Camera Recs for a 10 year old

Would appreciate recommendations on a user-friendly camera for a 10 year old who loves to document nature. She is very tech savvy for a kid.

Ideally, I’d like an option that would allow for easy (or even direct) uploading to iNaturalist and EcoExplore, if that exists. We were thinking an iPod, but those are being discontinued. Is there another digital camera out there that offers direct uploading options? We’d prefer just a camera vs. purchasing a phone.


Honestly, even cheaper smartphones are going to outcompete iPods for camera quality. I’d suggest getting a phone and removing the SIM card. That way it will work with Wi-Fi (needed for direct uploading), but won’t be able to send texts or make calls (except with apps that accomplish this via Wi-Fi).


My son (12) has been using his iPad for a couple years. He started initially just using my phone and my wife’s phone, and the iPad is not very different, though the size can be difficult to use easily. The iPad usually is for just stuff around the house, yard or a family member or friend’s house/yard. He has his own phone now so that’s the primary device at the moment. He’s used disposable cameras and simple digital cameras, too, so multiple devices have gotten him pretty comfortable with using a range of equipment.

Edit: I should add that a lot of the uploading was still done by me, on the iPad and when he uses other devices. He knows how to do uploads and will, but he prefers taking pictures and doesn’t always enjoy the process of uploading when he’d rather be taking more pictures. The app works the same on the iPad and iPhones and he has never had any issue with the app on either device, including when he was 9-10. I mention it because the upload process might not be as captivating as the photographing part, so having it all on one device, while convenient, might be something you can easily work around if not possible.

I don’t have a suggestion that would allow for direct uploading to iNaturalist, unfortunately. But I think anything that’s minimal, simple and clear should be good for a 10 year old to use. Whether it be a very basic digital camera or something else like a phone, if it’s simple to navigate it should be a decent option. At 10, a phone might be expensive and more than what’s needed, unless you want the 10 year old to have a phone in general. Taking the SIM card out would limit what’s accessible but the price might then be more than what you’re using it for. My son probably would’ve preferred to have a phone to begin with but he didn’t get his own phone until recently.


I agree with the phone thing ( and removing sim card if you don’t want them using data). Yes for photos of distant things there are other cameras that are better, but for anything else the phone cameras are far beyond anything a 10 year old needs or even an adult for most inat observations. Unless of course the kid is also interested in a separate camera for other reasons.

Most iPods don’t have GIS making it harder to use for iNat.


I think a smartphone with a decent camera without a SIM card sounds like the best bet. You definitely want a device with GPS for easiest uploading and documenting. iPads definitely work, but aren’t as easy to wield in the field due to larger size. Some smaller tablets might also work well enough (and I hear the Android app is better than iOS, at least until the app singularity occurs).

I would also note that users need to be 13+ to have their own iNat account, not sure about EcoExplore. Seek is also out there as an option.


what specific function(s) of a phone do you want to restrict access to?

is it easy enough to be able to read an SD card from a camera on a computer and upload from a computer? if they’re going to be taking a lot of pictures in any one session, it might actually be easier to upload a bunch of photos from a computer vs one observation at a time via the app (or via the web browser on a small phone screen). i think one thing that kids especially seem to struggle with is combining multiple photos into a single observation, and i think it’s more intuitive and easier to accomplish that on a computer than on a mobile app.

i don’t know about “definitely”. seems like a 10 year old would have relatively limited mobility or range of places they would visit on any given day. it might be better that they select particular locations from a map or select particular “pinned” locations than accidentally leak their exact location.

A 10 year old will either need to have a managed iNat account with an adult supervising (who could help manage locations/privacy issues) or Seek, which would use GPS coords from a device (I think…I don’t have it myself).

I don’t think that there’s any camera that allows direct uploading to iNat - it will need to be some other kind of device.


Welcome to the forums, limerockrealty!

Big question:. far or tiny? (Or both?)

In any case, a good used bridge model might be the answer. They all are built around a ‘point-and-shoot’ foundation, so putting it into full auto mode to start will still get you far enough into it to motivate you to learn more.

I picked up an old Canon PowerShot about a year ago for 30 bucks. Image stabilizer, 12x optical. Works quite well. No wifi though. Just take notes, and use a card reader to upload to a computer (and iNat).

The macro is pretty good on this camera too, but if their main interest is for tiny stuff, even a 12x zoom paired with a Raynox clip can get you down to a 12mm full picture width. You sometimes see these Raynox clips for sale used too. (Plus, if they get ‘hooked’ into macro, it’s something you can simply clip onto the next camera upgrade!)

And going with a cheap old camera is a great way to ease the anxiety of camera drop damages, loss or handling accidents.

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Our kids were gifted used dslr with lenses around that age and figured them out quickly. They needed adults to show the memory card transfers and they like. But they learned to care for the gear, lighting’s effect, etc. Used and refurbs can be helpful. If you have a used store, kids can try the gear and see what they fancy?


I guess a lot depends on the kids and their experience with gear, but I would be a little nervous with a full DSLR in the hands of most ten year olds. (Heck, I get nervous with my own hands.)

It’s really all about the open sensor thing on mirrorless models. It’s SO easy to get gunk in there while changing lenses. Not a problem with a bridge model though.

I loved photography from a young age and used my parent’s film SLR (yup dating myself) I remember as early as 6 years old. With a bit of help I quickly learned how to wind and care for the film myself, and even change out lenses. I think it’s a matter of how much the parent wants to teach their kid, and how much their kid is into it. I miss film photography sometimes… my grandfather even had a darkroom setup <3


Being 10 I had to use an old soap-box film camera and it was a hell on Earth, so anything that can get photos easily and results seen on the spot, I think smartphone is the best, tablets like iPad had a poor camera quality compared to phones.

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Ouch. Yep, I rigged a setup in the laundry room downstairs (my parents were very tolerant). I guess I was about 15. Black and white stuff, but yeah – it was a different kind of ‘magic’ to see an image develop in front of your eyes in those trays. Shot a lot of Tri-X. Oh, and also used the room for Kodalith to make printed circuit boards. Which lead to building my first computer…

Better stop. Starting to sound like Grandpa Simpson.


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