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The best film cameras in 2023

In a world where digital technology reigns supreme, the timeless art of film photography remains a steadfast passion for many. While automation and convenience have made it easier than ever to capture stunning images, there is something special about the depth and character that only film can deliver.

Despite the rise of digital photography, some of the industry’s biggest names are still vying to produce their legendary film cameras. From iconic brands like Nikon and Canon to niche manufacturers catering to the die-hard analog crowd, there is no shortage of options for those seeking to explore the world of film photography.

But with so many choices available, how can one possibly navigate the market and find the best film camera for their needs? Fear not, for we have done the research and compiled a comprehensive guide to the top film cameras to buy in 2023.

leica m a silver

Editor's choice

LEICA M-A

If you’re looking for a mechanically perfect film camera and for the sake of an idea you can’t skimp on a device, then you definitely want this “Leica”. The company has launched it in recent history as a sort of crowning achievement. There was a formal occasion too – the 60th anniversary of the company’s M mount – a type of lens mount. Note that this camera is devoid of any automation. So you’ll have to use an exposure meter or carry around a shutter speed and aperture ratio chart. The film here is 135 format. Interestingly, despite the attempt to make the camera from the 50’s, the company didn’t hold back and introduced lens recognition and support for modern flashes.

Features

Aluminum alloy body, plastic, eco-leather

Shutter speed from 1 to 1/1000 sec

Continuous shutter there is

M lens mount

Weight 578 g

Pros and cons

+ Build quality.
High price.

OLYMPUS OM-1

OLYMPUS OM-1

This film camera was one of the first to feature an air damper on the mirror, a kind of matrix stabilisation of the era that negated shutter shake when the shutter was released. Mass use of the model was in the late 70s. There are versions prefixed with MD and MDn – refined ergonomics and allowed you to crank up the motor drive for continuous shooting. It is praised for its wide and bright viewfinder field. Individual fans note the incomparable sound of the cocking and shutter release. An exposure meter is built in. The whole camera is quite compact and fits naturally into a trouser pocket.

Features

Plastic body

Shutter speed from 1 to 1/1000 sec

OM lens mount

Weight 510 g

Pros and cons

+ Dimensions.
No aperture priority, all settings manual only.

Canon AE-1

Canon AE-1

Also available with a Program prefix is an even more advanced camera with a refined automatic exposure system. At its time – the turn of the 70s and 80s – it was a revolution. – it started a revolution. After all, it was the first film camera in which the Japanese integrated a processor. It was this innovation that made autoexposure metering possible. It has been called the most popular film camera in history. It’s because of this feature that competitors were a couple of years too late. It’s a great tool in the hands of creative types who aren’t prepared to dive headfirst into different exposure patterns. The automation works just like a modern camera, except you end up having to hand-pick the final values and press the shutter release.

Features

Plastic body with copper inlays

Shutter speed from 2 to 1/1000 sec

FD lens mount

Weight 590 g

Pros and cons

+ Electronics will help beginners.
FD lenses (not modern EF lenses) will have to be found on sale.

Nikon F90

Nikon F90

Again, at the outset, it should be noted that this camera can be found with the prefixes S, N, X. It is all the same camera, but with some technical refinements. Its era was in the 90’s. The body controls look familiar to Nikonists. It was the camera of choice for many photojournalists worldwide. It introduces 3D matrix metering – a pretty name for a marketing ploy of the time. But the automatic exposure metering is really quite good. Not much has changed in this aspect of modern DSLRs since that time. This camera is as close as possible to the next generation of digital. So it’s easy to understand for photographers who were brought up on modern Nikons.

Features

Plastic body

Shutter speed from 30 to 1/8000 sec

F lens mount

Weight 755g

Pros and cons

+ All the features found in today’s digital, except for the digitalisation itself.
Noisy and slow focus.

minolta x 700

Minolta X-700

Those new to photography may be hearing about the brand for the first time. Today, the only products with this name are in the medical field. In fact, Minolta’s photography division has merged with Sony and is “tearing up” the modern mirrorless market. As for this model, it has all the features still available today in film cameras except auto focus. It was considered one of the best in the 80’s and was manufactured in factories up to the beginning of the noughties. It had an aperture priority mode, where the shutter speed was triggered by the lens blades closing. It has the ability to shoot a burst of up to 3.5 frames per second if you add a grip.

Features

Plastic body

Shutter speed from 2 to 1/1000 sec

MD lens mount

Weight 505g

Pros and cons

+ Sophisticated camera ergonomics.
It doesn’t work without batteries.

how to choose a film camera‚Äč

How to choose a film camera

We tell you about the best film cameras available in 2023. Our chief editor Lucian Lacey will give some tips on choosing a camera.

Popular Q&A

Which DSLR film camera to choose?

The corporations that were, and still are, in the business of producing photographic equipment reached the peak of technological sophistication in film cameras by the 1990s. All the models from different brands of those years have more or less the same functionality. I don’t recommend beginner amateur photographers to buy cameras from 1930-1960. They are too far from today’s cameras and require the photographer to concentrate a lot on the shooting process.

Anything produced after 1970 is already closer to us. These cameras really help photographers improve their skills in frame composition. Plus they have the rudiments of automation, which gets rid of technically tricky moments.

When choosing a DSLR, think about which lens you will be using it with. The focal length of 50mm remains the main tool of photographers of those years. Find out what mount – the type of lens mount – the camera you want to buy has. Look at the price of the relevant lenses and their prevalence.

Are medium format cameras worth considering?

Without getting into the technicalities, these cameras had a different type of film. It was hard to find and more expensive than the familiar 135. Most pictures were not taken with a hand-held camera, but with a tripod. They were medium-format cameras, as they say today, designed for high-quality photography with minute details. As a first camera for the modern amateur photographer, it is definitely not suitable.

How to choose your first film camera?

Buy an inexpensive Soviet Zenith. There are a lot of cheap lenses for them on the second-hand market, and there are scanned manuals on the internet. With a camera like this it’s easy to see if you like film photography. For many it will be their first and last analogue tool. Some people won’t understand it and will put it into a drawer – at least they won’t feel sorry for the money they’ve wasted. Others will be more than satisfied with its capabilities and may well settle for such a tool.