There is nothing my kids love more than taking funny photos. My tween son was always filling my phone with photos of silly faces and sometimes things I couldn’t quite figure out. While I’m not yet ready to give him a smartphone of his own, I decided a digital camera would let him use his creativity to take photos without using all the memory on my phone!
In this digital age, kids love sharing everything they are doing with their friends and family. There is no better way to do this than with a great digital camera. While cell phones can be used to snap a photo, a digital camera is a more fun way to capture all the fun memories of childhood.
If my son decides he really loves photography, I will get him a DSLR camera like mine. It takes amazing photos and is perfect for a teen photographer. It’s a little more expensive than a basic digital camera, but it is well worth the money if it is being used and enjoyed.
Taking photos is something I truly love doing and I am pretty good at it, but I am by no means an expert. However, I have been doing it long enough and have tried enough cameras to know what features work for kids and for adults. I have reviewed what I find to be the best digital cameras for pre-teen and teen kids.
What To Look For In A Digital Camera For A Kid
You don’t have to know everything about cameras when purchasing one, but here are some important aspects you should think about.
- Price. Think about your budget and how much you want to spend. You can get a good basic digital camera for less than a hundred bucks or you can get a DSLR with all the features you could ever want for more than a thousand. There are also some quality cameras at every price point in between.
- Passion. Does your kiddo love the idea of taking amazing photos or is he just looking for a fun way to make memories with his friends?
- Ease of use. Is the camera one that is user-friendly? Does your child have the patience to learn how to use a more complex camera or would she rather have a simple point and shoot model?
- Features. Are there specific features your child would enjoy in a camera? Does he want one that has filters to change the look of the photo? Is he interested in saving, sharing, or printing photos right away?
- Size. For some kids, a small camera is the way to go. It is easy to slip into a pocket or keep around a wrist. Other kids don’t mind having a larger camera if it means better features and more exciting photos.
- Share-ability. In this day and age, kids want to show off what they are doing with their friends. If sharing their photos via email or social media is important to your teenager, be sure to look for a camera with those features.
16 Best Digital Cameras for Teenagers to Buy in 2021
These 16 digital cameras can be a great fit for your teen or tween. Whether your 15-year-old is ready to try out their hand at photography, or your 11-year-old is ready to get their first digital camera, we have a great camera for you and your budget. Here are my top favorite digital cameras for teens and pre-teens in 2021.
|Cameras for Teens||Tech Specs/Size/Weight|
|Canon Rebel T7 Kit|
|Nikon D3500 Kit|
|Canon T8i DSLR|
|Fujifilm X-T30 Mirrorless|
|AROUND $100 CAMERAS|
|Kodak PIXPRO FZ43 Kit|
|Kodak PIXPRO FZ53-BK|
|AROUND $200 CAMERAS|
|PowerShot ELPH 360|
|Kodak PIXPRO AZ421|
|Kodak PIXPRO AZ252|
|Canon PowerShot SX540|
|Canon Powershot SX730|
|Panasonic Lumix FZ80|
|Panasonic LUMIX DC-ZS70K|
|INSTANT POLAROID CAMERA|
|Fujifilm Instax Mini 11|
DSLR and Beginning Photography Options for Teens and Tweens
Purchasing a DSLR camera for your high schooler 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. If you are looking to save some money, you might want to look into our suggested options of buying an older style body or buying a certified refurbished camera. These four cameras are perfect for the budding teen photographer.
1. Canon EOS Rebel T7
This is our recommended camera for your teen or middle school-er that has photographer aspirations.
The Rebel T7 has Full HD 1080p video recording at 30 fps. This is important because photography and journalism need videos as much as pictures. Some of my other favorite features on this camera are the high performance 95% coverage optical viewfinder and the Wi-Fi capability with NFC.
My teen has loved the experience of using this camera for his high school photography class. This is a great camera to learn on. While it isn’t as easy to use as a point and shoot, it has the bells and whistles you need to take good pictures in many settings.
I know what you are saying–a couple hundred dollars is A LOT of money to budget for a camera, but as a hobby, this is less expensive than music or sports for your teen.
Recommended Ages: 13 and up
2. Nikon D3500
Ok, ok. I know spending hundreds sounds like a lot of money for a camera for a teen or tween. However, this is a DSLR camera, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better price on one. It is perfect for a teenager who is serious about photography.
The Nikon D3500 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.
Recommended Ages: 14 and up
3. Canon EOS T7i
There is a reason that this DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera is the best selling digital camera on just about every site. This camera and versions of it have been around for years. The T7i is an upgrade from the T7 above. Upgrades include longer battery life, articulated LCD screen, Bluetooth, more scene modes, and an increased number of focus points to make photos and videos even more clear.
What makes this camera better than the other DSLR cameras on this list? The added upgrades, for one. Also, Canon cameras are more user-friendly than other brands. They are easier to learn on and will result in a less frustrated teen. That’s worth a lot. A camera that is easy and fun to use will be one your teen will actually want to take pictures with.
Recommended Ages: 15 and up
This camera is the least expensive of the good mirrorless DSLR cameras, but is still pretty expensive. This camera looks and feels like a professional camera and has the cost to go with it. Look, this might be too much for me to spend on my teen to start with, but this is a fantastic camera. If you have the money and want a lighter camera that takes pictures as good as the bigger boys, this is it.
What is a mirrorless camera and why is it advantageous for a teen?
Generally mirrorless cameras are very similar to high end DSLR, but because of the mechanisms involved in the mirrorless cameras, they can be significantly smaller for the same quality of photo. A DSLR camera needs both a mirror and a prism thus allowing a mirrorless camera to be lighter. If you want more info on mirrorless cameras visit Wikipedia’s mirrorless camera page.
4K video in UHD2150p
This isn’t the best action photography camera out there, but the video is definitely at a high level for an up-and-coming social media star.
Recommended Ages: 15 and up
How to Save Money on A DSLR or Higher End Camera
Entry-level lenses for beginning photographers
In addition to the kit lens for the Canon models, 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 a tween or teen 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.
Save money with an older body style
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 T6i, or a refurbished Rebel T7 Camera. They work great and take amazing pictures. This would work great along with one of our budget college laptop picks.
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 about $100 less than a new one.
Budget Point and Shoot Digital Camera Around $100
5. Sony DSCW800/B
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 good 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.
Recommended Ages: 10 and up
6. KODAK PIXPRO FZ43
This Kodak camera is great for a beginning photographer at a very low price. 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 4X optical zoom, the Pixpro FZ43 takes good quality, clean photos. Even better, it comes with a good lens and a wide angle lens 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. Because this price by itself retails at under $75, it is easy to buy the camera and a good kit for under $100.
Recommended Ages: 9 and up
7. Kodak PIXPRO FZ53-BK
As a first camera for older kids, the Kodak PIXPRO FZ53-BK is a good option. It is easy to use and small enough to fit in a pocket. The 16 MP and 5X optical zoom in addition to the image stabilization mean you will get good quality photos.
Unlike most of the other cameras on this list, the Kodak PIXPRO FZ53-BK does not have a viewfinder. Instead, you look at the LCD on the back of the camera to see the image you are capturing. This can be a good feature for some kids, while others might prefer one with a viewfinder.
This point-and-shoot digital camera for teens comes with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which means you don’t have to keep buying batteries for it. However, the battery doesn’t last more than a few hours.
The one touch 720P HD video capability is a favorite among tweens, but unfortunately the audio quality isn’t great. Also, this camera doesn’t come with an SD card so you will have to purchase that separately. This camera doesn’t do well with low light or action shots.
Recommended ages: 10 and up
Teen Point and Shoot Cameras Under $200
8. Canon PowerShot ELPH 360
If your kiddo is interested in sharing photos, the Canon PowerShot ELPH360 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 360 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 20.2 Megapixel High-Sensitivity CMOS 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.
Recommended Ages: 11 and up
9. Sony DSCH300/B
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 adolescent 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.
Recommended Ages: 12 and up
10. Kodak PIXPRO AZ421
The Kodak PIXPRO AZ421 is a good camera with a lot of features. With 16 MP, 24 mm wide angle lens, and 42X optical zoom, this camera has some good numbers we like to look for. It has a 3″ LCD screen but no viewfinder. Some tweens prefer to have a viewfinder as they are getting started so they can be sure of what their image will show. For more experienced kid photographer, no viewfinder is no big deal.
This camera has a 180 degree panorama feature as well as 1080 HD video. Included image stabilization makes it easier to get photos that look crisp. The blink/smile detection feature helps ensure you won’t get photos of closed eyes.
The PIXPRO AZ421-BK comes with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. You will have to buy an SD/SDHC memory card, as this camera does not include one. It needs to be no larger than 32 GB.
Photos are easy to upload to a computer, and overall, the PIXPRO AZ421 takes good pictures. Be aware there is a slight delay from when you snap the photo to capture so you need to stay still for a few seconds after the photo is taken. Also, when you zoom in, photos tend to be more blurry than without the zoom. I prefer the ELPH in this category.
Recommended Ages: 12 and up
11. Kodak PIXPRO AZ252
There is so much to love about the Kodak PIXPRO AZ252! We all know that Kodak is a great brand you can count on to deliver top-notch cameras. This particular product comes at an affordable price, making it the perfect choice for a beginner just entering the world of photography.
One of my favorite features is the 720P HD video. Why? Because all you need to do to capture all the action is just need to hit a record button. You can even see small details close up with a 25x optical zoom. And with 16 megapixels your images will be ultra-clear even as you edit them. Plus, you’ve got to appreciate the 24mm lens that allows you to capture wide landscapes. Like the best cameras, the Kodak PIXPRO AZ252 has an image stabilization feature that smooths out blurriness that comes when you get bumped or shake as you take a picture. You can’t go wrong with this camera for your teen or tween!
Recommended Ages: 12 and up
Teen Point and Shoot Digital Cameras Around $300-$400
12. Canon PowerShot SX540
The Canon PowerShot SX540 is another good digital camera for teens under $300. It has some good features including 20.3 MP and 50X optical zoom. Built-in WiFi and NFC make it easy to share photos. The 1080 HD video is great quality even in low light situations.
Kids love using the filters available with the PowerShot SX540. Personalizing photos makes them even more fun to share. Image stabilization helps ensure photos turn out crisp and clear.
This camera is fun and easy to use. There is no viewfinder so this is a better option for older kids or those who are more experienced. A rechargeable lithium battery is included, but you will have to buy a memory card separately.
Although this camera touts 50X optical zoom, the more you zoom with the PowerShot SX540, the worse the photo quality. This camera is pretty good overall, but I prefer the Canon PowerShot SX720.
Recommended ages: 12 and up
13. Canon PowerShot SX730
If you want bang for your buck, Canon PowerShot SX730 could be the camera for you. The specs and features on the PowerShot SX730 are very impressive. Not only does it have 40X optical zoom with Intelligent Image Stabilization, but also 20.3 MP, CMOS sensor, and DIGIC 6 Image Processor to give precision images in any lighting. Your budding photographer will appreciate several fun filter options including an auto filter. If these terms are new to you, just take my word for it: this is an excellent camera!
But let’s be honest: your teen or tween won’t care to hear details about all the details. What they really to know about is if they can make video, capture pictures, and share these videos and photos with their friends. Well, the PowerShot SX730 has all of these covered. With a 1080 full HD video it will capture every exciting event. Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC capabilities allow quick and easy sharing of both videos and photos. This camera is Apple and android compatible, which is essential for our tech-savy kids.
Recommended Ages: 12 and up
14. 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.
Recommended Ages: 13 and up
15. Panasonic LUMIX DC-ZS70K
The Panasonic LUMIX DC-ZS70K has some great features kids love. With 20.3 MP and an optical image stabilizer, it takes fantastic photos. Teens will enjoy the 4K video recording capabilities.
Even in sunny conditions, you can easily take photos with this camera. It has an eye sensor that makes it easier to see through the electronic view finder. WiFi means you can connect and share photos and videos. Taking selfies is easy with the flip up touch feature.
One of the best features for tweens and teens is the post focus. It allows you to look at the image after taking it and touch any area you want to fix. A focus stacking feature blends several images taken at the same time to get the perfect photo.
There are so many excellent features with this camera. However, the manual is a bit confusing so it may take some trial and error to figure everything out.
16. Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 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. The Instax Mini 11 automatically adjusts to the light so you get a better photo. It’s easier to use than previous models.
Recommended Ages: 10 and up
What are some basic photography tips for teens and tweens?
- Take care of your equipment. You can’t take good pictures with a scratched lens so protect it and clean it correctly.
- Use a tripod. It is a lot easier to take a good picture when you are beginning if you are anchored to a tripod.
- Start small. Start with easy to take pictures, and work towards action and night photos
- Take your camera with you everywhere. If you don’t have your camera with you, you will miss on a lot of good photo opportunities.
- Use online resources such as youtube and flickr.
What is a Good Camera for a teen who is serious about photography
While it’s a bit more expensive, for my aspiring photographer, I’m going with the Canon Rebel T7. 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. 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!
Our recommended budget point and click camera
If your 11 or 12-year-old wants a camera and you don’t want to spend money on an expensive camera, I’m recommending the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360. This camera isn’t going to be nearly as good as the DSLR cameras we have recommended, but not every kid is ready for a DSLR. This ELPH 360 is a good way for your child to get used to a decent camera with a budget under $200.