My daughter’s 12th birthday is coming up quickly. She keeps telling me she’s going to be a professional photographer when she grows up. Thanks to the Joanna Gaines and “Fixer Upper”, she also wants to be an interior designer as well as a ballet teacher at night. While she’s certainly ambitious, when a digital camera was her big wish for her birthday, I wasn’t sure what to think. Will she actually use it? Lose or break it? How much was I willing to spend for a budding photographer with no real experience?
Yet, I thought it was important at this age to give her a real camera to see if she wants to practice her craft. If you’re in the same boat as me, here are my thoughts on a few digital cameras that would be good for tweens and teenagers.
9 Good Budget Digital Cameras for Teens and Tweens 2018
|Camera||Tech Specs||Dimensions / Weight||Pros/Highlights|
|Fujifilm Instax Mini 9||Automatic Exposure measurement, High-Key Mode for brighter pictures, Improved Viewfinder||3 x 5 x 5.5 inches , .8 pounds|
|Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital SLR Camera Kit||18.0 MP APS-C CMOS Sensor; DIGIC 4+ Image Processor; 3.0" 920k-Dot LCD Monitor 18MP APS-C "Hybrid CMOS" sensor, 14-Bit ISO ISO 100-6400 (expandable to H: 12800), Full 1080p recording, 3" LCD screen, 9-point AF System, EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Lens||8.8 x 5.4 x 6.6 inches , 3.3 pounds|
|Sony DSCW800/B||0.87 x 2.13 x 1.97 inches, .28 pounds|
|Nikon Coolpix A10||16.1 MP, 5X Optical Zoom, 720 HD Video, Image Stabilzation, built in microphone, 2.7 inch LCD display||3.8 x 2.3 x 1.1 inches, 0.4 pounds|
|Canon PowerShot ELPH 190||20 MP, 10 X Optical Zoom, 720p HD Video, Built in Wifi and NFC, Fixed LCD||3.8 x 2.2 x. 9 inches, 0.3 pounds|
|Sony DSCH300-B||20.1 MP, 35X Optical Zoom, 720p HD video, Image Stabilization, Super HAD CCD Sensor||5.1 x 4.8 x 3.7 inches, 1.3 pounds|
|Canon Powershot SX620||20.2 MP, 25 X Optical Zoom, 1080p HD Video, CMOS sensor with DIGIC 4+ image processor||6.3 x 5.7 x 2.3 inches, 0.4 pounds|
|Panasonic Lumix FZ80||18.1 MP, 60X Optical Zoom, 4K Video, 4K PHOTO burst, Touch Control LCD Screen||4.7 x 5.1 x 3.7 inches, 1.4 pounds|
|Nikon D3400||24.2 MP, NIKKOR 18-55mm lens, 1080p HD video, DSLR, Bluetooth, EXPEED 4 image processor||3.0 x 4.9 x 3.9 inches, 0.9 pounds|
A Fun Instant Polaroid-like Camera for Tweens and Teens
If I had to choose a camera just for fun and not for a serious upcoming photographer, then hands down this would be it!
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera
Do NOT get confused and think this is a digital camera; it is not. It is, however, like the old school Polaroid cameras where you take a picture and then it prints out for you just seconds later. You just get what you snap. How many times have you needed a picture for a project and realized you didn’t have one?
I can’t count how many times I’ve needed a picture of one of my kids for a project and had to upload one to Costco. Then I have to remember to actually go and pick it up (#momfail). I love the thought of having actual photos to put up on the fridge, or have in my wallet, or ready for that project.
I read of one woman who took her Fujifilm camera to Africa and took pictures of the locals around her. Then she handed the pictures to them just seconds later. For some, it was the first time they had seen themselves. So cool!
Unlike the Polaroid version that gets very poor reviews, this Fujifilm Instax Mini gets great reviews and is even less expensive. Keep in mind that film does not come with the camera purchase. But you can purchase a twin pack, with 20 sheets.
While I may not end up getting the Instax Mini Instant camera for my aspiring kid photographer, I am sure that the Fujifilm Instax is going to be at the top of my holiday wish list this year.
Whether you’ve got an amateur photographer or simply a teenager or tween who wants a camera, here are a few good budget options.
|Polaroid Snap Touch LCD||Fujifilm Instax Mini 9||Polaroid PIC-300||Fujifilm Instax Mini 90||Lomography Lomo|
Budget Point and Shoot Digital Camera Under $100
Sony DSCW800/B 20.1 MP Digital Camera
If you’re looking for an easy to use automatic, but digital camera, the Sony DSCW800/B is a good and cheap option.
Sony is a great brand in electronics, and this camera is a great buy if you’re just looking for an inexpensive point and shoot option. It has a large display screen on the back and is lightweight and compact enough to fit in a small purse or backpack. The price is something I would be comfortable with for a first camera. I had a Sony camera very similar to this when I started college and it was great for capturing memories before the days of cell phone cameras. Since I’m not quite ready to give my daughter a smartphone, this fits her needs perfectly.
I have a friend who is an amazing photographer and her daughter has picked up her skills. If I were looking for an option for someone with a stronger photography background and needed something more advanced they could learn on and take great pictures, I would choose this.
Nikon CoolPix A10
This camera is great for a beginning photographer. It’s an easy to use point and shoot model with some fun features. The 720 HD video option is something every teen or tween will enjoy. A built-in microphone makes the audio crisp and clear. An optional video cable allows you to connect the camera to a compatible TV so you can view your videos on the big screen. With 16.1 MP and 5X optical zoom, the CoolPix A10 takes good quality, clean photos. Even better, it comes with a NIKKOR lens and a CCD sensor to capture the best images.
While I don’t usually choose electronics that require regular batteries for myself, for a teen or tween it is a nice option. The kids don’t have to remember to charge the camera. Simply put in 2 AA batteries and you are ready to go.
Good DSLR Options for Teens and Tweens
Consider an Older DSLR Canon Rebel or Ti Body
Purchasing a DSLR camera for your tween or teenager can be a daunting (and expensive) task. Still, the prospect of them starting their lens collection and understanding how and when to use that collection is one of the things I wanted most. So, here’s a way you can get the best of both worlds.
Consider purchasing an older body style that takes great pictures for around a third of the price of the newer models. If it were me I’d go with something like the Canon T3i T4i or a refurbished Rebel T6 Camera. They work great and take amazing pictures.
If you have an aspiring YouTuber, I’d recommend jumping up to the T5i for the automatic focus and video. That’s a must-have for creating Vlogs or being out and about.
If you need a cheap lens, the 18-55mm lens that comes with it is a good option for around $100 more.
Ok, ok. I know maybe $300-$400 sounds like a lot of money for a camera for a teen or tween. However, this is a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better price on one. It is perfect for a kid who is serious about photography.
The Nikon D3400 has 24.2 MP and a NIKKOR 18-55mm lens with autofocus to give your photos clarity and detail. This camera is great for fast action photos and low light images. The 1080/60p Full HD video will have your child jumping up and down. They can make time-lapse or slow motion video.
No need to worry about uploading photos with this camera. It’s equipped with Nikon SnapBridge, which automatically transfers your photos to your smartphone or tablet. Additionally, it works with Nikon Image Space, a cloud storage which allows you to store and share images.
Entry-Level Lenses for Beginning Photographers
In addition to the kit lens, consider purchasing the Canon EF 50mm lens nicknamed the “nifty fifty”. It’s amazing for portraits, night shots, and action shots.
If you want to go even further, consider purchasing a telephoto lens to really have the option to zoom in. By combining these lenses with the older body style, your teenager will be able to take some amazing pictures.
The only downside to a camera like this is that is more bulky and heavy than a “point and shoot camera”. While this camera takes amazing pictures, sometimes the bulk and weight of it may deter them from wanting to take it on an outing.
Still, in this day and age with everyone having a phone for that option, it is good to have a camera they can truly practice on.
Budgets Under $200
Canon Powershot ELPH 190
If your kiddo is interested in sharing photos, the Canon Powershot ELPH190 is a perfect choice. It comes with built-in Wi-Fi so images can be shared to social media directly from the phone. You can also save photos to an online photo album to be shared later. If that isn’t easy enough, the Powershot ELPH 190 also comes with built-in NFC (Near Field Communication) Technology, which allows you to touch your camera’s NFC icon to any Android device and automatically share the photos.
Did I mention that this camera also takes fantastic photos? It works well even in low light. The 20MP sensor along with the DIGIC image 4+ processor increase processing speed to give you sharp, unforgettable photos.
Other fun features kids love to experiment with are Fisheye Effect, Toy Camera Effect, or chrome. These change the photos to have a quirky, fun, or colored look.
The Sony DSCH300/B is a steal at this price point. You don’t find this many great features in most cameras this inexpensive. The 35x optical zoom with a professional lens helps you get closer to your subject than you could have imagined. The Super HAD CCD sensor ensures precise images.
The Smile Shutter feature detects a smile and takes the photo when smiles are at their best. Party Mode automatically adjusts lighting in any situation for clear, well-lit images.
Worried your teen or tween will be overwhelmed with all these features? The Sony DSCH300/B is actually quite simple to use. The Easy Mode option allows you to minimize the number of options showing up on the menu. Then, as your child becomes more familiar with the camera, he or she can experiment with various features.
Canon Powershot SX620
If you want bang for your buck, Canon Powershot SX620 could be the one for you. The specs and features on the Powershot SX620 are very impressive. It has 25X optical zoom with Intelligent Image Stabilization as well as 20.2 MP with CMOS sensor with DIGIC 4+ Image Processor to give precision images in any lighting.
Let’s be honest. Your teen or tween won’t care to hear details about all the features. What they want is video…GOOD video…excellent pictures, and the ability to share their videos and photos with their friends. The Powershot SX620 has all of these covered. A 1080 Full HD video will capture every exciting event. Wi-Fi and NFC capabilities allow quick and easy sharing of both videos and photos. This camera is apple and android compatible.
Several filter options allow your budding photographer to explore or turn on the auto filter to do it for you. The Hybrid Auto records 4 seconds of video when a still photo is taken and turns it into a 720 HD video that can be made into a highlight reel.
Panasonic LUMIX FZ80
Check out the Panasonic LUMIX FZ80 if your teen or tween wants a camera with fantastic video and high-quality photos. In this price range, you won’t find much better. Enjoy 4K video, which has up to 4 times the resolution of standard full HD. The 4K Photo burst records up to 30 photos per second. Then you choose which of those photos you want to keep.
18.1 MP sensor resolution plus 60X optical zoom mean great detail in your photos. Fast and accurate focusing, great low-light capture, and touch control LCD make this camera user-friendly and very effective.
One of my biggest pet peeves with cameras is when you take a picture outside and it is too bright to even see through the viewfinder. The Panasonic LUMIX FZ80 doesn’t have that problem. Even in bright sunlight, the viewfinder shows clearly. An in-camera USB charger makes charging very convenient.
Save Money With a Refurbished Digital Camera
Don’t be afraid of a refurbished model for your kids. They are a great way to get a better camera for less. Refurbished models are tested by the manufacturer and work like new.
Refurbished options are available online for everything from a DSLR to a point and shoot. It can be a good way to save money, but be careful and check retail prices as well. Some online sellers try to pass off the refurbished price at nearly the same price as the MSRP.
A good example of a refurbished camera would be the refurbished T6i which right now you can get for $500 while the original costs around $600.
While it’s a bit more expensive, for my budding photographer, I’m going with the Canon Rebel, or T4i body. Hopefully, by choosing something she will have to take more time to learn with, it will show her I’m willing to invest in her chosen craft. Not only that, but it’s a camera she can grow with as we can purchase an additional lens at Christmas or for her next birthday as needed. Not only that but with a great camera, she just may be busy enough taking pictures of her friends and those things around her, it may just distract her from wanting a smartphone!