The popularity of film is still on an upward trajectory with no signs of slowing down. With the film world changing constantly, it’s time to update the list of underrated and overrated film cameras.
Before I get started, I would like to say that this list contains cameras that I’m aware of and know enough about to have formulated any sort of opinion about. With thousands of different film cameras that have been made over the decades, the overwhelming majority of cameras will not be on this list. You can expect, however, that if a camera is somewhat common and well known, I will try to include it. I would also like to say that this list is largely, if not exclusively, driven by a ratio of cost to quality and convenience. One could argue then that this list is based on the most overvalued and undervalued, not “rated” cameras. Lastly, the reason for needing this update is because the cost of cameras has not been linear across the board. Indeed, some of the more popular cameras have maintained their same price point since last year, but many have not (I don’t that any have become less expensive).
As mentioned above, this list is not going to be exhaustive. Indeed, it will only contain cameras that are 35mm and medium format cameras, but it will not contain large format cameras. In addition, I will not include special edition cameras, even if they’re special edition cameras of the same cameras on this list. Take, for example, the Nikon F2 Titan ,which sells for 10 times the cost of a normal F2. They both take the exact same photographs, but one is just considerably more expensive than the other. Since there are so many cameras and so many special editions out there, I cannot possibly cover them all. If I were to give any general advice, it would be to avoid special edition cameras if it’s a camera that you’ll be using regularly.
This list was not easy for me to put together last year, but I’m much more comfortable with it this year. Why? Because the cameras that made the list last year have only become even more sought after and expensive. In addition to the cameras on the list last year, I have several more to add that I feel even more strongly deserve being here. Their presence on this list is not to say that they aren’t fantastic cameras. Indeed, most of them are quite amazing and definitely worth a pretty penny. The question here is whether they are worth their going price, and to be on this list, I would say the answer is a definitive “no.”
- Bronica RF645
- Contax T2 & T3
- Contax 645
- Hasselblad XPan and XPan II
- Leica M3
- Mamiya 7 and 7ii
- Mamiya RZ67 Pro and Pro-II (review here)
- Mamiya 645 Pro and Pro-TL (review here)
- Minolta TC-1
- Nikon 28Ti and 35Ti
- Pentax 67 II
To start, it really pains me to put my favorite film camera on this list, the Mamiya 645 Pro-TL. It has been my go-to camera for years, so much so that I have continued to build out my lens collections for this system, and all I can say is that the price of it has gone far above what I think it is worth. And again, that’s coming from someone who has the camera and uses it on a regular basis. I would even go so far as to say that if it wasn’t for the Mamiya 645 Pro-TL, I wouldn’t be nearly as into film as I am. Still though, it is not worth the price that it’s going for today. If you were able to get a full kit with a lens that you’d like to use (excluding the 80mm f/1.9) for about $500 or less, I would say that’s a decent deal, but anything more and I would suggest moving on.
My thoughts on the cameras from last year’s list is still the same. I would personally love to have a Mamiya 7 or 7ii. I think they’re fantastic cameras. And I would love to have a Nikon 35Ti, as I think that they’re the coolest point and shoot cameras I’ve ever seen. I would also love to try out the Hasselblad XPan but can’t bring myself to even Google it anymore with as expensive as it is. Lastly, the camera that was the biggest tossup for me (and maybe it doesn’t belong on this list) was the Pentax 67 II. One of my closest friends has this camera, and I think it’s amazing. If I found one for $1,500 or less for a kit in good shape, I would snatch it up in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, I don’t think that day will ever come again.
Cameras Right in the Middle
- Fujifilm GA645 series (review here)
- Hasselblad 500C/M
- Mamiya RB67 (review here)
- Mamiya 645 (early models: M645, M645 1000S, M645J)
- Minolta SR-T series
- Nikon F-F5 (review of F2 here)
- Olympus XA
- Pentax 645
- Pentax 6x7 and 67
- Pentax K1000
- Yashica Mat-124 G
- Zenza Bronica ERTS
- Zenza Bronica GS-1
This list is, like last year’s version, a bit harder to write. The fact of the matter is that cameras can range quite a lot in their price as well as condition, so outright saying a camera is appropriately priced is impossible. Truthfully, any camera from the overrated list can be a good buy in the right circumstances, and any camera from this list or the underrated list can be a bad buy depending on the conditions. In general, these cameras average a price that is higher than they were last year but are still reasonable given the prices they are currently bringing. I would suggest that anyone looking for a camera to purchase look for a camera on this list or the list below.
- Canon Elan 7
- Mamiya C330
- Nikon FA (review here)
- Nikon FE and FE2 (review here)
- Nikon F80
- Nikon F100 (review here)
- Pentax KX and KM
The film world has been experiencing some turbulent change as of the last year or two. Prices have gone up and up with no sign of them dropping any time. It is still difficult for me to believe the going rate for some of these cameras that are decades old with no warranty and limited chance to repair (or no chance depending on the model) should something go wrong. With the film world expanding as it is, the world is actually getting smaller. There are fewer and fewer cameras now that can be trusted to be dependable and don’t cost more than what one could expect to pay for a decent-to-nice digital camera. As such, take into consideration the dependability of a camera (put a lot of stock into all manual cameras) and the possibility of fixing the camera should something go wrong.
Do you have any cameras in mind that you think should have been added to one of the lists?