To test the latest cameras for kids, WIRED called upon the help of some keen junior photographers. With as much enthusiasm and prolific snapping as a young Robert Frank, six-year-old Bethany, three-year-old Will, nine-year-old James and 14-year-old Mary got to grips with the latest range of instant and digital cameras aimed at kids and teens.
To find out how well each camera faired in terms of ease of use, photo quality and ergonomics, we asked our young snappers to get creative taking stills and video. We wanted to discover how easy it is for kids to get to grips with the menu settings and special features on each camera. We also rated the designs on durability, comfort and best photo finish. As well as shooting their surroundings – with no stone left unturned and no paddling pool out of bounds – the kids naturally indulged in a reel of selfies.
What’s the best kid’s camera to buy?
We think the best kid’s camera you can buy right now is the playful Oaxis myFirst Camera 2 (£59) due to its picture quality, Full HD-video capability and attractive, child-friendly design.
View the Oasis myFirst Camera 2 for £59 on CurrysThe Wi-Fi-enabled Nikon Coolpix W150 (£149) is a great all-rounder for kids and adults alike and comes with smart capabilities, in-camera effects and a waterproof and freezeproof design. It’s the best waterproof kid’s camera.
View the Nikon Coolpix W150 for £149 on AmazonMeanwhile, for any tween or teens keen to experiment with a retro instant, the Polaroid Now (£119) is an excellent, iconic choice and the best camera for teens.
View the Polaroid Now for £119 on Amazon
Oaxis myFirst Camera 2
WIRED Recommends: The best kids camera for style and substance
Camera spec: 8MP | 3264 x 2448p stills | 1920 x 1080p video | Dimensions: H45 x W678 x D23cm | Weight: 65g | Age range: 3+ years
With its bright blue, pink and yellow casing and Lego-style bricks on top, the Oaxis myFirst Camera (£59) is instantly attractive to younger kids. It also has a yellow lanyard for neck wearing and the camera can be detached from the strap with a push of a button.
In the box you’ll find little stickers that kids can place on the casing too, but the MyFirst Camera is much more than a cute accessory. The 8-megapixel camera can in fact produce digital photos with a maximum resolution of 3264 x 2448p, which upgrades you away from the grainy shots you’d expect from a basic kid’s camera. It also shoots Full HD quality video.
Three-year-old Will was a big fan of the camera’s colourful silicone casing and 2-inch LCD screen that let him see what he was shooting in real time. Shooting snaps in a field of lavender, the quality of pictures came out sharp with rich colours – provided he kept the camera steady while shooting, that is.
The Oaxis is light at just 65g and at 45cm high and 78cm wide, just the right size for little fingers. Will found it easy to take photos using the blue push button on top and once held down you can switch to shooting HD video too – something our child photographer found himself doing by default.
The controls on the right of the screen are a little more complex and fiddly to navigate however, and Will needed help from the older kids to work out how to playback and enhance photos with quirky photo templates that say things like ‘I am so cute’. The camera is both waterproof and shockproof, which was reassuring as our tester kept the camera around his neck while running around and taking photos. If you want to move the party to the beach there’s an extra waterproof case in the box that lets you submerge the camera for 30 minutes in water up to three metres deep.
Pros: Stylish design, shoots impressive HD-quality video, battery-saving feature switches off camera while not in useCons: Control buttons a little fiddly for young kids, no optical zoom
Price: £59 | Check price on Amazon | Currys | Selfridges
What to consider: Kid-friendly cams
The cameras we’ve listed here are capable of producing great quality stills – and generally speaking, the higher the zoom and megapixels, the better quality the photos. Some give you the option to shoot video in High Definition too. Kids can take a lot of snaps in a short space of time, so consider the storage capacity on the camera and cost of the memory card, which is not always supplied as standard in the box.
Comfort: Think about how child-friendly the camera is design wise. Is it heavy or too clunky for small fingers and would your child be able to hold it with ease? Is the shoot button placed in a convenient position for smaller hands to reach?
Controls: Consider how easy the settings are to navigate before you buy. Will your child be able to point and shoot straight out of the box? Some designs have helpful pictures to illustrate how each button works, which younger kids will find useful, for example, while others are a little more complex to follow. After all, it’s fun getting lost in a maze of settings and having to ask an adult to help find the way back to point and shoot.
Durability: In its first week, your child’s camera will probably get as many knocks and bumps as a toddler learning to walk, so a design that is robust is a must. Many of the cameras we’ve featured here are durable enough to get the odd knock and scrape, but some are made to be splashproof, waterproof and freezeproof too, which means you can relax when you take it to the beach or are busy building snowmen.
Emily Peck, WIRED contributor
Fujifilm Instax mini 11
The best for instant selfies
Camera spec: 60mm lens | Produces 86 x 54mm prints | Dimensions: H11.5 x W11 x D6cm | Weight: 294g | Age range: 11+ years
The Instax Mini 11 (£70) is designed to automatically pick the best shutter speed and adjust to its surroundings before you snap. So whether inside with dim lighting or outside in the glaring sun, the camera will do the hard work to capture as much of background as possible. It takes high-quality Instax mini film, which measure a neat 86 x 54mm and will cost you around £15 for a pack of 12.
The kids – in particular the younger ones – were eager to try out the Instax Mini 11 due to the promise of instant printable results. The camera has a hidden pop-out 60mm lens that can be easily opened using the button next to it. It can then be gently pushed shut and these were functions the kids intuitively picked up.
In terms of design, the body of the camera is compact and slim and can be easily thrown into a rucksack for on the go. At 294g, the younger kids found it a little heavy and clunky at first, but they soon found a comfortable way to hold it using the handstrap.
The shoot button is positioned at the front of the camera and this came in useful when the kids were taking selfies. Unlike the Polaroid Now, the Instax does in fact have a very handy small mirror on the fascia so the kids could check their pose before shooting. The position of the shoot button is a little awkward for taking standard photos however, and the kids found themselves accidentally pressing the snap button by mistake a few times.
The picture quality and colours this camera produces is impressive and photos develop in a matter of seconds. As a result, we think this is a great novelty camera for special occasions and mini adventures – you could use it to get the kids enthused about school project for example, or take it on your next walk around the forest to hunt and document minibeasts.
Pros: Great quality instant prints; 0.3m focus range; on-board selfie mirror; develops in minutes; glow in the dark shutter buttonCons: Awkwardly positioned shoot button; film is expensive
Price: £70 | Check price on Amazon | Currys | John Lewis
Vtech Kidizoom Duo 5.0
An affordable, durable kids cam
Camera spec: 5MP, 4x digital zoom | Dimensions: H9.2 x D6 x W15.2cm | Weight: 322g | Age range: 3-9 years
Easy to set up and use, the Vtech Kidizoom (£42) has been doing the rounds for a while, but continues to be a popular go-to choice for parents wanting to nurture their under-10s interest in photography.
The body of the camera is robust and comes in a choice of pink, blue or purple finishes. The camera can feel a little bulky for smaller fingers, but the rubber casing is light and robust. This child-friendly design even bounces off the floor – and boy did the kids have fun testing that – no obvious marks or scratches to show for it.
Colourful icons on the camera’s 2.4-inch LCD screen and sound effect prompts make it relatively easy to navigate the menu setting – the younger kids did actually find the route to editing and taking snaps by default. After just a few minutes of playing around with the camera, the children were able to take a photo and overlay clipart onto their pictures, change the colour filter and use the selfie camera. The front camera produces a good quality picture, although you will need to make sure the kids hold the camera steadily to capture shots without a blurry finish.
It’s easy to change from snapping with the front or rear lens at a touch of a button. There is also a feature to record video and your voice, which also has voice-changing effects that the kids enjoyed using. There are up to 70 effects on the camera, including cartoons, collage, frames and stamps, which has echoes of Apple’s Photobooth for kids. “I love the ‘silly mirrors’ effect,” says six-year-old Bethany – a feature that lets you warp an image in several different ways. The Silly Face Detector that scans a photo and tells you how silly you in percentage are was also a hit: “68% Genius”, apparently. Once the kids got bored taking snaps, they soon became engrossed in playing the built-in games.
Pros: Robust; packed with special effects and games; dual-camera ideal for selfies; on board editing toolsCons: Clunky design (yet durable)
Price: £42 | Check price on Amazon | Very | Smythstoys
Nikon Coolpix W150
The best waterproof solution
Camera spec: 13.2MP | 3x optical zoom | 4160 x 3120p resolution stills | 1920 x 1080p video | Dimensions: H6.7 x W11 x D 3.8cm | Weight: 177g | Age range: 6+ years
Available in a burst of zingy colours including hot orange – pictured – the Nikon Coolpix (£149) is a useful, compact camera that produces crisp and vivid stills as well as Full HD video. On board its compact body – which measures a mere 11cm in width – it features a low-light CMOS sensor and a NIKKOR lens to give you stunning results on photos and film. There’s a 3x optical zoom and 6x Dynamic Fine Zoom too to give kids plenty of reach to run around and still take a good shot from the distance. In fact , even when the kids were running around they managed to capture shots that were surprisingly in focus.
What makes it an interesting choice for kids is the fact that it is so robust, while still offering professional-style results. Both three-year-old Will and 14-year-old Mary enjoyed using this camera – for different reasons. Will like the ability to point and shoot and see the results straight away on the 2.7 inch LCD screen, while Mary enjoyed experimenting with the finer details such as the pairing with the Nikon SnappBridge app, to view images on her smartphone and share on social media. Once paired she could also use a smartphone to shoot remotely, too.
The camera is waterproof up to 10 metres, so it can be plunged into the paddling pool or played with at the edge of the sea, without fear of damage. It’s shockproof up to 1.8 metres so you don’t have to worry too much if little ones drop or knock it. As it is freezeproof up to 10 degrees, you can also throw in a rucksack and use it for the next family skiing trip. A great all rounder, the Nikon Coolpix W150 features a comprehensive spec, which we think makes it suitable for kids and adults alike.
Pros: Compact and easy to hold; smartphone enabled; shockproof and waterproof,Cons: Younger kids will need help to work the controls
Price: £149 | Check price on Amazon | Wex Photo Video
Polaroid Now i-Type
The best camera for older kids
Camera spec: Produces 10.8 x 8.8cm instants, 35-40mm lens | Dimensions: H9.4 x W11.2 x D15cm | Weight: 434g | Age range: 11+ years
Polaroid launched its range of autofocus instant analog cameras back in March, with a newly developed autofocus lens, longer battery life and brighter flash. You can choose from five iconic rainbow colours in the collection, including red, orange, yellow, green and blue, as well as the classic standard black and white designs. Noticeably larger than the Instax, Polaroid photos measure 10.8 x 8.8cm and come in a range of black and white and colour options – including the Colour i-Type film that our tester used, which features a special-edition black frame.
The size and weight of the new Polaroid Now (£119) isn’t ideal for younger kids – it’s heavy so they’ll need assistance when shooting – but we think it’s great fun for age 11+ who can enjoy the simply stylish controls and instant prints.
Our testers were excited to experiment with the vintage-style camera, that includes a lens that automatically switches between distance and portrait formats. 14-year-old Mary and nine-year-old James had worked out how to snap portrait, landscape and selfie shots within minutes and three-year-old William was keen to get in on the action too, posing and shooting – with assistance. For smaller fingers, it’s difficult to stretch fingers around to the front of the camera to shoot. Unlike the Instax Mini however, the Polaroid Now has a nine-second self-timer, which made it easier to snap selfies and this, Mary thinks, would come in useful at her next birthday party.Pros: Vintage Polaroid effects; shoots 15-packs of film on a single chargeCons: As £15 for a pack of 8, the film is expensive
Price: £119 | Check price on Amazon | Polaroid | Argos
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