Here are 5 of the best film cameras for beginners available in 2020. This equipment delivers ease of use (and the potential for extraordinary photos) with affordability. These beginner friendly film cameras will help inspire the photographer inside of you.
For anyone who feels that digital cameras just lack a certain something, you’ll be pleased to know that some of the best film cameras for beginners are still available in 2020. Cameras that use film might be considered old-school by a generation used to the instant gratification provided by digital cameras (not to mention smartphones). But analog film photography is not aimed at that market.
The slow process of focus, shoot, and develop has a long-term appeal for both photographers and artists who love seeing the world through a different lens. It’s the photography equivalent of slow food. If you are keen to join their ranks, but are reluctant to let go of the convenience of “point and press” entirely, here are 5 of the best film cameras for beginners. These cameras combine the old school feel of film photography, but are easy to use and beginner friendly. They’re also more affordable than a lot of other more sophisticated cameras aimed at photography professionals. Keep in mind that beginners should be thinking seriously about buying used equipment. New equipment is significantly more expensive, and buying a good, well-kept used camera is a normal part of any photographer’s journey.
Not content with offering top of the line digital cameras, Nikon have also stayed true to their analog roots with the FM. This model has a vintage look and retains the heft of a seriously well designed film camera while still being affordable. Shooting film – and more importantly being able to understand how to shoot film – makes this Nikon a great starter camera. The Nikon FM is also the kind of film camera you will be happy to hang onto and use for years.
One of the most underrated features of a Nikon film camera is that they are compatible with digital lenses. This means you have a choice of photographing styles. You won’t be limited to using only certain lenses and can branch out to see which method suits you best.
If you are wanting to venture into the world of film cameras, this is the ideal product to help you start your journey.
Don’t be afraid to buy a used Nikon FM – as we’ve mentioned, it can be used for years and years, and because it’s a great starter camera, as more experienced photographers continue their journeys you’ll often find starter cameras like the Nikon FM sold at very reasonable prices.
Canon AE 1 Photo by Ethan Hoover on Unsplash
The Canon AE 1 has an instantly recognizable appearance. It’s the Canon AE 1’s archetypal casing and functionality that makes it a popular choice for any beginner who wants a basic film camera that delivers amazing photographs. If you plan on taking an online course or evening class to help you learn about film cameras, the chances are they will be using a Canon AE as an example.
There is a reason why these cameras are used to teach how to operate an analog camera. When you study film cameras, the Canon AE 1 settings allows the photographer to choose one setting specifically and this allows you to focus on mastering one feature at a time. The Canon AE 1 is the closest you will get to a “point and shoot” scenario while still using an analog model that’s suitable for aspiring photographers who take the craft seriously.
Canon keeps things interesting with a choice of lenses and other accessories: definitely one worth checking out.
Again, as with the rest of the cameras on this list, don’t be afraid to buy used.
Pentax K1000 Photo by Matt Bero on Unsplash
With its sharp angularity and retro colored casing, the Pentax K1000 screams analog while still providing high-quality point and shoot accessibility. The Pentax K1000 is guaranteed not to leave you standing in front of your subject twiddling while the moment passes you by. It’s slick, quick, and easy to use.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, an analog Pentax K1000 will definitely get the job done. It’s a head-turner all on its own, but add in its high functionality and simple manual focus, and you know you have a winner in your hands.
Even if you are a complete newbie to the analog camera photography game, you will soon catch on to using the Pentax K1000 to take some truly outstanding photos. This is because of the easy 3 shooting controls: focus, shutter speed, and aperture. And that’s really all there is to it, as simple as 1, 2, 3.
Minolta SRT 101 Photo by bantersnaps on Unsplash
Yet another famous name when it comes to film cameras, the Minolta SRT101 has a classic look while offering the easy to understand analog features. When you pick up your Minolta SRT101 for the first time, you will immediately notice that it has serious heft. This is an indication of the model’s sturdiness, and this comes in very handy for protection against any bumps and even when it’s not in the case.
While the model is only available in the pre-owned cameras market, it is a highly recommended purchase for anyone who wants to try out photography using a film camera while still not blowing the budget. Look for sellers who include the whole kit with camera body and standard lens (Minolta 50mm). If you want full manual control that allows you to totally commit to analog film camera techniques, this is the perfect choice. You can’t buy it new because it is no longer in production, but the Minolta SRT101 has stood the test of time as an excellent film camera, particularly for beginners.
Olympus OM10 Photo by Jack Stapleton on Unsplash
Last, but most definitely not least, we have the Olympus OM10. It is the best option for anyone who wants an SLR analog camera that can hold its own against any other film camera on the market. The Olympus OM10 features a built-in light meter, and this allows you to have full control over how much exposure you want.
The shutter speed and ISO can also be manually controlled by the shooter. ISO measures light sensitivity – the lower the number, the less sensitive the camera is to the light. Hence – the finer the granularity of the image.
If your battery dies when using the Olympus OM10, the camera will still function as normal. The only thing that will change is you will need to determine the lighting manually. When you team the Olympus with a high-quality lens, such as a Zuiko, your images will be super-crisp and detailed.
What to Look for in a Film Camera for a Beginner
Millions of amateur photographers every year choose to join the ranks who use film cameras. The best place to start looking for an SLR (single lens reflex) film camera is online. Only consider buying your film camera from one of the Big Five:
The Big 5 camera brands originated easy to use, affordable cameras back in the 70s, and have only gotten better at making them since then. You can also find cheap, high-quality film cassettes online with which it is better to have a few trial runs, and it won’t break the bank if you make a mistake.
Whether your film camera is pre-owned or new, the models on this list are not priced to be prohibitively expensive to begin shooting on a budget. Try to choose a camera that has a program mode. As a beginner, this exposure function feature will do all the hard work for you when you’re learning. When you feel you’re confident and ready to alter your shots manually, you can turn it off.
Any film camera that allows you to select what shutter speed, and then goes ahead and automatically chooses the aperture, is a perfect feature for beginners to use. All of the film cameras on this list enables you to do that. Remember to check there are still batteries available if you are buying a pre-owned vintage model: some used mercury-based batteries that are now no longer sold.
If money is no object, and you are positive you want to pursue a film camera hobby seriously, check out one of the models from the analog Leica M series.