The 10 Best Film Cameras

Updated May 08, 2018 by Ezra Glenn

10 Best Film Cameras
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
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We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. For all you old school snappers out there who still appreciate the quality of film, one of these cameras will give you the shots you're looking for. Whether you're returning to an old hobby or learning to shoot for the first time, there's something here for everybody, including those seeking the instant gratification of Polaroid-style models. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best film camera on Amazon.

10. Polaroid PIC-300

From the company that's brought the joy of instant photography to the world since 1948, the Polaroid PIC-300 captures and prints business card-sized photos. It offers your choice of four scene settings, so you always get the best exposure for your shot.
  • built-in automatic flash
  • available in four colors
  • hard to frame close-ups accurately
Brand Polaroid PIC-300
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Lomography Konstruktor F

The Lomography Konstruktor F is a do-it-yourself kit that allows you to build your very own 35mm SLR. It comes with all the components necessary for construction and is a great way to show photography students how cameras work.
  • has a cool vintage feel
  • includes stickers for customization
  • image quality is unreliable
Brand Lomography
Model hp135slr
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

8. Nikon FM-10

The Nikon FM-10 gives you complete control over your images with a number of customizable settings, including shutter speeds as fast as 1/2,000th of a second. This fully manual SLR features through-the-lens weighted metering for optimizing your exposures.
  • good for beginners or professionals
  • compatible with older nikon lenses
  • quality of used models varies
Brand Nikon
Model 1689
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Lomography Diana F+

If you're interested in experimenting with medium format, the Lomography Diana F+ is a great place to start. It's relatively cheap, produces beautifully soft and vignetted images, and boasts a visually appealing design that stands out from the pack.
  • remake of the original 1960s version
  • 3 aperture settings and a pinhole
  • not particularly durable
Brand Lomography
Model HP700
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

6. Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 80

If you're not looking to make too many adjustments to your exposures, then the Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 80 could be the point-and-shoot for you. Its cover slides open to reveal a self-extending zoom lens, all in a compact package with a healthy dose of '90s flair.
  • can print the date on images
  • advances and rewinds automatically
  • lens door is a bit fragile
Brand Olympus
Model Epic Zoom 80
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

5. Fujifilm Instax Wide 300

The Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 has an automatic extending 95mm f14 lens with two focus zones, so you can capture close-up subjects just as well as wider landscapes and group shots. It also includes a handy optical viewfinder that lets you line up your framing quickly.
  • produces 99 mm-wide images
  • built-in tripod socket
  • bulkiness impedes its portability
Brand Fujifilm
Model Instax Wide 300
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Kodak Funsaver

If you want that 35mm style for an event or basic photo shoot but you're not looking to invest in a fully-featured SLR, consider a disposable option, like the Kodak Funsaver. Each one will give you 27 exposures to play around with and won't break the bank.
  • built-in manual flash
  • good for indoor or outdoor use
  • may produce unpredictable results
Brand Kodak
Model 8617763
Weight 4.6 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

3. Fujifilm Instax Mini 9

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 takes Polaroid-style pictures the size of a credit card that develop in minutes, and is available in a variety of fun colors. It signals the recommended setting on its adjustable aperture ring with a flashing LED.
  • small and highly portable
  • high key mode for a bright soft look
  • value pack with film available
Brand Fujifilm
Model Instax Mini 9 - Lime Gr
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

2. Nikon F6

The Nikon F6 is a top of the line professional film camera that is suited to photographers who prefer the old school way of doing things. It has a robust build, though it does require you to purchase a lens separately, which can be a significant additional expense.
  • accepts all 35mm film
  • easy to use metering system
  • automatic motorized advancement
Brand Nikon
Model 1799
Weight 3.4 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Pentax K1000

The Pentax K1000 is the pinnacle of manual 35mm SLRs for beginners. It offers incredibly simple light metering, with guides to help even the totally clueless adjust its aperture and shutter speed to achieve a balanced exposure.
  • includes a fixed 50mm lens
  • never needs to be turned on or off
  • built to last for decades
Brand Pentax
Model K1000
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

Everything Old Is For Hipsters

At a certain point in our recent history, being on the cutting edge ceased to be cool. Conversely, there was a time when having your hands on the latest technology was the ultimate status symbol. There are still sectors where this ethos rings true, particularly in the cell phone market, but another subset of individuals seems intent on ruining everything nostalgic by co-opting its aesthetics and almost willfully ignoring any deeper underlying benefits.

I'm talking about hipsters, the great, benign blight on modern urban society. If it's a piece of technology developed after 1980, they don't want to know about it–unless, of course, it's something brand new that's designed to look like something produced before 1980. Theirs is a superficial movement, after all.

The shame of it is that hipster culture uses some of the coolest stuff mankind has ever produced, technological advances that are arguably better suited for their purposes than their modern equivalents. Vinyl records come to mind, the bit rates of which offer much deeper bass, crystalline highs, and a generally more dynamic sound profile than the digitized, over-compressed micro-files that stream through the airwaves to your Pandora station.

Film cameras have, for better or worse, fallen victim to trendiness, as well. The only bright side is that it's helped keep film itself in production by companies like Kodak, who have consistently threatened to close up shop. And without that film, these cameras become vintage paperweights.

It's that film that makes all the difference. All the cameras on our list either operate with standard 35mm stock, or with proprietary instant development film akin to Polaroids.

A few of these are SLRs, or Single Reflex Lens cameras, which use pentaprisms and mirrors to reflect incoming light through the lens and to your eyepiece. When you fire the shutter, the mirror moves out of the way and the shutter doors open to expose the film to light for however long you've set the camera to stay open.

Degrees Of Control

In addition to the SLRs described above, and the Polaroid-style cameras mentioned just before that, there is also one camera on our list that you actually build yourself. Such a camera is perfect for a curious enthusiast, a youngster interested in photography, or a serious student looking to bolster his or her knowledge about a film camera's inner workings.

Each of the cameras on our list has its appeal to a specific type of photographer, sometimes determined by the kind of pictures you want to take, and other times determined by how you want to be perceived as you take those pictures.

While the camera that you actually build yourself is great for students to learn about a camera's mechanics, assembly, and maintenance, it doesn't make the best camera for studying actual photography. There are too many risks involved in the build process that could confuse a young student about exposure levels and the results they can expect from a certain combination of settings.

If you're trying to learn photography as a skill and an art form, the SLRs on our list are your best bet. These, when used in their manual modes, will put you in control of your shutter speed, your aperture, and your focus, so that you can take total control over the exposure, composition, and clarity of your images.

While the instant cameras on this list are more for fun than anything else, they, too, present the possibility to create great art. The problem with these is that they have very few variables for you to adjust, you're stuck at one focal length, and you have no control over the developing process beyond shaking the photo to make it develop faster (side note: that actually doesn't work).

Film's Slow Development

While nobody technically exposed a single photographic image until 1816, when one man temporarily exposed portions of a sheet of paper coated in silver chloride, there has been a kind of image capture available to us reaching back many millennia.

The camera obscura significantly predates modern photographic equipment, but its design led inventors experimenting with potential techniques for immortalizing images to the film exposure and development processes still used today. The first of those immortal experiments were the Daguerreotypes and calotypes of 1839 and 1840 respectively.

George Eastman, founder of Kodak, sold his first paper film stock in 1885 before eventually switching to celluloid film about four years later. He also produced the first cameras intended for mass consumption, two simple, box cameras that were inexpensive enough for a great many people to afford.

The first 30 years of the 1900s saw the gradual but significant rise of 35mm as a film standard, with the Japanese company Canon releasing its first 35mm rangefinder in 1936, just as the country's war with China began to reach epic, and eventually global, proportions.

From there, camera manufacturers like Nikon and Pentax poured resources into SLR technology that shot 35mm over all other formats, and even after the digital revolution came and threatened to wipe out film as we know it, those 35mm SLR designs persist as the standard bearers of film photography.

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Last updated on May 08, 2018 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.

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