5 Film Cameras Under $50! by Jennifer Stamps

5 Film Cameras Under 50 Dollars
This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, Shoot It With Film may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Written by Jennifer Stamps

5 Film Cameras Under $50

Buying a good film camera can be overwhelming. I remember when I first started shooting film, and I scoured the Internet looking for “the best” camera to meet my needs.

With all of the choices and recommendations out there, it may feel like you have to spend a lot of money to get a good film camera, but you definitely don’t have to. You can find some really great cameras to fit with any budget, and, today, I’m going to share with you five film cameras you can get for under $50.

In fact, one of my favorite cameras (Snap Sights! underwater 35mm camera) cost $10…literally! All you need to do is determine what you need and want in a camera and then look in the right places.

5 Awesome Film Cameras Under 50 Dollars
5 Awesome Film Cameras Under 50 Dollars
5 Awesome Film Cameras Under 50 Dollars
Polaroid picture of a person walking through leaves - 5 Film Cameras Under 50 Dollars by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
Photographed with the Polaroid Sun 660

Where to Buy Film Cameras

So, looking in the right places… It takes time, and you need to do your research, but purchasing a used camera is your best bet when looking for an affordable film camera under $50.

Here are a few of my favorite places to find good deals on film cameras:

  • eBay:
    • eBay is probably the number one place to look for used film cameras. Always make sure the seller has good reviews and indicated the camera has been tested and works properly. You can find a camera cheaper if it hasn’t been tested, but it’s a 50/50 shot on if it will work.
  • KEH Camera
    • KEH Camera buys and sells used cameras and is a great place to look for a film camera you know will work as advertised. You will likely pay more than on eBay, but you can find some great deals in the bargain category. With their great return policy and accurate descriptions and ratings, it’s a piece-of-mind buying experience.
  • Etsy
    • Etsy is another good place to buy film cameras – however, I’ve noticed that everything on Etsy costs more than on eBay. This is usually because it’s been tested with several rolls and professionally cleaned (the seller should note this if that’s the case).
  • Amazon
    • Many individuals and companies list used film cameras on Amazon due to it’s popularity. You can find lots of different options. Make sure you do your research on the seller and ask questions if you’re unsure about the condition of the camera before you buy.
  • Thrift Shops
    • This might be my favorite place to snag my treasures. You can get cameras for pennies on the dollar and you are shopping local. The only bummer is that you won’t know if it works until you get it home and put a roll through it.
  • Social Media
    • Sometimes photographers are ready to skinny down their collection, and they’ll sell their gear on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. A bonus to buying from another photographer is you have a pretty good idea that the camera is working and was taken care of. Facebook groups (such as Film Photo Gear) are also great places to keep an eye out for good deals on film gear.
Black and white film image of a racetrack - 5 Film Cameras Under 50 Dollars by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
Photographed with the Minolta SRT-101
Grab Issue 01 of the Shoot It With Film Magazine!!

5 Film Cameras Under $50

Now you know where to shop, let’s get to the goods! Here are some great film cameras you can find for under $50 to get you started.

I covered a range of different categories (medium format film cameras, manual SLRs, auto SLRs, point and shoots, and instant film cameras), so you can find an affordable option no matter what type of film camera you’d like to shoot. I own all of these cameras and still shoot with and love them all.

*A note about pricing: The cameras listed below should be pretty easy to find in good working condition for under $50, but you will definitely see a range of prices depending on the condition of the camera and the marketplace you decide to use.

Medium Format: Holga 120N

The Holga 120N - 5 Film Cameras Under 50 Dollars by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film

Medium format is probably the hardest one to find under $50. On average, they cost a few hundred dollars, but you could easily spend a few thousand.

Admittedly, the Holga 120N (find on Amazon) is a plastic camera with a plastic lens, but that doesn’t mean you have to treat it as such. It’s hands down my favorite camera.

Pros: It’s lightweight, durable, can shoot 12 or 16 frames per roll, fun to travel with, and begs to be played with.

Cons: You can’t set the ISO, and the shutter speed is either a set open/close or manual release, so you really need to pay attention to your lighting conditions when you pick your film stock speed.

Black and white film image of a girl looking over a railing at the beach - 5 Film Cameras Under 50 Dollars by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
Color film image of a river - 5 Film Cameras Under 50 Dollars by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film

Manual SLR: Minolta SRT-101

The Minolta SRT-101 film camera - 5 Film Cameras Under 50 Dollars by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film

The Minolta SRT-101 (find on eBay or at KEH Camera) is an adorable little camera and an absolute dream to shoot. It’s actually the first 35mm camera I owned (in the digital age).

This is a fully mechanical, manual camera with a light meter. Features include interchangeable manual focus lenses, ISO meter ranging from 6 to 6400, and shutter speeds ranging from bulb to 1/1000 second.

Pros: The Rokkor lenses are a dream – seriously smooth glass. It has everything you need in a camera and could easily be you go-to 35mm camera.

Cons: It’s heavy (not ideal for travel), and it can be hard to nail focus with the manual lenses.

Black and white film image of a vintage racing car - 5 Film Cameras Under 50 Dollars by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
Color film image of a dog - 5 Film Cameras Under 50 Dollars by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film

Auto SLR: Canon EOS 3000N

The Canon EOS 3000N - 5 Film Cameras Under 50 Dollars by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film

Looking for something you can just pick up and shoot without a lot of set up? An automatic SLR might be just the thing.

With the Canon EOS 3000N (find on eBay), you can shoot completely automatic, partially automatic, or completely manual – the choice is yours. This camera features interchangeable lenses (EF mount which is the same as Canon DSLRs), light meter, and built in flash.

Pros: You can choose whether you want to use automatic or manual settings, and it will work with new/modern lenses with auto-focus.

Cons: Lenses can be expensive since they fit DSLRs, and the camera is not at all that compact with lenses attached.

Black and white image of a girl and her dog - 5 Film Cameras Under 50 Dollars by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
Black and white image of a girl laughing - 5 Film Cameras Under 50 Dollars by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film

Point and Shoot: Canon Sure Shot

The Canon Sure Shot - 5 Film Cameras Under 50 Dollars by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film

The Canon Sure Shot (find on eBay) is such a fun little camera. I picked it up on a whim because I didn’t have a point and shoot.

There is something freeing about just picking up the camera, turning it on, and shooting. It’s even more simplified than my Holga. There is nothing that makes this camera stand out from the rest, but I am always impressed with the images from this little baby.

Pros: It allows you to shoot freely and even pass the camera over so you’re in more photos, and it has a built in flash.

Cons: You can’t adjust any of your settings; it’s either flash or no flash.

But if you’d like to know more about hacking the DX code on a roll of film to give you a little more control with point and shoot cameras, you can check out this article here.

Image of a football stadium - 5 Film Cameras Under 50 Dollars by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
Black and white image of a building on a street corner - 5 Film Cameras Under 50 Dollars by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film

Instant Film Camera: Polaroid Sun 660

Polaroid Sun 660 Instant Film Camera - 5 Film Cameras Under 50 Dollars by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film

What a fun little camera. The Polaroid Sun 660 (find on eBay) is the first Polaroid I’ve ever owned. I found it at a thrift store and paid less than $5 for it.

When I learned that it worked, I was ecstatic. This bad boy has even been to Paris with me!

This camera takes Polaroid 600 film.

Pros: You can adjust your settings based on how much light you have available, you can shoot with or without flash, and it autofocuses.

Cons: Film is expensive and can be unpredictable (but I say that only adds to the charm).

Polaroid picture of the Eiffel Tower - 5 Film Cameras Under 50 Dollars by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
Black and white Polaroid picture of a girl smiling - 5 Film Cameras Under 50 Dollars by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film

Thank you so much, Jen! Jennifer is a regular contributor here at Shoot It With Film, and be sure to check out her other articles, like how to develop color film in black and white chemicals and a film camera review for the 35mm Olympus OM-1. You can also check out more of Jennifer’s work on her website and Instagram.

Leave your questions below in the comments, and please feel free to share your favorite film cameras that you’ve picked up for under $50!

Shoot It With Film Magazine Issue 01 Promo Image

Jennifer Stamps

Jennifer Stamps is a regular contributor for Shoot It With Film. Find her other articles here, such as Olympus OM-1 35mm Film Camera Review and Develop B&W Film with Coffee! A Caffenol Developing Tutorial.

Tags:
Blog Comments

Great article! My top of the list of cheap SLR’s is Pentax ME Super. Yes, it might be not as reliable as full mechanical cameras, but it’s very light, quiet and Pentax glass is amazing.

Thank you! The Pentax ME Super sounds like a great camera.

Leave a Comment