Nothing is more 90s than a point and shoot film camera. We love them because they are compact, lightweight, and couldn’t be easier to use.
But, mostly, we love them because they are fun. They’re perfectly designed to be used spur of the moment and capture life as it’s happening.
While not known for the best image quality, due to their low quality lenses and limited features, they are still the film camera for parties and get-togethers, a day at the beach, and road trips. They are meant to live life with you.
We’re going to take a look at five of the best point and shoot film cameras that would be a great addition to any camera bag.
Not only do these cameras have all of the fun and simplicity that make point and shoot cameras so special, but we also wanted to find the point and shoot film cameras with the best image quality.
1. Contax T2
It’s tough to make a list of point and shoot film cameras without talking about the Contax T2. The T2 is arguably the most popular p&s camera around right now.
It’s always had a solid reputation and fan base in the film community, but after being hyped by a few celebrities, it’s gained some mainstream popularity as well (for better or worse).
While it’s a beautifully simple camera with clean lines and a solid metal build, it’s lens is what makes this camera so amazing. The Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 38mm f/2.8 lens is one of the sharpest lens you’ll find on a point and shoot.
It will also give you much more control over your images than you might expect from a point and shoot. With the Contax T2, you can manually set your aperture and exposure compensation, and it also has an AE lock feature, allowing you to focus on your subject while metering elsewhere.
This amount of creative control and the sharp lens gets you much closer to the image quality of an SLR with the ease of a point and shoot. It’s easy to see why people love it so much!
If you’re interested in the Contax T2 but want something more affordable, the Contax TVS series may be worth a try.
The TVS series is very similar to the T series, with the same sleek design, exposure compensation, and exposure lock feature, but with a zoom lens. The lens won’t pack quite the same punch as the fixed-focus prime on the T2, but it’s still a high-quality, great lens for a point and shoot.
Most point and shoot film cameras are pretty similar. They’re small plastic cameras with simple controls, just durable enough to be thrown in a bag, but nothing fancy.
So what sets some point and shoots apart from the rest? It’s the lens. It’s always the lens. You’ll notice the cameras on the list all have remarkable lenses.
The Yashica T4 is no exception. It’s Zeiss Tessar T* 35mm f/3.5 is sharp and renders colors beautifully. It will give your images nice contrast with rich colors. The 3.5 aperture is a little slower than ideal, but it does retain it’s sharpness wide open.
Where the Contax T2 is more of a point and shoot that wants to be an SLR, the Yashica T4 is very much not. It is the point and shoot of point and shoots. It has a classic plastic body and almost no controls. Automatic exposure, half press the shutter to lock focus, toggle the flash on or off, and that’s about it.
Along with the quality lens, the Yashica T4’s flash it’s other main attraction. The T4 has been famously used by fashion photographers to create a punk aesthetic with the strong direct flash look.
The Olympus Stylus Epic, also called the Olympus Mju II, is a fully automatic, beautifully compact point and shoot film camera.
There are two Olympus cameras on this list, and that is because of the Olympus lenses. While not quite the same magic as a Zeiss lens, the lens in the Olympus Stylus Epic really holds it’s own. It has a sharp and fast 35mm f/2.8 lens, even beating out the Yashica T4 for speed.
The Stylus Epic is fully automatic with auto exposure and focusing, but you can utilize its spot metering mode.
By pressing the self-timer and the flash-mode button at the same time, you’ll turn on the spot mode. Then, you can aim the camera where you’d like to take an exposure reading, press the shutter half-way, and it will lock in the exposure and focus. Then you can recompose and shoot. This mode does reset when you turn the camera off, so it’s a bit of a cumbersome feature, but it’s still nice to have.
The Olympus Stylue Epic is also weatherproof! For a plastic camera, it’s quite durable. If you’re looking for a point and shoot that can handle rain, snow, and other adventures, this might be a great fit.
The Olympus XA2 is an interesting camera and the second Olympus point and shoot camera on this list. It is the smallest and the most bare bones camera out of the five we’re talking about today.
One thing that makes it so small is that it does not have an integrated flash. It has a flash attachment that connects to the side of the camera. It’s an interesting design that makes the camera quite small when the flash isn’t attached.
It also doesn’t have auto-focus. It utilizes zone focusing. There is a small toggle next to the lens where you select the focus distance of 1.5 meters, 3 meters, or infinity. While the lack of auto-focus might feel like a negative, it actually makes the camera incredibly quick to use.
Without a DX code reader, so you’ll need to manually set your ISO on the Olympus XA2. This is another less advanced feature that actually leads to more freedom and control while shooting. It’s a little exposure compensation hack.
The Olympus XA2 is small, unassuming, and super quick to shoot. This along with its great lens makes it a favorite for street photographers. It is ready to go the second you open it! You don’t need to wait for focus to lock or fiddle with settings. It is a true point and shoot that produces reliable, quality images.
The XA2 can be found at a great price point as well. It is one of the least expensive cameras on this list at under $100.
It has a sharp, fast 35mm f/2.8 Nikon lens with a great focusing system. The lens also has threads for filters. Such a rarity in a point and shoot!
With the exposure meter located right under the lens behind the filter, you can even use ND filters without having to worry about exposure compensation.
The Nikon L35af also has a few other cool features worth noting. It has a manual ISO setting (no DX code reader), so you’ll be able to manipulate your exposure a bit.
There is also a 2 stop exposure compensation for backlit images. This is a lever on the side of the lens, so you’ll need to hold the lever down while shooting. It doesn’t have incremental exposure compensation, just the +2 feature.
The camera is pretty bulky, though, and not the most pocketable. It’s the largest camera on this list with a square, functional, 80s style design to it. But if you don’t mind the size, it has a fantastic lens at a great price point and gives you a good amount of control over your images.