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Roundup: Digital Cameras for Kids

By dpreview staff on Jun 21, 2013 at 23:26 GMT

If they’re young enough, your kids may have only ever known a world in which smartphones are the most-popular devices for taking photos. That’s too bad. In this article we've rounded up a selection of cameras that will suit aspiring young photographers of all ages from under-10s to teenagers.


Total comments: 64
By schmaud (10 months ago)

Our kids LOVE their own cameras. We also learned alot from seeing what our kids found adequte to be on a picture. E.g. I di not realzed the particular patern on the railway seats.. almost abstract art.

There are just two categories of cameras:
cameras for kids who CAN NOT READ read and cameras for people which CAN READ. most "grown up" cameras are hard to use if you can not read

We bought cameras which can stand abuse and which do not break the bank if misplaced. Specifically:
- most specific "kids" cameras are rubbish or at least bad value
- from the age of ~3: HP Photosmart m22, dirt cheap, splash proof, dust proof, AA works

From the age of 9: Ricoh PX
water/ dust shock proof and rather afforadble espetially the video is getting used a lot

Undder parental supervision they are allowed to handle our SLR as well. good point to lern to be carefull with expensive equipment.



Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
Neloy Sinha
By Neloy Sinha (10 months ago)

A few days ago I wrote my thoughts regarding "Kids & Kamera" ,but somehow the comment was not found in the site. Did anybody found it inappropriate? If so I should not repeat those lines.In nut shell now a days kids are introduced to smart phones & cameras even before they could talk properly. So they are gadget savvy. They are noy shy of pressing shutter. Many of them will learn good photography by default.

Comment edited 46 seconds after posting
Lu Heng
By Lu Heng (10 months ago)

2-3 years ago I gave my kids my old Leica M8 with Jupiter 12 lens on it. And later I even gave it to my elder daughter to own. Nowadays, they shoot only on smartphone. It's just a way easier and kids got used to technologies. I think people become lazier in terms of learning generally. So much tech around that makes thing simple, why worry? :)

By Cameracist (10 months ago)

Ungrateful kids, send your M8 to me instead;-)

Si Najang
By Si Najang (10 months ago)

love fuji 2980 pro for kids .. and with tripod 50 cm to 1.5 meter

Ulfric M Douglas
By Ulfric M Douglas (10 months ago)

Mine uses an Olympus e-410 DSLR with kit zoom : just the right size with a good shutter-button position and great Jpegs.

1 upvote
Tom Goodman
By Tom Goodman (10 months ago)

"If they’re young enough, your kids may have only ever known a world in which smartphones are the most-popular devices for taking photos. That’s too bad."

Frankly, if it's bad for kids, it's even worse for adults! The axiom about the best camera you have, etc. is malarkey. If I am in a situation where I'd want to have my best camera to photograph something and all I have with me is a smartphone I don't take the picture.

1 upvote
By jkoch2 (10 months ago)

A submersible, drop-resistant smart phone is probably the only "camera" a typical kid would want or need. If nothing else, a smart phone can be used for gaming, which an old man's camera cannot.

Anything else would probably soon be lost, broken, soaked, swiped, swapped for other goodies, or (most likely) spend most of its time on a shelf. Any supposed advantage of a traditional mono-use "brick" camera, in terms of image quality, is irrelevant if most photos are casual shots of friends seen on a 3" screen, and merit 2 seconds of attention, at most.

There may be exceptions. Maybe, somewhere, there is a 15 year-old who dreams of getting a DSLR or an Oldsmobile station wagon for the next birthday.

1 upvote
King Penguin
By King Penguin (10 months ago)

My 16 year old son (just) has had a G2 + external mic for years and shoots mainly video with it, for the rough stuff he's just got a GoPro Silver 3, which was expensive but seems unbreakable. For still shots he normally uses his iPhone which he carries with him everywhere.

Before that he had a Fuji S5700 which he had for years as well, it was pretty bashed up at the end but we still got a good price for it on eBay. Before that he had a 5mp canon sureshot but died a terrible death after he taped it to his bike and then crashed.......he was 9 at the time. Before that, his first camera, he had a crappy 2mp Vivitar with a 1 1/2 inch screen from age 5.

It's been wonderful watching him using this technology with uTube, etc, etc. as only young people can do. I wish it all had been available when I was a kid, the only toy or gadget I ever had that used batteries was a torch!.....well, until my dad bought me an Zenith SLR when I was 14........

By ozarktroutfisher (10 months ago)

King Penguin, I'm right there with you. I recently bought my 16 year old daughter a Nikon D5200 with 18-105mm lens, Rode Videomic Pro, and Manfrotto fluid video head. She mainly shoots videos, but also uses it for her serious stills. She also has a Nikon 35mm f1.8 lens, a Rokinon 8mm fisheye, Tamron 90mm macro, and borrows my 17-55 f2.8 and 85mm f1.4 lens fairly often. She had a Nikon D5000 that I got her about 2 years ago but the 5200 has better video output; so I thought it was worth the upgrade and she was of course thrilled. I'm very happy that she's willing to spend the extra time and effort to get a quality product from her SLR as opposed to taking the easy way out with her PS, iPhone, Ipad, etc. In fact she's turning it into a business of sorts as she gets paid all the time to make videos for kid's school projects, birthday parties, etc. There's still hope for our youth to embrace quality over ease of use!!

By Zerg2905 (10 months ago)

Me, the owner of a "pile" of Canon equipment, I had no choice but to buy a Nikon for my daughter. Why? Because "wow daddy, it is PINK (PINK!!!) and I can play with it UNDER WATER...". And that was it. Canon has no PINK underwater camera, so an easy win for the (almost unbreakable) little Nikon (the IQ had/has zero relevance). Happy ending for everyone. Cheers! :)

Optimal Prime
By Optimal Prime (10 months ago)

I wish this round-up had been published before I bought my 3yo the Hasselblad Lunar....!

1 upvote
By wakaba (10 months ago)

Kids are actually surrounded by cameradevices today: ipad, phone, laptopcam, gopro, older DSLR, rugged compacts.

At eleven they choose what is appropriate for their needs. At the moment its a Nikon Coolpix 110 for water and beach and a D40 with a huge old Nikon Tele and ipads with moviescript app. You get to see 5 min movies with story,continuity and acting that puts H. to shame...

By sigala1 (10 months ago)

What about an iPod touch?

By FTMDAVE (10 months ago)

A year and a half ago I bought a 5 year old and a 7 year old Nikon s3100 cameras for a week visit to Disney World. They each had some experience with my super zoom but no real training. The cameras had neck straps (a must!). They had fun taking pictures but were not terribly interested in the results. Each night I downloaded the pictures to my computer and looked at the pictures. They were more interested in watching TV. I think you should buy a kid a camera just to see what they find interesting in the world. Six months later at a gift shop the 5 year old (girl) took a picture of every shelf of Vera Bradley gear. They had fun taking pictures of each other, often posing, and holding the camera at arms length to take their own picture making faces. I took the 7 year old on a old barn shoot and liked some of his pictures better than mine. Give them an adequate camera and stand back, its very entertaining.

1 upvote
By knize10 (10 months ago)

Soon, kids will be BORN with a camera in their forehead and a cell in each multithumbed hands. What a lovely sight for the proud parents.

By d10694 (10 months ago)

My wife runs a playgroup for 2-4 year old children. As for cameras, the staff, and the children have always used the lower end cameras in the Canon Powershot range.

They have all been perfectly adequate, they have all been tough, never stolen (!), dropped several times, buried in sandpits, and subjected to every imaginable horror invented. They are all well into the 20k plus photos range as well (which I know from the number of cameras divided into the number of jpg's on file).

There have never been any failures (I did prise the folding retractable lens covers back into place once on one example).

Best of all, they run off AA batteries, recharged every night. And Sandisk cards - no failures either).

Playgroup Recommended rating - 99% - and deserves a DPR PlayDough Award.

By TacticDesigns (10 months ago)

I give my old cameras to my kids, but it seems that no matter what . . . they always want the camera I'm holding. <grin> Nice pict! And great article! :)

By SulfurousBeast (10 months ago)

Very true, I passed down a Lumix ZS-7 & TZ-5 to my kids, but they always want a near 3.5lb Canon 50D with 18-135mm Zoom and EX-580 attached to it

1 upvote
Robert Morris
By Robert Morris (10 months ago)

Love the picture for this article. Well done.

Comment edited 21 seconds after posting
By mcshan (10 months ago)

I have always disliked all the "what type of camera should I buy my 4 year old?" threads on the DPR. Let kids be kids. If you insist on giving them one I would suggest an RX1. My 3 year old great grandson takes amazing shots with our old Leica X1. His 18 month old sister does better with the old F31fd.

1 upvote
By jhinkey (10 months ago)

Don't underestimate the ability if today's kids to adsorb and master complicated things. My two 9 year olds constantly surprise me in their ability to quickly become proficient with electronic gadgets of any sort.

Heck, one of my girls frequently asks for my D800 (with 50/1.8G or 50/1.2 AIS attached) and takes very respectable images (of course under strict supervision) - the only issue is that it's too big/heavy for her hands.

I've been thinking of getting her a used Panasonic G3 and kit lens for a few hundred $$ - it's small, light, has a viewfinder (I find it's tough for kids my girls age to hand-hold a point and shoot very well), and takes very decent video.

She currently has a Nikon S30 which is fine, except the image quality sucks and she can clearly see that.

This list is a good start, but there are plenty more kid-friendly cameras out there for sure and even used last generation m43 cameras can be a great camera for a kid that is proficient with electronic stuff.

By stanic042 (10 months ago)

she might like the pentax Q7 :)

By jwinberg1 (10 months ago)

This is a charming and really useful article, I am SO happy to see this subject addressed. An excellent cut of cameras for the various age groups, of course one can expect variations in the degree of care any child can exercise.

Well done... THANKS!!!

M Lammerse
By M Lammerse (10 months ago)

I gave the D300 to my son (9 years) with a 35mm F/2D.
But lately he is complaining, the images do not look as good as on his smartphone (he means by that the filters of iInstagram)

Instagram is really great to give images out of inferior phone camera's an even more inferior look and then sell it as "It's a new way to see the world"

By udris (10 months ago)

Kids use smartphones and pretty effectively and have no inkling to go backwards in technology. Another few years and point and shoots are redundant

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
By Anepo (10 months ago)

That has been said for YEARS. And they are still not there, nor will they EVER be, why? DEPTH OF FIELD. Compact's got them & cellphones do NOT

By rpm40 (10 months ago)

I highly doubt depth of field will be the saving grace for point and shoots. Most point and shoot buyers don't know how DOF works, nor do they care. Out of the minority that do, the ones who want any kind of significant DOF control will go to larger formats.

Thomas Traub
By Thomas Traub (10 months ago)

After an "old" but still good CompactCam from her mother my dougther has got a Olympus waterproof and shockresistant cam that did a wonderful job during our last holidays on a sailingboat. It was a great fun for her to take any kind of photo on the boat, on the water, under the water and on land and as i gave her a strip around her arm she could not drop it (into the sea). It it was very relaxed for me because I did not neet to worry about the cam.

But I WANT TO ASK ALL THE DPREVIE-MAMS AND -DADS the following question: what happens after shooting? My doughter watches some photos on the cam. But she has not checked that the photos should be selected, partly deleted, putted in to a file. Sometimes she asks me for printed photos (what i do immediately - I try very hard to be a good dad ;-)

What are your children want? prints? see the photos only on the cam? on the PC? Do they want it on their mobile phone?

I'm interested, how other photographers handle their children's photos.

By dbroeck (10 months ago)

Well ... photos in general are most interesting when they are fresh - not only for kids. Likewise, selecting, sorting and archiving is not everybody's cup of tea.
For my kids the "original" is what they see on the screen of the camera. From that point of view, getting them on my 24 inch desktop screen is an impressive magnification; getting them on my smartphone or on grandmas tablet is a pure miracle!

John P.
By John P. (10 months ago)

When I was a child and film was still the main recording medium, I used a Pentax 645.

1 upvote
By ZhanMInG12 (10 months ago)

I learned photography on a Canon 500 film body and a Seagull RF. Very expensive items for my family then, but I'm very glad I had a good start. I'd probably buy my son/daughter a decent body and 1-2 primes if he/she wanted it, but everything else they need to earn themselves.

By Tape5 (10 months ago)

I think most parents simply insult their children buying them pathetic DSLRs or worse still P&S of any variety.

I got my 5 months old son a Phaseone IQ2 180. I gaffer-taped it to his milk bottle and simply leave it in his pram next to him. Let me tell you, some of his shots are gallery ready.

Would put Henri to shame.

By dougster1979 (10 months ago)

Hands in the shape of a viewfinder and a sprinkle of imagination, the perfect first camera!!

1 upvote
By electrophoto (10 months ago)

I got started with my mom's Canon A1 & F1 and a set of lenses, flashguns, etc. when I was about 9 or 10 ... learned about aperture, shutter speeds, different films, etc...
I really don't see why these days anythings needs to be a kids-special-dumbed-down version.

By attomole (10 months ago)

My First Camera was Lubitel 2, It was a gift from my parents I was thrilled had great fun with it

By yabokkie (10 months ago)

think most APS-C or 4/3" cameras are good for school children.
mirrorless with touch screen prefered for under 10 yo.
lenses up to 70-200 or 400/5.6 are good for shooting from a chair/car.

By CameraLabTester (10 months ago)



We are ALL kids!



Waynes World
By Waynes World (10 months ago)

Obviously a Nikon D4 and a Leica M9

By Stephen_C (10 months ago)

So, letting my kids play with a Holga and a flash is wrong? Sheesh.

Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (10 months ago)

Go for it!

By Benarm (10 months ago)

whatever you do, don't give your kids a mirror-flipping camera, by the time they grow up, those cameras will be like a rotary telephone

By Juck (10 months ago)

I bought my kid a used Canon XSi when he was 10 years old. Two years later, I'd put his portfolio up against yours any day of the week. Regale us further, please, with your fanciful tales of which cameras we should not buy our children. Ass.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
By chlamchowder (10 months ago)

-Don't give your kids a mirror-flipping camera
-And don't tell them to go after fast action shots either!

By Benarm (10 months ago)

Its funny how some people take it personally and keep their heads in the sand. Mirror-flipping is about to be obsolete, the writing is on the wall. On the other side, AF already got better on recent mirror-less camera and will continue to do so. Oh well, maybe you'll learn from your own kids.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
By Uaru (10 months ago)

You know, there are still guys taking pictures with large format field or monorail cameras. Even with some wet plate crazy techniques... On average, They know better, what to do with their gear than those with the most modern stuff.
There are still companies than manufacture that "old" gear...

By Tapper123 (10 months ago)

When I was 13 I worked one summer to save up money to buy my first real camera, a Canon A-1. My parents kindly bought my first lens, a 50mm f3.5 Macro. I also read several books about the camera before even owning it, so I knew exactly how to use it once I had it.

I still have both the camera and lens, and both still work great.

So basically, I'm not sure sure kids need special or dumbed-down cameras. But it depends on the kid, of course.

By reginalddwight (10 months ago)

I cannot take this list of recommended cameras for children seriously due to the glaring omission of a must-have for every budding shutterbug.....the Lego camera!

Holger Drallmeyer
By Holger Drallmeyer (10 months ago)

I know you said digital but nothing gives my son as much joy as his Holga camera. He is 11 and loves the entire process.

Pixel Judge
By Pixel Judge (10 months ago)

When I was 12 or 13, my father gave me an Nikon FM2.....ahhhh...all the right dials at right place. I used it for 25 years before going digital.

After looking at these selections, I realize how lucky I was.

By Juck (10 months ago)

Adroitly put.

By dpLarry (10 months ago)

My father gave me a Pentax K1000 classic slr for photography students when I was 12. I took private classes. It was great to use. Learn all about exposures not auto everything like today.

By ManuelVilardeMacedo (10 months ago)

Lucky guys. I had to make do with a collapsible Agfa with 110 film cartridge when I was 13, which did a wonderful job of convincing me I'd never make half-decent pictures.
Now I'm 49 and I bought an Olympus OM-2n last week. Catching up with the past, I'd say... oh well.

By tkbslc (10 months ago)

I had a Nikon "compact" with a 35mm f2.0 lens. Not a bad camera. But film was expensive. I was lucky to get mom to develop 5 rolls a year and as such I never learned jack about photography.

Now you can give your children free film and instant development with any camera.

By chlamchowder (10 months ago)

Like I said in the comment in the article, I like the idea of recommending cameras to kids and applaud DPR for looking into this area...but I also think that they should consider used DSLRs and not pay so much attention to getting the most compact setups possible.

With less than $200, you can easily get a used Nikon D50/70/100, or a Canon 300/350/400/450/1000/20D. Those cameras offer full manual control, good feature sets, very good image quality (better than the compact options, and arguably better than the Nikon 1 series), and IMO would make great learning platforms. You also have access to a large selection of cheap glass that can be natively mounted. With Nikon, that includes old MF glass.

1 upvote
By Anepo (10 months ago)

Not in my country you cant, all dslrs even the 350d go over 250$ used. And are NOT well suited for kids, did you know kids do not have the same strength as an adult male? Apparently not.

1 upvote
By vv50 (10 months ago)

right, the legendary strength of an adult icelandic male

By DDWD10 (10 months ago)

My childhood camera saga began in 1997:

I took over my mom's Canon (New) Sure Shot (with wide and tele converter kit) when I was 9... graduated to a Pentax ME Super when I was 11 and got my first DSLR, a Canon 10D, in 2008. My older brother, also a shutterbug, spend two years worth of allowance money on a Canon A1 around the time I got the Pentax. Good times...

1 upvote
By Biological_Viewfinder (10 months ago)

That picture is adorable!

By scrup (10 months ago)

I would say one of those shock proof, water resistant cameras will be good to start with. it won't break in the first week

By MarkInSF (10 months ago)

Depends on how young the kid is, but not every kid is careless with his possessions. I got my first camera when I was about eight and was very careful with it. By that age many kids understand the idea that things break if abused.

1 upvote
By RichRMA (10 months ago)

It's not a question of a young child "being careful" with camera, they don't yet have the coordination to ensure being careful, which of course isn't their fault, but it should preclude giving them a delicate camera.

1 upvote
By Rainer2022 (10 months ago)

Wait until they ask for a cam. They might ask for a specific one.

Rob Bernhard
By Rob Bernhard (10 months ago)

[[ but not every kid is careless with his possessions]]

One man's careless is another man's "took a chance/tried something new." We bought our kids a waterproof/drop-proof camera so they could use it everywhere and try new things.

Total comments: 64