5 Best 35mm Film Cameras Reviews with Buying Guide [2022]

The current era is undoubtedly a digital era where everyone is facing a screen quite frequently. But sometimes we want old things to be back, like analog photography! Digital photography may have its perks like you can share it instantly with anyone etc. But, on the other hand, analog photography is quite the joy itself. For this purpose, Many people are resurrecting film cameras and some companies have even restarted producing one.

There are different kinds of film cameras which can’t be discussed in one guide but for the love of those hard prints and their feelings on our hands let’s begin with best 35mm film cameras.

Just like old is gold, gold is never old and the same goes for film cameras. But there are many options that can be overwhelming. Therefore in this guide, I have discussed some best 35mm film cameras.

Factors to Consider before Choosing Best 35mm Film Camera

  • Body Of The Camera

If you are considering moving from digital to analog photography then film cameras are your best shot. But these are vintage items so you will be getting your hands on only used items (rarely new). Therefore make sure the body of the camera is in good condition. Some cosmetic scratches are common as they are old items but make sure there are no cracks in the frame.

  • Shutter Speed

Shutter speed greatly impacts the quality of photos. If you want to capture fast moving objects then shutter speed must be fast enough and vice versa.

  • Lenses

The lens is an important part of every type of camera. A bad lens produces bad results. Therefore when you are choosing best 35mm camera for you, make sure its lens quality is good and also check whether it is still available in the market or not.

  • Automatic Electronics versus Manual Mechanicals

There is a myth that mechanical film cameras are more reliable than digital ones. Therefore, they are more expensive. So, if you are switching from digital to analog photography then consider purchasing an electronic film camera because they are cheaper.

  • Batteries

Mechanical film cameras worked without batteries but as automation was invented there were some that used batteries. Many batteries are not available now therefore do your homework properly and check whether your chosen camera is battery operated or not. If yes then, is its battery available or not!

Now let’s move on to a list of 35mm film cameras.

1. Minolta X-700

First on our list of best 35mm film cameras is Minolta X-700 which is designed to last longer than expected. It has a lightweight and compact body. It was also named European camera of the year 1981. It has TTL flash metering which makes fill-in flash easy to apply. Also, its Auto-exposure lock (AEL) is used to capture subjects with heavy backlighting.

You can also capture moving objects clearly with its 1/1000 to 4 seconds shutter speed. Unlike its rival, it gives information like shutter speed and aperture in its viewfinder.

It is best suited for professionals and beginners as well due to its multiple shooting modes which are:

  • Full program mode with new MD mount lenses: in this mode, both the aperture and the shutter speed are selected by camera according to the light available. This mode is perfect if you are shooting in low light conditions. All the information is given in viewfinder which makes this mode easiest for beginners.
  • Aperture priority mode: in this mode, only shutter speed is controlled by camera whereas photographers can set aperture. This mode is perfect if you are willing to shoot landscape, portrait, or close-ups.
  • Manual aperture and shutter speed mode: in this mode both aperture and shutter speed are selected by photographers. This mode is for professionals or experienced photographers.

Pros

  • TTL flash metering
  • Different shooting modes
  • AEL for heavy backlighting photography

Cons

  • Maximum flash synchronization speed is slower
  • Requires batteries

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2. Canon EOS Rebel 2000

Canon EOS Rebel 2000 is second on my list of best 35mm film cameras. It is an automatic SLR camera that is jam packed with advanced features of its time. Being lightweight, affordable, and housed with many shooting modes, it is used by beginners and professionals alike.

Its different shooting modes include aperture priority, shutter speed priority, full auto, manual and more. Beginners can easily use full auto mode which lets camera perform very well in almost all lighting conditions.

Its autofocus system is also very impressive. It has a seven-point autofocus system in which every point can be set individually. It means that you don’t have to set the subject in the middle of the frame to focus on it. Its LCD is also very good at displaying information about every mode. With its three exposure metering modes ( center weighted, partial, evaluative) it can select different exposures to take perfect shots.

It is one of best 35mm film cameras because of its different levels of customization. For example, its exposure can be set to underexpose for up to two full stops to take shots in tricky lighting. It also has a built-in pop-up flash with an option of additional flash. With its 35-zone AE metering and 11 different shooting modes, you can capture the most creative shots.

Pros

  • 11 different shooting modes
  • Good image quality
  • Comfortable ergonomics.

Cons

  • Battery life is not very good
  • Bulky looking construction

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3. Canon AE-1

Canon AE-1 was the most affordable gear of its time which offered a great level of automation. It was used by both novices and enthusiasts alike. It has an electronically controlled shutter that offers a wide shutter speed range. Because of this feature, it needs a battery. It utilizes a 4LR44 battery which can be easily found online. It offers center weighted metering with the help of a single silicon photocell.

It also provides shutter-priority automation instead of aperture-priority which was common among its competitors. Its shutter speed is limited, ranging from 1/1000 to 2 seconds. Its viewfinder is disappointing as the photographer has to press the eye on the glass to capture a correct image. But its image quality is very good, offering vibrant and crisp colors.

Depending on the available light, by using its semi-automatic function on the lens, it selects the required aperture. But for this to happen, the photographer has to select correct shutter speed.

Its body is made of both metal and plastic which makes it lighter in weight. Also, it makes it easier to handle.

Pros 

  • Shutter is controlled electronically
  • First camera with CPU
  • Shutter speed priority mode
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Battery is needed
  • Plastic construction is a little disappointing

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4. Pentax K1000

Pentax k1000 film camera is almost mechanical it does not need batteries to operate. Batteries are only needed for light metering information system. For this purpose, it uses only one A76 or S76 or LR44, or SR44 battery.

It has manual exposure control with manual focus SLR. Pentax k1000 has three shooting controls that are aperture, focus, and shutter speed. Photographers have to set film speed at the time of loading.

Its meter does not have an on or off switch which means if you want to save the battery from draining then the lens must be covered with a cap. Its shorter shutter has a speed range of 1/1000 seconds 1 second.

Pentax k1000 is on the list of best 35mm cameras mainly because of its simplicity and the ease it provides to its users. It has almost no learning curve which is why it is a perfect model to teach many. It is also used by many professors and photography teachers in their classes. It was a very popular camera of its time mainly because of its low cost but strong build.

Pros

  • Simple to use
  • Strongly built

Cons 

  • Only manually controlled
  • Slower shutter speed

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5. Olympus OM-1

Olympus OM-1 was one of best 35mm film cameras. It was also among top models of its time. It is a completely manual SLR that works great for beginners and professionals alike.

It is a compact and lightweight camera which makes it a good option for traveling. Only the ISO knob, shutter release, and film advance lever can be seen on the right side of Olympus OM-1.

It is compact in size yet it still supports a big optical view finder that has interchangeable focusing screens. There are some quality features that make it one of best 35mm film cameras. Like the shutter speed dial on the lens mount that allows the user to keep his eye on the camera easily. Its shutter speed can be adjusted via a ring around the lens whereas the ISO value for in-built light meter can be set by a dial on top of camera.

Its shutter speed has a bulb setting. It ranges from one to 1/1000 seconds. It has a wide angle f2.8 Zuiko lens which makes it easy to carry around. Also, its viewfinder is big with 97% coverage.

 Pros

  • Manual operations
  • Big viewfinder
  • Compact in size
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Manual exposure

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FAQs

What Is a Film Camera?

A film camera works by capturing images on film. Nowadays cameras use digital sensors for this purpose. There are many benefits of film photography. But there are certain drawbacks too like the cost of preparing the images can be higher especially if you give them to labs. Also, the handling of physical negatives can be tiring.

What Are the Different Film Types?

Color Positive/Transparency film: it is also known as slide film that allows the scene to be captured to result in a positive.

Color Negative film: it works by capturing the scene as a negative. Highlights can be seen on negative film and shadows on positive print.

Black and White Positive/Transparency film: they are black and white slides that result in a positive scene.

Black and White Negative films: they are used for black and white photography that further needs to be converted into positive in a darker room.

Infrared films: they are special kind of films that enhance highlights and depth with contrast. They come in black, white, and color as well. They are sensitive to infrared and ultraviolet radiation and visible light as well.

What are common film sizes? 

  • 135/35

This film is the size of 35mm that is used with 35mm cameras or small format cameras. Their produced frames have a size of 36×24mm. They have 24 or 36 shots per roll

  • 120/220

They are used with medium format cameras and come in different sizes of 6×4.5, 6×6, 6×6, and 6×7. The 220 version of this film has double the length than 120 film.

  • Large Format Films

They provide higher resolution than 35mm film. They come in two sizes of 4×5″ or 8×10″. They come in two different shapes of slides or plates.

Bottom Line

Analog photography has many perks which is why many people are persuading film photography. Digital photography may have its own advantages like instant sharing and easy handling, but analog photography is a whole other level of class. There are many film cameras available in the market but keep in mind that almost all of them are used. Therefore do your homework properly before purchasing one.

Warning aside, I have mentioned the best 35mm film cameras that are also most reviewed. But if I have to further shortlist three from these five then they would be:

Canon EOS Rebel 2000: Due to its automatic nature and advanced features of its time. It has an impressive LCD, three exposure metering modes, and 11 different shooting modes. It is suited for both beginners and professionals alike.

Pentax K1000: Mainly due to its almost mechanical nature. It does not need a battery to operate. It is simple to use therefore many photography teachers recommend it.

Olympus OM-1: Due to its completely manual nature. It is compact in size and lightweight. With a big viewfinder, it has interchangeable focusing screens.

And out of these three Canon EOS Rebel 2000 would be first on my list because it has many advanced features of its time.

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