Are you tired of drowning in digital files that you never remember to print? Are you ready to see some of best film cameras of 2021 and try your hand in the amazing world of analog? At netbooknews.com, we test and rate hundreds of the best film cameras every year, and in this article, you’ll see some of our favorite film cameras. We’ve tried to cover a variety of different categories in this comprehensive overview, ranging from cheap disposables to pricey vintage rangefinder cameras.
It’s a different experience trying to buy a film camera these days. With the way smartphone cameras continue to improve, less and less people are buying film cameras. And because of that, it can be tricky to buy and develop film. That’s not to say there aren’t some good film camera options out there, but you have to know what you’re looking for, and on this list you’ll find plenty of options to guide you on your search.
We’ve included everything from beginner cameras to lomography cameras that can produce a vintage, dreamy feel that smartphones can only create through an artificial filter.
For the more serious photographer, 35mm, large format, and rangefinder cameras are the more challenging way to go, which we include here on our list as well.
Without rambling on, here’s everything you need to know to pick the best film camera for your needs and skill level.
To find out which film cameras are best, we compared features, price, reputation, reliability, and customer satisfaction. We focus on industry standards, experts’ analyses, best-of lists, customer reviews and ratings, technical specs, online forums, user manuals, product specs, etc.
Once we boil our list down to the best of the best, we pit them against one another—comparing image quality, durability, variety of settings, ease of use, and cost.
Then, in no particular order, we listed our favorite film cameras from a variety of categories, and broke down all the details to help you make the best purchase for your needs.
The Best Film Cameras For May 2021
- Best 35mm Film Camera – The Canon AE-1
- Best Medium Format Film Camera – The Holga 120GFN
- Best Large Format Film Camera – The Linhof 4×5 Technikardan 45s
- Best Lomography Camera – The Lomography Lomo LC-A
- Best Disposable Film Camera – The Kodak FunSaver
- Best Film Camera for Beginners – The Diana F+
- Best SLR Film Camera – The Canon EOS Rebel 2000
- Best Instant Film Camera – The Fujifilm Instax Mini 90
- Best Rangefinder Film Camera – The Leica M3
Best 35mm Film Camera
The Canon AE-1 made it possible for anyone to own a 35mm camera that is both classic and automatic because of its simplicity and affordability.
Specs: 35mm SLR (Single Lens Reflex) | Electronically Controlled AE (Auto Exposure) Focal Plane Shutter | Canon FD Interchangeable Lenses | Full Aperture Metering | Canon Breech-Lock Mount | Fixed Eye-Level Pentaprism Viewfinder | Optical TTL
Pros: Classic | Automatic | Versatile | Easy to Use | Great for Beginners
Cons: Needs a Battery | Plastic Body
This classic 35mm camera is great for beginners and enthusiasts. Not to mention the plastic construction keeps this baby at a very affordable price. Even though it has many sophisticated features, it can also be used as a camera that anyone can just point, focus, and shoot. There are enough features to allow you to geek out in the more intricate world of photography but simple enough to snap some quick high quality photos during family vacations and birthday parties. Many users have also enjoyed the flexibility of the lens mount by using a variety of the many compatible interchangeable lenses. Really the only downside is that it needs a battery to power the electronically controlled automatic exposure focal plane shutter, but overall, this beauty is the best in class when it comes to 35mm film cameras. Enjoy!
Best Medium Format Film Camera
The Holga 120GFN can be described as funky and fun because it’s easy to load, easy to use, and allows for a high level of creativity at a low price. Not too shabby for a toy camera!
Specs: Plastic Body | 60mm f/8 Glass Lens | Built-In Flash | Spinning Color Wheel | Accepts 120 Roll Film | Includes 6 x 4.5cm and 6 x 6cm Film Masks
Pros: Simple Design | Creativity | Easy to Use | Low Price
Cons: Plastic Body
Wow! When it comes to medium format cameras, is this thing fun and affordable or what? Most medium film format cameras that you see are old, clunky, used, and very expensive. This 120 roll film camera is anything but that. With a light plastic body you can easily pack this handy little camera when you are on the go. Not only that but the glass lens allows for all kinds of fun photography tricks like light leaking, field curvature, and vignetting. This 60mm f/8 glass lens also provides you with the contrast and sharpness that makes you feel like a professional. Then it doesn’t get much more convenient than having a built-in flash. Not only that but there is a funky little feature of having a spinning color wheel so that you can add a burst of color like red, yellow, blue or just the traditional white. You will also love the versatility of the film masks that allow you to record in 12 or 16 frames per second. Overall, if you’re looking for a cheap, fun medium film camera without having to rummage through garage sales and second hand sites, you’ve just hit the jackpot.
Best Large Format Film Camera
Linhof 4×5 Technikardan 45s
The Linhof 4×5 Technikardan 45s combines a compact design with the versatility of a monorail camera, giving you the flexibility to do what you need to do in the field as well as in the studio.
Specs: Tilts 360 Degrees | Swings 360 Degrees | 50mm Rise | 20mm Fall | Interchangeable Bellows | 19” Maximum Extension
Pros: Compact | Good Movements | Easy Set-up | Sturdy | Versatile
This camera was designed to give you all the features of a studio camera but in the size of a field camera. This camera is absolutely perfect for landscape photography, still photography, architectural photography, and documentary photography. Not only that but it is super easy to travel with. The camera, several lenses, and all the accessories you might need can easily pack into a small tote bag. That said, it still offers good movement with plenty of rise and fall. Once you get used to it, you can set it up and break it down in no time. The parts are durable and generally last for years. If you are looking to get into the adventure of large format photography, you can’t go wrong here. The only thing that scares some away is the price. But you know what they say? You get what you pay for.
Best Lomography Camera
Lomography Lomo LC-A
The Lomography Lomo LC-A will allow you to impress your friends with jaw dropping square photos that are bursting with color and artistic effects like subtle shadows and eye-popping contrast.
Specs: 120 Film | Automatic, Shutter Speed Priority | 5 x 2.5 x 4.25 inches
Pros: Ease of Use | Clarity | Light Weight | Ultra-Wide Lens | Effects
Cons: Pricey | Build Quality | Tricky to Load and Wind
This camera has become a cult favorite among photographers when it comes to dabbling in street photography. It’s lightweight, easy to tote, easy to use, and provides breathtaking clarity. With a very good metered exposure you will be able to have fun with light leaks, vignetting, and all the other tricks that come with analog photography. There is, however, some questionable build quality and some of the parts are tricky, especially when it comes to loading and winding. Some find it pricey but when compared to other cameras with a wide-angle lens, this camera is very reasonable. Overall, this is your best option for exploring the wonderful world of lomography cameras. This thing is going to have you absolutely hooked on on film photography after your very first session.
Best Disposable Film Camera
The Kodak FunSaver simply outperforms all other disposable cameras in image quality and is absolutely perfect for when you prefer to have prints rather than storing more pics on your phone or digital camera.
Specs: 35mm Film | 4.9 x 2.6 x 1.4 inches | 4.96 Ounces
Pros: Easy | Inexpensive | Convenient | Image Quality | Good for Travel
Don’t let the Kodak FunSaver fool you just because it is the most commonly used disposable. You might think you need to find something more unique to get better quality, but honestly, this is the perfect disposable camera. This camera produces the most quality images of any disposable yet remains simple and convenient enough to take camping, when traveling, to a little league game, to get those silly shots during a birthday party or just to capture memories on a night out with friends. Sometimes, you would just rather have prints than store more pics on your phone or on your digital camera. This disposable is the way to go. It also makes a great gift!
Best Film Camera for Beginners
The Diana F+
The Diana F+ is so inexpensive and easy to use that it is the perfect introductory camera for beginners into the world of analog film cameras.
Specs: Electronic Flash | Variable Shutter | 120 Film Format
Pros: Small | Light | Compact | Easy to Use | Inexpensive | Retro | Plastic Lense
Cons: Easy to Break | Can be Hard to Load
This analog camera is the perfect place to start for those ready to venture away from digital and into the world of film. From the moment you load your first roll of film you will be hooked. This camera is so simple and easy to use you will wonder what took you so long to make the switch. Plus, you can even begin to experiment with artistic photography tricks like light leaks. You will look like a pro in no time. Not only that but there are several handy attachments and adapters. The flash is super cool and the 35mm adapter might make it a little easier to get developed. Finding places to develop 120 film can be tough. The only downside is that the plastic body makes it pretty easy to break so be careful. Other than that, you are going to love the retro feel of this compact camera that you can tote anywhere. The Diana is definitely the best film camera for beginners!
Best SLR Film Camera
Canon EOS Rebel 2000
With the ability to switch between automatic and manual modes, the Canon EOS Rebel 2000 is the perfect SLR camera whether you are taking your first photography class or already a professional.
Specs: 7-Point Autofocus | SLR (Single Lens Reflex) | 35mm | Built-In flash | 35-Zone Exposure Sensor
Pros: Easy to Use | Great for Action Shots and Wildlife | Auto-Light Metering | Quality Close-ups
Cons: Battery can be Hard to Find
This classic SLR camera is a fan favorite for anyone that is taking a photography class or getting started in the world of analog photography. This is a true film camera that uses a mirror and prism system and not the digital DSLR version. The autofocus and built-in flash allows you to basically turn this camera into a point and shoot. However, a quick switch to the manual mode allows you to go as sophisticated as you want to go. This analog camera is well constructed and solid, yet lightweight and easy to use. This is an excellent camera for getting action shots at sporting events or for enjoying nature and capturing the perfect picture of wildlife. The zoom lens and quality of the close-ups is second-to-none. Really the only trouble that people have is finding somewhere that sells the battery. Other than that, you can’t go wrong with the Canon EOS Rebel. It’s SLR perfection.
Best Instant Film Camera
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 is the best all-around instant film camera option with its grown-up, sophisticated design, to its multiple shooting modes and high quality vintage images.
Specs: LCD Displays | 60mm f/12.7 Lens |Image Size 6.2 x 4.6cm | Self Timer | Built-In Flash | Multiple Shooting Modes | Minimum Shooting Distance 30cm | Manual Exposure | Tripod Mount
Pros: Looks Sophisticated | Easy to Use | Great Quality | Vintage Vibe | Lots of Features
Cons: Needs Tons of Light | Doesn’t Work in Extreme Cold
You may remember the old days of big bulky instant cameras and shaking big floppy photos until your wrist hurt. Well not anymore. The Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 is vintage all right but in all the best ways. You’re going to love the design and the image feel and quality, but most of all you will love all the features that this camera offers in addition to being an instant camera. Stuff like an LCD display, a tripod mount, manual exposure, and multiple shooting modes. This camera is really good for macro shots and even has modes for actions shots and landscape. That said, if you are looking for something to give your kids, I would recommend the Mini 9 instead. There are a couple of things to be aware of however, it does need lots of light or the colors start to get funky. Also be aware of extreme cold temperatures and getting the dreaded error message on the display. Many however, have been able to ship the camera back to Fujifilm and receive a new camera. Overall, this thing is a ton of fun and the best option to bring back the fun retro feel of instant cameras.
Best Rangefinder Film Camera
When it comes to overall beauty and quality, the Leica M3 is the absolute gold standard of the rangefinder camera genre.
Specs: M-Bayonet Mount | 0.92 Range/Viewfinder | 1 – 1/1000s Shutter Speed | 50, 90, and 150mm Framilines
Pros: Image Detail | Vintage Look | No Batteries or Electronics |
Cons: Not Easy to Use | Expensive
This vintage camera reeks of nostalgia and oozes quality. It is so brilliantly constructed it could bring you to tears. No need for batteries, no fancy electronics, no auto…well anything really. This camera is for those looking for pure, unadulterated analog photography. It was this camera that introduced the M-Bayonet mount that is still being used on newer Leica camera. This camera also joined the Contax II in combining the rangefinder and the view finder into one window. You will also love the versatility of being able to use 50, 90, or 150mm lenses. Also, unlock some earlier models this camera added a hinged door to make the process of changing the film much simpler. The only downside is that this camera is pretty expensive and isn’t really for beginners. It’s not easy to use. But those that can master it will be rewarded with unbelievably detailed photographs that will bring you back to yesteryear.