The Best Cameras to Capture Professional-Looking Photos of Your Kids
As a family photographer, a lot of parents ask me about what cameras and tech they should be using to capture images of their children. Tech has come a long way over the last decade, bringing us tiny digital cameras boasting 20+ megapixels and cell phones that are just as powerful—and with all the new options out there, figuring out which is best for you and your family can feel pretty daunting. So I’ve done the research for you and compiled a list of the best mobile phones, cameras and gear to help you document all of your most important moments with your kids.
I’m a longtime iPhone user, but this phone makes me seriously consider switching to Android, especially when you consider the price tag. Like the iPhone, the Galaxy A50 boasts three stacked rear cameras that have a flash, auto focus and the ability to shoot 4K video resolution (meaning the image quality is super-crisp and detailed). The first camera is an ultra-wide 8 megapixel camera that’s similar to what the human eye sees at 123 degrees wide. The second is the regular main lens, which has an incredible 25 megapixels. For non-photo people, that rivals some very expensive professional cameras! The third is a 5 megapixel depth camera, which helps you control the background blur and create professional-looking images. The front-facing camera is a single lens with 25 megapixels (o-m-g!) and no need for a flash. The camera will help you enhance photos automatically and has flaw detection technology to alert you when someone in your photo blinks or if you catch any unwanted blur. Plus, the phone has a huge amount of storage for all of those amazing photos you’ll be taking. You get all this, for an incredibly affordable price.
Buy it: starting at $300, Samsung.com
The iPhone 11 Pro is a chunk of change, especially for new parents, but there’s something to be said about the triple rear camera. It might not have as many megapixels as the Galaxy but it produces the most true-to-life images with best overall color. All of the cameras on this phone are 12 megapixels with varying lens depths to capture all the wide-angle (120 degrees) or close-up photos you want to take. The 4K video is cutting-edge and includes camera stabilization for cleaner videos, plus it comes with awesome in-phone editing software. The 11 Pro also has a night mode to help you get high-quality images even in low lighting and at night. My favorite part of the phone is the on-point options in portrait mode. You can play with depth of field (aka blur the background) and shift into different studio lighting options, which make you feel like a pro photographer.
Buy it: starting at $999, Apple.com
Priced just under the iPhone, the Pixel 4 is definitely worth considering for its awesome camera features alone. It has a 5.7 inch display (the XL is 6.3 inches) and a dual rear camera with a 16 megapixel lens and a 12.2 megapixel lens that gives you a 77-degree view. The front camera is 8 megapixels with a wide 90-degree view for fun selfies with your little one. The feature I love most about this phone is its awesome night vision. It’s nearly impossible to take night photos with most phone cameras, but you will live for this feature on the Pixel, especially if you want to capture any evening activities or low-light spaces.
Buy it: $799, Store.Google.com
I’m really excited about the mirrorless Nikon Z 50. It’s an amazing little camera that can capture 4K Ultra video and 20.9 megapixel photos. It’s super-lightweight (just under 1 pound) so you won’t feel like you’re carrying around an extra baby! It has easy-to-use manual settings, it’s great in low-light situations and if you want to get creative, there are a number of internal filters to play with. Plus, it has a rugged magnesium alloy body, so it’s toddler-safe. The screen on the back of the camera has touch technology and can flip up for easy selfies. With built-in Bluetooth and WiFi, you can quickly share images to your phone—or, even better, set it up so it auto-populates. What parent doesn’t love set-it-and-forget-it features?
Buy it: $857 (body only), Amazon.com
Sony is known for its tack-sharp images and top-notch lens quality. The A6100 is 1.6 pounds with a handful of amazing features that make this one of the best family cameras to consider. First, it has real-time tracking focus for moving subjects (hello tiny humans who don’t want to sit still!) and you can use the continuous shooting mode to snap a burst of photos in a row to fully capture a moment. It automatically finds a subject’s eye and tracks it to focus when photographing or filming people and animals. If you use the camera at a low F-stop (which is what controls the depth of field and creates a blurry background like “portrait mode”) you can take some seriously beautiful images, even as a beginner! The camera has a silent mode, perfect for capturing photos of sleeping babies. I love the display on the back of the camera: You can focus the lens or track a subject for a video with the touch of a finger.
Buy it: $698, Amazon.com
Of all the amazing Canon cameras on the market, I picked the SL3 because it’s the smallest and lightest of the EOS DSLR to date. It’s easy to use right out of the box and boasts a great price point. The camera has 24.1 megapixels and weighs just under 1 pound. You can easily set the camera to manual settings and take all the cute photos you want! There are some built-in filters and color balance options that are super-easy to program and will make your images that much better. The SL3 also has both WiFi and Bluetooth to make transferring images to your phone or computer a snap. The camera is super-fast, has 4K video (with a 4K timelapse video option), can shoot in low-light situations and has a flip-out display for hands-free group photos. The auto-focus eye detection helps you nail your focus without even trying. Win!
Buy it: $599, Amazon.com
The Leica brand has a longstanding reputation for quality, and with proper care your C-Lux should last long enough for your kids to use it in the future. I have my grandfather’s Leica camera from the 1950’s that I treasure. The C-Lux is a super-compact 20 megapixel mini camera with 4K video and weighs under 1 pound. Just toss it into your diaper bag and carry it around to capture all of your family’s best moments. The x15 zoom and zoom stabilization is where this camera really shines. I love that you can choose settings for it or use it all on auto, and the smudge-proof touchscreen is great for repelling sticky fingerprints. It has a 1-inch image sensor and super-fast shutter (10 frames per second) so you won’t miss a moment. It’s perfect in low-light situations and Bluetooth-compatible for wireless transfers to your computer or phone.
Buy it: $1,030, Amazon.com
Ready for a little nostalgia? Thanks to the gratification of instant print-out photos, Polaroid cameras have been making a comeback. The OneStep+ is similar to the OG polaroid cameras and uses the same film. With its powerful flash, it has the ability to make any photo you take look just a little bit cooler. My favorite feature of the OneStep+ is that you can now sync the camera with your phone via Bluetooth and take hands-free images. It also lets you play with double exposure and painting light, which is a perfect activity for you and your kids to do together.
Buy it: $130, Amazon.com
Already have a phone but want to upgrade the camera? Enter: Moment. Instead of upgrading your entire phone just to get a better camera, Moment offers high-quality camera lenses for nearly every mobile phone out there. You have to use a special Moment phone case, but they have a bunch of different options to choose from. The two most recommended lenses are the 18mm wide-angle lens and the 58 mm telephoto lens. The wide angle lens opens up the typical camera frame to capture sharper images with more of your surroundings. The telephoto lens helps your camera zoom in farther without losing quality. I love that each lens is made with cinema glass and has an aerospace-grade metal body. They also offer a macro lens (my favorite) for beautiful, up-close images of your sleeping baby and details like toes and feet that you never want to forget as they get bigger. When I tested these lenses I was able to get a perfectly crisp photo of a coworker’s eye! It was incredible.
Buy it: Lenses start at $79, cases start at $20, ShopMoment.com
Here’s a new idea: Give digital scrapbooking a try! The new Wacom One tablet comes with a pen tool that allows you to hand-write notes and manipulate images using your favorite software, all while connected to a 13.3 inch monitor. Your (Android) phone, laptop or desktop can easily be connected to the tablet using a cord connector. I love the idea of making a unique, personalized digital scrapbook for your family with handwritten doodles and notes.
Buy it: $400, Amazon.com
This pocket-sized printer, brought to you by FUJIFILM, is perfect for anyone who loves to print photos but has zero time to actually get them printed—so pretty much all parents. The Link uses instax mini film and can wirelessly connect to your phone for instant prints of any images in your camera roll. Use the built-in filter and frame options to make any phone photo look extra-awesome. The prints come out crazy fast: It only takes 12 seconds for your image to print and then about 90 seconds for it to fully develop. I’m guessing they knew there’d be plenty of impatient kids eager to see their photos.
Buy it: $96, Amazon.com
One must-have item that I recommend to anyone is a popsocket. It’s a little button that goes onto the back of your phone and accordions out into a handle. Not only does it help save your phone from being dropped, but it also can act as a little tripod if you want to grab a hands-free selfie using a self-timer. So useful!
Buy it: $10, Amazon.com
Michelle Rose is a lifestyle portrait photographer based out of New York City. She specializes in newborn, maternity and family sessions as well as event photography. After 10 years working as a photo editor at women’s magazines, she decided to take the leap to work behind the camera. Her client roster includes The Bump, Google, Glamour and Similac. You can follow her on Instagram @michellerosephoto and view more of her work on michellerosephoto.com.
Published January 2020 Plus, more from The Bump: