I'm looking to purchase a camera for my nine year old daughter. Is there anything relatively cheap that she could use that would teach her some basics, remain fairly cheap and give her decent results?

My budget is in the sub $100 range.

Note: despite nostalgia about simpler times, a film camera is pretty much out of the question for me.

Compact camera for my son?

The guy is 9 yr old, and appears to enjoy taking photos. I don't think I'll give him access to my camera system and lenses. :) But I'm thinking to find him a neat little compact camera.

Requirements: Cheap. Configurable, within reason - would be nice if he could tweak the ISO, shutter and aperture manually, if he is so inclined. Also, it would help if the camera is not a total piece of junk.

Any suggestions?

asked by Florin Andrei

  • \$\begingroup\$ Also see this question: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/5674/… \$\endgroup\$
    – glenneroo
    Commented Dec 16, 2010 at 2:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! Is there an approximate budget you have in mind? Also, has he shown interest in shooting any particular kinds of shots (birds, landscapes, people, etc)? \$\endgroup\$
    – rfusca
    Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 15:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Watch the weight, which limits you to compact/hybrid. If you want your kid having fun taking photos than the camera should not interfere with him being a normal kid, it should be able to accompany him everywhere. If he becomes more serious about the hobby, he still can borrow your camera. \$\endgroup\$
    – Leonidas
    Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 21:42
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Wait for Pentax Q, it is small, and will have a set of interchangeable lenses to play with... oh wait, you said “cheap”. Forget it. \$\endgroup\$
    – sastanin
    Commented Jul 1, 2011 at 8:04

8 Answers 8


I'd look for robustness first and decent optical quality (cameras branded for kids often have very crappy optics). Given that, you best bet is probably to go for a used model.

I would suggest one of the Pentax waterproof point and shoots (Optio W80 or similar model from the same series), as they are very rugged (and waterproof, so you can clean them easily under the faucet). New, they're out of your budget, but could probably be found one used in your price range.

(I don't have kids yet, but I have a husband who ruined two point and shoots within a year. Our Optio was our solution, and so far it has survived two years of sand, sea water, snow blizzards, downpours and several drops on concrete. We also have an SLR, but it's our go-to camera for backpacking/paddling/beach going)

I wouldn't worry too much about control simplicity - if everybody's mom can manage the basic features of her camera, your daughter will too :)

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 on the simplicity level. It's for the twitter generation. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Guffa
    Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 19:27
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I wouldn't count out the ability of a nine year old to understand newer technology. Their brains are more plastic than us old people-- my 2 year old neighbor can operate an iPad better than his parents. \$\endgroup\$
    – mmr
    Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 20:26
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Selected, in part because I neglected to mention she has three younger brothers and ruggedness and being waterproof are necessities I hadn't considered. \$\endgroup\$
    – cgp
    Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 12:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Here's a list of waterproof compacts. If you look for previous models, used, you can get to the $100 budget. \$\endgroup\$
    – inkista
    Commented Apr 21, 2014 at 18:58

A few features that might make sense:

  • A camera that your daughter will enjoy using. No sense in buying her something she doesn't like.
  • Rugged Construction. It will get dropped.
  • One-touch uploading
  • Integrated USB connector
  • Colorful, so if it's easier to find.
  • Few controls, so as you said, she can concentrate on learning the basics.

Bonus Points:

  • Built in sticker printing

Most camera's won't have all of these features, so I woudl just look for something that your kid will want to use. Looking around Amazon, they have several kids branded camera's for around $30.


You don't mention what type of camera you have, but consider allowing him to use your camera under some limited supervision. My son has been using my SLR since he was about 8, and he understands the guidelines I've set down for him:

  • ask permission before taking it anywhere
  • no changing lenses: he gets me to do that if needed
  • the lens cap is always on, unless he's taking a picture
  • its put back in the case when he's done

I have not had any issues at all, and he does take some interesting shots.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Your kid might have been extraordinary strong for his age or you used only primes. I've recently seen kids struggle with the 1kg+ of a recent DSLR with zoom-lens and it is just sad to see that they can't even focus properly because they can't lift the camera. (I started with the 750g EXA I + prime of my father at the age of 10). \$\endgroup\$
    – Leonidas
    Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 21:31
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ +1: Even though this doesn't exactly answer what is being asked, it proposes an even better solution: teach your kid to be responsible. \$\endgroup\$
    – Frantisek
    Commented Jul 1, 2011 at 20:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think an 8 year old should have any problem with a DSLR with a reasonable lens - he started with the kit lens, and the camera + lens only weighs about 800g. \$\endgroup\$
    – chris
    Commented Jul 1, 2011 at 21:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ I remember having used a Minolta SLR when I was 6 with no trouble at all! Recently I found that old film camera and its weight resembles my current Olympus. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jahaziel
    Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 17:18

I used to have a Canon G3 that did all that stuff and took really nice photos. The "G" line has always been top-notch in quality, and you probably wouldn't want to get him a brand new one, but I'd bet you could pick up something like that G3 for a pretty reasonable price and end up with a really nice "learning" camera.


I had the same question come up a couple of years ago when my son was 9 so I bought a compact that is one of the new "tough" ones which can be dropped 5 feet, frozen to -5C, crushed with 200lbs of force and is waterproof to 3 meters. There is a range of these available now from the likes of Olympus and Fuji as well as a few others.

It may not have every one of your requirements, but while the youngster is learning to not only take pictures but also how to look after and respect equipment then it is a pretty safe purchase.

My son has dropped his camera at least 3 times, once into a deep puddle, and it has come to no damage at all. He has even taken it swimming and took some under water self-portraits that came out kind of nice :)


For a kid who enjoys taking photos, a cheap camera that is slow and fails in low light might kill the joy. I'd look for a second-hand entry-level dSLR with kit lens, such as a Nikon D40, a Canon Digital Rebel (XT?) or the Pentax K110d. You might want to choose the same brand you use yourself, so you can share lenses when your trust will grow or you go photo-hunting together.

I suggest entry-level cameras because they

  • are lightweight;
  • have full auto mode, intermediate scene modes and manual controls;
  • have spent most of their life in a bag, so they tend to be well kept and little used.
  • \$\begingroup\$ That is like recommending a racing bicycle to a kid because a normal cycle will kill the joy probably due to it assumed bad properties. \$\endgroup\$
    – Leonidas
    Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 21:38
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Leonidas I meant it more like recommending a normal bike instead of tricycle for someone who already enjoys riding. A pro camera would be the race bike. There are fast compacts, but they are certainly not cheap. I like your recommendation of hybrids, but they are not yet cheap either. \$\endgroup\$
    – Imre
    Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 22:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Imre I find the need for a fastness exaggerated, any decent compact takes photos in dusk for the price of noise. Which is tolerable, especially by a learner. (I find myself reminded here of luminous-landscape.com/essays/cognative.shtml.) We talk about a learning kid which will value a carry-along, easy-to-use camera (so hopefully containg an optic viewfinder) above the racing bike DSLR: a D40 is as "pro" as it can get concerning the usability, although it does not count as "money-pro" due to some feature/lack of. In contrast a decent compact is by no means a tricycle. \$\endgroup\$
    – Leonidas
    Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 22:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Leonidas the "decent compact" in your linked article weighs more than an entry-level dSLR, almost a kilo. Unlike a pro camera, D40 has full auto and scene modes. It seems like you regret having started out with an SLR at the same age; perhaps this experience and your ideas would be worth presenting in an answer of your own? \$\endgroup\$
    – Imre
    Commented Jul 1, 2011 at 7:49
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ When I was a kid, at around 10-12 years, my father shared one of his (full manual, heavy) reflex cameras with me. I liked it, it was real, and though I didn't appreciate it completely until about 13 or 14 years old, and used mostly a simpler compact camera, it helped me to learn about exposure, aperture, focusing etc. So, overall, it was very useful experience. When visiting some photo exhibitions we can see amazing photos made by children younger than 10 years old, and yes, they are usually made with reflex cameras. So I think that a simple DSLR might be suitable for a kid. Sometimes. \$\endgroup\$
    – sastanin
    Commented Jul 1, 2011 at 7:52

Considering your budget, I'd go with a rugged camera like the Fujifilm FinePix Z33WP or the Vivitar ViviCam 8400. Both are around $100 on Amazon.

Both can go underwater and will probably be a lot fun to use. :o)


first it depends how the kid is working with the equipment. Second, very important is what "cheap" means for you. :-D If he is enough careful, I would probably look for some compact camera - maybe some EVF which could give him a lot of freedom and creativity.

Depending on the price range it could be something like my former camera Fuji S9600 which had full manual zoom and also focus ring, relatively good zoom range 28-300 mm and features like DSLRs, except the possibility to change the lens. Maybe something like the FinePix S2950, but it does not have manual zoom. They also had the F100FS, but I do not have experience with it.

I would not buy DSLR, as I think it is not good idea to let such a young boy work with the interchangeable lenses etc. and as all the things related with DSLRs are so terribly expensive.


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