Welcome to our guide to the best film camera for beginners. Analog or film photography is a must for the traditional photographer. The hectic life of digital photography with its instant gratification often detracts from the true passion that many photographers feel when they get into photography.
Far from the common misconception that film photography is dead, there are still a few companies that specialize in producing film cameras (although there aren’t many of them). But the huge range of unique devices is both fun and serious. Whether you want to build your own film camera from the ground up or take a step into the high-precision, precision film photography of the future, we’ve rounded up the best film cameras you can buy.
Not only are film cameras sharper and more precise thanks to modern production techniques and advancements in computing, but the cameras themselves are now packed with a myriad of never-before-seen features such as Bluetooth compatibility and possibility to control and trigger them with your smartphone.
If you’re just starting out, take a look at the best cameras for beginners. Or, for a more general list, check out our pick of the best cameras. And if you want to elevate your photography, we also have a guide to the best drones with cameras.
Best film camera for beginners
Since the advent of the digital boom, full-fledged film SLR cameras have fallen by the wayside. But Leica did something special with the Leica MA using modern precision production and optical engineering to create something reminiscent of the glory days of analog photography.
The MA has a sleek, minimalist design that aims to meet the desires of cinematic purists around the world. By going back to basics and shipping a roll of Kodak Tri-X 400 black and white film, Leica has created a favorite camera for reportage photographers. However, anyone with a basic knowledge of photography will be able to start taking amazing movie photos with the camera so capable it will grow with your experience.
Lomography Pinion rocket is a fantastic budget film camera that is as fun to shoot as it is economical. The world’s first 35mm wide-angle panorama camera dedicated to sprocket shooting, the results are unique in that they capture through the dotted sprocket holes to pepper stills with that retro look. The camera also has rewind buttons that allow users to take multiple exposures and mix panoramic images for long frames on the 35mm reel. Whether capturing a wide scene of a group of friends or a huge view, the 1:3 aspect ratio and 30mm wide-angle focal length deliver a 106-degree field of view.
the Instax mini 90 feels right at home on a shelf at home or in your hands while shooting thanks to its absolutely stunning classic design that comes in black, brown and red. With four modes to choose from, it’s equally adept at landscapes, macros, parties and even a kids mode for capturing fast-moving subjects. The high-performance flash fills the scene to even out exposure, and the camera even has a bulb mode for long-exposure photography. You can also take double exposure shots, making it ideal for photographers who want to get creative with their instant shots.
Although officially labeled as a ‘toy’ camera, this simple offering from Lomography actually has a wealth of features. It’s compatible with multiple lenses thanks to its interchangeable lens system, which means you can shoot many different types of scenes much more easily than with single-lens fixed cameras. the Diana F+ is also capable of shooting two types of film, both standard 35mm film and larger 120 medium format film for those looking to step up their print game. At a very reasonable price, it’s perfect for beginners or anyone who wants to get into film photography without breaking the bank.
Ridiculously affordable, the Lomography Konstruktor F is a DIY kit camera designed for photographers who like to DIY and shoot. This upgraded version of the original Konstruktor features a PC socket to connect a compatible flash for greater flexibility when shooting low-light subjects. It shoots with standard 35mm film and uses zone focusing to get sharp photos. Unusually, it features a dual-lens reflex viewfinder, but that makes it all the more unique as its traditional SLR-type body would normally assume a pentaprism-type viewfinder. It also doesn’t run on batteries, so you can keep filming with it all day.
Too often, twin-lens reflex cameras come with a dull viewfinder like dishwater, but the MiNT Instant Flex TL70 2.0 sorted that out completely. The upgraded Fresnel viewfinder is incredibly bright and the same size as the film it takes (instax mini instant), making composition and focusing via the magnifying lens incredibly easy. The cost of film is often something that puts off analog photographers, but MiNT has developed a program for unlimited free film in exchange for free publicity if you shoot with the camera. There’s basic aperture control and EV compensation for those who require more exposure control, but it lacks a shutter speed option.
A far cry from Lomography’s usual cheap film cameras, the LC-A 120 medium format camera is definitely a huge punch from the company in terms of image quality. It can shoot up to 0.6m, making it ideal for focusing on some smaller or close-up subjects. It also performs well in all sorts of lighting conditions, always delivering good exposures. It even expands its capability with long exposures thanks to the rear curtain flash that can be linked to an external cable release and when mounted on a tripod.
Seizing the old days by the scruff of the neck and dragging them kicking and screaming into the future, the OneStep+ lets you take photos from your smart device via Bluetooth to unlock features like noise trigger, light painting and manual mode for photographers who like to take things into their own hands. The large battery extends the shooting time and can be recharged by the li-ion battery inside. Capture footage to iType and 600 film, but be aware that many features cannot be used without the use of a smart device and pairing via Bluetooth. However, it increases usability by incorporating a dual lens system for standard and portrait photography.