In recent years, the film camera has come around to becoming relevant again! Young and old are starting to rediscover the beauties of this format and how it could still be a viable option for wedding, travel and street photography.
The world of film is vast! There are a lot of options out there for different applications. And that process can sometimes be intimidating.
We’ll be going over our top picks to get you started!
Jay P’s Picks
1. Hasselblad 500CM
The grand-daddy of them all! Circa 1957, the Hasselblad is still an amazing workhorse camera. It has removable backs and has a unique square exposure. That 120mm film combined with Hasselblad’s powerful Zeiss lenses will give you sharp images every time!
Why it’s a good Camera
The Hasselblad takes super sharp images! It’s not the fastest camera in the world and no light meter, but this will help you to take some time with your exposures. The Hasselblad is great for weddings!
If you want that retro/vintage look, this twin-lens reflector camera is going to do it for you. This is another 120mm film camera. You can get them around $200-$400.
No internal metering on this one either!
3. Graflex Speed Graphic
My absolute FAVORITE camera ever made!! This was the go to camera in the 40’s to the 60’s. All journalism photos were taken on this beast. It takes 4×5 exposures – great for print.
A lot of universities who are teaching photography still use the Speed Graphic! Be wary though, because this camera will eat into your wallet. Prepare to pay about $20 for one exposure. But it’s a great choice for the Ansel Adam’s in you!
4. Sinar F
A 4×5 film camera that goes way back to the early days of The Slanted Lens! Today you can grab one of these babies for $300-$400. It’s obviously not meant to be lugged around anywhere, but it would be amazing for portraits.
If you have the time to create masterful shots, this camera will give you excellent pay off!
5. Nikon F3
A great film camera! The nice thing about these cameras is that your Nikon lenses are compatible with it! This is equivalent to the Canon F-1.
1. Canon AT-1
A great starter camera! Has an internal meter and takes a battery to operate. Shoots 35mm and takes Canon FD lenses – which are super cheap!
Why you should get this camera
The cost! This setup will only run you about $300 to start – versus some of our other options which will start off at the $1,000 range. If you’re just getting started and don’t want to invest a ton of money, take a look at the Canon AT-1.
2. Canon F-1
This is the big brother to the Canon AT-1 in terms of specs. If you’re going for a professional grade film camera, look no further than the Canon F-1. You can get one that is fully mechanical or one with an electronic meter.
This camera was very popular in the 60’s and 70’s because you could operate it without batteries! This setup will run you around $300-$350.
3. Pentax 645NII
This is the last medium-format digital camera that Pentax made before switching to digital-only cameras. The Pentax 645NII came out around 2001, so it has the best of both worlds. It takes some digital features like spot metering in a body that still shoots film.
It’s very user-friendly for someone who is familiar with digital. It’s great for weddings and event photography. With the ability to shoot 3 frames per second, this is one of the faster film cameras out there — not to mention it comes with all the bells an whistles stated above.
This setup will cost you about $1,000.
4. Pentax 67
The Pentax 67 is similar to the 645 we just talked about but was released many moons before so it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles like the 645. It comes with a wooden handle!
The big advantage this has is the negative size. This is bigger than a 35mm and a Hasselblad negative, but smaller than a 4×5.
Don’t be fooled – this camera is heavy!! You’re also going to get about 10 exposures on one roll since the negatives are larger.
5. Leica M2
If you’ve got some serious coin, take a look at the Leica M2. It’s a great street photography camera because it’s so darn quiet!
People consider this to be the ‘classic’ Leica camera. This camera has a rangefinder so you have to look through the prism to see what you’re shooting. It also has frame lines which help you compose your shot and see what’s going on outside of the frame.
This is not for the faint of heart. Leica gear is EXPENSIVE as all heck. So it’s a pricey investment, but worth the money if you’re serious about film photography.