If you've been shooting film for a while you have seen the insane rise in film camera prices over the past few years (or past 20 years). As a basic concept of supply and demand this makes sense. Ie, cameras get older, get rarer, and they become more expensive (duh). But it still hurts to see a point and shoot 35mm film camera that was once 20 dollars at the thrift store selling for 1800 online. And it is definitely discouraging when you're trying to get into shooting film and all you can find is forums from 2009 of people just saying "Just buy a contax T3."
Luckily enough there are a load of good point and shoot film cameras under $500 that take some incredible photos. If you disagree with this list, or have a really strong opinion on a point and shoot you love that I didn't list, tell me about it! I love talking cameras. You can message us on instagram @heartbreakercameras.
A lot of these are featured in my store! And we have lots else. Check it out! Can't decide what camera to get? We have a random point and shoot kit that comes with vintage canisters, battery, film, and a easy to use beginner camera. Shop Here
Anyways, in kind of order from cheaper to more expensive:
Don't wanna read all this bullshit, here's my list summarized.
Action Zoom 90 - (50-100)
Olympus Stylus Series (100-150)
Nikon L35AF (200-400)
Ricoh GR1V (400-500)
Minolta Action Zoom 90
If you've shot this camera before you'll know why it's on here. It's easy, it's simple, it's light, it's just the basics of everything you need in a point and shoot. It has a good zoom lens thats easy to use, a big enough viewfinder to not be squinting all the time, and easy process to load and rewind film, a strong flash. The lens and build is nothing to write home about, but it's not trying to be anything it isn't - it's just an easy pocket camera and for that, it's perfect. Rarely runs into technical problems, and rarely faults or breaks, even with some beating.
- Ease of use
- Compact Zoom
- Multiple night modes
- Indoor pictures just don't expose as well
- Lens is average.
COST: 50-140. You can find a beat up one with no accessories on ebay for 30-50 dollars, or score on at the thrift store. With new light seals, and in good condition it runs around 100-150.
Olympus Stylus Series (Olympus Infinity Stylus)
Olympus Infinity Stylus! I mean, I think I would add this to the list even just for the camera turning on/off function. It's so cute! But - it also does take surprisingly good photos. I just shot some expired film on one and the focusing and flash strength really surprised me, below were shoot on the Zoom subseries of the cameras. A tad cheaper than the MJU but pretty close in quality.
These came about in the era of mass marketing 90s point and shoots. They were all over, but unfortunately they're just not as common anymore. The flash are a common thing to go on these, which I think is the most desirable aspect of the camera. The lens is fine, nothing too much better than other point and shoots, the flash is strong, and the focusing is really impressive. Without almost any light you can get an accurate focusing range 9/10.
- Ease of use
- Date Mode (that actually always works)
- Better auto exposure levels
- Electrical component go out
COST: 150-250 In good condition with working light seals.
Nikon L35AF (1 or 2) "Pikaichi"
It's hard to call this one my favorite point and shoot but god damn is it close. Some of my all time favorite photos came from this. The crisp lens, paired with a strong flash makes some of the most beautiful photos. I was stunned after my first roll from this. The prices on these went up kinda ridiculously last few years but they're calming down. Even when they would sell for 400-500 I thought it was worth it, but I have had people vehemently disagree. Here's some photos from it, from expired film
It's just hard to find such a crisp lens attached to a strong flash from a point and shoot. It was built to be compact black box attached to a fast lens, and they delivered on that perfectly. You can get the same basic lens capacity in the 400iso version, the 1000iso version and then the later series of the came camera (L35AF2) Nikon "One Touch." I might just be partial because this is the camera that got me into film, but I think a camera like this is WHY I got into film.
- Sleek Design
- Flash (amazing)
- Crisp fast lens
- 1000 ISO
- Finicky design that wears down, ie light seals go out, battery door breaks, front cracks.
- 1000 ISO is more expensive and rarer
COST: 250-500 In good condition with working light seals.
I think this camera is underrated. Every-time I pull it out other film users don't know what it is or haven't ever used one. At most I get a "Oh ya I saw one of those online before." They wanted to make a crisp slightly wide angle lens for a point and shoot, and, well, I will let the former president of Ricoh US say it:
“When talking to one of the older engineers who’d worked on the original GR’s […] they realized they’d created a perfectly corrected yet very small 28mm lens"
I mean, they aren't wrong. It's small, compact, has aperture priority mode, low light AF, a grip, a strong flash, and just an effortless pretty, user friendly design. You can use it all with one hand, control the focus, flash, and shutter.
The slight wide angle lens is a game changer for a point and shoot (if thats your style).
I think it gets a bad wrap, because the LCD screens are known to ALWAYS go out and the later models can go for around 1200. But one with an lcd screen gone and silver older model (same quality) you can score for around 400. And you know what, you don't need a shutter counter it turns out.
Here's some photos from it.
- Sleek Design
- Wide Angle Lens
-Single Hand operation
- Worn backside, LCD usually gone
COST: 400-500 In good condition with working light seals.
Thats my list, would love to hear your guys opinions! Point & Shoots comes down to a lot of personal preference. It's fun to see what the different ones do, I like to take out new ones every few months and see the differences. Check out our listings for point and shoots, or check out our random point and shoot mystery box :)