Easy to Use Cameras Make a Great Gift for Teens, Tweens and Preteens
A digital camera is a great gift idea for a teen, because they are not too expensive and can be used for years to come. Not only do they take great digital pictures, but these days they also record video which is perfect for this tech savvy generation. The following are several choices that are sure to hit the mark.
Remember, your teen may already have a perfectly serviceable camera in their smartphone (iPhone or Android) or MP3 player (iPod touch or Samsung Galaxy Player for instance). In this case, if they still WANT a camera, be sure to remember that they want a camera that outperforms their present camera. The best way to do that is to get a camera with a good zoom feature, which is usually quite limited in smartphone cameras.
Things to Consider When Buying a Camera for Your Teen
- Optical zoom
This is where a real camera (vs a phone camera) excels: the lenses can move, so that when you zoom you actually get more detail. These days, point and shoot cameras start with 5x optical zoom. The best camera on this page has over 20x optical zoom. This means you can get real close up to a flower or a bug, or photograph stuff from a distance and still get detail.
- Ease of use:
Does your teen want to learn real photography, with ISO details and lighting, or do they want a point and shoot with flash and as much software as possible built in to compensate for human error (compensation for moving, for instance)?
- Sharing options:
Many modern cameras have “easy share” options. This means that your teen no longer needs to take out the SD card and pop it into a PC; they can instead share their images straight from the phone, over Wifi, to Facebook and Twitter.
You may not be expecting to take video with a digital camera, but your teen sure might: their smart phone has that ability after all.
The Cameras on This Page
Best Overall Quality
Also great for video
Samsung Galaxy Camera: Best Quality Camera
Speaking of gadgets, if your teen does not have a smart device yet, and is into photography, this may be just the thing. You basically get a good camera, a media player and an Android device (including the option to download games, an e-reader app, etc.) in one. This looks like a camera, but functions as both a camera and a tablet.
I’m seriously tempted by this thing myself, in fact. I have nothing to complain of in my Samsung Galaxy phone, don’t get me wrong. In fact, I love the camera. But every once in a while real zoom would be nice.
This camera has just that; it has 21x optical zoom in fact. In addition, it has a gorgeous display (shown above), image stabilization, and a touchscreen that allows you to edit and share photos directly from the camera. According to Engadget, Android’s Jelly Bean browser adds a lot of fun to the photo taking and sharing experience, although the camera itself is bulkier than might be ideal for a teen, and the photo quality is not as good as you would expect for the price of around $300 (less for older models). On the other hand, with this device you aren’t just getting a camera. The versatility of this device makes it extra appealing to teens who love gadgets. I’d keep it in mind if you are looking to consolidate devices for your teen.
Don’t worry: the other cameras on this page are more affordable.
Canon Powershot ELPH 340: Best Camera for Pre-teens and Tweens
Canon brought out the line of PowerShot cameras back in 1996 and they have become one of the most popular cameras on the market. They are easy to use and produce quality images even for the novice photographer. These cameras work well in low light situations which is not only a plus for a teen but for adults as well. They are lightweight and slim in design, which is also a very nice feature.
Younger teens and pre-teens might have a little difficulty with keeping the camera steady when taking a photo. This is known as camera shake and produces blurry photographs and videos. The optical image stabilizer in this camera helps to fix that problem. The Wirecutter reviews the Powershot ELPH 340 as the best cheap camera of 2015 because of its sharp image quality as well as how incredibly easy it is to use. It also has a built-in Wifi connection so that images and videos can be quickly shared on social media sites. Teens and pre-teens will love that feature!
- $150 and worth every penny
- 1080 p video quality sets this camera above the rest, including image stabilization
- HD video quality is very unique in this category at this price
- Huge favorite of top YouTubers
- Comes in tons of colors
- 12x zoom with stabilization
Nikon Coolpix S2800: Best Value Camera
The Nikon Coolpix S2800 is by far the nicest camera you’ll be able to get for this price. It’s a consistent and reliable camera that is small and light enough to fit in a jeans’ pocket, and comes in a variety of colors. TechRadar describes it as “a great entry-level camera,” which provides lots of fun creative options for beginners, but not a lot of manual control options for the more experienced camera user. Teens used to Instagram and taking photos with their smartphones will love the creative filter options that can be applied both before and after shooting.
- Amazing price at $69
- 12 creative filters that can be applied while shooting, and 16 that can be applied afterward.
- 5x zoom allows you to get up close from a long distance
- 720p takes clear videos that are crisp when viewed on the latest computers and iPads. It’s not HD but it’s close.