The Best Film Cameras for Budding Photographers

Digital photography is easy, but nothing replaces the feeling of taking a terrific picture the old-fashioned way.

Want to know the greatest thing about film cameras? You print out the results and have them at your fingertips—they don’t sit in a computer or on a memory stick for decades, totally ignored and forgotten about. Instead, they’re viewed time and time again as a lovely reminder of the good times.

But getting a good shot on a film camera is much harder than it is with the digital cameras we’re all used to now. It takes real commitment to learn the skills that make you a good analog photographer rather than someone who takes 30 photos and immediately deletes 29. And it’s because you have so few attempts (film and developing can be expensive, after all) that becoming proficient brings so much pleasure. Ready to get started? Here’s how to find the best film camera for you. 

  • Skill Level: If you’re just beginning to explore the world of film photography, don’t spend too much money to begin with. It’s easy to get carried away, but if you start off with the basics, you’ll soon realize where your interests lie; whether portraits, close-up work or stunning vistas, you can invest in the kit you need to make your dreams happen. Remember that photography is a field where splashing out doesn’t necessarily get you better results, and even cheaper cameras can be brilliant. 
  • Type of Film Camera: There are two main types of film cameras—compacts and single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras. Compacts are just that: small, light boxes that can slip in a pocket or handbag and just be produced when you want to take a quick, good quality snap. SLRs are larger, more complex, and expensive, but they produce far better results thanks to their different settings, speeds, and lenses. Only buy a SLR once you’re sure about photography as a hobby, and be sure to really explore the features you need before spending a lot of money.
  • Extra Features: Photography should be about fun, so experiment wildly with speeds, lenses, flashes, and all the other settings that will help improve your pictures. Don’t forget black and white film, which gives instant class to any snap. If you’re serious about photography, consider setting up your own dark room. Not only can you play around with the look of your pictures, it will eventually save you a fortune in developing fees too.

Our Picks for the Best Film Cameras on Amazon

Top Pick Overall: Holga 120N Medium Format Film Camera 

Easy to Use

This straightforward model can hold a dozen 6-by-6 centimeter or 16 6-by-4.5 centimeter images. It’s known for light leaks that create interesting photos—fix this with gaffer tape or leave it as is. Holga

BUY NOW

Runner Up: Holga Camera 120GCFN

Capable of Long Exposure

This takes both color and black and white film. It’s dual aperture, so it will take great pictures both when it’s sunny and overcast, and it can even be used in the evening.
Holga

BUY NOW

Budget Pick: Kodak Single Use FunSaver Camera 

Disposable Option

This is the perfect introduction to film—just point at what you want to capture and press the button. Terrific for days and nights out when you don’t want the hassle of any heavy equipment.
Kodak

BUY NOW

Premium Pick: Polaroid OneStep

Old-School Style

Forget waiting for your snaps to be developed with this brilliant camera that produces them right in front of you in seconds. The self-timer, USB charging cable, and two lenses make this a great buy.
Polaroid

BUY NOW

Better You is a shopping-advice and product-review site brought to you by the publishers of Popular Science and Outdoor Life magazines. We’re here to help you choose among the most popular products on Amazon, and hidden gems our experts think are worth checking out.