As Halloween disappears into the rear-view mirror, Christmas finally approaches. But what options do you have to buy your loved ones, secret Santa or ask for yourself ? Turns out you can buy loads of new film cameras. And here is my pick of 12 for all price tags.
I’d started out doing a Xmas camera for under a £100 quid but turns out there were loads so I thought we’d go large. That said this expanded price list feature 12 cameras for all your Festive desires from a few quid to hundreds. And we have not one but 2 SLR on the list !!
My criteria was simple. The camera had to be available to be included. I’ve included the cheapest UK sourced price (all bar 1 is in £GBP) for new cameras and I’ve included links where relevant to those stores but do shop around. I’m also an Amazon affiliate so I do get a small payment for anything bough via their links (it doesn’t affect what you pay). All prices were found on the week of the 7th November.
(1) Underwater camera for less than a tenner-
Unbranded 35mm with waterproof case
Weirdly yes you can buy a new non disposable camera for less than a tenner. It even comes with a underwater case. That’s as good as this no brand lump of plastic gets. With a fixed focus lens and equally fixed exposure, the case is the frills. Not sure how waterproof the case is but looks the part. The camera in good light is about par for a non brand disposable but hard to hold out with the case.
But it is less than a tenner and can be reloaded. And really it’s about as cheap as you can get new.
(2) A Cam in a Can-
(£15.99 Bristol Cameras)
The camera in a beer can.
Well if you call something that needs to be taped to drainpipe and left for months to make an exposure, this a quirky gift idea is basically a beer can with a pinhole aperture and a sheet of low sensitivity photopaper inside. You fix it up to a post and leave it for weeks to years. And then open and quickly scan the paper to get a record of sun trails and the landscape silhouetted. Quirky fun
If you want a more serious pinhole ONDU are one of the bigger crafted players with several awards and a wooden body range covering everything from 135 to Large format.
(3) Reloading on a Budget –
Lomography Simple use
Best in class, these Reloadable disposables come preloaded with a roll of Lomography film. They can be used as just a disposable and only cost a £3-5 more. Colour versions come with Gel filters but you can pretty much get the same effect by collecting wrappers of quality street and buying the B&W version. This class of camera are great for parties. If money is tight the Kodak Fun saver and either of the Harman Disposables (XP2 or HP5+) are best in class and around £3-5 cheaper (just not the nightmare that is the Harman Reuseable)
(4) Clones of many a name-
Dubblefilm/Kodak M35 clones
Simple fixed focus plastic cameras with Flash. There are a cluster of models under various names (vibe, Agfaphoto, Ilford, Kodak F9 etc) that all are near identical to the Dubblefilm Show. The Kodak M35 & M38 has the same inner pinnings and lens but a different fascia. Better optics, easier to load and likely to last longer than a reloadable disposable.
Only differences seem to be cosmetic and the flash (the M38 has a more powerful unit than the m35 but data on the other cameras is limited). Buy the cheapest one you like the look of (I’d recommend Agfaphoto’s offerings with their signature red shutter buttons).
The LensFayre Snap LF-35M is worthy alternative with some ECO cred.
(5) Medium Format Lo-Fi legend-
Holga 120 series
(Wex Photo from £29.99)
Holga has risen from the grave and is back with vengeance. It’s 40 years since the first of these famous Lo-Fi plastic cameras rolled of production lines in HK. The mase 120N offers a choice of apertures, 2 frame sizes, focusable plastic lens with or without light leaks. Spend more and you can get built in flash, glass lenses and even 3D and pinhole versions. Due cheap production and low quality control each camera is unique some leak, some vignette more heavily and some don’t. But it’s all part of the appeal. The 35mm Holga 135BC is also worth a look if you prefer a smaller format
(6) Unleash you inner engineer –
(Analogue Wonderland £30)
A new function SLR for £30 what could be better. Well if you like to roll your sleeves up and have a couple of hours to spend this might be up your street. Granted limited exposure options and a fixed plastic lens. But for 30 quid, and the fun of I made this
Word of warning though. Mines has sat on the shelf for 2 years on the I’ll get round to it basis. Not one for procrastinators.
Alternatives would include the clones of the Recesky 35mm DIY TLR . Or you could try there is the make from scratch book Pinhole Camera: A Do It Yourself guide by Chris Keeney
(7) Cult Classic-
(Urban Outfitters £35)
Credit where credit is due.
Reto’s launch of their VUWS clone was perhaps the best received launch of 2022 and did the company no end of favours with public interest when they launched the more so so Kodak H35. The Cult legend rides again with its much better than should be 2 element ultra wide 22mm plastic lens in a range of nice colours. It’s also the smallest production full frame 35mm probably ever made making it an excellent pocket or carry quirky second. You can also pick up the Jelly Lens VUWS clone slightly cheaper but its gloss white finish isn’t quite as appealing.
(8) Systemic Plastic Fantastic-
Diana F+ with Flash
(Bristol Cameras £58)
The original 1960’s Diana camera clones arguably launched the whole medium format Lo-Fi game and would in some way lead to the Holga. Lomography’s love letter to the original Diana combine the looks, Lo-Fi Aesthetic and shoddy build. But they created an interchangeable lens, system camera homage.
The base camera is more expensive than the Holga rival and is worth paying the premium to get it with the flash kit. That’s because the camera has a proprietary flash mount (the flash bundle comes with 2 convertors. Lomography do a range of limited editions alongside the traditional Blue/Black.
(9) Instant Retro-
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic
This is not the cheapest Instax mini in Fujifilm’s range. If you want a basic no frills Fujifilm then the Instax mini 11 will cost you ~40 quid less with jelly mould styling. Or the Instax Mini 40 offers more retro styled for between the cost of the 11 & 90.
It however is telling that the Neo Classic has lasted almost a decade on sale. Nicely styled with more options than it’s cheaper brethren and 3 focus zones this offers one of the most comprehensive Fujifilm inspired takes on Instax you can buy. The Instax Wide 300 offers a bigger format but less options. With the withdrawal of the SQ6, arguably instax best format (Square) has only the cut down SQ1 and digital analogue hybrid SQ20 to play with
Lomography however offer alternatives for more creative minds with their Lomo’Instant series (notably the Lomo’Instant Wide).
(10) For the instant technophile –
(Camera World £121)
If the 90 Neo is instax’s highlight, then the Now+ is the revitalised ‘Roid equivalent. It is the newest camera developed from the the old one step but builds on its predecessors. You get AF and lots of manual control provided you Bluetooth it to a phone app. Polaroid 600 film is much bigger than any instax offering
One of the best roids ever made .oth old and new. The Polaroid Now offers less features if smartphone reliance bothers you. The Polaroid Go offers the cheapest’ (£89 Amazon) new ‘Roid experience but misses a trick IMHO with a frame size smaller than even Instax Mini
(11) Automatic for the People-
The LC-A+, looks pricey here but you do get a proper automatic compact. I was going to list its bonkers but brilliant big brother LC-A 120 but that’s not sourceable at the moment.
Essentially a Chinese made LC-A Mark II with lots of plus but some minus over the original soviet hommage to the Cosina CX-1 &2. Also available is its LC-A Wide brother. But that’ll set you back an extra £90 for the ultra wide lens, frame options etc.
Arguably the biggest issue is you can pick up a used Soviet LC-A or an more classic compact for a lot less but you may need to factor a CLA in.
(12) Instant Premium –
(Nons $599USD body only)
The SL660 is the best analogue SLR currently on the market. Shooting Instax Square it is a notable step up in quality from the prior SL42. The camera allows you to mount most 35mm and a few medium format lenses via adaptors using it’s passive EF mount. To achieve this Nnns use a built in field extender which adds more optic, giving you almost full frame coverage but with some slight reduction in quality.
It otherwise has a front aluminium alloy body with pentaprism viewfinder and a unique leaf shutter and sliding mirror arrangement. Given the nature of the camera fully coupled metering is impossible but you do get a reasonable non TTL meter,
Bit of learning curve, not perfect, especially the slow shutter top speed. But the best Nons have done to date. To be joined by an Instax mini version in 2023 the SL645.
No one makes anything like these. MiNT make a Instax TLR (£339) and series of instax rangefinders (£669+).
AKA Whot No Leica M6 ?
Look I went with what you can buy and have for Xmas. I’ve excluded anything with a pre order status so if you are looking to buy a M6 you need to join the queue (nice of you drop in BTW Mr Musk) as well as have the dosh (£4500+). This applies to cheaper cameras too.
And yup this isn’t everything on the market. And that’s a good thing – it genuinely shows you how healthy things are at the moment. But what would you included ? Comment below.