If you love all things retro then you will simply love this article! Today we are looking at the best film cameras to buy new (or nearly new).
In our modern technologically driven world, we have access to an awesome range of cameras. DSLR cameras from Nikon and Canon, for example, provide exceptional quality and a myriad of features.
Despite all of this technology, sometimes it is refreshing to go back to our photography roots and shoot in film again and use an archaic camera complete with the film reel. If you want to experiment with this spartan camera technology, read on to find out the best film cameras to buy new!
Why are Film Cameras Still Useful in Photography?
Surely with all the aforementioned technology we have, there is no need to use a film camera. By using a DSLR you can simply upload your photos to a PC and edit them in an instant. Also, you may want to instantly share your images on Instagram from your PC or straight from your camera. This is undoubtedly true. However, film cameras certainly still have a valid place in photography.
👉 Film Improves Your Technique and Skills
First and foremost, film photography teaches you patience and perfectionism. Consider this – analog film cameras have no viewing screen. You literally have no idea if your photo is in focus or high quality until you develop it in the lab. Due to this fact, you learn to set up each shot carefully. You will analyze every fine detail and your composition process will improve as a result.
👉 Film Helps You Understand Exposure and Metering
Secondly, in a similar fashion, film photography also teaches you the importance of exposure. Using a DSLR, you can change the exposure and take multiple shots for redundancy. You do not have this luxury with a film camera, however.
With a film camera, you will learn the nuances of light metering and exposure. You will learn how different metering settings create different effects. Moreover, you will learn how to use light to its fullest potential.
👉 Film Provides a Challenge and Fun Through Developing
Finally, developing film is just a fun process! Watching your photos appear before your eyes is like magic! Many people simply enjoy the development process. Additionally, instant film photos can provide you with an end product on the spot which is often desirable.
What to Look for when Choosing the Best Film Cameras to Buy
Before we look at the best film cameras to buy, we have a little advice regarding what to look for. The main thing to remember is those old film cameras can vary greatly. The technologies used and components can range from model to model. This can depend on the era the camera was made, and the manufacturer.
The following are some basic things to consider when buying a film camera:
- What file type does the camera take?
- What size and resolution photo can the camera take?
- What power source does the camera use i.e. AA Batteries?
- What focal range and lens does the camera have?
- What apertures is the camera capable of shooting at?
- What ISO range is the camera capable of shooting at?
- What color range can the camera capture?
The above are all hugely important. Furthermore, in film cameras, the above can vary greatly. For example, the Nikon F6 camera can use a variety of different lenses such as macro and zoom. Alternatively, the Instax Mini has a fixed lens and is only capable of shooting in a minimal number of different ways. Do your research and consider the functionality of the film camera!
The Best Film Cameras to Buy in 2018
- Lecia M7
- Lecia MP
- Nikon F6
- Lomo Lubitel 166+
- Polaroid PIC-300 Instant Film Camera
- Instax Mini 90 NEO Classic Camera
Now we come to the juicy part! Let’s look at the best film cameras to buy! When choosing a film camera to buy, always check if it is actually new. You may find that stores such as Amazon list the camera as new, but upon further inspection, it is actually used. We have hand-picked 6 awesome film cameras that can fill a variety of roles. These include traditional SLR models and a couple of cool instant photo film cameras too – enjoy!
1. Lecia M7
- Size: 5.4 x 1.5 x 3.1
- Notable feature: Light and compact in comparison to DSLRs
Lecia have a history of creating fantastic film cameras. The M7 was one of their most popular models and was first created in 2002. This is a manual focus analog camera that works at full-frame for 35mm. Despite its relatively new age, the M7 is actually compatible with all Lecia M accessories created since 1954. This fact alone gives you great flexibility.
The feel and build of this camera are exceptional. It looks robust with a retro feel and is a joy to hold. When using the camera, it is quiet to operate. Furthermore, it is lightweight and you will hardly notice you are carrying it. If you have a tripod, this camera really can take some monumentally long exposure – up to 16 minutes if you wish! For those who regularly take night-time photographs, the Lecia M7 could be an ideal choice. As with the other two top cameras on this list, the price tag for the M7 will set you back quite a lot – and that’s without any accessories or additional lenses!
- High Quality Construction
- Automatic exposure setting
- Clear Rangefinder
- Battery Operated
2. Lecia MP
- Size: 5.4 x 1.5 x 3.1
- Notable feature: Can function with a number of different lenses
The Lecia MP has a similar design and style to the M7 but features full manual control. The M7 has some automatic features, but the MP offer full manual control. This is a professional photographers dream. For those who love the mechanical and technical side of a camera, the M7 is excellent.
This particular model is known to be extremely reliable. Moreover, the viewfinder provides fantastic lighting even in low-light situations – this makes exposing easier. If you are worried about damage then fear not – as with most Lecia models, the MP is sturdy and built to last. The grip and holding position is also comfortable. Finally, you can use the MP with a superb range of Lecia accessories and lenses. For walk-around photography and travel shots, this camera really is a great choice. To purchase a new Lecia MP, you will have to look hard. Moreover, the price tag is the highest on our list.
- Scratch resistant display-cover made of sapphire glass
- Long-lasting readiness to capture due to a large double sized image buffer of 2 GB
- Pure look without the Leica Logo and "M" lettering on the front side
- Manual viewfinder frame selection with the traditional 'frame selector'
3. Nikon F6
- Size: 8.5 x 6.5 x 5.3
- Notable feature: Can use all Nikon SLR lenses
Nikon is obviously a powerhouse when it comes to SLR and DSLR cameras. Their F6 model is undoubtedly one of the best film cameras still available on the market. Stocks are limited however and many retailers do not sell this model anymore.
The F6 is robust and built like a DSLR, it also features an improved mechanical design. To create fantastic end-product photos, the camera features the Multi-CAM 2000 AF sensor. Moreover, it has an 11-area autofocus system and 9 AF sensors. Finally, the F6 also has a high-quality shutter unit and precision exposing.
What makes this film camera even more desirable is its compatibility with Nikon accessories. Firstly, the F6 can use all NIKKOR lenses including the AF-D, AF-G, and AF-S range models. Moreover, it is also compatible with the Nikon flash system – you can mount a flash and use the remote wireless system too. In our opinion, the F6 is one of the best film cameras to buy and certainly the top choice on this list. The only issue we have is the slightly hefty price tag!
- Type of Camera - Integral motor autofocus 35mm SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera with electronically controlled...
- Exposure Modes - Programmed Auto, Flexible Program, Shutter priority, Aperture Priority and Manual
- Picture Format - 24mm x 36mm (standard 35mm film format)
- Viewfinder - Fixed eyelevel pentaprism, built-in diopter adjustment (-2 to +1m-1)
- Eyepoint - 18mm (at -10m-1) ; Power Source: Battery Holder MS-41 provided (two 3V Lithium batteries) Optional Multi...
4. Lomo Lubitel 166+
- Aperture Range: f/4.5 – f/22
- Notable feature: Twin-lens reflex viewfinder
When the Lomo Lubitel was originally released it was hailed as a Russian masterpiece. This twin lens analog camera had it all – it looked stylish and sleek and it produced some fantastic images too. Today you can recapture the magic of this camera and purchase a recreation of the original. This recreation is built to the exact original specs and takes either a 120mm or 35mm film. Moreover, at a price tag of just $289.00 brand new, this is one of the cheapest film cameras we feature on our list.
In terms of shooting specifications, this camera is capable of shooting at several different apertures. Apertures possible include f/4.5, f/5.6, f8, f11, f16 and f22. Moreover, the Lomo is capable of shooting at shutters speeds ranging from 1/250 through to 1/15 and Bulb mode. This camera really is a joy to use and is fantastic if you have a creative mind. You can produce some beautiful and imaginative shots all for a price tag that will leave you some change left in your pocket!
- Camera can be converted from 120mm to 35mm film
- The Lubitel's viewfinder glass is perfectly flat ground glass and covers 100% of the image
- Its plastic body, modeled after the original, is light and easy to carry and handle
- Includes solid glass multi-coated lens, full manual controls, exposure guidelines and standard hot shoe
- Standard cable release and tripod threads
5. Polaroid PIC-300 Instant Film Camera
- Size: 12.1 x 6.4 x 12.7 cm
- Notable feature: Print instant film photos before your eyes
The original Polaroid camera was well received and you can still purchase a variety of models today. The Polaroid PIC-300 is one such model and is actually our cheapest film camera on the list. We appreciate that this is not a roll film camera as such, but it uses film and you can take instant photos with it. The photos produced are 2.1 inches by 3.4 inches (roughly the same size as a business card). Who needs Instagram when you can produce real-life Insta-worthy prints in an instant?
This camera is easy to use and is a great accompaniment to a DSRL. If you want to create memories during your adventures then the Polaroid pic-300 is a must-have accessory. There aren’t a lot of settings on the camera – it’s literally a case of point and click!
The camera actually features four different lighting settings and there is an auto-flash too to ensure the photo is exposed correctly. The only drawback we found was the price of the photo sheets. This modern version of the classic Polaroid is certainly a great deal of fun!
6. Instax Mini 90 NEO Classic Camera
- Photo Size: 46mm x 62mm
- Notable feature: Instant photos with six shooting modes
Polaroid is not the only brand of instant film camera that can produce photos before your eyes. Another hugely popular instant camera during its hay day is the Instax Mini 90. This awesome and compact camera is so much fun to use and offers similar functionality to the PIC-300. The photo film used in the Instax Mini is 54mm x 86mm and produces photos that are 46mm x 62mm. You can create some creative mini photos perfect for your wallet or for wall displays.
The Instax actually features six different shooting modes that create a slightly different effect on the printed photo. Moreover, it features three automatic modes – forced firing, a flash off mode, and red-eye reduction. This gives you a surprising amount of control for such a small camera.
For under $120, photo enthusiasts will love the Instax Mini and the opportunities it provides. The standard package will usually contain a pack of 10 photo films. Additionally, it will usually come with the standard NP-45A battery and charging station.
- Automatically detects the brightness of the surrounding and adjusts the amount of flash and shutter speed to optimize...
- Double exposure mode 2 images are produced on 1 film sheet by pressing the shutter twice; Shutter release: Programmed...
- Bulb mode the shutter remains open while the shutter button is depressed (10 seconds maximum) and a light trail can be...
- Macro mode short distance photography as close as 30-60cm. Lens: Move in / out type lens, 2 components, 2 elements,...
- Kids mode suitable for photographing kids, pets and other fast moving subjects due to a fast shutter speed
Related Post: 35mm Film vs. Digital and What We Can Learn from Film
Act Fast to Avoid Disappointment!
If you are looking for a film camera then we advise you think fast! Polaroid and instant cameras are still widely produced; you should have no issue acquiring one of these. SLR film cameras such as the Nikon F6 and Lecia M7, however, are in short supply. These models are generally no longer produced. Manufacturers concentrate solely on modern DSLR devices. Whilst you can buy these cameras new, stocks will be limited.
There is always the option of purchasing a used model through eBay or Amazon, however – generally the used models will have been taken care of by their owner. They will be as good as new and still have great functionality.
We hope you have found this guide enlightening. As you can see, it is still possible to purchase film cameras! The list we have compiled certainly contains the best film cameras to buy. Moreover, it offers a great mix of SLR film cameras and instant photo cameras. If you have experience with using any of the above film cameras, then drop us a comment and share your thoughts!
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