The best kids cameras include a wide variety of models, some of which are basically toys, while others are beginner-level models that are really easy to use. All of them are pretty inexpensive.
If your child has some photography experience, most of the cameras listed here aren't going to be powerful enough to meet their needs. The cameras listed here are very basic models. If you want more of an intermediate or advanced model, check out my digital camera gift guide instead.
For beginners, here are the best digital cameras for kids, listed in alphabetical order.
If you're considering purchasing the Lego digital camera for a child, keep in mind that this is a toy camera, and its image quality is nowhere near good enough for a child who wants to be even slightly serious about photography. Also, keep in mind that this camera doesn't come apart, as would other types of objects built with Legos.
However, if you're looking for a fun, extremely basic camera, the Lego camera is worth considering.
Even though the Digital Blue U-Turn Camera is a children's camera, parents might find themselves borrowing the U-Turn from time to time, just because it is such a fun camera to use. The U-Turn has a cool morphing feature, and its camera body can twist to allow easy self-portraits.
The dual handgrips on the Discovery Kids camera will make this model much easier to use for small children, who will want to use the camera in a manner similar to binoculars.
The Discovery Kids camera can shoot both still images and video, which can be easily viewed on the 1.5-inch screen. It can run from four AA batteries, and it has a soft exterior, which will make it kid friendly and tough.
The Kid-Tough camera aims to live up to its name, as it can survive a few drops from a young photographer. This model should be pretty easy to use, even for really young kids.
It only shoots at 0.3 megapixels of resolution, so it isn't going to create high-quality photos, but kids will have fun viewing the photos on the 1.4-inch screen.
5. GE X550
The recently released GE X550 provides the look of an advanced camera -- complete with large zoom lens and viewfinder -- coupled with the point-and-shoot simplicity of most GE cameras. A viewfinder may make this camera easier to use for younger children than trying to shoot with the LCD only.
The X550 offers 16 megapixels of resolution, a 15X optical zoom lens, and a 2.7-inch LCD screen. It runs from four AA batteries, which can be handy when traveling.
"Tough" still image digital cameras are growing in popularity and availability. "Tough" video digital cameras aren't quite as easy to find, though, which makes the Kodak EasyShare PlaySport video camera an interesting option.
The PlaySport, which is the second generation model and which was announced at CES in January, can shoot full 1080p HD video in a small video camera body. With still images, the PlaySport can shoot at 5MP of resolution. It has a 2.0-inch LCD.
Kids who enjoy outdoor activities, such as snowboarding or skateboarding, will love the PlaySport, because it's small and easy to use to shoot videos and images of friends.
Even though this model is a bit older than some of the others on this list, kids will really love that the Coolpix S80 includes a 3.5-inch OLED touch screen display. The high-resolution screen has a wide viewing angle of about 180 degrees. Users can add art effects to their photos or can rate their photos for easy sorting by using touch commands on the S80's display.
You'll find 14.1 megapixels of resolution, a 5X optical zoom lens, and 720p HD video capabilities with the S80. The S80's color combinations should appeal to children, too, with black, blue, gold, red, light pink/dark pink, or silver/brown camera bodies available.
Because of the low price of the Olympus VG-160 -- along with a good performance level with flash photos -- I really like this model as a first camera for kids. Among sub-$100 cameras, the VG-160 carries one of the better specification lists that you're going to find.
Granted, the VG-160's features aren't going to stand up well against most of the other cameras introduced recently, but this model does compare strongly against other cameras in its price range. You'll find 14 megapixels of resolution, a 3.0-inch LCD, a 5X optical zoom lens, and 720p HD video capabilities with this model. Olympus is offering the VG-160 in red, orange, black, and silver body colors.
With the Pentax Optio RS1500, you can change the look of the camera at any time with a new faceplate, a new lens ring, or a customizable skin, such as the skin shown here feating the Green Lantern. You'll find 14 megapixels of resolution, a 4X optical zoom lens, 720p HD video capability, and a 3-inch LCD screen with the Optio RS1500.
The RS1500 is an upgrade to the Optio RS1000, which was released late in 2010 and could accept various skins. Pentax designed the RS1500 to be easier to customize than its predecessor.
There is an aspect to photography and cameras that many camera reviewers forget about -- the "fun" factor.
Cameras should work well, certainly, but they also should be fun to use, especially point and shoot cameras. With that in mind, Samsung's latest DualView camera, the DV300F, does a really nice job of succeeding on both fronts.
With its two LCD screens and Wi-Fi capability, the DV300F is perfectly built for sharing photos via social networking. This camera also shoots photos that are of a much higher quality than you'd expect to find in the sub-$150 price range.
In addition, the DV300F has 16.1 megapixels of resolution, a 5X optical zoom lens, and 720p HD video.
11. Samsung MV800
Samsung is well known for its innovative point and shoot cameras. Where other companies are content to come up with models each year that increase the optical zoom or add more megapixels, Samsung looks to innovate, even within the inexpensive point and shoot market, adding dual LCDs and WiFi capabilities.
Now, the Samsung MV800 includes a flip LCD that can rotate 180 degrees until it's positioned over the top panel of the camera, allowing for easy self-portraits. Throw in a touch screen LCD, and you have a camera that's really easy to use and that would be a lot of fun for kids.
It would be nice if the performance levels of the MV800 in low light were a little better, but this is still a fun camera to use with excellent autofocus capabilities.
12. Vtech Kidizoom
The Kidizoom camera from Vtech is more of a toy than a serious camera, but, for children, it will be a fun option. Younger children will enjoy the Vtech more than pre-teens and older children interested in photography, because the Kidizoom offers only the most basic photography features. Its photography options only are good enough to shoot photos to share by e-mail or to make tiny prints.
If you're looking for a children's camera with a few more features, such as a built-in flash and slightly more resolution, take a look my review of the Kidizoom Plus, which costs about $20 more than the Kidizoom.