Shopping for Used 35mm Film Cameras
35mm film cameras offer a similar degree of resolution to many digital cameras. The grain, color rendition, and dynamic range of film combine to create a pleasing result that's subtly different than digital. Although few manufacturers still produce 35mm film cameras, there are many used film cameras for sale.
Film for 35mm Film Cameras
35mm cameras use a cassette that provides 24 or 36 exposures. The cassette design lets users easily load the film. After it's exposed, film winds back into the cassette for processing. Numerous film laboratories process film, while enterprising photographers often develop their own. Some labs scan the negatives and supply digital copies.
Photographers can choose between black-and-white negative, color negative, or positive slide film. The ISO rating of film varies between 20 and 3200. Low ISO film has better contrast and smaller grain than high ISO film.
Choosing Used Film Cameras
There are two types of 35mm cameras: SLR film cameras and rangefinder cameras. SLRs have similar features to DSLR cameras. They use an optical viewfinder and mirror arrangement to view the image through the lens. SLRs have integrated through-the-lens light meters and accept interchangeable lenses. Common brands include Nikon, Pentax, and Canon.
Rangefinder cameras use a separate viewfinder, which makes for a smaller and lighter camera, although it's necessary to adjust for parallax when taking close-up photos. Interchangeable lenses are available for some types of rangefinder cameras. In many ways, they're similar to mirrorless cameras.
Finding Lenses for 35mm SLR Film Cameras
Each type of camera has its own lens mount. Old Canon 35mm cameras usually use a screw type, while newer ones have a bayonet mount. In some instances, mounts are compatible with modern lens types, and in other cases, it's possible to purchase lens mount adapters. The optical quality of many old lenses is good, and some are better than modern lenses. When shopping for used lenses and lens accessories, remember that autofocus systems may not work on older cameras, so ensure you can manually set the lens aperture.
Useful Accessories for 35mm SLR Cameras
Low to medium ISO film gives the best photographic results. This means you may need to use low shutter speeds when taking photos in poor lighting conditions, such as indoors, in the shade, early in the morning, or at dusk. One solution is a solid tripod to avoid camera shake. Alternatively, invest in used digital flash and accessories such as off-camera strobes or continuous lighting. Fortunately, many flashguns are compatible with film SLR and rangefinder cameras, although you may need to get a hot shoe adapter.
Many photographers have realized film photography isn't dead, and that it actually complements digital photography. Find out for yourself by perusing the selection of used 35mm cameras for sale at B&H Photo and Video.