How To Choose A 35mm Film Camera in 2024!

How To Choose A 35mm Film Camera in 2024!

This week I tackle a frequently asked question:
‚ÄúI typically use a disposable film camera but would like to get a re-usable one. There are so many options! Which film camera would you recommend?‚ÄĚ

If you read this, I promise you will come out of it knowing enough to make your first camera purchase and I'll help you get over the analysis paralysis. 

Disclaimer: This article is written with new film photographers in mind. I only discuss 35mm film cameras (the most widely accessible film camera). If you are looking into other types of film camera (e.g. medium format / 120), then this article probably isn't for you!

Now, all photographers have their DREAM camera, but that doesn't mean their dream camera is realistic. I want a Leica M6 with a summicron 35mm lens, but do I have the funds to buy one? Absolutely not! No camera does everything and film photography is all about compromise! 

A wise person once said 'the best camera is the one you have on you', and isn't the nature of film photography for it to be imperfect? Imperfectly perfect? To have that authentic retro feel?

Note: If any of these words in this article are foreign to you (e.g. ‚Äėaperture‚Äô, ‚Äėpoint and shoot‚Äô etc.) see the glossary at the end of this article!

I want you to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What do I want to achieve with my film camera?
    a. Am I looking for something compact for travel that can fit in my bag?
    b. Am I looking for simplicity and ease of use?
    c. Do I want more control over settings like aperture & shutter speed?
  2. What is my budget?
  3. How do I want my camera to look? (this sounds superficial, but hear me out)

If you answered yes to a. or b., start looking for point and shoot film camera within your budget!

If you answered yes to c., start looking for a rangefinder or SLR film camera within your budget!

If you answered yes to a, b & c, I would start by getting a point and shoot to see if film photography is something you will actually enjoy (as they typically start cheaper), then move onto a rangefinder or SLR if you get the film photography bug!

If you have a smaller budget (lets say <$100), that is completely fine! Remember, film photography is all about compromise. You will still be able to get a camera that suits your needs, it might just be a bit more manual (e.g. no automatic film winding or no auto focus) than the more expensive automatic cameras. 

It's also important to consider the look of your camera! Yes this kind of sounds silly, but it's something I've come to appreciate more over the years. It's simply because - you are more likely to use a camera you're proud to take out of your pocket or bag. More use = more photos = more memories captured.

Which brand should I choose?

I'm going to give you the same answer as I did above. Don't over think it and the best camera is the one you have on you! The brand doesn't really matter when you're starting out.

For Point and Shoot: Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Ricoh, Konica, Yashica, Minolta, Kodak and Samsung are all excellent options

For Rangefinder and SLR's: Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Ricoh and Minolta are all excellent options. 

Where should I buy it from?

To save yourself from disappointment, I would recommend purchasing your first film camera from a reputable seller who knows film cameras, thoroughly tests them, and provides some kind of warranty.

I know what you're saying; “This is really bias coming from you and I can get them a lot cheaper from a private seller!!'. Yes that may be true AND I know this comes from a biased point of view, but hear me out:

  • Most 35mm film cameras are 20+ years old, some are even pushing 50+ years old! There is an inherent risk when purchasing anything mechanical or electronic that old, so having someone who can properly test it and guarantee it's working with a warranty goes a long way.
  • If you have purchase from somewhere like marketplace or gumtree and something something does go wrong, then you're stuck!
  • You have someone to ask questions! Whether it's asking about which camera you should buy, or asking questions about the camera you have bought from them. I absolutely love to answer questions that people have about their film cameras, so why not take advantage of that resource.¬†

Being a film photographer and enthusiast myself, the last thing I want to do is sell someone a faulty camera. I GUARANTEE my customers will receive a fully functioning film camera that they can fall in love with. And if for some reason it's not functioning correctly within the first 40 days, I'll refund or exchange the camera, no questions asked. 

Frequent Example!

Client: "I'm a beginner photographer looking for something small and simple to use with a flash. I want to use take travelling with me and use it on nights out and my budget is around $200-250"

Kooperly: 100% go for a little automatic Point and Shoot film camera. Something like a Fujifilm, Canon, Pentax, Olympus or Ricoh within your budget would be perfect. Don't overthink it too much, just look at something you really like the look of, and pull the trigger, the best camera is the one you have on you!


Conclusion:

  1. Don't overthink it!
  2. The best camera is the one you have on you
  3. Purchase from a reliable seller with a warranty/guarantee 

If you still don't think you can make a decision, please feel free to send me an email or DM on instagram and ill happily help you answer any questions you have!

Much Love,

Cooper
Kooperly Film.

 

Glossary:

Point and Shoot: These are compact, user-friendly cameras designed for simplicity and ease of use. They usually have a fixed lens and automatic systems for setting exposure and focus, making them ideal for casual photography.
Aperture: This refers to the opening in a camera lens through which light passes to enter the camera. It's measured in f-stops (like f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, etc.). A larger aperture (smaller f-stop number) allows more light to pass through, which is useful in low light conditions and also creates a shallow depth of field (blurred background). A smaller aperture (larger f-stop number) allows less light and is used for greater depth of field (more of the scene is in focus).
SLR (Single-Lens Reflex): An SLR camera uses a mirror and prism system that allows the photographer to view through the lens and see exactly what will be captured. This contrasts with viewfinder cameras where the image could be slightly different from what's captured. SLRs are known for their accuracy in framing and focusing.
Shutter Speed: This is the amount of time the camera's shutter is open to expose light onto the camera sensor or film. It's measured in seconds or fractions of a second (like 1/500, 1/60, 1 second). Faster shutter speeds freeze motion, while slower shutter speeds create a blur effect, showing motion.
Rangefinder: A rangefinder is a type of camera distinct from SLRs. It features a range-finding focusing mechanism that allows the photographer to measure the subject's distance and take sharply focused photographs. Rangefinders are typically more compact than SLRs and are known for their quiet operation and precise focusing.

 

 

Back to blog