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Best film cameras 2022: the finest classic and new analogue cameras you can buy

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Are you looking for the best film camera that will help you relive the joys and beauty of analog photography? We have compiled this list of the top film cameras available, whether you are looking for an old SLR, a classic instant or a budget-friendly option.

In this age of smartphone snapping and mirrorless tech, film cameras may seem a little outlandish. Why bother with the imperfections and hassle of film when you can apply a VSCO filter to your digital photos in a matter of seconds? Just like vintage cars, film can bring out the best in you and help you learn more about photography than your point-and-shoot savants.

This guide will help you choose the best film cameras, whether for professional or beginner photographers. There are many things you should consider when buying a film camera. This page will provide a detailed guide to what you should consider. The first thing that many budding analog lovers forget is the format they want.

As you would expect, 35mm film is the most widely used format. It is also the basis for modern full-frame digital camera image sensor models. These cameras are usually smaller and more portable than their medium format counterparts. Medium format film cameras, however, can produce larger negatives and more detailed results depending on the lens. However they are generally more expensive.

When choosing a film camera, it is important to consider the type of lenses that you intend to use. A camera that was made in a small production run or by an obscure company is unlikely to have a wide selection of lenses. You’ll find the right lens for you at a larger brand camera, and can also add accessories or mount adapters to make it easier to swap between different systems.

The Nikon F2 is our top choice for best second-hand film camera. This 35mm fully-mechanical SLR has been a classic for many years. It is a reliable camera with a host of features that should make it a good choice for anyone who wants to start film photography. The price is also reasonable.

The Nikon F2 is only one of many analogue cameras. Let’s now dive into our guide to the top film cameras available (used and new) in 2022.

The best film cameras

(Image credit: Creative Commons).

1. Nikon F2

A featherweight SLR heavyweight pack a punch for a low price

Specifications

Type: SLR

35mm Film Format

1971 was the year of its introduction

Availability: Second-hand

Viewfinder: 0.8X

Lenses: Nikon Fmount

User level: Advanced

There are many reasons to buy

+Incredible build quality + Wide range of compatible accessories

Avoidable reasons

-Incompatible With Some Lenses – A little heavier than similar SLRs

The Nikon F2 is our favourite film camera. It has incredible build quality, tons of features, timeless styling, and exceptional reliability. It was almost 20 years since the Nikon F made its debut on the market. The F2 is all-mechanical and features a titanium shutter. It’s as modular today as it was in 1970s. There are interchangeable viewfinders, motor drives, and meter prisms. Even though they are rare, the F2 had a 250-exposure back which could be fed into a 10-meter roll of film.

Nikon’s incredible selection of quality glass means that the F2 can be used with any Nikon SLR lens. The camera body (without the lens) weighs in at almost a kilogram (840g), which can cause strain to the arms. Although there are technically superior SLR cameras, we can guarantee that you won’t find one at a lower price.

(Image credit: Future)

2. Nikon F100

This is the best of the modern SLR world, before it went digital.

Specifications

Type: SLR

Film format: 35mm

Year of introduction: 1999

Availability: Second-hand

Viewfinder: 0.76X

Lenses: Nikon Fmount

User level: Intermediate

There are many reasons to buy

+Broad 10 segment 3D matrix measurement+Lightweight, but strong magnesium body

Avoidable reasons

-Possible dust intrusion from the back-Plastic latch weaker that its metal counterpart

The beauty of Nikon F100 is its accessibility for all levels of photographers. The comprehensive PASM (Program Aperture Priority Shutter Priority Manual) mode makes it easy for beginners and intermediate snappers to get to work.

Its magnesium body provides strength and durability while weighing in at 785g. This may be due to the fact the camera’s back is made from plastic.

Multi-CAM1300 AF system allows for expert control of autofocus. It provides a broad AF coverage and five points (top, bottom centre, left, right, centre, left, and right). This powerful AF system, at least for the time, allows you to shoot fast and maintain sharpness. The F100 can capture photos at 4.5 frames per seconds, or up to 5 AF FPS with the MB-15 grip.

(Image credit: Creative Commons).

3. Canon AE-1

A lightweight, affordable SLR designed for beginners

Specifications

Type: SLR

Film format: 35mm

1976 was the year that this date was introduced.

Availability: Second-hand

Viewfinder: 0.83X

Lenses: Canon FD mount

User level: Beginners

There are many reasons to buy

+Lightweight+Automation helps amateurs

Avoidable reasons

Housing made of battery-operated plastic feels cheap

Canon sold an incredible one million units back in those days. It was the first microprocessor-equipped SLR the world had ever seen in a production camera and was designed to be lightweight thanks to advancements in electronics technology.

The AE-1 takes advantage of this advancement by having a compact aluminum body that is held together with strong plastics. Canon made the transition from heavy-metal, full-mechanical cameras to a lighter, more portable camera with this camera. Canon’s introduction of a plastic frame and a cloth shutter allowed it to be affordable for beginners.

The camera has two modes of control, manual and shutter priority, and can shoot at 1/1000 seconds. The camera also features a built-in, center-weighted lightmeter to help judge exposures. It is only compatible with FD-mount lenses, but it can be used with older FL mount lenses with stop-down metering or EF-mount lens with additional third-party adapters. Another fun fact is that the shutter release sound of this camera can be heard when one takes photos with the iPhone.

(Image credit: Creative Commons).

4. Pentax K1000

It is a classic for students of photography due to its simplicity and low price

Specifications

Type: SLR

Film format: 35mm

1976 was the year that this date was introduced.

Availability: Second-hand

Viewfinder: 0.88X

Lenses: Pentax K-mount

User level: Beginners

There are many reasons to buy

+Simple, traditional layout+Renowned durability

Avoidable reasons

-Minimal features -Light meters might need to be renovated

The Pentax K1000, which is at the lower price point, is well-known as a beginner film camera for students and budding photographers. It’s not the most affordable 35mm SLR on this list, but that doesn’t diminish its useability.

The K1000 is stripped down and has only three controls for shooting: shutter speed, aperture, and focus. Because the camera is so easy to use, it encourages photography beginners to get this camera.

This SLR has no electronics that could go wrong. A battery can only operate the light meter, if you want to use it. The fully-mechanical metal body is able to shoot without any problems. The pentaprism has a hotshoe for mounting flashes. There is also an adjustment dial to adjust shutter speed, ISO (ASA), and shutter speed. To aid in composition, the viewfinder has a 0.88x magnification.

(Image credit: Creative Commons).

5. Fuji GW690III

Incredible detail from insanely large negatives

Specifications

Type: Rangefinder

Film format: Medium format

Year of introduction: 1992

Availability: Second-hand

Viewfinder for direct viewing

Lenses: Fixed lenses

User level: Intermediate

There are many reasons to buy

+Large 6 x 9 negatives+Rubberized grip

Avoidable reasons

-No light meter-Direct viewfinder

The Fuji GW690III rangefinder camera is a compact medium format rangefinder camera. It has a fixed lens that produces sharp results. The fixed Fujinon 90mm F/3.5 lens is sharp down to the minimum focus distance of 1 meter. The lens’ tough, metallic built-in cover helps to counter flare.

The medium format camera is larger than 35mm SLRs, but the all-plastic case keeps the weight down to 1,460g. It measures 201x119x129mm. The body has a shutter actuation count on the underside. To ensure that photos are being recorded accurately, there is a spirit level feature on the top plate.

As you would expect, the aperture ring is located on the lens barrel. However, the shutter speed selector is hidden underneath a pull-out mechanism. This could be a problem for SLR shooters transitioning to the new camera. Portrait shooting may be a little easier with the presence of two shutter releases: one at the top and one at its front.

The GW690III’s 6×9 negatives are a major draw, and they can be as large as large format sizes. For 35mm shooters, the aspect ratio of the GW690III is nearly identical to 35mm. This allows for easy composition.

(Image credit: Creative Commons).

6. Canon A2 / EOS 5

Lightweight body with magical eye-controlled focus

Specifications

Type: SLR

Film format: 35mm

1992 was the year that this law was first implemented.

Availability: Second-hand

Viewfinder: 0.73X

Lenses: EF Mount

User level: Beginners

 

There are many reasons to buy

+Unique, eye controlled focus point selection+Great range of EV

Avoidable reasons

Hot climes can make the battery operated-Tacky grip uncomfortable

The Canon A2 (also known as the EOS 5 in the US) is an excellent, solid SLR that dates back to the 1990s. It weighs only 675g and packs a lot of punch. You can choose from five different focusing points via the dial or via your camera. But it also features Eye Control, a magical feature that allows you to focus on specific areas.

The A2 will automatically select the focusing point that you are looking at by simply looking at any one of the five points. This is a very inspiring feature that you would be fortunate to find on a future digital camera. You can preview the depth-of-field by looking at the sixth point with your eyes to determine how the image will look with the selected aperture setting.

The A2 can also shoot at shutter speeds ranging from 30 seconds to 1/8000s. This allows you to freeze action and keep it moving with long exposure. The camera’s 16-zone, 3.5% spot and center-weighted average meters, as well as the built-in flash will not let you down if the lighting conditions change.

(Image credit: Creative Commons).

7. Olympus OM-1

This 35mm fully-mechanical SLR is bright and sparkly, but it’s completely manual

Specifications

Type: SLR

35mm Film Format

Year of introduction: 1972

Availability: Second-hand

Viewfinder: 0.92X

Olympus Mount Lenses

User level: Beginners

 

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There are many reasons to buy

+Compact, light+Clear, bright visionfinder

Avoidable reasons

Manual shooting only -Shutter speed adjustment on the lens ring

Olympus OM-1’s most striking feature is the large and bright optical viewfinder. The magnification of 0.92x allows you to wear the camera as a monocle and get great views of your scene. This allows you to engage with your subject and identify potential compositions that might otherwise go unnoticed by other cameras.

The OM-1 is a great choice if portability is important. It weighs just 510g and measures 136x83x50mm. It is much smaller than its 35mm counterparts from the 1970s. This is due to the Olympus Pen and Pen F cameras. They are also well-known for their small size.

Although the OM-1 is great to use for all levels of photography, beginners should be able to improve their exposure theory. The fully manual operation of the OM-1 means that you must balance aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Although it doesn’t have any semi-automatic or automatic features, it is a great second-hand choice.

(Image credit: Creative Commons).

8. Mamiya C330

Solid medium format camera with interchangeable lenses

Specifications

Type: Medium format TLR

Film format: 120

1969 was the year of its introduction

Availability: Second-hand

Viewfinder: Twin-lens reflex

Lenses: Interchangeable Mamiya

User level: Advanced

 

There are many reasons to buy

+Compatible for 120 and 220 film+Interchangeable lenses system

Avoidable reasons

-A heavier camera-Less portable than 35mm cameras

The Mamiya C330 was designed for professionals and serious amateurs.

The C330, like many twin-lens reflex cameras, had the ability to switch lenses. These included focal lengths between 55mm and 250mm. It was ideal for indoor and outdoor photography (if your arms were strong enough to support the heavy 1.7kg frame).

This camera is heavy and bulky, but there are many accessories that can extend its capabilities. These include backplates for sheet films, grip-holders of two types, interchangeable focusing screens, and finders. You can choose from bellows or a parallax-minder to compensate for converging verticals. 120 film allows for 12 exposures; 220 film can give you 24 exposures.

 

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