We won’t tell you the plat­i­tudes about film pho­tog­ra­phy being pop­u­lar again. The fact that you are read­ing this text is already proof. We will not com­pare the fash­ion for film and the fash­ion for vinyl. Clas­sic is always in fash­ion. We will not per­suade you to buy mod­ern instant cam­eras. If you decide to dive into the world of ana­log pho­tog­ra­phy, go all the way.

Pho­to: emiliokuffer/flickr.com

In this text, we will tell you about pop­u­lar and real­ly good film cam­eras, with which you can start tak­ing pic­tures tomor­row. Any of these cam­eras can be bought in Rus­sia — from the hands or in spe­cial­ized stores sell­ing used equip­ment. Also, most of the cam­eras in the text use stan­dard 35mm film, so you won’t have prob­lems find­ing con­sum­ables and devel­op­ing.

The text con­tains approx­i­mate prices for equip­ment. It is worth bear­ing in mind that the prices of used cam­eras vary great­ly depend­ing on the con­di­tion and requests of the sell­er.

The text con­tains approx­i­mate prices for equip­ment. It is worth bear­ing in mind that the prices of used cam­eras vary great­ly depend­ing on the con­di­tion and requests of the sell­er.

Olympus MJU II (Stylus Epic)

This is per­haps the most innocu­ous way to “bring back the nineties.” Pho­to: Youtube chan­nel Pablo Strong.

If you need the eas­i­est pos­si­ble start in film pho­tog­ra­phy, but at the same time you are not inter­est­ed in instant cam­eras, human­i­ty has not yet come up with any­thing more ele­men­tary than a soap dish. Soap dish­es have many advan­tages — a sim­ple auto­mat­ic mode, a com­pact body, and some­times also a good pro­tec­tion against dust and mois­ture.

The all-weath­er Olym­pus MJU II (aka Sty­lus Epic) is a cult cam­era and, in gen­er­al, not bad for a soap box. This is the most recent mod­el on our list — it debuted in 1997. The Olym­pus has a sharp built-in 35mm f/2.8 lens and decent aut­o­fo­cus by the stan­dards of its time. Built-in flash, always ready for bat­tle — on board. The cam­era shoots on 35mm film.

Approx­i­mate price in Rus­sia: 18,000 rubles

Canon AE‑1

AE‑1 became the third most pop­u­lar cam­era in the world after the Sovi­et cam­eras Zenit‑E and Sme­na-8M. Pho­to: dpreview.com

Our rat­ing of film cam­eras con­tin­ues with one of the most famous and pop­u­lar cam­eras in the his­to­ry of pho­tog­ra­phy — the Canon AE‑1. The cam­era was pro­duced for eight years, from 1976 to 1984 — it was this cam­era that helped bridge the gap between pros and ama­teurs. The Canon AE‑1 is a sol­id and reli­able mod­el, and you don’t have to pay five salaries for it or go through all the flea mar­kets in your city in search of a liv­ing spec­i­men.

What is impor­tant, the cam­era works with the excel­lent and pop­u­lar Canon FD lens­es, which can be eas­i­ly found on the used mar­ket. Offers from third-par­ty man­u­fac­tur­ers are also lack­ing.

In 1981, the base mod­el was replaced by an improved Canon AE‑1 Pro­gram, which intro­duced an auto expo­sure mode. If you’re com­plete­ly new to pho­tog­ra­phy, the advanced mod­el can be an eas­i­er entry into the world of ana­log pho­tog­ra­phy. The cam­era needs 35mm film.

Fun fact: the shut­ter sound of this cam­era is exact­ly what you hear when you shoot on your iPhone.

Approx­i­mate price in Rus­sia: 16,000 rubles

Pentax K1000

If you want to learn all the intri­ca­cies of man­u­al pho­tog­ra­phy, choose this cam­era. Pho­to: witandfolly.co

Pen­tax K1000 is called a “tank”, and this is no acci­dent. The met­al case gives the device a sol­id weight, and man­u­al con­trol with­out unnec­es­sary but­tons and levers adds even more bru­tal­i­ty to it. Because of this, the cam­era is hard­ly worth rec­om­mend­ing to absolute begin­ners: in order to cope with this met­al beast, you need to know what you are doing. There are only three con­trols here: focus, aper­ture, and shut­ter speed. Every­thing else depends only on you.

On the oth­er hand, the K1000s are rel­a­tive­ly cheap, and there are quite a few exam­ples on the mar­ket in excel­lent con­di­tion. You can even find cam­eras with­out a run.

As with Canon, find­ing PK (Pen­tax K) lens­es is not a prob­lem at all. There is even the leg­endary Helios-44 for it: the K mount is used in the Helios-44K‑4 ver­sion. You can also find adapters for Nikon F lens­es and oth­er sys­tems.

And there will be no prob­lems with the film — the clas­sic 35 mm.

Approx­i­mate price in Rus­sia: 12,000 rubles

Olympus OM‑1

I look: “Lei­ka”, looked close­ly — “Olym­pus”. Pho­to: Talya Adams/medium.com

In con­trast to the bulky Pen­tax, we will have the Olym­pus OM‑1. This mod­el is a super­com­bi­na­tion of excel­lent qual­i­ty and com­pact­ness: once this cam­era was called the bud­get Leica (in this arti­cle we decid­ed not to scare you with a used Leica M6 for 200 thou­sand rubles), but that means some­thing! At first, they even want­ed to call the mod­el M‑1, but due to the fact that Leica already had a series of M cam­eras, Olym­pus was forced to change the name to OM‑1.

Again, you can find copies of very decent qual­i­ty for a small amount, as well as cheap but high-qual­i­ty Olym­pus OM optics. The cam­era works with 35mm film.

Approx­i­mate price in Rus­sia: 12,000 rubles

Minolta X‑700

X‑700 with native aper­ture “fifty dol­lars”. Pho­to: commons.wikimedia.org

To make a list of the best film cam­eras and not include at least one Minol­ta in it is akin to a crime. There­fore, we meet the X‑700 — the com­pa­ny’s best man­u­al focus cam­era ever.

The X‑700 has one of the best and bright­est viewfind­ers on a film cam­era. The cam­era has a ful­ly auto­mat­ic and man­u­al expo­sure mode, which means that every­one from begin­ners to expe­ri­enced pho­tog­ra­phers will appre­ci­ate it.

The only prob­lem with this cam­era may be find­ing lens­es. Com­pared to pre­vi­ous mod­els, find­ing glass­es will take a lit­tle more effort. You need mod­els with MD or MC mount. But with film, every­thing is sim­ple — all the same 35 mm for­mat.

Approx­i­mate price in Rus­sia: 15,000 rubles

Polaroid SX-70

The “grand­fa­ther” of all instant cam­eras. Pic­tured is a ver­sion of the Sonar OneStep with an aut­o­fo­cus device (the big black thing on top). Pho­to: Sil­vio Tanaka/commons.wikimedia.org

Yes, I could not stand it and still added one instant cam­era. But what! The first instant cam­era Polaroid SX-70 became a cult. It has a fixed 116mm f/8 lens, auto­ex­po­sure and a fold­ing body.

The device is ide­al for shoot­ing out­doors in bright sun­light. Indoors, due to the very “dark” lens, it is more dif­fi­cult to get a good expo­sure, but you can find an option­al flash with the cam­era (includ­ing a mod­ern one, thanks to its cult sta­tus), which is mount­ed on the top of the body.

Var­i­ous addi­tion­al acces­sories are still made for the cam­era, includ­ing fil­ters for the lens. The lens of the lens is glass, unlike many mod­ern instant cam­eras, so the pho­tos are sharp and of good qual­i­ty. The Sonar OneStep ver­sion has aut­o­fo­cus, the oth­er ver­sions have man­u­al focus only.

The device works with SX-70 film, and the cam­era can also be refor­mat­ted for the lat­er and more com­mon Polaroid 600 film.

Approx­i­mate price in Rus­sia: 20,000 rubles

Nikon FM2

The design­ers of the mod­ern Nikon Z fc were clear­ly inspired by this device. Pho­to: ru.m.wikipedia.org

The Nikon FM2 is a seri­ous film cam­era used by many pho­to­jour­nal­ists and pro­fes­sion­al pho­tog­ra­phers. This is a real work­horse, which is still loved for its reli­a­bil­i­ty and ease of use.

Incred­i­ble for ana­log pho­tog­ra­phy, the min­i­mum shut­ter speed (up to 1/4000 sec­ond), accu­rate expo­sure meter­ing and a mechan­i­cal shut­ter (the cam­era spends the bat­tery only on the expo­sure meter) make this mod­el an almost ide­al film cam­era.

Nikon FM2 is com­pat­i­ble with any glass from the huge list of F‑mount lens­es made after 1977 (AF‑S Nikkor, AF Nikkor D, AF Nikkor, Nikkor AI‑S, Nikkor AI, Nikon Series E, etc.).

As with most of the cam­eras on this list, you’ll need clas­sic 35mm film.

Approx­i­mate price in Rus­sia: 35,000 rubles

Zenith ET

The leg­endary “Zenith” com­plete with the leg­endary Helios. Pho­to: flickr.com/emiliokuffer

You can’t write about film cam­eras with­out men­tion­ing at least one Zenith. Yes, the device can hard­ly be includ­ed in the list of “best” because of the weight and weak viewfind­er and shut­ter speed, but in the list of “pop­u­lar” it staked out a place for itself for­ev­er. Zenith ET was pro­duced from 82 to 95, and the num­ber of copies sold dur­ing this time is about 3 mil­lion of these cam­eras).

This is a sim­ple and reli­able device that lacks stars from the sky. There is a ver­sion of the cam­era with a light meter, mul­ti­ple shut­ter speeds (min­i­mum 1/500 sec­ond), includ­ing bulb expo­sure, and a viewfind­er with 65% cov­er­age. With reg­u­lar glass, it weighs almost a kilo, but the “grand­fa­ther” can be for­giv­en for being over­weight.

There are a lot of decent optics for the cam­era (M42 × 1 thread), includ­ing the stan­dard super-pop­u­lar Helios-44–2. The pho­to­graph­ic mate­r­i­al used is 35 mm clas­sic.

Approx­i­mate price in Rus­sia: 1,000 rubles

A guide to 35mm film cam­eras. Part I

A guide to 35mm film cam­eras. Part II

7 Film Pho­tog­ra­phy Exper­i­ments