The Best 35mm Film Cameras

This is a highly controversial topic: which are the best 35mm film cameras you can buy? Everyone will have a different opinion, but we have taken into account a varying range of factors when trying to decide which 35mm film camera is the best.

Here is our list of what we consider to be some of the best 35mm film cameras.

Canon F-1 camera in front of the Scottish ocean

Why Should I Buy a 35mm Film Camera?

35mm film photography is super fun, and one of the best hobbies to have. (Although, we are biased in this opinion!) 

It helps to improve your photography skills in general. It also helps you to slow down, and appreciate what you are taking a photograph of, rather than taking 100 photos on your phone.

You will learn how to correctly expose a photograph, and how each setting affects the final image that you get. I started my career as a professional photographer by using 35mm film cameras, and now I can meter almost anything completely by eye.

It is a great way to bond with your friends too, as you can show them how cool your 35mm film camera is and help them learn how to use it too.

How do I find my first film camera?

There are tonnes of different 35mm film cameras out there, but luckily for you, you have found our website and we love helping people find their perfect camera. 

We have a film camera quiz that will give you a list of your perfect film cameras, or you can message us directly using our chat feature in the corner of our website.

Person holding a Canon A-1 35mm film camera

What makes a good film camera?

There are a lot of things to consider when discussing which film cameras are the best film cameras. 

In our honest opinion, the best film camera for you is the one you enjoy using. 

But anyway, let's get into the technical bits.

Also, a disclaimer: we've included cameras most people could actually afford, not £4000 Leicas.

Person holding the Canon A-1 35mm film camera

Choosing the top 5 film cameras was really hard, but whilst compiling this list, we looked at a range of factors. Everyone will have their own opinion on which 35mm film cameras are the best.

Firstly was the usability; how much fun are these cameras to use; how easy are they to use; do they feel good quality?

Secondly was the quality; how high quality are the images from the cameras; how high quality is the build of the camera?

Thirdly was whether these cameras are a good investment or not; can you get them repaired; will they last a long time?

View of deckchairs taken with Ilford HP5 on the Canon AE-1 Program
View of boat taken on the Canon AE-1 Program 35mm film camera

"The best film camera for you is the one you enjoy using."

So what are the best 35mm film cameras?

5. Olympus XA2

Super compact, with a super sharp lens, we kick off this list of the best 35mm film cameras with the Olympus XA2. 

We love this camera for travelling, everyday use, and always carrying a camera with you.

4. Canon AE-1 Program

This is the camera I began film photography with, and if I wasn't running a film camera shop, I would still be using it. 

This camera has everything you could need for great film photography - an accurate meter, automatic and manual settings, sharp lenses, and great ergonomics. 

3. Contax T2

Does this camera really need any introduction? The Contax T2 is one of the great 35mm film cameras, and it hasn't lost its popularity in recent years. 

With a super sharp lens, great autofocus, and a fantastic Porsche design, this camera is the high quality, pocketable point and shoot everyone would love to own.

2. Canon F-1

Some may disagree, but we think this camera deserves to be in the top 2 of the best 35mm film cameras. It is a mechanical marvel, built to last the test of time, and takes you back to the bare bones of photography. 

You'll spend hours lining up your shots, and making every shot count, with this lovely SLR that encapsulates what film photography is all about - slowing down.

Image taken with the Canon F-1
Created with Canon F-1​​
Image taken with the Canon F-1 35mm film camera

Honourable mention: Contax G1

We should have made this list “the six best 35mm film cameras” because the Contax G1 deserves a spot on this list of cameras. 

This camera features super sharp lenses, fantastic autofocus, really good metering, and a wonderfully attractive design.

Our top pick

1. Nikon 35Ti and Nikon 28Ti 

Okay, forgive us - these are two different cameras. But they have a lot of the same features. The main difference is that one has a 35mm lens, and the other has a 28mm lens. 

This camera was a top of the range 35mm camera when it was released, and it still is.

These cameras have arguably the best lenses ever put onto a 35mm film camera. 

It also has an incredible matrix metering system, which essentially divides an area of your frame into sections and decides the settings of your camera based on information (light) from each of these areas.

Still stuck on which 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 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!

Have a read of some of our other blog posts here.

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.


No more products available for purchase

Your cart is currently empty.