BEST 35MM FILM CAMERAS

roll of kodak gold analogue camera film on a light blue background

Last Updated on April 20, 2022 by seanmichaelpritchard

Whether you are just starting out in the world of photography, a seasoned pro looking to get into film or simply searching for something new to add to your collection, there are still some of the best and most easy to use 35mm film cameras on the market at the moment.

Most have fixed apertures and take a range of colour and black and white film, producing varying results which is exactly what you’re after – experiencing the excitement of seeing your developed photos.

So, rather than buying a wasteful disposable film camera, why not choose one of these instead?

At a glance:

  1. Kodak M35 35mm Film Camera – Best first film camera for beginners
  2. Ilford Sprite 35-II – Best for portraits and parties
  3. Lomography Simple Use Reloadable Film Camera – Best for experimenting with colour
  4. Holga 135BC 35mm Bent Corners – Best for retro film snaps
  5. Konstruktor F – Best DIY 35mm film camera

From a simple, one-button reloadable film camera to a built-it-yourself SLR, you’re certain to find something that suits both your photography needs and budget. 

Let’s begin!


first 35mm photo kodak

Kodak M35 35mm Film Camera – Best for beginners

The perfect first camera for those just beginning their journey into the world of shooting film, the Kodak M35 is both simple to use and produces great results no matter where or when you are shooting.

With a fixed focus lens, manual winding and flash, you’ll get a feel for using a film camera without any complications and you’ll soon get used to the functionality.

The Kodak M35 is easy to set up – simply load your film, shoot to your heart’s content, rewind and have the film developed.

Pros

  • Simple to use film camera – simple, uncomplicated design perfect for first timers.
  • Comes in a range of fun colours
  • Just as easy to use as a disposable film camera!

Cons

  • Underperforms in low light conditions – optimal shooting in in bright light with ISO-400

disposable film camera alternative

Ilford Sprite 35-II – Best for portraits and parties

The Ilford Sprite has a fun, retro design reflective of original film cameras but is far easier to use.

You can use colour films to create warm, golden hued photos and it has a flash for low-light conditions, making it perfect for day-to-day use or and candid snapshots.

The Ilford Sprite 35-II features a fixed 31mm lens, 1/120th shutter speed and f/9 aperture, which are great settings for portrait film photography, and the flash means you can shoot into the evening.

Pros

  • Ideal for shooting people – skin looks great without the need for retouching.
  • Flash works well for dark scenes

Cons

  • Requires battery to operate flash (not included with product)
  • Low image quality – works well for general snaps but not for special occasions.
  • Vignetting, chromatic aberration and distortion are often present, especially in low lighting. 

lomography simple use reloadable

Lomography Simple Use Reloadable Film Camera – Best for experimenting with colour

A sustainable alternative to the classic disposable film camera, this Lomography camera can be reloaded with film so that you do not have to throw it away after one use.

Although it is one of the most basic cameras to shoot film with, it comes in a range of three film styles: Colour Negative, Black and White, and Lomochrome so you can choose to suit your photography style.

This Lomography camera is good fun to use and can also be paired with colour filters to change the hue of your photos.

It has the body of a 35mm camera with the same specs, however in terms of functionality it only features a single shoot button and flash control, as per most disposable cameras, so this works best if you’re looking to get started in film but want to keep things simple.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Extremely easy to use and reload

Cons

  • Diffraction and distortion on the edges of the frame are common, even in bright light
  • Low image quality, however, is about average across similar cameras
  • 15 second flash charge – average for similar cameras but slow overall.

shoot film with holga 135bc
Holga 135BC 35mm Bent Corners – Best for retro film snaps

The Holga 135BC stands for ‘Black Corners’, meaning there is a strong, dark vignette around its photos which is suitable for producing moody, retro style photos.

The Holga 135BC features a 47mm lens which works well for shooting a little further away.

You’ll have the choice of either f/8 (cloudy) or f/11 (sunny) settings, and 1/100 shutter speed as well as long exposure, meaning it works well in low-light conditions.  

Pros

  • Flexibility when shooting, with varying apertures and long exposure settings.
  • Great in low light
  • Built in tripod mount and flash holster allow for long exposure photography.

Cons

  • ‘Black Corners’ vignetting may not be attractive to everyone – this is the camera to buy if you are specifically looking for this style.
  • A little pricier than others although still affordable

DIY film photography
Konstruktor F – Best DIY 35mm film camera

Lomography’s first SLR, the Konstruktor film camera comes with the twist that you build it yourself.

However, this doesn’t detract from its shooting potential, with pinpoint focusing, manual shutter cocking and alternative lens options.

The Konstruktor F has a 50mm prime lens, f/10 aperture and 1/80 shutter speed, but once you get used to shooting with it, you can produce some excellent photos.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Pinpoint focusing, which is not common with other Lomography cameras.
  • Simple to use
  • Closeup and macro lenses are available, allowing for more flexibility shooting different subjects.

Cons

  • Construction can be confusing and fiddly, taking up to two hours – not the best first film camera choice.
  • Limited usage, particularly for depth of field, due to its fixed aperture and slow shutter speed which can lead to overexposure even in cloudy conditions.

Conclusion

All five of these are great cameras for both first timers and experienced users of film cameras.

Not to mention they’re all a more sustainable option to disposable film cameras!

The Kodak M35 and Holga 135BC come out on top for ease of use and quality respectively, despite the Holga requiring a preference for strong vignetting.

On the other hand, once you overcome the build process, the Konstruktor is certainly the most fun to use for an authentic experience.

All film cameras, even disposable ones, take practice to get used to, particularly if you’re changing from digital. At a low price point, you won’t find exceptional photo quality and distortion and other flaws are far more common, however this is the beauty of film.

Each photo will turn out differently and all of the above products will make you fall in love with film regardless of your knowledge or experience.

If you’re loving the film idea but want your photos quicker, why not try an instant camera?

Looking for some inspiration? Check out my film photography portfolio!

DISCLOSURE: I may earn a small commission from some of the links above. For the benefit of the doubt, please assume all links might be affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

best 35mm film cameras person holding strip

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