The most common question I receive as a professional photographer and Mom is, “What Camera Should I Buy For My Child”?. I’ve been a professional photographer for over 10 years and have a 7 year old son who has been interested in photography since he was three years old. I have walked the “which camera is best” path so I wanted to pass along the 5 things to look for when buying a camera for kids. This post and tips are geared towards the 6+ age range. If you have a teen in the house then they might be ready for a more advanced camera with interchangeable lenses etc, but these tips are for that budding photographer that isn’t ready for manual settings and switching out lenses.
Camera manufacturers do not have camera product lines for 6+ year olds. I know there are plenty of Polaroid camera out there that are marketed to children with fun colors, but film costs deters the amount of practice needed to build ones photography skills. There seems to be “cameras” for toddlers and then there’s a jump to entry level point & shoots.
1: Easy to Hold & Lightweight To Carry
Little hands need a bulkier body style in order to securely hold and focus on the image they are taking. If they can’t hold it steady, then their images will have a lot of movement in them and be blurry. That might not be the outcome they are looking for and we don’t want to discourage them to practice the skills of photography. I have passed down a 10 year old point & shoot camera to my child and it fits great in his hands. More modern point & shoot cameras are getting smaller and sleeker, so not ideal for little hands.
The lightweight to carry might be a no-brainer, but if you have ever been on a photo walk with a child you know you will be carrying many things, so you want them to carry their equipment and be ready for their next shot. If it’s not light weight and able to be carried with a camera strap then they will eventually pass it off to you. Modern iPhones and point & shoot style cameras help with this but keep in mind if it’s a good match for them to hold.
2: The Ability To Zoom
Children love to be creative and when I’m on a photo walk with my 7 year old he always loves to zoom in and capture those detail shots. Luckily most cameras today, including iPhones, iPads, point & shoots, will have this capability. This is another tool they can utilize while they practice.
3: Manual Settings
Although your six plus year old might not be working in the Manual, it’s nice to have the option on their camera for future skill building. The point & shoot camera my son is using has this option. I typically have him shooting in Manual, but I’m controlling the settings for him and we discuss what is happening when he take a photo. It’s a great way to extend the life of a camera for a young child.
Let’s face it, children today are being exposed to technology we didn’t see until we were in college or beyond. They are creatively curious and with exposure to YouTube, video games and technology in general, video is the next leap into their creative adventures. I know my son loves to capture little videos while on trips or around the house and has even started making stop-motion videos with his toys. Having a video option on their camera is another great way to extend the life of your camera investment.
5: No Interchangeable Lenses
Interchangeable lens are not necessary for a young child (6+) learning photography. At this stage you want them to learn the basics and foundational concepts. There are a few reasons for not purchasing a camera with lens:
- They are expensive and easily breakable if dropped
- An equally expensive camera is required, which is also breakable if dropped
- They are heavy to carry and to compose an image with at this age
Pros and Cons To Common Cameras
I created this video to walk through some pros and cons of common cameras on the market. After viewing you will have a better understanding of what to look for in a camera that best meets the needs of your creative child.
Need More Resources For Your Budding Photographer?
My online Photography 101 for Little Creatives Course is now available! This at-home photography experience is for kids 6+ years old and will spark their creativity while getting them out exploring the world around them. They will work through 15+ video tutorials to learn basic photography principles, 6 techniques and 6 creative photography projects, at their own pace.
Free Download Activity
Here is a Free downloadable Photography Scavenger Hunt Activity. By providing your email this also means you will be the first to know when you can gain access to the course and other fun resources.