Film Camera Roundup: What’s Available These Days?

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New film cameras in 2020? Yes, it’s true. Believe it or not, there are still a few in-production film cameras available, brand new, today. And looking beyond the brand new, there is, of course, an active used market for photographers looking to dip their toes into the film photography world. Here’s a look at what’s available new, along with some recommendations for used classics.

New Cameras

Nikon F6

The only remaining film SLR in production. It hurts to say that, but it’s true. The Nikon F6 is the culmination of Nikon’s professional 35mm SLR legacy, succeeding the big and beautiful F5, the revolutionary F4, the coveted F3, the refined F2, and the iconic F. The F6 has all the bells and whistles you could ever wish for from a film camera, including an 11-point Multi-CAM 2000 AF system, 3D Color Matrix Metering, 5.5 fps continuous shooting (or up to 8 fps with the optional MB-40 grip), and 41 custom settings for configuring the camera to your own needs. There aren’t many other film cameras, if any, with this level of configurability, precision, or just sheer amount of technology. It’s a sophisticated way for Nikon to end its film-camera production, and segues well into where its digital development began.

Nikon F6 35mm SLR Autofocus Camera

Leica MP

Leica is known for stripping its cameras down to the bare essentials and, even for a film camera, the Leica MP is a highly pared-down model with just the essentials left. Simple, elegant, and streamlined, the MP—which stands for Mechanical Perfection—is, in fact, a mechanical camera and only requires a battery for the light meter. Moreover, the MP is characterized by its unencumbered appearance, sans a red dot and with just a simple Leica script on the brass top plate. It is, of course, a rangefinder, too, with a bright optical viewfinder and accurate focusing mechanism to suit working in any lighting conditions.

Leica MP 0.72 Rangefinder Camera

Leica M-A (Typ 127)

If the MP is even still a little too technological for you, then there is also the M-A (Type 127), which is, perhaps surprisingly, the most recently released M film camera. Whereas the MP is “Mechanical Perfection,” the M-A is “Pure Mechanical Excellence.” Regardless of superlatives, the M-A differentiates itself from the MP in that it does not have an internal light meter—it doesn’t accept a battery of any kind, for any reason. It is even more pure, if you will. Like the MP, though, the M-A doesn’t have a red dot, it has very similar all-metal construction, same rangefinder design, et cetera. The choice is really about whether you want an internal light meter or not.

Leica M-A (Typ 127) Rangefinder Camera

View Cameras and Technical Cameras

The final type of new film cameras available today are the view camera and technical cameras, available in large format and medium format designations. These types of cameras have always been niche to some degree during the last 50+ years, but they continue to be made available due to their unique abilities that are still unmatched to this day. In fact, many of these cameras are currently used in conjunction with digital backs, making them the ultimate futureproof camera. I won’t cover everything available, but some highlights include the Linhof Technorama 617s III, a panoramic camera producing immense 6 x 17" images, and its 612 sibling that I had a chance to review; the classic Wista Field-45DX 4 x 5" wooden view camera; the inimitable Arca-Swiss F-Metric series of modular monorail cameras; the trusty Toyo-View 45AX metal field camera; and the iconic German field camera, the Linhof Master Technika (whose predecessor, the Super Technika V, I reviewed).

Linhof 4x5 Master Technika "Classic" Rangefinder Metal Field Camera

Additionally, and the complete opposite of a technical camera, it must be pointed out that, by far, the most popular types of new film cameras on the market are instant film cameras, toy cameras, and even pinhole and disposable cameras. However, these types of cameras aren’t included in this article because I feel they are meant for a different market and serve a different function than the high-precision nature of something like a Nikon F6, a Leica rangefinder, or a large format view camera.

Classic and Used Cameras

I have to start this second section with a quick plug for the B&H Used Department, which is where you can often find some of the below-mentioned cameras. As used items are all unique, though, the stock is constantly shifting. Don’t sleep on items you see and want, and don’t worry if an item you want isn’t there now, as there’s a good chance it’ll be in stock soon. And for some inspiration on historic cameras to look into, check out our ongoing Classic Cameras Series, which features an array of reviews on some of B&H staff’s favorite and coveted camera gear. Here are a few of the more popular cameras we’ve featured, and some of the easier ones to find on the used market:

Canon AE-1

One of the most popular 35mm cameras of all time is the Canon AE-1, which was also the first camera to feature an internal microcomputer. As an electronically controlled camera, it was unique in its time for being a pioneer in the shift from mechanical design to electronic designs that we’re still using today.

Nikon F

Equally as popular, albeit for different reasons, the Nikon F was the first SLR camera for Nikon and was the beginning of its still evolving line of professional cameras. When it was released, in 1959, it was also one of the most technologically advanced cameras of its time due to its reflex design and, eventually, the immense breadth of the entire camera system.

Pentax K1000

Another legend, the Pentax K1000 is one of the most prolific and popular 35mm SLRs of all time. It’s a camera I saw in all of my photography classes and a camera I still see people using today. It’s as simple of an SLR as you can really get, making it incredibly intuitive, and it’s been referred to as the ideal camera for students due to its ease of use and availability.

Hasselblad 500C/M

The Hasselblad 500C/M, or another variant of Hasselblad’s immensely popular 500-series, is likely the camera that comes to mind when someone says, “medium format camera.” These cameras have received more accolades, have been used to capture more important historical moments, and have more cache than nearly any other camera available. And they’re still highly coveted due to their enduring design, ease of use, and modularity.

Mamiya RB67

A bit more brutish than the Hasselblad, the Mamiya RB67 is another legend of medium format, and an ideal entrance into the formats beyond 35mm. It’s a heavy and imposing camera, but incredibly intuitive to use and versatile, due in part to its genius rotating back design.

Which film cameras are you in search of nowadays? What are some of your all-time favorites? Let us know your thoughts on working with newer and older film cameras today, in the Comments section, below.

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Mamiya RB67 was my first camera. It was well user-friendly and wasn't too hard to operate at all.  

And did someone mention the Nikon F4. I recently bought one off Craigslist because I wanted an autofocus film camera that would work with my autofocus lenses. 
Some well heeled photo buff bought it new 20 years ago and used it so infrequently the “passed” badge still looks brand new. And yes, it is more camera than I will ever need.

Let’s not forget the Minolta SRT series. My first SLR was a well used 101 and I don’t recall the K1000 wasn’t even out then although I do remember the Pentax EL. Both my dad and sister were using Sears cameras which were made by Pentax which took screw mount lenses. What a pain to switch lenses!

Strange, since this article is from 2 years ago, that the Canon EOS-1 Mark V is not mentioned. It just went out of production this week (May 31,2018).

This is 2 years old! Nikon has now dropped the only affordable offering for classic 35mm cameras!

Great List!  Really enjoyed reviewing it.  Sadly, the Fujifilm GF670 is now to be mourned.  Although I am not an 'insider', the way I understand it is that, first, Fujifilm discontinued making the GF670's fraternal-twin, wide-angle-commited brother, the GF670W, then, some time in 2014, ceased production of the 'normal' lensed (though slightly wide-angled) GF670.  As the story went, a consignment, or similar, of GF670s was allowed to age 'in stir' at a California warehouse for what could be described as a business eternity, but was ultimately located either late last year, or early this, and became available during the early months of 2017 at B&H PhotoVideo.  The price of these NOS treasures soared from about $1,600 previously, to $2,200 each.  B&H depleted their stock, I believe, sometime in early March, 2017.  Beautiful camera.  May it rest in peace.  In B&H's ad photo of the camera, it carried a trophy with "#1 Seller" inscribed.  A deserving honor for a last of its kind.

As a side note, the premature death of the film camera was not altogether a natural thing.  Most people assume that digital just came along and 'flat' flattened analog.  (Here, we get into politics.)  Factually, a television network news magazine piece highlighted Chinese children playing, if not working, in a dumping ground for old U.S.A. scrap electronics (circuit boards, salvageable components, etc.), with their likely being exposed to cadmium, lead, and all the other B vitamins (like arsenic) that make electronics possible.  The viewers were outraged.  The long-story-short version is that an international treaty was enacted which banned the use of certain metals and chemicals to make virtually any consumer product.  (Remember the Christmas when mini-bikes had to be shelved at the dealers' because Japanese manufacturers had used lead as a mold-release agent in the casting of hand-control levers and such?)

The treaty and its provisions are written as RoHS (pronounced "ro-hass" or "Ross" by some folk).  Today, almost everything electrical carries the stamp "RoHS Compliant."  Think, "Reduction of Hazardous Substances."  Specifically with solder, lead had to be carved out.  I have a masters degree in electronics, and used to consider myself a pretty decent solderer.  No more.  Melting this new *#@+%%! stuff must take a laser beam.  At any rate, the Japanese companies still had sufficient 'professional' business in analog cameras to continue making them, BUT, they did not have sufficient business volume of any genre to re-tool everything for lead-free solder (just to name one offending pollutant).  Wave soldering (where huge batches of circuit boards are 'floated' down a river of liquid solder) probably gave way to something more exotic, such as solder injection and death-rays at the time of component insertion.  (I used to be familiar with all this, as an engineer, but am now in retirement.)  The choice was simple:  Discontinue the Pentax 67ii, for one, or the Rapid Omega 200, Mamiya C-330, etc.  Many of the best died, due to RoHS.  Personally, I think the Chinese issue was a Chinese problem, and that they should have fixed it themselves.  We certainly would have, here, in our neck of the woods.  (I praise B&H for providing the wealth of film cameras that they yet carry.)

As an add-on to my earlier piece, I would like to note that, in 1987, I was availed of the opportunity to visit Japan's Science and Industry Museum, in Nagoya.  On one of the upper floors, the corporation, Asahi-Pentax ('Asahi', meaning, 'Morning Sun'; 'Asahi Shinbun' meaning, 'Morning Sun Newspaper') had delightfully displayed for visitors the many stages involved in the manufacture of the Pentax 6 x 7 rollfilm SLR.  About a half-dozen examples of this camera were presented, like pheasant-under-glass, in its evolution from its brass elements to a finished black professional camera.  I had owned one of these fine cameras, long before making my way to Nagoya, but had never contemplated what it once had looked like in the hands of the skilled workers who were authorized to place that coveted Japanese government label on its front.  Brass?  Hm-m-m.  How do you attach brass to brass?  Again ..  brazing?  Solder?  Glue?  Can't say, but a smart guess would be solder or brazing.  If solder, the two main differences separating electronics soldering from mechanical soldering would be:  (1) the exact composition ratios of lead, tin, and antimony (or of any other alloyed metal), and (2) the type of 'core' used (electronic = rosin; mechanical = acid).  But, you'd likely (in 1987) have always encountered the dreaded ...  lead.  So, it logically would follow, that, from this cursory example, even those cameras that were not considered wildly 'electronic', would have fallen victim to RoHS, requiring a total rethinking and re-engineering of both design and assembly-line layout.  Neither being financially feasible in the coming century for something soon to be in its decline.

An excellent list! One set you missed are the cameras from ALPA of Switzerland. Although most ALPA cameras are paired with digital backs from Hasselblad, Phase One, etc. they still sell 6x7 and 6x9 (120) roll film backs that mesh with their camera bodies.

As for me, I'll admit to lusting after a Fuji 617 - some day perhaps. And I'll give up my Yashica Mat 124G TLR when they pry it from my cold, dead hand.

Mike.

The camera I had the most fun with was the Rollei 35S.  The f2.8 Sonnar produced excellent images.  The camera was very easy to carry along in a small camera bag (or my jacket pocket).  I liked the leaf shutter for flash.  It did not have a rangefinder, but I might have lost a total of 2 pictures because of forgetting to focus.

Leica should have made a small camera like it.  Two models; one with a 28mm and one with either 75 or 90mm.  You would not interchange lenses, but carry two cameras.

After several years, this camera just self-destructed one day and I donated it to a well-known camera repair guy in CA.

Still have my Rollei 35 S + flash . Great camera , compact, and it takes beautiful pictures .

Hi! I have a Rollei P350 slide projector. Interested?

It's a pity that the Voightlaender Bessa cameras weren't included in the article...

It's a pity you didn't understand the point of the article. The name of the article is "15 Film Cameras You Can Still Buy Brand New". Voigtlander discontinued the Bessa 35mm Rangefinder line in 2015, so whatever you can buy "new" today is just merely "new old stock" until inventory has been depleted.

120 film can be rerolled on 620 spools. The film is the same width. Look it up on the Internet. Need 2 620 spools and it has to be done in complete darkness. Roll the 120 onto a 620. Now it is backwards so reroll it again onto another 620 spool and now it is in the right direction to go into a 620 camera. 

Thanks. Will do that when I get back to film

I bought a Hawkeye Brownie at a vintage camera that was refurbished to take 120 film. You may want to keep your eyes out for that 

I still have my Paubel Makina bellows camera that has a 620 film back and three Schneider lens, one of which is a Super Angulon wide angle lens that cost about $900 in 1960. The bellows shows sign of wear but it still works if I can get 620 flm and a place to develop the film.

It is a Plaubel Makina

Jack,

I am not aware of Palubel Makinas taking Schneider lenses.  To my knowledge they only used Plaubel labelled lenses in a proprietary mount.  The standard Makina roll film back uses 120 film.  

I bought the camera from somebody who had bought the lens separately. The lens were for 4x5" cameras but he had used them on his 620 back. I can tell you they worked beautifully.They were set on a Plaubel mount. I used them to take architechtural subjects and they were perfect. I still have the whole set with me.

You forgot to mention the totally manual Kalimar K-90!  

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