The Finest 35mm Movie Cameras to Purchase in 2022

Best 35mm film cameras to buy

Movie has skilled a little bit of a resurgence prior to now decade and we’ve seen a proliferation of never-before-made movie shares and even introduced some again from the useless. However if you wish to get began in movie images now, you’ll want a digicam. So the place must you begin?

As a life-long, avid shooter of movie — from 35mm to 4×5 and expertise with hundreds of digicam fashions — I’ve created this information to level out a few of the greatest 35mm digicam fashions at numerous costs.

Every decide is predicated on consumer expertise and, naturally, my private preferences. There are clearly a whole bunch, if not hundreds, of choices that others could desire. So, earlier than you ask “what about such and such?” please remember that I in all probability already thought-about it, I in all probability love the digicam, and my determination to decide on one thing else isn’t a slight towards it, however for the sake of this information, some selections needed to be made.

We’ll be taking a look at three classes: 35mm SLR Cameras, 35mm Compact Cameras, and 35mm Rangefinder Cameras. Inside every of these, they’re damaged down into 4 pricing brackets: Extremely-Cut price, Cut price, Mid-Vary, and Premium.

Whereas used cameras can come from a wide range of sources, high quality can differ. In our opinion, the most effective U.S.-based sources for classic cameras are Robert’s Camera (UsedPhotoPro) in Indianapolis, Indiana, and KEH Camera in Smyrna, Georgia. Each provide six-month warranties and free transport on a majority of merchandise.


Desk of Contents


The Finest 35mm Movie SLRs

Extremely-Cut price SLR: Yashica FX-103 Program

Picture by KEH Camera

That is considered one of my favourite hidden gems of the movie world and might routinely be discovered with a Yashica 50mm lens for $100 or much less. It makes use of the Contax Yashica (C/Y) bayonet mount, which implies it will possibly make the most of the entire extraordinarily wonderful Contax Zeiss lenses, lots of which nonetheless maintain their very own even on high-resolution digital cameras. In truth, a few of the lenses have been so good that their designs exist to at the present time within the Zeiss Traditional and subsequently the Zeiss Milvus collection.

The FX-103 Program has 4 modes: P (Program), HP (Excessive-Velocity Program), A (Aperture Precedence), and M (Handbook). That’s way over most cameras on this value vary, plus it has an unusually intensive ASA vary from 12 to 3200. There actually isn’t something to complain about right here.

Comparable options embrace the Yashica FX-3 and Yashica FX-3 Tremendous 2000.

The Finest Cut price SLR: Minolta X-570 or X-700

Picture from Robert’s Camera

There are a variety of nice choices I thought-about right here: Nikon FE, Nikon FM, Pentax K2, or MX, however finally settled on Minolta as a result of the X-570 was considered one of my first cameras and so they’re powerhouses — loaded with options, and in comparison with the Nikons or Pentaxes, the glass is a superb deal extra reasonably priced. The X-700 has Program, Aperture Precedence, and Handbook modes; the X-570 lacks Program, which is actually not a mode I ever use with 35mm cameras anyway. In any other case, the our bodies and options are practically similar.

There are a plethora of nice Minolta lenses accessible at very affordable costs; there’s additionally the famend 58mm f/1.2 Rokkor which is a pleasant chunk of glass that produces good, dreamy photos wide-open. Even that lens will be discovered at a modest value. Your common 50mm f/1.8 or 50mm f/1.7 Minolta lenses are filth low cost, and 50mm f/1.4 or 55mm f/1.4 lenses are extremely reasonably priced as nicely.

Make sure that to test compatibility between lens varieties (MD versus MC) if you happen to intend to make use of the X-700’s program auto mode (MC lenses are aperture precedence or handbook solely).

Robert’s Digital camera is never with out a number of X-700 bodies in stock.

The Finest Mid-Vary SLR: Nikon F3 / F3HP

Picture by James P. Fisher, Inventive Commons

The Nikon F3 is without doubt one of the best cameras ever made. It’s nothing in need of good; it has a rock-solid construct, superb ergonomics, and is without doubt one of the most reliable cameras I’ve ever come throughout.

The F3 is, unsurprisingly, the successor to the legendary Nikon F2, however now with a built-in gentle meter (no clunky finder needed) and aperture-priority automation. Like Nikon’s FE/FE2/FA fashions, the F3 has an electronically managed shutter, so it won’t operate with out batteries. On a private word, in my expertise with hundreds of cameras, there is no such thing as a correlation relating to longevity or reliability and whether or not the digicam is mechanical or digital.

The F3HP is solely the F3 with a high-eyepoint finder (very good for these of us who put on glasses). For the reason that finders are interchangeable, a daily F3 can turn out to be an F3HP by swapping within the DE-3 finder, and an F3HP can use one of many many different finders accessible – together with the fundamental DE-2 finder. There’s even a (very cool) waist degree finder accessible (DW-3). Focusing screens are additionally simply interchangeable.

The Finest Premium SLR: Canon EOS-1V or Nikon F6

Picture by Christopher Kesting | Inventive Commons

I used to be tempted to place the Nikon F2 Titan right here, however I put aside my private bias that sees the Titan as my “white whale” of cameras to as an alternative select not one, however two of the most effective (and final) 35mm cameras ever made. Why two? As a result of they’re each wonderful, “can’t-go-wrong” choices and the one factor that separates them is the lenses — if you have already got EF mount lenses, you must go together with the Canon and you probably have F-mount glass, you must select the Nikon.

The Canon EOS-1V, launched in 2000, was the fifth era of Canon’s top-of-the-line skilled collection which began with the F-1. Able to an astonishing 10 frames per second, it was the quickest moving-mirror movie digicam ever made on the time — solely fastened pellicle mirror cameras just like the Nikon F3H, able to 13 frames per second when used with the MN-2 battery, have been quicker.

With 5 metering modes — evaluative, spot, middle spot, partial, multi-spot, and focusing point-linked spot — and 45 zone TTL (by the lens) part detection autofocus, the EOS-1V was a powerhouse piece of know-how. It may possibly use any Canon EF lens made because the introduction of the mount in 1987, although it’s possible you’ll encounter points with numerous third-party lenses. Most, nevertheless, work simply superb. So succesful and tech-filled was the EOS-1V, Canon would proceed to fabricate it for one more 18 years till they ended manufacturing of all non-digital our bodies in 2018.

Picture by Nikon

The Nikon F6 — unsurprisingly the sixth mannequin in Nikon’s highest tier {of professional} fashions that started with the Nikon F in 1959 — was launched in 2004, supplanting the additionally wonderful Nikon F5. Whereas the F5 sported an built-in vertical grip, Nikon opted for a smaller, conventional physique (with optionally available vertical grip) within the F6 — a design alternative I personally desire over the F5 for its versatility, smaller footprint, and 225-gram weight distinction.

The F6 is totally appropriate, together with metering, with nearly all F-mount lenses since 1977. Non-AI lenses — except they’ve been modified — and the newer E collection lenses with an electronically managed aperture aren’t appropriate, and as with the Canon, it’s possible you’ll encounter points with some third-party lenses. Like all Nikon autofocus SLRs (and DSLRs), the F6’s crowning achievements have been its exceptional focus monitoring talents through the Multi-CAM 2000 autofocus sensor module and its 3D Colour Matrix metering mode. Just like the Canon, the F6 would stay in manufacturing for over a decade till its discontinuation in 2020, at which era it was the final remaining movie SLR nonetheless being manufactured.

The Finest 35mm Movie Compact Cameras

The Finest Extremely-Cut price Compact Movie Digital camera: Minox 35 GL or GT

Picture from Robert’s Camera

These little fellas are such gems. They’re presumably the smallest 35mm digicam ever made (I consider that was the corporate’s declare on the time), although others come shut. It’s under no circumstances good — the publicity management is proscribed, the movie advance will be finicky (probably as a consequence of how tiny and cramped every part is), it’s zone focus solely, and the leaf shutter is liable to failure at a better price than others.

No digicam ever made is extra deserving of the adjective “discreet” than these cameras. Zone focus solely and the limitation of aperture-priority solely metering system means you actually solely want to lift the digicam to your eye for framing. The leaf shutter and handbook movie advance imply you’ll by no means hear the digicam in motion except you occur to be alone in a padded isolation room.

There have been 18 models released over 24 years, from 1974 to 1998, beginning with the Minox 35 EL. Other than the fastened focus Minox 35 AL, all fashions have been fitted with considered one of two Tessar-type lenses — the 35/2.8 Colour Minotar and the later 35/2.8 MC Minoxar. Whereas the Minox 35 GT-X or GT-S could also be the most effective of all of them, the sooner GL and GT — each of which will be recognized by their orange shutter launch button — are the most effective worth choices. I even have a private choice for the Colour Minotar over the MC Minoxar.

The one distinction between the 2 is the addition of an digital self-timer within the GT, in addition to the relocation of the cable launch socket to a place much less more likely to lead to unintended triggering.

Finest Cut price Compact Movie Digital camera: Olympus XA collection

Photograph by Ashley Pomeroy | Inventive Commons

The Minox 35 is nearly the one discreet, pocketable 35mm digicam on the market that is available in at an reasonably priced value. Designed by Yoshihisa Maitani, chief digicam designer of Olympus Optical Co Ltd. and the person behind the Pen, OM, and mju collection of cameras, the Olympus XA line comprised 5 distinct fashions.

The primary mannequin, the Olympus XA, is a tiny rangefinder-coupled, aperture-priority (with +1.5 backlight compensation) compact fitted with a sterling six-element 35/2.8 F.Zuiko lens and a leaf shutter as much as 1/500 of a second. The next mannequin, the XA1, is a fixed-focus level and shoot with a 35mm f/4 lens, programmed auto publicity, restricted movie velocity settings of ASA 100 and 400, and most 1/250th of a second shutter. The XA2 makes use of a four-element Tessar variant 35/3.5 D.Zuiko lens, leaf shutter as much as 1/750th of a second, programmed auto publicity, ASA from 25 to 800, and a 3-position zone focus mechanism.

The XA3 retained similar options because the XA2 however added automated DX coding, ASA 1600 help, and the backlight compensation function from the unique XA. Lastly, the XA4 pivoted to a brand new five-element 28mm f/3.5 Zuiko “macro” lens, programmed auto publicity, most 1/750th shutter velocity, and a brand new scale focus mechanism. In contrast to the XA2 and XA3, which solely gave customers the selection of considered one of three focus positions (1.2-1.8m, 1.8m-6.3m, and 6.3m to infinity), the XA4’s sliding scale allowed for incremental positioning wherever between infinity and the digicam’s 0.3m minimal focus distance.

The entire Olympus XA fashions stay fairly reasonably priced and might often be discovered for below $200. Your alternative will rely on the options you need. The quicker 35/2.8 lens and rangefinder coupling of the unique XA, together with aperture precedence, permits for a bit extra versatility and management in comparison with the XA2 and XA3. It additionally instructions the very best costs of the bunch. If you happen to desire a wider 28mm lens, the XA4 is the way in which to go. The XA1, for my part, is a poor alternative with no clear advantages — however many deficiencies — over the opposite fashions.

The Finest Mid-Vary Compact Movie Digital camera: Rollei 35S

Photograph by Janne Moren | Inventive Commons

In 1966, DHW Fototechnik — successor of Franke & Heidecke of Rolleiflex and Rolleicord fame — launched the Rollei 35 at Photokina. The digicam — on the time the smallest 35mm ever made — was designed by Heinz Waaske, chief design engineer of Wirgin, and featured a considerably odd, boxy design with a battery-powered CdS gentle meter and a implausible, collapsible Carl Zeiss Tessar 40mm f/3.5 lens. Later fashions transitioned to a 40/3.5 Rollei-HFT Tessar lens and marked “Made by Rollei,” however the optics are similar to the unique Zeiss. Moreover, from 1972 to 1973, some Rollei 35 cameras featured a 40/3.5 S-Xenar lens made by Schneider.

Due to the Rollei 35’s success, in 1967 a higher-end variant was deliberate for market, however as a result of manufacturing’s shift from Germany to Singapore, it will be a lot of years earlier than it noticed an viewers. Finally, the Rollei 35S — now essentially the most fascinating of Rollei 35 fashions — debuted with a brand new, quicker 40mm f/2.8 Zeiss-designed and licensed Sonnar lens. Just like the Tessar, focus was managed through a hoop on the finish of the lens, whereas the aperture and shutter velocity have been set through dials positioned to the fitting and left of the lens, respectively.

As with all Rollei 35 fashions, the Rollei 35S featured a big, vibrant viewfinder with out focusing aids, which meant the digicam was, just like the Minox 35, zone focus solely with a match needle metering system. Whereas the design of the digicam — from its left-handed shutter advance to its quirky controls — will be off-putting to some, there’s lots of logic (and attraction) that begins to click on as soon as you employ the digicam. Shutter velocity, aperture, and lightweight meter values will be simply seen and adjusted whereas trying down on the digicam and the standard of the Zeiss-designed 40mm Sonnar lens speaks for itself.

The Finest Premium Compact Movie Digital camera: Konica Hexar AF or Nikon 28/35Ti

Photograph by Matt Williams

I’m together with two choices right here as a result of they’re each distinctive and about the identical value, but one or the opposite could higher fit your private preferences.

There are lots of choices on the subject of premium compacts and loads of different articles written about them. I completely love the Nikon Ti collection (in both 28mm or 35mm flavors): they’re fitted with completely implausible lenses and the — at first odd and probably off-putting — dials on high are considered one of my favourite factors of design in any digicam. They’re the one autofocus point-and-shoot digicam I can consider that lets you see your aperture, publicity compensation, focus distance, and the variety of exposures remaining with out elevating it to your eye. Shutter velocity, nevertheless, is simply displayed within the viewfinder.

Nikon 35Ti Prime Show | Photograph by Matt Williams

My private alternative favourite, nevertheless, is the Hexar AF as a result of it’s the one autofocus, auto-advance level and shoot that’s quiet sufficient (unbelievably so, on this case) for me to explain it as inconspicuous. The Nikons, the Minolta TC-1, the Contax T2/T3 — all are implausible cameras with top-notch optics, however they’re stripped of discretion by their loud, whirring movie advance motors.

The Hexar AF is a bit bigger than others as a consequence of its considerably bigger (and sumptuous) lens, however none of those cameras will comfortably slot in a denims pocket or shirt pocket anyway. After you cross that time, the variations turn out to be educational for my part — all of them will just do superb in a jacket pocket or dangling from a wrist or neck strap. But nonetheless, the Hexar is undeniably bigger, nevertheless, the burden is much like the others due to their titanium-bodied development.

Photograph by KEH Camera

The Hexar additionally excels in a number of different methods as a consequence of its bigger development: there’s truly a slight grip reasonably than the flat-fronted, boxy designs of the others, and the viewfinder is of considerably greater magnification — nearer to an precise rangefinder than a degree and shoot. Many compacts have (let’s face it) abysmal viewfinders, with the Leica Minilux being a very notable offender. That is an inherent trade-off in return for his or her diminutive measurement.

After all, if measurement is a precedence, the Nikons, with their smaller our bodies and totally retractable lenses, are going to win out. You completely gained’t lose something to the Hexar when it comes to sheer picture high quality — although the Hexar’s lens is a full cease quicker — and there’s one notable benefit in favor of the Nikons: matrix metering.

First launched within the Nikon FA and later the F4, Nikon created what’s immediately essentially the most generally used publicity mode. Different cameras of the time had a spot or center-weighted meter, which will be difficult to make use of below some circumstances. Matrix metering (also called evaluative, multi, et cetera) makes use of a microprocessor to research a scene, evaluate it to comparable scenes in its library of laptop information, and select an publicity primarily based on what it believes is greatest for that situation. Taken without any consideration immediately, it was extremely exceptional know-how when first launched and solely improved over time.

The Finest 35mm Movie Rangefinder Cameras

The Finest Extremely-Cut price Rangefinder Digital camera: Canon P / Canon 7

Picture from Robert’s Camera

Once we consider rangefinders, our first ideas drift to these of Leica and Zeiss Ikon, the 2 earliest and most extremely regarded rangefinder digicam producers. However the market panorama, significantly within the Nineteen Fifties, seemed fairly a bit completely different — quite a few Japanese producers provided choices extra accessible to these with out deep pockets. Nippon Kogaku (later Nikon), Chiyoda Kogaku Seiko (later Minolta), Tanaka Kogaku, Showa Kogaku — there was no scarcity of choices, lots of which used Leica’s M39 thread mount.

The primary rangefinder to hit the market from the Canon Digital camera Firm was the Hansa Canon in 1936, which was fitted with a Nikkor bayonet focusing mount. On the time, Canon didn’t have the means to producer its personal lenses, so it turned to Nippon Kogaku (Nikon) for assist. This cooperation continued for a few decade till Canon started manufacturing its personal Serenar branded lenses. In 1952, the corporate launched the Canon IIIA with its customary Leica M39 pitch thread; subsequent Canon lenses have been now appropriate on Leica thread mount our bodies.

Leica’s launch of the revolutionary M3 in 1954 offered a problem for different producers — its enormous, vibrant viewfinder, less complicated movie loading, and transfer from a movie advance knob to a lever winder all made for a considerably improved consumer expertise. Canon responded with the Canon VT in 1956, but it surely wasn’t till the discharge of the Canon P (sometimes called the “Populaire”) in 1958 that the corporate noticed really enormous success.

The Canon P bundled already present options from different firms — the built-in rangefinder/viewfinder and non-rotating shutter velocity dial from Contax, the lever advance from Leica, the massive 1:1 viewfinder from Nikon to call just a few — and offered them in an reasonably priced and really reliable physique. There have been additionally some enhancements: a hinged door, which might finally turn out to be the usual digicam design, 35mm framelines and parallax correction within the viewfinder, and steel shutter curtains, stopping burning.

The outcome was the most well-liked digicam the corporate had ever made with practically twice as many gross sales as any earlier mannequin.

Three years later, Canon would launch the Canon 7, whose greatest design change was the addition of a selenium publicity meter into the digicam’s high. The Canon 7 was additionally coupled (each actually and figuratively) with the quickest lens ever made on the time: the Canon “Dreamer” 50mm f/0.95.

Each the Canon P and Canon 7 are very fascinating rangefinder choices, with a plethora of reasonably priced M39 lenses to select from. The Canon P, regardless of being the much less superior of the 2, instructions greater costs, however can typically be discovered for below $225, although costs have been on the rise. A working Canon 7 will be sourced for below $150, although if you happen to intend to make use of the sunshine meter, you’ll want to test its accuracy as selenium meters typically didn’t stand the check of time.

The Finest Cut price Rangefinder Digital camera: Contax G1

Picture by Den Dowling | Inventive Commons

Contax, once more pioneering a few of the most progressive know-how, shocked the digicam world in 1994 when it launched an autofocus rangefinder. That digicam was the G1 — a titanium-clad physique with electronically managed publicity, autofocus, and rangefinder system. Lenses are screw-driven through an in-body motor that turns a pin on the lens mount, driving the helicoid backwards and forwards.

In contrast to each different rangefinder digicam to that time (and since then), the viewfinder field-of-view adjustments relying on the lens getting used. As an alternative of counting on a small field in the course of the finder for a 90mm lens, for instance, the viewfinder “zooms” to fill the whole body. Irrespective of your chosen focal size, the whole viewfinder will probably be used.

None of this itself is a purpose so as to add it to your bag, however the lenses are what clinch the deal. Like most Contax lenses, G-mount glass was made by Carl Zeiss, and they’re a few of the firm’s best work. Starting from a 16mm Hologon to a 90mm Sonnar, the entire lenses are optical artworks. For my part, the two.8/90 Sonnar and a couple of/45 Planar stand out because the crown jewels.

The 90 Sonnar will be discovered for very affordable costs and is a must have lens for any G1 or G2 proprietor. It additionally adapts simply to most mirrorless programs as nicely — although as a result of lack of a spotlight ring on G lenses, focus have to be managed by a hoop on the adapter, which isn’t as dangerous because it sounds in follow. I like to recommend both the Metabones or the Fotodiox Pro, with an edge to the Metabones. There are even autofocus adapters accessible — the Techart TZG-01 for Nikon Z mount and the Shoten GTE adapter for Sony E mount. The 28mm and wider lenses don’t carry out as nicely on most digital our bodies, however the 45 and 90 lenses sing.

If you happen to seek for Contax G1 our bodies, it’s possible you’ll discover some described as “inexperienced label.” These are up to date variations with modified ROM and may have a literal inexperienced label inside the place the movie canister sits. The improve permits these our bodies to make use of the 21mm and 35mm lenses (common G1’s can solely use the 16mm, 28mm, 45mm, and 90mm lenses). Solely the G2 can use the 35-70mm zoom, which occurs to be the one rangefinder zoom lens ever made.

The Finest Mid-Vary Rangefinder Digital camera: Minolta CLE

Photograph by Matt Williams

In the case of rangefinders, the Minolta CLE is without doubt one of the greatest offers in the marketplace.

Its predecessor, the Leica CL (generally labeled “Leitz Minolta CL”), was designed in live performance with Minolta and launched in 1973. In contrast to many different M-mount rangefinders, the CL has framelines for 40mm lenses along with 50 and 90mm. Leica and Minolta designed and launched the Leica 40/2 Summicron with the digicam in addition to the Leica Elmar-C 90/4.

Just like the M5 that was launched one 12 months prior, the CL makes use of a CdS meter on a pivoting arm in entrance of the shutter that drops down simply earlier than the second of publicity. Due to this, sure lenses can’t be mounted with out damaging the arm: these with excessively protruding rear components (typically tremendous wide-angle) and a few collapsible lenses (which can be utilized if you happen to don’t totally collapse them).

Seven years later, Minolta launched the very comparable Minolta CLE — probably the most superior rangefinders of its time as a result of inclusion of aperture-priority autoexposure (one thing Leica wouldn’t accomplish till the discharge of the M7 many years later). In contrast to the CL, the CLE utilized a silicon photodiode meter that measured the sunshine mirrored off the distinctive noticed patterning of the shutter curtain — protruding rear components or collapsible lenses have been not a problem.

The CLE additionally added a body line for 28mm lenses along with 40 and 90mm lenses — the previous was paired with the discharge of Minolta’s new M-Rokkor 28/2.8. Minolta additionally launched the M-Rokkor 40/2 and M-Rokkor 90/4 — similar to the earlier Leica variations optically, although the Leica variants are single coated, whereas the Minoltas are multi-coated.

The Minolta CLE isn’t solely superior to the Leica CL by each metric, however often, not far more costly, and the M-Rokkor lenses are decidedly cheaper than their (single-coated) Leica counterparts.

The Finest Premium Rangefinder Digital camera: Leica M4-2 or M4-P

Picture from Leica

There are professional causes to decide on nearly any Leica rangefinder right here — the M3, M2, M4, M5, M6, M7, M-A, and MP are all worthy for their very own causes. The M3 could also be my private favourite due to my love for 50mm lenses and that beautiful, vibrant 0.91x viewfinder. But when I needed to decide the most effective all-arounder, it will be both the M4-2 or M4-P.

The manufacturing of the Leica M4 stopped in 1972 and its successor, the Leica M5, was launched to a really lukewarm reception and poor gross sales. Sarcastically, the M5 has risen in worth greater than another mannequin over the previous few years — it has no less than doubled in 4 or 5 years. In response to the M5’s market failure, Leica restarted manufacturing of the M4, and in 1977 launched the M4-2 utilizing a streamlined manufacturing course of. The M4-2 noticed the chilly shoe swapped for a scorching shoe, the removing of the self-timer, and motor drive compatibility. Just like the M4, it had framelines for 35/50/90/135mm lenses with a 0.72 magnification viewfinder.

4 years later the M4-P was launched, which added framelines for 28/75mm lenses and the trademark Leica purple dot on the entrance of the digicam.

Whereas the later M6 and M7 cameras have been fitted with a built-in gentle meter, in addition they come at a considerably greater value and the M7 is totally depending on its electronics. For me, the M4-2 and M4-P hit the candy spot of versatility, construct high quality, aesthetics, and value. If you happen to desire chrome over black, you’ll have higher luck with the unique M4, although — most M4-2 and M4-P our bodies are black.


Picture credit: Header picture by Mia Domenico.

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