How to choose the best digital camera for teenagers

November 23

23 min. to read

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Looking for good starter cameras for young photographers? In this article, we talked about the TOP 7 models of cams for teens who can't see themselves without taking pictures every day.

Whether we like it or not, photography is firmly rooted in our daily lives. Now it is not only a profession, not only an art but also an integral part of our social life. Just think about this: these days, smartphone manufacturers are increasingly focusing on the camera, although the main function of the phone was and remains calls; advertisers also focus on the camera, and not on the quality of communication or battery capacity, for example; before hiring, an HR manager will definitely look at your Instagram profile to understand what kind of person you are; no business today can do without interacting with their customers on social networks, even if we are not talking about product demonstrations. I could give many more examples, but I think you get the point.

It is also quite obvious that the younger generation is much more willing to succumb to new trends, so the issue of buying a camera for a teenager is more relevant than ever. The phone is good, but if you really need to take cool pictures, it will be difficult to do without a specialized gadget. Also, as an old-school photographer, I'm excited about this trend, as having a child's camera can spark interest not only in likes but in photography itself. When you carry a cam around with you, it's more than a selfie or random phone shots. That's how it goes.

In this article, I would like to talk about the best cameras for teens and kids, regardless of their goals: for selfies, photo diaries, for work, or for revealing their creative inclinations.

What should you know before buying a starter camera for teenagers?

So, you are going to give your child a cam. This is a great gift, but you must understand that by doing this you are invading territory where teenage hormones rule the roost. Are you sure that after a month or two this camera will not be gathering dust somewhere on a shelf? This is the first question you must answer. And it's not enough just to ask. Even if you're dealing with a tween and not a teenager, watch him (or her), and listen carefully to what they say to you and their friends. Be careful and you will definitely hit the target!

Also, think about what else your child is interested in. Prefers quiet walks or active entertainment, goes in for sports or likes to play computer with friends, loves nature or the city?

Alfred Stiglitz once said: "You can take pictures wherever there is light." That is, the camera can be a great gift for almost any teenager, but it should be easy to use. After analyzing the interests of your child, you can easily understand whether he needs a large or compact camera, shockproof or just stylish, multifunctional, or point-and-shoot camera.

How to choose a good starter camera for a teenager?

So, you are sure that your child wants a camera and have an idea of what kind of camera it should be. But you also need to understand the products themselves in order to pick up a really good one. Here's what to look out for.

Design

A great camera is one that looks great because it will always compete with the phone in your child's pocket. For a teenager to want to use your gift, it has to look cool. Take a closer look at your son/daughter's friends: what cameras are popular among them? This may help you. Choosing one for kids aged 14 and over can be more of a challenge than for younger ones. The best cameras for tweens are most often made in a cartoon or minimalist design — things are easier with this.

Usability

I continue the topic of competition with a smartphone. No camera will be as easy to use, however, it still needs to be as user-friendly as possible. Of course, the skills and needs of a young photo genius must also be taken into account: if a teenager is not his first day in photography, he is unlikely to be frightened by the abundance of buttons and a complex interface. For a beginner, it is better to buy a point-and-shoot camera.

Size

This could be attributed to usability, but I want to talk about this separately since there are a few more points.

It is clear that a bulky camera is inconvenient to carry with you everywhere, but it is also important for what purposes it is needed. If your young masters of light shoot daily, of course, a compact camera is preferable. But for traveling or taking pictures at home, a larger camera like a DSLR will do.

Pics quality

Everything is simple here. It should shoot well. Do not buy a cheap bridge camera and hope that your child will be delighted with such a gift. Yet again, even a phone may shoot better. So do not let it be the best camera for teens.

Find out what is the sensor size of the camera you have chosen. This will directly affect the quality of pictures and video recordings. For example, for cool HD video, you need at least 1080p. 4K is even better. If you can afford it, buy a camera with the highest resolution.

Focal length

Pay attention to the focal length of the lens (or buy a camera with interchangeable lenses). I won't go into detail about how it works. All you need to know is that the smaller the focal length, the more the camera captures, but the image is distorted. For portraits, it is best to use optics with a focal length of 50 mm and more, for streets 35 mm is the best. The zoom lens allows you to change the focal length to suit your needs.

Camera modes

Camera modes are also very important. At first, like with a phone, a teenager can only shoot in automatic mode, but the presence of manual exposure control and the ability to manually focus can push the child to develop his creative potential.

What the phone cannot 

Not every phone can do what a good camera can do. For example, phones still have a big problem with digital zoom as their focal length is usually very small. But a good zoom lens will do it with a bang. You can even go as far as gifting a teenager an instant camera (they're all the rage right now, by the way). The phone will definitely not be able to immediately issue a picture.

Price

Of course, price matters. However, you should not succumb, because a quality product will last longer. Besides, isn't the smile and thanks of a child when you give him a really cool thing the best value of a gift?

Choosing the best camera for a teenager: models review

Now let's take a look at the list of the best cams suitable for teens. This one is not an axiom, but my personal opinion both as a photographer and as a dad. Take a closer look at these recommendations, but choose based on the needs, wishes, and interests of your child.

Fujifilm X-T1: best digital camera for teens

It's an old mirrorless camera that still shoots much better than many brand-new phones. And this is its main advantage for you: the camera was released back in 2014, so its price is now low. You buy a real professional camera for your child and it will not cost very much. Among the advantages, I can note an excellent kit lens, the ability to change optics, small size, stylish design, and incredible ergonomics. It's clear, that it makes amazing-quality shoots.

This camera can easily be carried in your backpack, allowing teens to take their photography anywhere. Its dimensions are only 129 × 89.8 × 46.7 mm, and the weight is 390 g (camera body). And thanks to the ability to put different optics, Fujifilm X-T1 can be easily adapted to a variety of tasks.

The result is one of the best starter cameras for teenagers interested in photography.

By the way, this camera won the Technical Image Press Association award in the Best CSC Expert nomination in 2014.

Canon EOS Rebel T100: best DSLR for teenagers

It is very difficult to say which DSLR is better or worse. Canon, same as Nikon, has a lot of great semi-professional DSLR cameras. And they are all about the same in quality (hence the eternal dispute: Kenon vs. Nikon; but there is also Lumix, Olympus, and other wonderful brands).

So why did I choose this one? I guess it's because of the small details that make the Rebel T100 truly youthful. This is the design, the presence of Wi-Fi, and even the very name of the model. Yet it's still an amazing camera with a maximum resolution of 18 megapixels (or 1080p for video recording), manual exposure control, and a kit zoom lens with a focal length of 18-55mm. In addition, this is a fairly cheap camera.

I also want to note that this is a camera with an EF-S mount. This means that you can put a whole bunch of different used lenses on it, which you can buy on the cheap.

Canon PowerShot SX720 HS: best compact digital camera for tweens

If you're buying the first camera for a 12-13-year-old kid, a mirrorless or DSLR can be too complicated a gadget. I recommend taking a closer look at the wonderful point-and-shoot camera Canon PowerShot SX720 HS. This is a cool toy that takes pictures automatically, allows you to shoot videos in 1080p quality, and capture detailed pictures thanks to the 20.3MP sensor. It also has the ability to immediately transfer photos to your phone via Wi-Fi.

Many eminent photographers of our time started with the point-and-shoots of the PowerShot series. So why shouldn't this baby be the introduction to photography for your child too? Maybe one day he/she will become a great photographer.

Polaroid Now: best instant camera for teens

Polaroid Now is a mix of retro style and modern features. Polaroid's new revived lineup has two more models, the OneStep 2 and OneStep+, but the Now model surpasses them in image quality and improved flash. On the other hand, this camera is easy to use as it has fewer special modes (and kids don't need too many). The images that the camera produces look fantastic, to get a ready-made picture, just press one big bright button. The printing is very high quality, and the photos taken with this device will decorate any home (although you will have to constantly spend money on consumables).

Samsung NX3300: the best selfie camera

The popularity of the selfie has revolutionized photography and the self-portrait genre. The selfie has changed the interaction or, more accurately, "non-interacting" with other people when we want to be in a photo. And the selfie even dictates changes in camera body design, forcing manufacturers to figure out how to implement a screen that points in the same direction as the lens. Isn't that strange? But that's how it needs to be.

One of those who managed to cope with this task better than others is Samsung with their NX3300. It's a mirrorless interchangeable lens digital camera with lots of Samsung technology coming from smartphones like NFC. The NX3300 has a ton of software bells and whistles to make selfies stand out. There is a wink trigger mode, you can turn on the “beauty face” or even “best face” mode to look your best. The whole internet is waiting for these selfies!

In short, this is a serious gadget with many features, sharpened for selfies. Why not the best digital camera for a teenager?

Sony ZV-1: the best camera for teens vloggers

To be honest, I'm definitely not sure which camera is more suitable for teens who shoot vlogs: the Sony ZV-1 or the already-mentioned Samsung NX3300. However, the Sony ZV-1 has difficulty accessing the exposure controls in selfie mode, so I decided to distribute them that way.

The Sony ZV-1 was designed specifically for vloggers, not photographers. This camera lives up to a long list of must-have features, from the ease of use and 4K video recording to a fully articulated LCD touchscreen. There's a built-in 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 lens here, so soft backgrounds can be created by choosing a wide-open aperture.

Eye AF and excellent tracking keep content creators in focus while shooting: 

  • Thanks to the soft skin option, the face will always look good. 

  • With the ZV-1 AE's Face Priority feature, the camera automatically adjusts settings to ensure the correct exposure when the lighting changes. 

  • There are also video-oriented features such as focus enhancement and zebra stripes.

The Sony ZV-1's built-in microphone provides good sound, and this amazing camera even comes with a windscreen. It is equipped with a 3.5 mm microphone jack for external connection, as well as a multi-interface jack for connecting additional accessories.

In addition to the webcam software, check out the Vlogger Kit with a shooting grip, wireless remote control, and 64GB SD card. The handle that doubles as a mini tripod has an adjustable head, and while not as efficient as a shooting gimbal on the go, it provides a good grip.

The controls on the front of this vlogger camera's grip include a record button and a zoom rocker for adjusting compatible optical drive lenses.

Semi-action cam Ricoh WG-6: the best for crazy teens

This petite camera is perfect for active teens who love hardcore fun. The Ricoh WG-6 can survive a two-meter drop onto tiles, concrete, asphalt, and other hard surfaces. In addition, it is waterproof and even better than the well-known GoPro.

The advantages of this compact camera are: 

  • a high resolution of 20 MP/4K;

  • a wide range of focal lengths (from 28 to 140 mm, which means that your child can take pictures both from close and from a distance);

  • a built-in ring light, which is its own kind of flash in low light. 

However, this camera has a significant drawback. The smallest aperture is f / 3.5, which makes it difficult to shoot in poor light. Yes, there is a ring, but I must admit that it does not always do its job, and is better suited for selfies.

While not suitable for professional photography, this is still one of the best digital cameras for tweens, at least because they won't kill it in a matter of days.

On a final note

As you can see, there is no single best camera for teenagers. There are a lot of options, and I told only about those that I myself held in my hands. So I'll reiterate the importance of making the right choice: it starts with understanding your child's desires. Some teenagers will love the stylish and indestructible Ricoh WG-6, while others will love the Fujifilm X-T1, which allows taking really professional pictures. Not every camera is designed for classic photography. And not every child who explicitly makes it clear that he wants a camera is going to take pictures (maybe he's only interested in recording videos or being able to take cool selfies for Instagram).

However, I hope that my advice and recommendations will help you choose the really best starter camera for YOUR teenager and this will be his very introduction to photography.

Lastly, I want to recommend a great photo editing software that can be very useful for your child if he decides to get serious about photography.

Luminar Neo is a powerful photo processing tool based on artificial intelligence technology. Unlike Photoshop and other photo editors that take a long time to master, this program allows you to create real masterpieces in just a few clicks since most of the processes are automated. For example, using Luminar Neo, you can easily remove blemishes and  smoothen the skin, emphasize eye color, create an incredible bokeh effect in photos taken in any light, quickly remove the background without wasting time manually cutting out the object, etc. This software is especially good at creating collages because it is possible to create as many layers as you like and quickly process each one using smart algorithms.

I can talk endlessly about the features of Luminar Neo, because this program is worth your attention. And in the meantime, I'm done. Hope this article helps you find the best digital cameras for teenagers.


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