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Cameras

Best Film Camera

Film used to be the standard photography medium before digital largely replaced it. Today it takes some research to find a film camera and filmstock, but they’re still available on the market. The format is still embraced by purists who see it as the highest level in mastering the craft of photography. There are many different types of film cameras and niche styles. Here are the very best cameras that still use film.

Lomography Lomo Diana F+ Deluxe Kit

When it comes to versatility, the Diana F+ Kit can handle any lomography project. Interchangeable backs allow for the use of 120 or 35mm film. Four lenses allow for shooting from a variety of different focal lengths, including a 20mm fisheye, 38mm ultra-wide, 55mm wide and 110mm telephoto. Or, you can shoot without a lens at all and a narrow aperture for a pin-hole camera look. If that's not enough, the Diana has a manual film crank, allowing for double and partial exposures. The Diana has two shutter speeds, one for daytime and a bulb mode for long exposures (for extremely long exposures, there's a shutter lock and tripod socket). Throw in the included hot shoe flash and colored gels, plus a Splitzer to shoot multiple images in one frame, and there's a lot you can do with this little camera.

Lomography LC-A+

The Lomo LC-A+ is the closest you can get to the original LC-A model while still buying new. The Minitar 1 32mm f/2.8 is fast lens, with a solid wide-angle view. The LC-A+ has the same bold colors and extreme contrast that's characteristic of lomography, thanks to a special lens coating. The camera is capable of taking multiple exposures, plus a cable release helps ensure shake-free long exposures. Unlike the cheaper lomography cameras, the LC-A+ is built entirely from metal, not plastic, so it's more durable than the budget options. The ISO can be set from 100 to 1600. A hot shoe allows for the use of a flash, sold separately.

Lomography Konstruktor Super Kit

If you are looking for a film camera in order to develop a better understanding of the photographic process, then why not start from scratch and build your own camera? Designed specifically for those looking to see just how a camera really works, the Konstructor is a DIY camera built from a set of parts and instructions. While the DIY may be frustrating for some, for others it'll certainly achieve the goal of better understanding what goes on inside a camera. The super kit also includes a 50mm f/10 lens and a macro lens, as well as a magnifying chimney hood kit to better view the images from the waist-level viewfinder. Once you are finished with the construction, the 35mm Konstructor is a manual focus and manual exposure camera that includes both the bulb setting and multiple exposure capabilities.

Holga 120GN With Color Flash

The Holga 120GN offers those characteristic, dreamlike images in an easy-to-use and affordable package. With the vignetting on the images. This camera is often used for fine art or just for fun. The focus is achieved by twisting the barrel to select one of the four focus points (or a point in between). Small and compact, it's made from plastic so it's not as sturdy as some, but it's lightweight. A color flash wheel allows you to add a unique color hue to any image, while the glass lens offers crisp images. Multiple exposures are possible and it can be used with 6x6 or 6x4.5 film. The camera doesn't need batteries to operate, though to use the flash you'll need to pick up two batteries.

Fisheye No. 2

Both lomography and fisheyes are known for their unusual, characteristic images, so it only makes sense to pair them together. The Lomography Fisheye No. 2 captures distinct, rounded images with those bold colors and extreme contrasts that are characteristic of lomography. A big depth of field means almost the entire image is in focus, making the fixed-focus style a non-issue. The fish-eye lens captures a 170 degree view into one circular image. A bulb setting for long exposures and a multiple exposure switch make the No. 2 a bit better than the original version. The viewfinder allows you to preview the fisheye effect. It includes a built-in flash, but there's also a slot for adding another external unit if you wish.

Mamiya 7 II Pro Vlaue Pack Medium Format Rangefinder Manual Focus Camera Body with 80mm f/4 lens

Mamiya 7 II Pro Vlaue Pack Medium Format Rangefinder Manual Focus Camera Body with 80mm f/4 lens

Don't let the simple styling of this camera fool you—it's actually more like three cameras in one. It's a rangefinder-style camera at heart, but it can use interchangeable lenses and can be used for panoramas with an adapter. Talk about versatility. If you're not using the interchangeable lenses, there's a light meter to attach instead, which is very accurate at reading the scene. The Mamiya 7 II has been lauded for it's bright, easy to see rangefinder. The images have also been noted for their sharpness. This simple-looking camera can be ready to snap in a hurry and handles so well, it doesn't feel like a hefty, complex medium format camera.

Horseman SW-612 Pro Medium Format Panorama Camera Body with Perspective Control

Horseman SW-612 Pro Medium Format Panorama Camera Body with Perspective Control

A popular reason for choosing medium format is the ability to take panoramic images and this Horeseman camera is an excellent option for just that. This camera operates without batteries, includes six excellent lenses and features an excellent viewfinder. This Horseman has perspective control in both lateral shift (horizontal) and rise and fall (vertical). Focusing scales and spirit levels, both also viewed through the viewfinder, help to accurately compose the shots. The various film holders available make this camera quite versatile—it can use 6x7, 6x9 or 6x12 film. The camera body has an exceptional build, including rubber grips, and should have a long lifespan.

Mamiya RZ67 Professional Pro II "D" Medium Format SLR Camera With Folding Waist Level Viewfinder

A classically-styled medium format film camera with modern conveniences, the Mamiya RX67 is an excellent choice for film shooters. Different camera backs are available to make the RX67 comparable with different film sizes—there's even an adapter that makes the RZ67 a digital camera (beware though, the digital adapter will more than double the price of the whole camera) as well as for Polaroid sheet film. The electronic flash will sync with the camera at all shutter speeds (up to 1/400) for even further versatility when it comes to what you can shoot. The film can be advanced by hand or electronically. There's a lot to love (and a lot of capability) built into this one camera.

Rolleiflex 2.8 FX Medium Format Twin Lens Reflex Camera

Rolleiflex 2.8 FX Medium Format Twin Lens Reflex Camera

Wrapped in alligator embossed calf's leather on the outside, with modern conveniences on the inside, the classically-designed Rolleiflex 2.8 is certainly a contender in the medium format category. With 6x6 film and a bright 80 mm Planar f/2.8 lens, this twin reflex camera will produce excellent images. While the 2.8 sports a classically styles exterior, the camera uses modern film tools like TTL exposure metering and flash metering, LED exposure indicators and built-in light meter. With the backing of a manufacturer that's been around for years, this camera is built to last.

Fujifilm GF670 Rangefinder Folding Camera

Medium format cameras are typically big and expensive—The Fujifilm GF670 is a little less so at around $1,600 and about 35 ounces. The GF670 will accept 6x6 or 6x7 film and switching between the two is as easy as flipping a switch. This rangefinder-style camera will shoot in full manual or in aperture priority mode. The camera shoots at speeds up to 1/500 and has a bulb mode for long exposures. The 80 mm f/3.5 lens fold in when not in use, giving this Fujfilm both classic styling and portability.

Mamiya RZ67 Professional Pro II "D" Medium Format SLR Camera With Folding Waist Level Viewfinder

A classically-styled medium format film camera with modern conveniences, the Mamiya RX67 is an excellent choice for film shooters. Different camera backs are available to make the RX67 comparable with different film sizes—there's even an adapter that makes the RZ67 a digital camera (beware though, the digital adapter will more than double the price of the whole camera) as well as for Polaroid sheet film. The electronic flash will sync with the camera at all shutter speeds (up to 1/400) for even further versatility when it comes to what you can shoot. The film can be advanced by hand or electronically. There's a lot to love (and a lot of capability) built into this one camera.

Nikon F6 35mm SLR Autofocus Camera Body

The Nikon F6 is a well-reviewed 35mm SLR film camera with a lot to offer. The F6 has an excellent 11-area autofocus system and 3D Color Matrix metering for sharp, colorful images. Since it's compatible with Nikon's most popular lenses, including the AF-S series used on their digital cameras, the F6 is an excellent purchase for the Nikon shooter looking to add film without picking up a lot of expensive lenses. With years of Nikon experience behind it, the F6 has been very well received and well reviewed as a solid film camera with excellent performance and image quality.

Canon EOS-1V Camera Body

With a 10 fps burst speed, the Canon EOS-1V is one of the fastest film SLR cameras out there (beware though, 10 fps will go through a lot of film!). Canon has a long reputation for quality images, and the EOS-1V is no exception. The EOS-1V is Canon's top 35mm camera with the most features, including a 45-point autofocus, 1/8000 maximum shutter speed, depth-of-field preview, plus 100 percent viewfinder coverage. Compatible with Canon's autofocuses lenses as well as their Speedlites, it's an ideal option for photographers that already have a few Canon accessories in their bag. But at under $2,000, it's enticing even for those starting from scratch.

Nikon FM10 35mm SLR Camera

For those picking up a film camera just to develop a better understanding of photography, the FM10 is an excellent option. The FM10 only includes manual modes, so it's an excellent learning tool to better understand exposure. While the settings are all manual, a built-in light meter helps the user to make the best decisions for exposure. Using a center weighted metering system, an LED screen allows for +/- exposure adjustments as well. The FM10 includes a built-in depth of field preview button, to help those learning the affects of varying aperture settings. Priced just over $300 and compatible with many more recent lenses, including AF-S, the Nikon FM10 is also very affordable.

Vivitar V3800N 35mm SLR Camera with 28-70mm Lens

The Vivitar V3800N SLR kit is perfect for students or casual hobbyist photographers. The 35mm film camera comes with a fast f/1.8 50mm lens. With fully manual settings, including film crank, the V3800N also includes an LED screen that displays the light meter and the correct exposure. The included depth-of-field preview button is also a great tool for students. Perhaps the best part? All of these features are within a camera that's priced right around $200, including the fast lens.

Canon EOS-1V Camera Body

With a 10 fps burst speed, the Canon EOS-1V is one of the fastest film SLR cameras out there (beware though, 10 fps will go through a lot of film!). Canon has a long reputation for quality images, and the EOS-1V is no exception. The EOS-1V is Canon's top 35mm camera with the most features, including a 45-point autofocus, 1/8000 maximum shutter speed, depth-of-field preview, plus 100 percent viewfinder coverage. Compatible with Canon's autofocuses lenses as well as their Speedlites, it's an ideal option for photographers that already have a few Canon accessories in their bag. But at under $2,000, it's enticing even for those starting from scratch.

Nikon F6 35mm SLR Autofocus Camera Body

The Nikon F6 is a well-reviewed 35mm SLR film camera with a lot to offer. The F6 has an excellent 11-area autofocus system and 3D Color Matrix metering for sharp, colorful images. Since it's compatible with Nikon's most popular lenses, including the AF-S series used on their digital cameras, the F6 is an excellent purchase for the Nikon shooter looking to add film without picking up a lot of expensive lenses. With years of Nikon experience behind it, the F6 has been very well received and well reviewed as a solid film camera with excellent performance and image quality.

Voigtlander Bessa-R2A (.7 Viewfinder) 35mm Rangefinder Manual Focus Camera Body

Rangefinder cameras focus by matching two superimposed images—and these 35mm cameras can result in really sharp images. The Voigtlander Bessa-R2A includes an LED exposure scale to get both the focus and the exposure exactly right. Because rangefinders don't have the mirror that a SLR does, they're also much faster with no shutter lag, as well as lighter than comparable film SLR cameras. Rangefinders can still take other lenses, but are most often treasured for their beautiful wide-angle shots. Most of the Bessa-R2A is constructed with metal, so it's still sturdy despite coming in at a much lower price point than it's competitors.

Nikon FM10 35mm SLR Camera

For those picking up a film camera just to develop a better understanding of photography, the FM10 is an excellent option. The FM10 only includes manual modes, so it's an excellent learning tool to better understand exposure. While the settings are all manual, a built-in light meter helps the user to make the best decisions for exposure. Using a center weighted metering system, an LED screen allows for +/- exposure adjustments as well. The FM10 includes a built-in depth of field preview button, to help those learning the affects of varying aperture settings. Priced just over $300 and compatible with many more recent lenses, including AF-S, the Nikon FM10 is also very affordable.

Vivitar V3800N 35mm SLR Camera with 50mm f1.7 Lens

Nothing will give you a better understanding of photography than experimenting with an all manual film camera—and this Vivitar V3800N is an excellent camera for just that. For less than $250, you get a well-built manual camera and an f1.7 lens that's great for low light and a strong depth of field. Even the built-in meter is a simple match style. Unlike some other student cameras though, the V8300N allows for multiple exposures on a single frame and also includes a self-timer and a depth of field preview button. If you'd like to add more glass to the already excellent kit lens, the V3800N takes any Pentax K-mount with an aperture ring.

Hillary K. Grigonis
As a former photojournalist, I love taking pictures and staying up-to-date on camera trends. I'm now both a freelance writer and photographer, and when I'm not taking pictures for clients or writing about photography, I'm probably taking snapshots of my family. My first camera was a Canon but my DSLR is a Nikon. I'm a fan of the Sony point-and-shoots, but I also like the quirkiness of smaller brands like Pentax.
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