When you start shooting film, you’re going to have a ton of questions and there will be a lot of not knowing what is really happening. With that being said – do NOT let that stop you from continuing to shoot and learn more about film photography.
One of the biggest leaps you will take when you start getting into analog photography is buying a camera. You may have used a DSLR before and have more than likely taken photos with a mobile device, but you want to make sure you’re spending your money on the right equipment, right?
To help get you started in the right direction, let’s take a look at 12 high quality, affordable cameras for beginner film photographers. We’re going to take a look at a range of SLR’s, a few point and shoot cameras, and even some other variations that you might be interested in trying out!
Let’s start this list off with a bang – the Nikon FE2 is one of the most renown film cameras for beginner photographers because it has a wide variety of settings and adjustments, but is still easy enough to figure out and handle for a new photographer.
This camera has has a few variations, but the FE2 model is the most compact and weighs the least. Personally, I started shooting with a Nikon FM which you will find out more about below, but I now shoot with a Nikon FE2 and it is my go-to camera for any shoot for a few reasons. The first being in that it is functional in every condition and to me, feels like the perfect weight for a handheld camera.
Whether you are just beginning to learn about film photography or you have been shooting for a bit, but are looking for a new camera – I highly recommend this incredible camera.
See sample shots with the Nikon FE2 below:
The next camera on our list is one you have probably already heard about, or have seen before. These cameras are virtually everywhere and are the goto camera for film photography classes in high schools and colleges all over. And with reason. These cameras are amazing to use when you are learning because they help single out all of the settings to let the photographer slow down and focus a bit more on their job.
I would definitely recommend checkin gout this camera, especially if you are also interested in finding lots of variations in lenses and accessories as this camera is still quite available on the market unlike some of the others.
Amongst Canon and Nikon, Olympus has always held their weight in the world of film photography equipment. The Olympus OM 1 provides a nice build with super nice vintage feel.
This is perfect for beginners because it isn’t too expensive and it also has some more advanced settings that you can work up to as you learn more about the camera.
Another high quality alternative to the Canon AE-1 is the Pentax K1000. Now usually when I think of Pentax I think of point and shoot cameras for some reason, but don’t forget about Pentax’s range of SLR’s. They are quite compact and have a nice feel to them that stands out from Nikon and Canon.
Next is another Nikon camera with beautiful, vintage feel to it. This was my original camera when I first started shooting with film a few years ago and I absolutely loved it.
Another great thing about the Nikon film cameras is that they actually work with digital lenses so you have a wide variety of options to choose from, rather than being boxed in to only using specific lenses. Definitely check this out, especially if you have been thinking about it for awhile now.
See sample photos from the Nikon FM below:
This next camera is different from the rest, but I’d like to include it just in case there are some of you out there interested in getting into medium format photography. The Holga 120N is by all means a toy camera, but it will completely open your eyes to the differences between shooting 35mm and 120, medium format film.
The camera is not too expensive, so regardless of how much you plan to use it I think it is worth getting just to try out and play around with. I think it is especially fun for shooting portraits because you can never fully predict the outcome.
See sample photos from the Holga 120N below:
This next camera is a rangefinder, as opposed to an SLR like many of the others on this list. Either style camera works great, but it really depends on your preference and how you like to shoot. This Rollei 35 is a great rangefinder for beginners and is super compact so you can always keep it in your back pocket, and never mis a shot!
The next SLR on our list is this Minolta SRT 101. This camera is on the heavier side, but for the right reasons.
Because of the heavier build, it is definitely more of a sturdy model and is able to withstand more accidental drops and scratches than the other models.
n opposition to the majority of the rest of the list, let’s take a look at a point-and-shoot camera. Not only are these cameras super affordable, but they are usually quite small so you can always keep one on you and never miss a moment.
There are hundreds of different kinds of point-and-shoot cameras and really many of them are the same, but the Pentax IQZoom has always been a cheap one that stood out to me. Many times with cheap point-and-shoots they will have slow auto-focus systems or bad built-in flash mounts, but this camera has a great blend of the two and also performs well in almost any conditions.
This camera is a bit unlike the others on this list, but we figured we would add it because many people forget that Polaroid cameras are in fact for real. Although they can be used for fun, they can still be used seriously and strategically.
Shooting with Polaroids can also help you learn to develop your style while also creating a physical documentation of your progress. One other point for this – you don’t need to only shoot with this camera. Often times when I got out to shoot I bring one or two cameras, or even a few. Never limit yourself when you are feeling creative. If you want to take your Polaroid and three different SLR’s with you to the shoot because, ‘they are all unique in their own way’ then go right ahead, we are not judging at all!
See sample photos from the Polaroid Sun 600 below:
The Ricoh XR-10 is a very well-made 35mm SLR camera perfect for landscapes and travel photography or even works great for portraits. This model is a bit heavier than some of the other SLR cameras on this list, but also runs at a slightly less price usually.
The last camera on our list is another SLR that is an all-conditions camera made for amateur photographers – the Minolta X700. This camera, like the Nikon FE2 and the Canon AE-1, has a wide variety of settings and offers a lightweight, sleek build that allows the user a nice handheld feel rather than a bulky, burdensome camera.