Who Still Makes Film Cameras?

There are several different types of film camera still in production today, including five groups that I'm going to gloss-over, since they are not interesting interesting to anyone interested in photography per se . 1. Disposable cameras are still made by the major brands of film manufacturers: Agfa, Fuji Film, Ilford and Kodak, along with…

There are several different types of film camera still in production today, including five groups that I'm going to gloss-over, since they are not interesting interesting to anyone interested in photography per se .

1. Disposable cameras are still made by the major brands of film manufacturers: Agfa, Fuji Film, Ilford and Kodak, along with many less well-known makers. This type of camera continues to be fashionable as wedding favours, expendable tourist cameras, and for carrying in vehicles to record accidents. The popularity of the disposable camera has probably been boosted by the rise of “Lomography”, were a “less than perfect” style is appreciated.

2. Lomography has doubtless also played a role in the resurgence of interest in Pinhole cameras , and there are numerous cameras and camera-kits available.

3. There are also plenty of cameras that are either disposable nor pinhole, but all fit under the general umbrella of Lomography . That is to say, these cameras facilitate a “do not think, there are no rules, just shoot” approach to photography, and are typically kindly low-fidelity, exhibit optical distortion, and feature a simple construction.

4. Fuji and Polaroid are the key producers of Instant cameras , and their upturn in appeal seems to be greatly due to the tangibility and uniqueness of the photographic prints that they produce (an almost anti-digital movement).

For those interested in more traditional photography, where there is a desire for precise control and accuracy, the options are 35mm SLRs, 35mm rangefinders, and medium format cameras.

Budget SLR cameras are thin on the ground. The options are the Nikon FM10, Promaster Pro 2500PK and Vivitar 3800N. All are very exactly specified. They are manual focus, with manual match-the-LED style center weighted open aperture exposure metering, and a shutter speed range from 1 second to 1 / 2000th sec. The Nikon has a Nikon F lens mount, and usually comes with an f3.5-f4.8 35-75mm zoom lens. The Vivitar has a Pentax K lens mount, and usually comes with an f3.4-f4.8 28-70mm zoom lens. The Promaster is similar to the Vivitar, but normally has a 50mm lens. All three cameras are very much priced, although the Nikon and Promaster do not appear to be available in the UK, where the cost of the Vivitar is about £ 180 – if you can find one. Cosina makes both the Nikon and the Vivitar (so the former merely wears a Nikon badge).

There is not much to choose between them, and all three cameras resemble the specification of the 1976 Pentax K1000 (and other makers' variants), making the trio new “old” cameras. To be frank, I'm not sure why anyone would want to buy one, other than as a student camera, and due to prejudice against, or lack of knowledge of the second-hand market.

At the other end of the scale there are two SLR options: the Canon EOS-1V and Nikon F6. Both are flagship models, highly specified, auto everything, and expensive. I could not find the Canon for sale in the UK, but the Nikon is available for £ 1,530.00.

Once again, the appeal of these high-end SLRs eludes me: the level of automation is a bit counterintuitive, which I can best describe by the phrase, “owning an expensive camera does not make you a good photographer.”

35mm rangefinder cameras models are a little more abundant, but with the choice of make being restricted to high-end Leicas and Voigtlanders. Leica models include the M7, MP and new, soon to be launched MA (October 2014). In the UK an M7 or MP body with a 50mm lens will set you back about £ 4,500.00.

The range of Voigtlander “Bessa” 35mm rangefinder cameras combine the R2a, R2m, R3a, R3m, R4a and R4m. The A models are electronically controlled with aperture priority metering, while the M models are totally mechanical except for a small battery to run a manual meter. The numerals in the name indicate viewfinder magnifications with each model being suitable for a different range of focal length lenses. A Voigtlander will set you back between £ 699.00 and £ 781.00.

I understand the attraction of these models, but feel the 35mm film size is a limiting factor. To indeed really high quality photos, you really need a larger negative size.

The penultimate group of cameras are the medium formats , a sector with the greatest choice: Fujifilm, Linhof, Mamiya, Rollei and Voigtlander. Let's set aside Linhof, Mamiya and Rollei as they are really expensive.

Voigtlander's Bessa III, and Fujifilm's catchy named GF670 Professional (and GF670W Professional, where the W stands for wide-angle) are typically specified, and very similar looking cameras that sell for between £ 1,700.00 and £ 2,000.00.

At the outset I said I would skim-over five types of camera, the fifth type being large format . These are at the far end of the spectrum from the Lomography types, tend to be expensive, are obvious specialist equipment, and of interest to the few. Neverheless, new cameras are available.

In conclusion, the answer to the question – are film cameras still made – is yes, but they are either cheap and nasty, or extravagantly expensive.

If I had a spare £ 2k knocking about, I'd buy a Fujifilm GF670 (but it's illegally to happen).