The Best 35mm Film Cameras for Photographers New to Film

POV: you're a photographer, who has been using digital cameras for a while, and you want to take your first steps into film photography, BUT you don't want to start with a simple camera that you'll outgrow. 

Well, you've come to the right place. This is our guide to the best 35mm film cameras for people who already consider themselves photographers.

Person holding 35mm film camera

Why should I try film photography?

Digital photography is great, and it definitely has its perks: having unlimited amounts of photographs to take, being able to edit them in so many ways, and being able to see the results instantly. But these reasons are also all of the reasons to try film. 

(Trust me, I was very much on the fence about it at first too.)

Firstly, film causes you to slow down and consider your composition. Instead of having unlimited photographs and taking a hundred photographs of the same subject at different angles, film causes you to slow down, find the perfect shot, and only take one or two before finding another subject, or background. You'll become a better photographer, who doesn't need to cull thousands of images at the end of a shoot, because you started thinking about each composition.

Secondly, how you shoot the image is how it will look in the final version. How you created the image and the exposure, filters, and aperture you used will be how your final image looks. This allows you to closely consider how each factor plays its part in creating the final image.

Thirdly, you get excited waiting for your images. You have to send your negatives off to a lab (or develop them yourself), which means there will be a bit of waiting game between taking the images and seeing them. So scrap your instant gratification! Your images will mean so much more to you when you see them a few days or weeks later. Instead of taking an image, looking at it straight away, and discarding it, you will revisit your film photographs and remember the moments behind the image.

Black and white photograph of deckchairs

What do I need to look for when choosing a camera?

You're a photographer, so you already have some understanding of how cameras work and how to create great images. You understand the basic concepts of shutter speed, aperture and ISO (hopefully). This means you'll probably want to skip the over-simplified point and shoot cameras that most beginners to film start with, although they can be very fun.

Because of this, the main thing to consider when choosing a camera is how you want to take photographs. Do you want the camera to have fully manual settings, or automatic settings, or both?

This factor will change how you take photographs and whether you get an amateur level camera or a professional level camera.

Dials on a camera

5 of the Best Cameras for Photographers New to Film

So here we go. These are our top five cameras for photographers who are new to film photography, but not new to the principles of photography.

5. Olympus Pen EES-2

If you're looking for something a bit fun, this half-frame 35mm film camera has manual focus, and can take up to 72 shots on one roll of film.

It is super compact and great for travelling.

4. Canon AE-1 Program

We love this camera. It has automatic and manual settings, which makes it super versatile for when you want to take quick photographs, and to take your time and do your settings manually.

You can read our full feature on the camera here.

3. Nikon 35Ti

One of the only point and shoots to make the list, this Nikon is one of the best point and shoots available. And it has manual aperture, and an awesome analogue display on the top plate. 

2. Canon A-1

This camera is a great choice for photographers who want to take their first steps into using film. It has aperture priority, and shutter priority modes, as well as fully automatic modes.

It is really well made, easily repaired, and a great choice.

1. Canon F-1

The Canon F-1 is one of the professional 35mm SLR cameras. It is fully manual, but has a great built-in light meter. It also has some great features, such as a waist-level viewfinder, and it makes it such a fun camera to use. 

You can read our full feature on the Canon F-1 here.

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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