After working with film cameras for years, I’ve got first-hand knowledge about what’s good and what’s not in the camera market.
There are so many film cameras out there, it’s tough to know what you should go for! So I’ve put together this guide of some of the best budget film cameras to make your decision much easier!
The Nikon F90 is a great beginner SLR camera that has autofocus and auto mode on the camera! Being manufactured from 1992 – 2001, it was a brilliant autofocus option before the more professional Nikon F4, F5 and F6. It wasn’t initially intended for the professional market but due to its high-quality AF and affordable price, it was and still is!
The F90’s shutter speeds range from 30 seconds to 1/8000 and the ISO ranges from 50-5000. There are different metering modes, ranging from centre weighted, matrix and spot. Exposure modes include program auto, veri-program, shutter priority, aperture priority and metered manual exposure mode.
The Nikon F90 can house some fantastic lenses, from vintage prime lenses F mount lenses to the more modern AF lenses. This means that you can get some super high-quality shots with it with very little effort.
The F90 is best for somebody that’s on a budget but may want to shoot high-quality shots. Perhaps you’re used to a DSLR and you want the same kind of experience (because of the option to use autofocus and auto modes).
First produced in 1979, the Olympus OM10 was the more cost-effective option than the OM1 and OM2. That lower cost is obvious in some of the OM10’s plastic parts and features, but it’s still a great camera in its own right and became seriously popular due to how easy it was to use.
The OM10’s shutter speeds range from 2 seconds to 1/1000, you can shoot it fully manually or with aperture priority and the ISO can range from 25-1600.
The OM10 is a great budget film camera because it can house some fantastic lenses, for instance, the 50mm 1.8 Zuiko lens that usually comes with it! The OM10 is pretty reliable and it’s definitely a really good place to start for anyone that wants to learn to shoot manually or with aperture priority.
If you want to take good shots and learn the basics of analogue photography then I think the OM1O could be for you.
There are a few different versions of the Canon Sureshot, there’s the Canon Sureshot, the Sureshot Supreme and the Sureshot Max, but they’re all great point-and-shoot cameras for the casual shooter!
Produced from 1979 onwards, the Sureshot was an early example of an active autofocus camera. This was and still is, a really popular choice for film shooters.
Sporting a 38mm, 2.8 lens, active autofocus, 1/8 second to 1/500 of a second shutter speeds and 25-400 ISO. The Sureshot Supreme was a leader for its time but there are certainly better options now (just with much higher price tags).
The Sureshot is a great option for anyone that’s a casual film shooter that wants a camera to travel with or to use for day-to-day life! If you want to take better shots, then definitely go for an SLR or something that might cost a little more!
Pentax ME Super
I think the Pentax ME Super is one of the best options for the price. It’s a great camera and Pentax lenses are amazing so you can get really sharp pictures without splashing the cash.
Produced from 1979 to 1984, the ME Super was really successful and far better than its predecessor, the Pentax ME. Its small size and ease of use made it an attractive option to a lot of shooters and many believe that it’s actually better than the Pentax K1000 (although I’d probably argue otherwise, purely because the ME Super can have a LOT of common problems).
Sporting shutter speeds from 4s to 1/2000, 12 – 1600 ISO, having aperture priority mode and being smaller than some point-and-shoot cameras has made this a really popular option for film shooters!
This is a great option for a lot of photographers and I think it could be best for street photographers, beginner photographers that want to take sharp pictures/learn analogue photography and anyone that fancies a budget SLR. You won’t regret trying out the Pentax ME Super as long as it’s actually working properly!
Olympus Superzoom 105G
The Olympus Superzoom series are a great affordable option for anyone that wants a solid point-and-shoot camera that’s reliable, weatherproof and will get you some lovely shots. There are quite a few Superzooms, the 70G, 76G, 80G, 100G and 105G, it might seem confusing but the main difference is focal length. 70G means it goes from 38mm to 70mm and 105G means it goes from 38mm to 105mm. So there isn’t a big difference, and they’re all great cameras!
Produced in the early 00’s, the Superzoom series would be the affordable alternative to the MJU/MJU Zooms and to be honest, I don’t see that much difference in them now.
Sporting a 38 – 105 mm zoom, F3.7 – 9.5, 7 elements in 6 groups, 50 – 3200 ISO, 0.8 – Infinity focus range and 2 seconds to 1/500 shutter speed, this is a great 35mm camera for its price range!
This is a great option for the casual shooter that just wants a good camera for travel and day-to-day life, this won’t let you down!
The Lomography Apparat is a really fun point-and-shoot camera that has a tonne of accessories! Released at the end of 2022, the Apparat can take double exposures, you can use different coloured gels for your flash and you can even add lens features over the lens to create interesting effects!
The Apparat is certainly worth taking a look at if you’re a casual film shooter that wants to take fun and interesting pictures! Of course, you can still take normal photos but the sheer amount of options available for accessories are great!
The Canon AE-1 isn’t that cheap but it was one of the most popular film cameras of its time so there are a lot of them about. I thought I’d have to include this, it’s semi-affordable, super easy to use, reliable and a great camera to learn film photography with!
Produced from 1976 to 1984, over 5.7 million of these bad boys were sold in that time. This was a groundbreaking camera as it was the first microprocessor-equipped SLR camera. Truly a special SLR for so many reasons and it still stands up to the best of them.
Sporting shutter speeds from 2 seconds to 1/1000, ISO from 25 – 3200 and a fantastic range of lenses available, this is a great option for anyone that wants to take good shots for a moderate price!
Olympus Trip 35
The Olympus Trip 35 is a cult classic camera that uses a solar-powered selenium cell to decide the shutter speed and/or aperture. It’s not my favourite camera by any stretch but it clearly won people over as over 10 million were sold between 1967 and 1984.
Popularised further by British photographer David Bailey, the Trip 35 became the go-to camera for holiday goers and amateur photographers alike.
Sporting a 40mm 2.8 Zuiko lens, 1/40 or 1/400 shutter speed (yes there it only has 2 shutter speeds) and ISO settings from 25 to 400, the camera is pretty limited but it’s also ideal for travellers. It’s small and compact but it has a far better lens than most point-and-shoot cameras.
Pentax Espio 738S
I think the Pentax Espio range are unsung hereos of point-and-shoot film cameras, they’re reliable, easy to use and their lenses are alright! There are a hell of a lot of different Espios and they’re all pretty good, mostly the difference is the number and that will relate to the focal length of the lens, so 738 means it goes from 38 to 70mm.
Pentax Espio 738 cameras were produced from 1995, so they’ve got that kind of “trying to look modern but not really knowing what that means” vibe about them. But we can forgive the look because these are some of the most affordable and reliable film cameras that are still around today!
The Pentax Espio 738(S) is ideal for the casual shooter that wants to take pictures of day-to-day life and travel, it’s reliable and compact enough. I also think it’s pretty durable too which is a massive plus with something that’s 25+ years old!
Minolta cameras are pretty overlooked and that means that you can often get bargain cameras that are really good! The X300 is no exception, a manual/aperture priority camera that can house some really sharp lenses and you can pick this up from $60-120 these days!
Produced between 1984 and 1990 as a less expensive version of the X500, this was the affordable SLR that could still put up a fight with the big boys.
Sporting a 4 to 1/1000-second shutter speed, 12 – 3200 ISO and a 10-second self-timer, this was a nice option for a lot of amateur photographers that still wanted to take great pictures.
This is a great option if you’re just getting into film photography and you want to learn how to shoot manually. You’ll be able to learn all the basics and you’ll still be getting good shots along the way!
The Olympus AF-10 is a bit of a favourite of mine, it’s cheap, it’s got a good lens, it’s super reliable and it’s pretty weatherproof! If any casual shooter asked me which point-and-shoot they should get, I’d recommend this one!
Starting production in 1990 and for some reason known as the Picasso Mini Super in Japan, the AF-10 shares a lot of similarities with the Olympus MJU I (which is far more expensive).
Sporting a 35mm, 3.5 lens, 1/45 – 1/400 shutter speed, 50-1600 ISO and auto motor drive and rewind, this is such a good ‘go-to’ affordable point-and-shoot camera.
If you’re the type of photographer that wants to shoot day-to-day or while travelling then this is definitely your camera! You just get so much bang for your buck!
Ilford Sprite II
The Ilford Sprite II is a modern film camera that’s similar to a disposable camera in terms of quality. I thought I’d include it because a lot of people are really casual shooters that just want something that doesn’t cost much.
This camera really has no settings and the only thing you can change is the film you use and whether you use the flash or not. It’s incredibly basic but that may be what you want!