Seven Magnificent Cameras to Save Film Photography

Digital photography has made awesome picture taking capabilities available to everyone. In January 2012, one of the world's premiere film companies, Kodak, declared bankruptcy. Ironically, Kodak's film division remains a profitable part of the company. Film still has a place in the arts and many hearts. Enthusiasts still enjoy the magic of film chemistry and the satisfying click of a real mechanical shutter. If film is to have a future, these seven cameras may be its salvation.

  1.  Lomography 35mm Film Cameras – It's unfair to lump the wide variety of Lomography cameras under one entry. But, there are too many to choose from. The Lomography movement is reinvigorating film photoraphy with excitement, fun, and a vibrant artistic sensibility. A host of colorful "toy" cameras enable photographers to create quirky, unusual, and sometimes unpredictable photos. Lomography 35mm fixed focus cameras come in traditional, fisheye, pinhole, bent corners, exposed sprocket, and multi-lens versions. They all enable shutterbugs to take long exposure pictures and multiple exposure pictures. You can also get colored accessory flashes to splash your subjects with different colors. Lomography cameras are affordable with online prices for the cameras like the famous Holga 135 and Lomography Diana Mini starting around $50.
  2.  Blackbird 35mm TLR camera – The Blackbird TLR camera is a low cost 35mm camera that evokes the medium format Twin Lens Reflex cameras of the past. However, by using a plastic body, the price of this toy camera comes in at around $100. With a TLR camera, you look down into a viewfinder on the top of the box-shaped camera. This makes the TLR an interesting choice for disceet street photography. Like the Lomography cameras, the Blackbird is great for taking long exposures or ghostly double exposures. Lower priced alternative toy TLR cameras include the Genuine Fotodiox DIY Lomo TLR Camera kit and Genuine Recesky 35mm Lomo TLR cameras kit.

    3. Vivitar 3800N 35mm SLR Camera
    – If you want a state of the art, fully, manual, 35mm SLR, the Vivitar 3800N might be for you. While there are many vintage cameras in the marketplace, you won't have to worry if grandpa's old camera still works when you have a brand new camera of your own. This Vivitar has long been the affordable work horse of film photography students and its a great choice for someone getting started in the medium. Once you learn the manual settings of a traditional 35mm camera, you'll be able to apply the lessons you learn to the byzantine menus of a digital. However, you might find you've fallen in love with film.

    4. Fujifilm Instax Camera / Polaroid Camera
    – Do you long to "shake it like a Polaroid picture?" Don't fret. Instant pictures are still around and doing well with new cameras from Fujifilm and Polaroid. If you want to liven up a party or family gathering, an instant photo camera is quite a conversation starter. Plus, you can hand a tangible picture to your subjects right after you take it. It's a guaranteed conversation starter. Check out the Polaroid 300 Instant Cameras or Fuji Instax Cameras.
  3.  Fujifilm Natura Classica Camera – This series of film camera is designed to work well in natural light conditions and extremely low light conditions with high speed film and without using a flash. This is an area where digital cameras don't generally perform well. While this camera isn't for bright sunlight, it's great for taking shots indoors or in the evening in natural light. The Natura Classica isn't officially sold in the U.S., but it is available via various sellers on ebay and Amazon. One complication for Americans – the buttons and instructions are in Japanese!

    6. Fujifilm GF670 Professional Medium Format Folding Camera
    – A new medium format, professional, camera has recently been released and is enjoying excellent reviews from professional photographers. It uses 120 or 220 roll film and creates 6×6 or 6×7 negatives. While it looks old fashioned, it even has bellows like vintage cameras from the 1930s, the GF670 is state of the art and takes wonderful photographs. Of course, this professional-level camera comes with a professional level price tag at $1664 online.

    7. Walgreens Free Film 35mm Camera
    – At the cheap end of the spectrum, for only $10, you can buy a camera loaded with film at the Walgreens drug store chain, shoot up the film, and get the film replaced for free. All you have to do is get it developed at Walgreens. No computer. No fancy printer. No expensive paper. No expensive toner. Done. That's a good deal.

Don't be discouraged by the Kodak bankruptcy. If you are interested in photography as a hobby, this may be the best moment to try film and one or more these cameras.