Film Camera Buyer’s Guide

When purchasing a film camera, there are many things to consider. Most new film cameras come with all the bells and whistles including depth of field preview, automatic exposure, aperture priority, shutter speed priority, and more. While these features may be nice to have you also need to consider your budget. Used cameras can be found that are still in great shape and will help keep your costs down and it is not uncommon to see photographers using cameras that were created decades ago. Below are some helpful hints on buying a new film camera system, or see Buying Used Cameras for more information on what to look for with a used camera.

Camera Body

The camera body is the most important starting point for film photography. If you are interested in automatic settings and recent upgrades, then you need to specifically look for those in the camera. Whether or not you want to have automatic settings is up to you, but most film photographers will rely on manual settings for exposure. One of the biggest things you have to consider when purchasing a camera body is brand. While Nikon and Canon and others make similar model camera bodies you have to consider that you are not just buying a camera body, but a camera system. You will find yourself investing money into camera lenses and accessories that will likely only work for the specific brand of body you purchase. So if a time ever comes that you want a different camera brand, you may have to invest in an entirely new system.

In addition to looking at the overall brands and what each has to offer, you should pay attention to the camera shutter speed settings. Having a wide range of shutter speed settings would be best as it will give you more room to work with. Some older systems may only have a handful of speeds while newer systems have double the amount of speeds available. For first time buyers, having the widest range possible will likely work best for you.

Most modern day cameras also have a built-in light meter to assist in proper exposure. However, when buying old and used equipment, you should verify if the camera body has the meter built-in. If it does not, you should consider purchasing a handheld light meter to assist help with exposure.

To purchase film cameras or see user reviews of various camera systems, visit

For more buyer tips, please see the camera lens buyer’s guide.