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All Cameras Have Been Film Tested & Are Fully Functional

The 5 Best Film Cameras for Beginners

The 5 Best Film Cameras for Beginners

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“What’s a good film camera for beginners?” We answer this question every day, and sometimes it’s hard to make the right decision on your first camera. We decided to share our thoughts and recommendations to help you start your film journey.

Nikon L35AF

The Nikon L35 AF

The Nikon L35 AF also, nicknamed the Pikaichi (meaning top-notch), was one of the first film cameras I picked up when I starting shooting film. It has some nice features that make it great for both beginners and experienced photographers. In comparison to other film cameras, the L35 is a simple point-and-shoot with a fixed lens that was made to do it all - it’s both fast and sharp.

The L35 includes Nikon’s first-ever auto-focus system in a compact camera, automatic aperture control, automatic metering, automatic film wind, and automatic pop-up flash. The camera is perfect for beginners that want a super easy-to-use camera that takes amazing photos and is an alternative to disposable cameras.

The camera has a few extra features that make it very popular with more experienced photographers too. The first is the 1000 iso setting, along with a self-timer (10 sec.), and +2 exposure compensation which allows you to manually adjust the exposure of a photograph by a set amount. Below are some sample photos for your viewing pleasure.

Nikon L35 Sample Photo

Nikon L35 AF

Shinjuku Film Photos Nikon L35 AF

Nikon L35 AF Cinestill 800T

Nikon L35 AF Sample Photo

 

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Minolta Hi-Matic 35mm Film Camera

Minolta Hi-Matic AF2

The Minolta Hi-Matic AF2 is perfect for beginners because it’s easy to operate. The Hi-Matic produces photos that are quite sharp, which is a nice surprise for those just starting out with film. The camera features a pop-up flash, self-timer, and the ability to change your ISO.

Two of the best things about this camera are the bright viewfinder with the accompanying frame lines, which makes composing your shots a breeze, and the manual film advance which helps make this camera more reliable than most point-and-shoot motors. Pro Tip: If you press the shutter button down halfway it locks in your focus. The two icons you see in the viewfinder will be a face for portraits or mountains for infinity focus.

 

Minolta Hi-Matic AF2 Sample Photos

Photo by Drake Woodson

Minolta Hi-Matic AF2 Sample Photos

Photo by Drake Woodson

Minolta Hi-Matic AF2 Sample Photos

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Canon AE-1 Program Sample Photo

Canon AE-1 Program

The Canon AE-1 Program is the upgraded version of the #1 best-selling Canon AE-1. The AE-1 Program is very reliable and has both basic and advanced features. This SLR camera is easy to travel with, and it feels really good in your hand.

Beginners will enjoy starting their film photography journey with the AE-1 Program because you can shoot in both fully automatic and manual modes. If you’re looking for autofocus or burst rates then it’s best to look into more modern film SLR cameras.

Also, as you grow and begin experimenting with different camera lenses, you have a wide range to choose from. If you want to stick with official Canon FD lenses you can, but if not there are several third-party lenses available that work well with this camera.

 

Canon AE-1 Program Sample Photo

Photo by Drake Woodson

Vintage Ford Bronco Film Photo

Photo by Drake Woodson

 

Santa Monica Ocean View Film

Photo by Drake Woodson

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Olympus Stylus Epic MJU II

Olympus Stylus Epic DLX (MJU II)

The Olympus Stylus Epic DLX, also known as the MJU II in Japan, is one of our favorite point-and-shoot film cameras. The Stylus is compact, easy to use, and has such great lens quality. The first thing you notice is how little it weighs; with a battery, it only weighs 150g. The Stylus, with the super-sharp f/2.8 aperture lens, delivers high-quality photos that can sometimes rival a professional camera.

Beginners will enjoy taking photos with this camera because of the automation. The camera has a great flash situation. It features fill flash, red-eye reduction, slow sync “night photography” and red-eye with slow sync combined, as well as the option to turn the flash off. One thing I really like about the Stylus Epic is the bright viewfinder along with the green led light that lets you know it’s focused, the orange light that tells you flash will be used, and the green light flashing if focus can’t be found.

Some people might even argue that it’s not only the best camera for beginners based on the quality, size, and results, but the best camera in general. However, I will say it’s probably the best point-and-shoot all things considered. Below are some photos from very talented photographers. Enjoy.  

Stylus Epic Film Photo

Photo by Lena Kanshyna

 

Stylus Epic Japan Photo

Photo by homesickatlien 

Stylus Epic Beach Photo

Photo by John Brian Silverio

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Pentax ME Super

The next camera up on our list is the wonderful Pentax ME Super. The Pentax ME Super is great for beginners because you can shoot it either fully automatic or fully manual. I think it’s helpful to start on automatic and eventually dive into fully manual when you’re feeling more comfortable with the controls. 

The first thing you notice about this SLR camera is how small it is. The ME Super weighs in at 15.9 oz (451g) with batteries and no strap. The ME Super uses 2 LR44 batteries, but can still be used with no batteries using the flash sync which is 1/125 of a second.

The ME Super was definitely aimed at beginners, but it’s an overall solid SLR no matter what your skill level is. The lenses for the ME Super are easy to find and there are also really good third party lenses available. This camera will treat you well - it’s lightweight which makes it perfect for traveling, and it has enough features to keep you satisfied. Check out the sample photos below to see the ME Super in action.

Vintage Car Pentax ME Super Photo

Photo by Beng

Photo by Helendria

Photo by Helendria

 

Photo by Roque Rod

Photo by Roque Rod

 

I hope you enjoyed this article. At Relics, it’s our mission to bring accessibility and diversity to film photography, and providing helpful information to the photography community is just one step we’re taking as we aim to keep film alive. Stay tuned for more resources coming soon, and remember you can shop our online store 24/7 at wearerelics.com or visit our storefront on Retro Row in Long Beach, California any day of the week. We hope to see you around soon!


- Drake Woodson

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