A Beginner’s Guide to Different Types of 35mm Film Cameras

Thinking of starting film photography but not sure exactly which camera to get? Or want to learn the difference between a rangefinder and a point and shoot? Or what kind of camera would suit you best? In this article, we hope to answer some of your questions you have about the different types of 35mm film cameras. From point and shoots to rangefinders, the wide variety of film cameras available means there’s something suitable for everyone. Read on to find out more about the different kinds of film cameras out there!


1. Fully-Automated Point and Shoots


These cameras are a great starting point for any beginner looking to get started with film photography. These cameras do all the thinking for you, from setting the shutter speed, focusing and winding your film. All you have to do is to decide on how to frame the picture, press the shutter button and there you have it! Your first film photo.


The Canon MC 10 is a point and shoot perfect for beginners!


Pros: Super easy-to-use and ideal for beginners. The camera does all the thinking for you, so it is also perfect for taking random moments quickly. Recommended for a day out with your friends or if you are going on a holiday!


Cons: As it is automated, some shots may not turn out as great as you want them to be! The cameras were made mostly in the 80s and 90s, and computing power wasn’t as great as it is now.


What to look out for when purchasing: Ensure that the camera has been film tested to make sure the camera is still working right. All our cameras are film tested and checked rigorously, so you can purchase with peace of mind! To see what we have available, click here or simply DM us and we will be more than glad to help you!


Examples: Automatic cameras like the Fuji Zoom Cardia 950 Date and Olympus AF-1 are great cameras to start your film journey with! If you need help to choose one, please DM us for help!


2. Semi-Automated Point and Shoots


Similar to the fully-automated point and shoots, these cameras do most of the thinking for you but leaves you some creative control. This can be in the form of letting you set the focus and/or the aperture. These are a great next step for those who want to learn more about film photography!


The Fujica Auto 7 Date lets you select your ISO manually!


Pros: It gives you a certain amount of control over the image taken which can be very useful in creating some more creative shots!


Cons: It is inherently slower than a fully automated point and shoot and requires the user to have some technical knowledge of film photography.


What to look out for when purchasing: Similar to fully-automated point and shoots, it is best to make sure that the camera is film tested to ensure the camera is working right.


Examples: Ricoh FF-3AF is a great camera that lets you adjust your ISO setting. You can choose to underexpose or overexpose your film by a bit to bring out more colours with your photos!


3. Rangefinders


If you like to try manual film photography and have had some experience with a point and shoot, give rangefinders a try! Don’t be intimidated by the manual controls, setting shutter speed and aperture is actually easy!


Konica Auto S is highly recommended for beginners to rangefinders.


As compared to a point and shoot, you can expect higher-quality images as the lenses are usually much better. A rangefinder is also much quieter than a SLR as there is no mirror ‘slapping’ up and down, and only the shutter moves. This makes rangefinders the ideal camera for street photography. However, this also means that you are viewing through a separate viewfinder and to focus, you would have to match the 2 “ghost” images in the viewfinder. That may take some practice to perfect, but it is worth mastering!


Pros: Super quiet and high-quality lens system. Rangefinders also have a beautiful vintage aesthetic to them, and it looks amazing!


Cons: Using a rangefinder focusing system might take some getting used to at the start.

What to look out for when purchasing: Ensure that the camera has been film tested to make sure the camera is still working right. As with most vintage rangefinders, the lightmeter may not be calibrated well, but to circumvent that, just use a lightmeter application on your phone!


Examples: Konica Auto S is a great rangefinder for anyone looking to try one. It lets you switch from auto to manual mode, so you can learn how to use this easily! If you want to go full manual, a rangefinder like Minolta Uniomat.


4. Single Lens Reflex (SLR) Cameras


If you are already used to digital photography and would like to branch out to film, getting an SLR camera would be your best bet. Many of the vintage SLRs have a large lineup of great vintage legacy lenses that produce some of the most amazing images. Some of the most iconic pictures were shot on those lenses; National Geographic's Afghan girl was shot on a Nikkor 105mm f2.5 and the Windows green fields picture was on a Sekkor 90mm.


Pros: Very similar to shooting a modern digital camera and the learning curve is much shallower. It is also relatively cheap as you can get started with a SLR and lens for less than $200. Great lenses can also be bought on a budget, the 2 lenses mentioned above can both be bought for less than $200 each!


Cons: SLR cameras are heavy. SLR setups are usually more than 1kg in weight. To help with that, get a good camera strap!


What to look out for when purchasing: Ensure that the camera has been film tested to make sure the camera is still working right. Be careful of fungus in the lenses. To check, shine a light through the lens to check for any cloudy patches. Sometimes a bit of fungus is fine, so remember to store it in a dry and cool area (a drybox will be best)!


With so many cameras out there, it is super fun and interesting to learn more about them and try them out. If you still can’t decide, we have a little quiz here for you to give you an idea of what kind of film camera you should get to suit your style. In the meantime, why not check out our current selection of film cameras available here? We have something for everyone. If you can’t find something you like yet, please give our Instagram page a follow. We do weekly drops so there’s definitely new and exciting cameras every week. If you have any questions, do drop us a DM and we would be more than glad to help you! Best of luck and happy shooting.



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