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Review: Best Film Camera

Film used to be the standard photography medium before digital largely replaced it. Today it takes some research to find a film camera and filmstock, but they’re still available on the market. The format is still embraced by purists who see it as the highest level in mastering the craft of photography. There are many different types of film cameras and niche styles. Here are the very best cameras that still use film.

For more information on what to look at in selecting the best film camera in 2021, We have listed below the best film camera available for you to help you decide what product is best to buy.

The Best Film Cameras in Detail

Holga 120GN With Color Flash Film Camera

The Holga 120GN offers those characteristic, dreamlike images in an easy-to-use and affordable package. With the vignetting on the images. This camera is often used for fine art or just for fun. The focus is achieved by twisting the barrel to select one of the four focus points (or a point in between). Small and compact, it's made from plastic so it's not as sturdy as some, but it's lightweight. A color flash wheel allows you to add a unique color hue to any image, while the glass lens offers crisp images. Multiple exposures are possible and it can be used with 6x6 or 6x4.5 film. The camera doesn't need batteries to operate, though to use the flash you'll need to pick up two batteries.

Fisheye No. 2 Film Camera

Both lomography and fisheyes are known for their unusual, characteristic images, so it only makes sense to pair them together. The Lomography Fisheye No. 2 captures distinct, rounded images with those bold colors and extreme contrasts that are characteristic of lomography. A big depth of field means almost the entire image is in focus, making the fixed-focus style a non-issue. The fish-eye lens captures a 170 degree view into one circular image. A bulb setting for long exposures and a multiple exposure switch make the No. 2 a bit better than the original version. The viewfinder allows you to preview the fisheye effect. It includes a built-in flash, but there's also a slot for adding another external unit if you wish.

best Mamiya 7 II Pro Vlaue Film Camera

Mamiya 7 II Pro Vlaue Film Camera

Don't let the simple styling of this camera fool you—it's actually more like three cameras in one. It's a rangefinder-style camera at heart, but it can use interchangeable lenses and can be used for panoramas with an adapter. Talk about versatility. If you're not using the interchangeable lenses, there's a light meter to attach instead, which is very accurate at reading the scene. The Mamiya 7 II has been lauded for it's bright, easy to see rangefinder. The images have also been noted for their sharpness. This simple-looking camera can be ready to snap in a hurry and handles so well, it doesn't feel like a hefty, complex medium format camera.

best Horseman SW-612 Pro Film Camera

Horseman SW-612 Pro Film Camera

A popular reason for choosing medium format is the ability to take panoramic images and this Horeseman camera is an excellent option for just that. This camera operates without batteries, includes six excellent lenses and features an excellent viewfinder. This Horseman has perspective control in both lateral shift (horizontal) and rise and fall (vertical). Focusing scales and spirit levels, both also viewed through the viewfinder, help to accurately compose the shots. The various film holders available make this camera quite versatile—it can use 6x7, 6x9 or 6x12 film. The camera body has an exceptional build, including rubber grips, and should have a long lifespan.

best Rolleiflex 2.8 FX Medium Format Twin Lens Reflex Camera

Rolleiflex 2.8 FX Medium Format Twin Lens Reflex Camera

Wrapped in alligator embossed calf's leather on the outside, with modern conveniences on the inside, the classically-designed Rolleiflex 2.8 is certainly a contender in the medium format category. With 6x6 film and a bright 80 mm Planar f/2.8 lens, this twin reflex camera will produce excellent images. While the 2.8 sports a classically styles exterior, the camera uses modern film tools like TTL exposure metering and flash metering, LED exposure indicators and built-in light meter. With the backing of a manufacturer that's been around for years, this camera is built to last.

Nikon F6 35mm SLR Autofocus Camera Body

The Nikon F6 is a well-reviewed 35mm SLR film camera with a lot to offer. The F6 has an excellent 11-area autofocus system and 3D Color Matrix metering for sharp, colorful images. Since it's compatible with Nikon's most popular lenses, including the AF-S series used on their digital cameras, the F6 is an excellent purchase for the Nikon shooter looking to add film without picking up a lot of expensive lenses. With years of Nikon experience behind it, the F6 has been very well received and well reviewed as a solid film camera with excellent performance and image quality.

Canon EOS-1V Camera Body

With a 10 fps burst speed, the Canon EOS-1V is one of the fastest film SLR cameras out there (beware though, 10 fps will go through a lot of film!). Canon has a long reputation for quality images, and the EOS-1V is no exception. The EOS-1V is Canon's top 35mm camera with the most features, including a 45-point autofocus, 1/8000 maximum shutter speed, depth-of-field preview, plus 100 percent viewfinder coverage. Compatible with Canon's autofocuses lenses as well as their Speedlites, it's an ideal option for photographers that already have a few Canon accessories in their bag. But at under $2,000, it's enticing even for those starting from scratch.

Nikon FM10 35mm SLR Camera

For those picking up a film camera just to develop a better understanding of photography, the FM10 is an excellent option. The FM10 only includes manual modes, so it's an excellent learning tool to better understand exposure. While the settings are all manual, a built-in light meter helps the user to make the best decisions for exposure. Using a center weighted metering system, an LED screen allows for +/- exposure adjustments as well. The FM10 includes a built-in depth of field preview button, to help those learning the affects of varying aperture settings. Priced just over $300 and compatible with many more recent lenses, including AF-S, the Nikon FM10 is also very affordable.

Vivitar V3800N 35mm SLR Camera with 28-70mm Lens

The Vivitar V3800N SLR kit is perfect for students or casual hobbyist photographers. The 35mm film camera comes with a fast f/1.8 50mm lens. With fully manual settings, including film crank, the V3800N also includes an LED screen that displays the light meter and the correct exposure. The included depth-of-field preview button is also a great tool for students. Perhaps the best part? All of these features are within a camera that's priced right around $200, including the fast lens.

Canon EOS-1V Camera Body

With a 10 fps burst speed, the Canon EOS-1V is one of the fastest film SLR cameras out there (beware though, 10 fps will go through a lot of film!). Canon has a long reputation for quality images, and the EOS-1V is no exception. The EOS-1V is Canon's top 35mm camera with the most features, including a 45-point autofocus, 1/8000 maximum shutter speed, depth-of-field preview, plus 100 percent viewfinder coverage. Compatible with Canon's autofocuses lenses as well as their Speedlites, it's an ideal option for photographers that already have a few Canon accessories in their bag. But at under $2,000, it's enticing even for those starting from scratch.

Nikon F6 35mm SLR Autofocus Camera Body

The Nikon F6 is a well-reviewed 35mm SLR film camera with a lot to offer. The F6 has an excellent 11-area autofocus system and 3D Color Matrix metering for sharp, colorful images. Since it's compatible with Nikon's most popular lenses, including the AF-S series used on their digital cameras, the F6 is an excellent purchase for the Nikon shooter looking to add film without picking up a lot of expensive lenses. With years of Nikon experience behind it, the F6 has been very well received and well reviewed as a solid film camera with excellent performance and image quality.

Nikon FM10 35mm SLR Camera

For those picking up a film camera just to develop a better understanding of photography, the FM10 is an excellent option. The FM10 only includes manual modes, so it's an excellent learning tool to better understand exposure. While the settings are all manual, a built-in light meter helps the user to make the best decisions for exposure. Using a center weighted metering system, an LED screen allows for +/- exposure adjustments as well. The FM10 includes a built-in depth of field preview button, to help those learning the affects of varying aperture settings. Priced just over $300 and compatible with many more recent lenses, including AF-S, the Nikon FM10 is also very affordable.

Vivitar V3800N 35mm SLR Camera with 50mm f1.7 Lens

Nothing will give you a better understanding of photography than experimenting with an all manual film camera—and this Vivitar V3800N is an excellent camera for just that. For less than $250, you get a well-built manual camera and an f1.7 lens that's great for low light and a strong depth of field. Even the built-in meter is a simple match style. Unlike some other student cameras though, the V8300N allows for multiple exposures on a single frame and also includes a self-timer and a depth of field preview button. If you'd like to add more glass to the already excellent kit lens, the V3800N takes any Pentax K-mount with an aperture ring.

Buyer's Guide

Best Film Cameras Buying Guide

Film photography has captured our history and our imagination for over 100 years. You may wish to make an amazing piece of artwork or capture a piece of personal history. You may simply wish to take a photograph that makes your friends and family laugh.

Whatever your reason for wanting to buy a film camera, you will want to find one with enough capabilities and features that match your vision. Read our buying guide below to help choose the best film cameras for you.

What is a film camera?

In the mood for a history lesson?

The earliest cameras were large enough to fit several people inside. As time went on, cameras became more compact. In 1685, Johann Zahn came up with the idea of the first camera that was small enough to be practical for photography. It was almost 150 years before his idea came to life. In 1816, Nicéphore Niépce was the first man to successfully create a photograph of a camera image.

In 1885, George Eastman started to manufacture paper film. He switched to celluloid in 1888–1889. In 1888, Eastam offered his first camera (Kodak) for sale. It was a box camera with a single shutter speed and a fixed-focus lens. Its simplicity and relatively low price appealed to the average customer. Ever since, film cameras have become more and more popular with budding photographers.

Since 2010 the digital camera has become the dominant camera used in amateur photography. To capture images, digital movie cameras use an electronic image sensor. The images are recorded on flash memory or hard drives. However, many purists and auteurs still prefer the use of film.

Why do you need a film camera?

Anyone who has a smartphone has access to a camera. However, if you are serious about creating a truly stunning photograph or movie, you will want to buy a high-quality camera. Camera specifications vary greatly but it means that you can find a camera that is perfect for whatever it is you need it for. Read on for advice on what to look for when buying a film camera.

You’re going on a long trip


An advantage of film over digital cameras is that they never usually require batteries in order to work. A digital camera may run out of power during a long trip.

You value quality first and foremost

Another benefit of film cameras is that it captures photos at a higher resolution than most digital cameras. If you have a vision, these are undoubtedly the best cameras to realize it.

Recording wildlife

You may be looking for a camera to capture your local wildlife. You might want to show your friends or enter wildlife competitions.

You are on vacation

If you are going on vacation and you wish to capture wonderful memories and scenery, a film camera will create some incredible images of both landscapes and cityscapes.

Artistic projects

You may need a film camera for college projects, promotions, events planning, and more - particularly if you are making stylistic choices that simply can’t be achieved with a smartphone or DSLR camera.

Social media influencer

If you are a social media influencer you will want to get a high-quality camera to stand out from the rest.

Wedding

Buying a film camera and asking friends and family to take pictures can save money compared to paying a professional. It will also add a personalized touch.

Things to consider before buying a film camera?

There are so many different cameras to choose from in today’s market. It is important to make a mental list of what you need to be looking out for in your local tech store. If you go into a store knowing what features you want, you are more likely to leave with the perfect camera for you. What should you consider when shopping for a camera?

Read on for our advice.

Focus free cameras

Focus-free cameras have faded out of popularity for a reason. Most people are used to auto-focus cameras or at least cameras with adjustable lenses. To make one of these cameras focus, you need to be the correct distance away from the focal point. This is really not ideal if you want to capture something in the distance.

Manual controls

If it is the first time you have bought a film camera, avoid automatic-exposure-only cameras. Get more involved in the process by setting your exposure manually. A camera with both automatic and manual exposure modes is a great place to start. You can get the hang of winding and focusing, whilst you use the automatic function. When you are comfortable doing so, switch to manual.

Lens

A film camera holds the film in place to aid exposure. All film cameras are the same in this regard. So long as the camera has a decent camera lens, the photograph quality should be fine. Check the lens quality of the camera you wish to buy above all else.

Film cameras price range
The cost of film cameras ranges widely. A standard camera should cost anywhere between $75 and $800.

Best Film Camera FAQ:

What are some film camera brands?

Some trusted camera brands include Canon, Pentax, Leica, Nikon and Olympus. Of course, there are many more brands available, but these are some of the prominent names in the film camera world.

What is the difference between a film camera and a DSLR camera?

As the name suggests, a film camera stores a photograph on film. DSLR cameras store pictures on a memory card. They use different sensors.

How much does a roll of film cost?

If you want 35mm or medium format film, you can expect to pay between $10 and $50.

How much does it cost to get the film developed?

To get a roll of film developed should cost you around $5.

What accessories can I buy for a film camera?

There are so many accessories for film cameras. Our personal favorites? The Twin Mate Light Meter, which evaluates proper exposure settings for a camera.; a quality Filmguard bag, which keeps the film in the dark whilst you’re on the move; or a Daylight Film Developing Tank, which is perfect for developing film at home.

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