of mounts and has HD video functionality, making it a great, well-priced option for young adventurers.
The burst shooting function makes it easy for kids to capture the dynamic movements of their friends, but we found the photo quality to be only so-so. The overall appeal of the Prograce had more to do with capturing video while playing hard. This is a fun little camera that can shoot from the back of a skateboard, a surfboard, or the handlebars of a bike and is compact enough to go anywhere your kids’ adventure takes them.
The Olympus Tough TG-6 lived up to all its claims of durability, usability, and so much more.
As good for entry-level photographers as it is for seasoned shutterbugs, we were pleasantly surprised that the Olympus Tough TG-6 turned out to be one of the easiest to use right out of the box. The zoom buttons on this 12-megapixel camera were easy to master and the video button was intuitive, even for a child as young as 6-years-old. We loved that this camera was so instantly gratifying that our testers were immediately hooked.
While this was incredibly usable and kid-friendly, this is no kiddie camera. If this camera is bought for a kid that’s ready to get technical, they’ll love the bright wide-angle setting, which is at the top of its class for waterproof compact cameras, making for excellent underwater and low-light photography.
We also love that this camera can really grow with kids, allowing for easy upgrades with lens adaptor packs, including a fisheye, a telephoto, and a ring flash adapter for macro photography. This feature was unique to this camera versus other compact waterproof cameras we’ve tried, increasing its longevity.
Hi, I'm Janelle Randazza, a parenting writer here at Reviewed. In my past life, I was one of the beta users of the online photography site known as Flickr. That was back before everyone and their mother had a digital camera, and long before everyone had a smartphone with a built-in camera that did all the thinking for you. I was handy with my DSLR and part of an online community of professional and hobbyist photographers that would critique each other’s work and teach each other how to improve our digital photography.
These days I’m a mom, a writer, and a product tester. Someday I hope my son will find as much joy in taking digital photos as I did way back when.
We tested the cameras with my 7-year-old son and his friends ages 3 to 8—and we tested rigorously for durability and usability.
Each camera was tested for ease of use: turning on, setting up, and shooting both photos and video, where applicable. If a child couldn’t independently get a camera to work, we docked it points in our testing rubric.
Next we tested for durability. Each camera was dropped by my very eager, 7-year-old lab assistant on our concrete driveway from a height of about 3-feet. We also tested all of the cameras that claimed to be waterproof and water-resistant to those claims—in some cases splashing the camera and in others submerging it for five minutes.
Finally we looked at the nuts and bolts. We looked at the storage in the memory cards, if they used batteries or took a charge, and we looked at how well they held their charge. And, of course, we tested for photo quality. Each camera was tasked with capturing a clear image of our very hyperactive 12-week-old puppy. Since kids tend to take still life photos of their toys and active photos of their pets, we decided that if the camera could get a clear photo of our puppy, it would rise to the top of the heap.
What to Consider Before Buying a Digital Camera for Kids
What is Your Child’s Age?
There are so many factors and variables that go into choosing the “best” camera for a child. If you are buying for a preschooler, you may want to go with a camera that is incased in rubber for durability as they gain control of their fine motor skills. You’ll also want to look for cameras that have a fair amount of image stabilization since kids don’t tend to have the ability to stand still long enough to capture a perfect shot.
If your child is a bit older, you'll want to purchase a digital camera that will grow with them. What that means may depend on your child: It could mean as little as getting a camera that has the kind of aesthetics and features that will appeal to a child that will be a tween in a few years, or it could mean that you shop for something with some serious bells and whistles that will grow with them and their hobbies.
Whatever the case, a kids’ digital camera can be a pricy toy so err on the side of getting something that provides at least a few years of longevity before they are ready to upgrade.
Do You Want a Real Camera or a Toy Camera?
You may think this is a silly question, but it’s probably the most important one. Some of the most popular kids’ digital cameras really do a poor job of being a camera. Their main draws are the games and frames and other cute features that come with the camera. Kids love that stuff.
If your aim is to give them something where they can take great photo memories—or that will inspire them to see the world differently—make sure you buy a camera that functions well in its primary purpose. If your main goal is to have a glorified gaming device that also takes photos, well, we tested a bunch of those too.
How is the Image Quality?
There are a lot of high-level functions you don't necessarily need with a kids’ digital camera. While some kids’ cameras absolutely do have optical image stabilization and 4x digital zoom, you may not need all of that. What you can’t skimp on, however, is image quality. If every photo your child takes is a grainy mess, they are going to lose interest quickly. Be sure to get a camera where, when they look at the screen, or download the photos, or print them out, the final product makes them proud. Our Best Overall choice, the Kidamento Model K, absolutely does that, which is why we are so enthusiastic about it.
Other Digital Cameras for Kids We Tested
VTech KidiZoom PrintCam
This easy-to-use, 2-megapixel camera was a favorite of our kid testers, while parents appreciated that they can print out their kids' photos for about $.75 an image. The paper is basically receipt paper, so you're not getting the highest quality photos, but it does make for a fun experience for kids that won't break the bank. You also have the ability to download all the photos stored on the camera, so you can commit to printing the very best on real photo paper for better longevity.
The PrintCam also comes with a 4x digital zoom, but it is more than a kids' digital camera: It's a handheld creativity device for aspiring graphic designers. Kids can create comic strips, coloring strips, name tags, cartoons, and more with pre-loaded graphics, so while this camera doesn't take the sharpest photos, it does make for an artsy experience that our testers loved. Other fun features are cute frames and a cool flip lens that allows you to easily take selfies. As with all VTech cameras, there are also loads of engaging video games on this model—a point that gave this camera high scores with kids.
The Kidizoom PrintCam doesn't really inspire a lot of photo-taking, but it does encourage creativity. Overall, this is a fun and durable camera and truly engaging toy that our kiddie testers didn't want to put down.
This colorful little 8-megapixel camera gets high marks for being a straightforward kids' camera that focuses on picture-taking instead of being loaded with bells and whistles. Incredibly lightweight and with a slim and sleek design, the Zila can easily fit in a jacket pocket or fanny pack. Fully waterproof, not only can this camera withstand being dropped in a swimming pool—it floats! That little extra feature was a delight to our kid testers.
This cool camera has been created with the budding photographer in mind. It doesn’t come with any distracting games to steal the focus from photography and, while it’s bare-bones, what it does do it does well. Features like a 4x zoom, and video are easy to navigate, if less than intuitive, and it comes with 21 fun filters, including a black-and-white filter, so kids can get creative with photo-taking fun.
The problems we had with this camera were the occasionally grainy photos in low light situations and we did need to consult the manual to figure out how to get certain features to work. Other than that, it's a straightforward camera that's fun to use and particularly appealing to kids who want a camera that looks cool rather than cute.
This 10-megapixel camera is a fun little learning camera for kids. Photos are taken on the digital screen and captured on the SD card. It doesn't immediately print out the photos when they are taken, so kids are encouraged to choose to save, delete, or print. While there are lots of kid-friendly cameras with an LCD viewfinder screen on the market, this camera encourages kids to go through and pick the right photo for printing. Because of that extra step, they start to think a bit about framing and which photo looks the best.
We found this to be a smart and fun option for a younger kid whom you want to teach photography to, but who you aren’t ready to spend a lot of money on. We also like that the front of the camera slides shut, protecting the lens. It gave us peace of mind that the camera would have a bit of extra protection from drops and dirt.
The only issue we took with the Smile Instant Print was its less-than-impressive photo quality. It's slow to take pictures of moving targets and performed poorly in the puppy test.
In the end, most kids just want to take dozens upon dozens of selfies. The 5-megapixel Kidizoom Duo features both front and rear-facing cameras, allowing for selfies and group shots galore. This is a fun little camera with a self-filming video option too, which is nice for budding influencers. The Kidizoom Duo also comes with a full arsenal of photo effects and exciting games—some are even motion-controlled.
The shooting modes of this camera, unfortunately, delivered poor photo and video quality, so kids quickly lost interest in taking pictures. Loaded with video games, they turned out to be the main draw for our kid testers. The Kidizoom Duo, fortunately, comes with parental controls to limit the amount of time your child can spend playing games though, which may help convince your child to actually take photos with this camera once in a while.
The base model Kidizoom is a durable kids' digital camera that stands up to just about any bumps, drops, or “oopses” a kid can throw at it. With a 2-megapixel camera and a bit of a lag-time when shooting, it doesn’t take the best photos, but it provided a bit of fun with the digital zoom lens and with photo collage templates.
Like most of the VTech cameras, this one has over 30 photo effects that will get your kid feeling creative and clever. It also comes loaded with game apps.
Like the Duo, the game apps seem to be the real draw for kids and are a distraction from the real use of the camera. You’ll probably find your kid using it more for the video game feature than for photo-taking. Kids love it but parents were disappointed that it quickly became nothing more than a gaming device and did nothing to encourage kids to take more photos.
This 10-megapixel camera is as analog as you can get, without actually being analog. It is a point-and-shoot and a fun novelty camera that looks cute and is light and compact, but—for us—it defeated the purpose of having a digital camera overall. There is no LCD screen for previewing photos, no filters to get creative with, and you aren’t even given the option of if you want to use a flash or not—leaving a lot to chance when it comes to photo-taking.
What that means is, there isn’t really anything for a kid to learn when using this camera. So much is left to chance in the final photo product that there wasn’t really much to teach, but our child did get a kick out of the two options for picture mode: color or black and white. He also, of course, loved the instant gratification of the in-camera printer.
While the look of it is a major selling point, the feel of it is so smooth that it tends to slide out of small hands easily. And while it did hold up to being dropped, the construction of it feels like we may have gotten lucky and it could pop open at any time.
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