Are you looking for the best 35mm film camera on the market?
Whether you are a pro or new to 35mm cameras having a top performing camera will help you achieve your artistic goals with the best possible image quality. I’ve reviewed the most popular 35mm cameras on the market and after reading this article you will know the top picks.
Best 35mm Film Camera: Top Picks
Canon AE-1 35mm Film Camera
The Canon AE-1 is easily one of the best 35mm film camera models on the market. It provides exceptional picture quality when shooting either color or black and white. The SLR camera offers electronic controlled automatic exposure and focal plane shutter. This 35mm camera is compatible with Canon’s FD lens series giving you ample lens options for capturing great photos in any environment. It is also compatible with the FL series which offers stopped down metering and also R series lenses. The fixed eye level viewfinder offers a 93.5% vertical range and a 96% horizontal for great subject framing. This is a great performing 35mm film camera for those looking for a vintage or modern photography style.
- Top 35mm film camera
- Provides exceptional image quality
- Compatible with most Canon lenses
- Excellent value
Canon EOS Rebel 2000 35mm Film SLR Camera
This is another top performing 35mm camera for those looking to shoot in film. This is a full featured automatic 35mm SLR that is simple enough for beginners with features that a pro will appreciate allowing you to grow with this camera as a photographer. This film camera features modes for full auto focus, manual focus, night photography settings, portrait, landscape and more modes making this an exceptionally versatile camera. It additionally offers aperture priority and shutter speed priority. The LCD camera panel makes mode selection and subject viewing much easier. You will enjoy the auto focus performance with the auto exposure bracketing. Even a beginner will be able to create realistic and finely detailed images with this 35mm film camera.
- Best 35mm film camera for beginners to grow with
- Extensive feature list
- Auto focus works exceptionally well
- Ideal for night, portrait, landscape, and more
Canon EOS Rebel GII 35mm Film SLR Camera
This is an excellent intermediate 35mm film camera. It offers excellent image quality along with numerous features for settings allowing for the perfect shot for your environment. This film camera offers eleven exposure modes from fully auto to metered manual focus. The automatic focus mode is perfect for beginners learning to handle their focus. This camera comes with a 35-80mm zoom lens capable of shooting in multiple scenarios. The built in camera flash offers red eye reduction making it great for portrait pictures as well. The shutter speeds are 30 to 1/2000 seconds too. The features can be set in a way that even photographers who are just getting started can feel comfortable with the flexibility to fine tune your settings as your skill allows. This is an excellent 35mm film camera for photographers who are beginners to intermediate skill level.
- Ideal 35mm camera for intermediate photographers
- Full automatic focus and manual focus
- Comes with a 35-80mm zoom lens
- Built in flash with red eye reduction
Minolta SRT 101 35mm Film Camera
I’ve had this camera for years and I really enjoy shooting with it. It provides a great vintage photographer style that I usually use for black and white and street photos. It can definitely handle other styles but this is where I believe it really shines. This camera is sometimes hard to find in stock but well worth waiting for if you have to. At it’s price point you will be hard pressed to find a better black and white 35mm film camera. This camera is manual focus only so you will be forced to learn to focus, but that is a positive in my book. This camera is compatible with all Minolta MD mount lenses. This camera needs no batteries and offers one of the most authentic vintage photography experienced you can get without finding a higher end out of production camera. This is a great option for those seeking a camera for taking vintage or black and white style shots.
- Ideal 35mm film camera for taking black and white and vintage style pictures
- Excellent image quality
- Compatible with all Minolta MD mount lenses
- Excellent value
Canon Sure Shot Tele 80 35mm Camera
This is my favorite low cost 35mm film camera. It is an excellent point and shoot film camera option for those seeking good picture quality at a lower price point. This fully automatic camera is compact and lightweight making it a great travel camera. It features a built in 38/80mm dual focus lens with an easy to see large viewfinder. The three point autofocus works well offers clear and detailed images for the price. The built in automatic multi-function flash provides red eye reduction making this a great camera for snapping shots of family and friends. This camera provides a good performing 35mm film camera performance in a compact, lightweight, and low priced package. Great for travel and vacations.
- Best low price 35mm film camera
- Three point autofocus
- Fully automatic
- Built in flash with red eye reduction
- Excellent value
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How to Select the Best 35mm Film Camera
Shooting 35mm film cameras are a sincere joy. Whether you are looking for a vintage look or just enjoy developing your film, shooting in 35mm film is one of the most zen styles of photography in my opinion. One of the great benefits to shooting in film is that the cameras are generally very reasonably priced even when selecting a high performing 35mm film camera. With one of the best film 35 millimeter cameras it is very possible to attain that jaw dropping low fi picture quality.
If this is your first time purchasing a film camera then you may be feeling a little lost on where to begin. No need to worry though, with the right knowledge it is not scary at all and you will up and shooting in film in no time flat. You can find my recommendations for the top models above but if you’re interested in what I look at when comparing 35mm cameras check the buying guide tips below.
Be sure to choose a camera that offers full manual mode
To become the best photographer you can be, you must be proficient and comfortable with shooting fully manually. This will force you to learn how to properly adjust all your cameras settings. In time you will understand how to optimize your shutter speed, ISO, and aperture for the best picture quality for your environment. These settings can seem confusing to the beginner but they are not as complicated as you may think and I promise that in time you will be great with adjusting your settings and you will be incredibly happy that you spent the time to learn how. Because it is so important for your growth as a photographer be certain that your camera offers a fully manual mode.
This rule is for all cameras you may shoot with, not just 35mm film cameras. While autofocus technology has advanced tremendously over the years, a top photographer who understands how to shoot manually can achieve far better image results than even the best autofocus cameras. And in time and with practice, you will be able to just look at your subject and lighting conditions and intuitively know how to adjust your settings for the perfect shot. Another great benefit to selecting a fully manual camera is that so few photographers take the time to learn to effectively shoot manually which will instantly set you apart from other less dedicated photographers out there.
Select a camera that will be easy to repair
Having a camera that is easy to repair is a huge benefit especially if you are using a vintage camera model. Obscure cameras are much more difficult to repair if an issue arises. With 35mm film cameras there are often moving parts that may need repair and it can be difficult to fix yourself especially if you can’t find the necessary parts. More common makes and models will be much easier to secure parts for and find a professional who knows how to make the fix. The most popular makes to go with are Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Minolta, Pentax and Kodak. Vivitar and Leica are also fairly popular choices.
Any of these best film camera makers are not only popular due to their great performance, they are also excellent choices as spare parts are plentiful and finding someone capable of repairing them if needed is much easier than more obscure cameras will be. If you have fallen in love with a more obscure film camera don’t let this point stop you from getting that camera, but if you are not emotionally attached to any particular make then choose from the most popular 35 mm film cameras makers.
Another point to remember is that the most popular film cameras will be much easier to find compatible lenses and accessories for. If you plan to have multiple lenses for your film camera, and most people will want multiple lenses, then getting a popular camera is the way to go.
Get a built in light meter if you can
This is not an absolute requirement, but for complete beginners to shooting with a 35mm film camera, a built in light meter will make setting your exposure significantly easier. This not only saves you time in learning your settings, it will also save you significant money in film. That is because you will have to shoot fewer shots to get the right exposure and I believe this will really accelerate the learning process. One note, when cameras were first being developed with built in light meters, they used selenium light meter technology. I do not recommend that you go with this type of light meter as they have a relatively short life span and it is quite expensive to get them replaced. The best way to go is with a built in battery light meter as it is much cheaper to replace a battery than replace an entire light meter in your film camera. So if you find a film camera with a battery powered light meter built in I would definitely recommend getting it as it will help you learn to get your exposure right a lot faster, saving you money in film along the way.
Get a standard 35mm film system camera
Most cameras out there are standard 35mm film styles but there are some oddball designs that you may come across. While these can be fine performing cameras and some are even quite fun to shoot with, if you are just getting started in the 35mm film camera world you will be better served going with a standard camera design. Some of the unusual features you may find are cameras that require you to stop down the aperture prior to setting the shutter speed. This isn’t a deal breaker but it does add a variable to the process that isn’t necessary especially when learning. I’ve also seen 35mm cameras that require the photographer to cock the shutter before they can adjust the shutter speed. At the end of the day, you can learn on any camera but a standard feature model is going to be the quickest way. And you can go with the fun and unusual cameras once you have the basics down pat.
Here is the best 35mm film camera picks quick list one more time. To view prices and customer reviews for each camera see the links below.