5 of the Best 35mm Film Cameras for Beginners

Are you a beginner and looking for the best 35mm film camera for beginners? Or are you planning to gift someone who’s just getting started with photography? If yes, then read on.

There are many 35mm film cameras to choose from as so many were made over the years and each one has its own features. So if you’re ready to take your photography skills and hobby to the next level by using a 35mm film camera, read on.

Selection of 35mm cameras shown on a table

Why should I buy a 35mm film camera?

A lot of photographers prefer using a 35mm film camera over a digital one. Compared to digital cameras, 35mm film cameras are much simpler to use. They can also be a lot lighter and more compact than digital SLR cameras.

With a 35mm film camera, you’re forced to be more thoughtful and deliberate about each frame. It’s a great exercise that’ll help you grow as a photographer. 35mm film cameras are a great option for beginners who are looking to experiment with 35mm film photography and also to elevate their skills with photography and how to use camera settings. 

Film photographs are more true to life as film filters the light in a more organic way and as you see it in real life. The colours, shadows, and tones capture the world accurately and you'll always be impressed by how your memories are captured. Oftentimes, you take a photo with your phone and think "well that looks nowhere near as beautiful as it does in real life", film photography could be the answer to this problem for you!

View of the sunset taken on the Yashica Samurai 35mm point and shoot film camera
View of a harbour taken with the Yashica Samurai 35mm point and shoot film camera

How do you use a 35mm film camera?

A 35mm film camera is really easy to use once you get used to the settings of your camera, and how to load film correctly. These cameras can have automatic settings, both automatic and manual settings, or just manual settings. All of our cameras come with a cheat sheet with tips to get started with your film camera and how different settings work. 

To use a 35mm film camera, you’ll need to load a film cartridge using the take-up spool, close the back, and wind the film either manually or the camera will do it for you automatically.

When you have finished a roll of film, you can send it to a professional lab to have it developed. If you choose to have it developed professionally, you can either bring the film to the lab or send it to them via mail. We use Gulabi to develop our rolls of film and all of our cameras come with 30% off the lab's services.

I recommend reading our blog post all about 35mm film photography here.

What do I look for when choosing a 35mm film camera?

"Choose a camera that you like the look of, and makes you excited about photography and using your camera."

There are lots of things to consider when choosing a 35mm film camera, but the main thing is to choose something that you like the look of, so that you are excited to learn how to use it and take photographs with it. 

Vintage 35mm film cameras have so many unique designs and interesting features. You could get a coloured camera, a metal camera, a compact camera, and lots more! We have a huge selection on our website.

This image shows the Yashica Samurai 35mm film camera.

Person using the Yashica Samurai

Other considerations are which settings the camera has, as it may be automatic or manual. Automatic is great for people who want to take images quickly and easily. Manual settings are great for people who want to develop their photography skills and learn more about how to use a 35mm film camera.

The 5 Best 35mm Film Cameras For Beginners

OK, without further ado, here are our picks of the best 35mm film cameras for beginners to 35mm film photography.

5. Olympus Trip

A cult classic that is super stylish, easy to use, and has manual focus.

This camera uses a selenium meter (the bit around the lens) to power it, so you don't need batteries. It relies on light, so we recommend getting a lens cap for when you are not using the camera. You can find one here.

Illustration of Olympus Trip camera

4. Olympus OM10

A great, electronic SLR camera with all the features you need to get started.

It has automatic settings, but with the addition of a manual adapter, allows you to swap between the manual and automatic and control the outcome of your images quickly.

The viewfinder is easy to read and the camera is lightweight compared to a lot of the Pentax cameras recommended for beginners.

3. Yashica Samurai

An exciting, unique point and shoot that produces economic half-frame photographs and is really easy to use. 

It has automatic settings and a zoom lens, as well as a date back that allows you to imprint the date on your images.

This 35mm film camera comes on literally every adventure, outing, and daily trip I go on.

More Half-frame Cameras for Beginners:

2. Canon Sure Shot EX

An easy to use and basic point and shoot camera with a great lens and good autofocus. This camera will produce high quality images without needing a huge budget for your first 35mm film camera.

It has very simple settings, but also some good features to make using the camera fun and exciting.

Our Top Pick for 35mm film camera for beginners

1. Canon AE-1 Program

The Canon AE-1 Program is the camera that I started my film photography journey with. It is a classic design that has all the features you need to get started with film photography. 

It has manual and automatic settings and allows you to swap between the two easily and control the outcome of your images quickly.

The viewfinder is easy to read and the camera is lightweight compared to a lot of the Pentax cameras recommended for beginners.

More Cameras We Love:

These cameras didn't make our list this time, but are definitely worth mentioning.


Choose a 35mm film camera that you love the look of and are excited to use, as you'll be inspired to learn how to use it.

Think about whether you want automatic or manual settings to help you take photographs in the way you want to!

Still not sure which camera is right for you? Take our quiz here to get personalised recommendations.

Still stuck on which 35mm film camera to buy?

Try our film camera quiz. All you have to do is answer a few questions, and then you will get a list of personalised 35mm film camera recommendations. 

Or send us a message on Instagram, send us an email, chat to us on our live website chat, or read some more of our blog posts!

Looking for a 35mm film camera as a gift?

Choosing a 35mm film camera for someone as a gift is a great idea. It is a great way for someone to explore film photography and get started in this amazing hobby. I recommend sending us an email or message to help you find the perfect 35mm film camera. 

But we do have some pre-made gift sets that are ideal as a main gift or a stocking filler for someone you love.

If you like what we do, but can't buy a camera from us, please consider buying us a cup of coffee! It helps us to keep these resources free, consistent, and accessible. 

Max, owner of Cameras By Max

Article written by: Max

Max is the owner of Cameras By Max. They work full-time repairing and refurbishing all the 35mm film cameras you see on the website. Their favourite camera (at the moment) is the Olympus XA, and their favourite city in the world is Edinburgh.


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