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Over the last decade or so there’s been an ever growing interest in film photography. It’s incredible—even Polaroid is back! If you don’t or haven’t shot film, chances are you know someone who does (and they probably won’t shut up about it). Tired of hearing your nerdy photographer friend blab about the wonders of point and shoot film cameras? Say no more, the answers are here! (Well, some of them anyway.)
As a professional photographer myself, I know a thing or two about what scenarios and conditions call for what type of camera. Previously, I laid out the best film cameras of all time. Then we did the best medium format film cameras. In this article I dig into the most portable, accessible film camera type: point and shoot film cameras.
Read on below for a full breakdown of the 10 best 35mm point and shoot cameras for photographers of all abilities, with technical details and practical insights earned the hard way through first hand experience.
(Editor's Note: Learn the differences between Kodak Portra, Fujifilm Superia, Cinestill 400D & more in our 35mm film guide.)
Field Mag's Top Picks for the Best Point & Shoot Film Cameras
- Long Weekend 35mm Camera
- Contax T2
- Ricoh GR1v
- Yashica T4
- Minolta TC-1
- Leica Mini II
- Nikon 35Ti
- Konica Big Mini F
- Olympus Stylus MJU II
- Nikon L35AF
- Canon Sure Shot WP-1
It’s no secret that we here at Field Mag are film photography enthusiasts, for better or worse. I’ve been known to haul clunky and impractical camera gear to the top of a mountain just to take an often blurry and/or light leaked photo. Why? Film photography is expensive, risky, and time consuming—not to mention literally going extinct. In short, because it’s fun!
In long, it’s complicated. And the appeal is different for everyone. Nostalgia plays a part. But it’s the timeless, authentic aesthetic of film that draws most in. The imperfections in an analog image are strangely appealing—the way different film stocks capture light and shadow, creating uniquely rich and deep colors that a digital camera’s sensor or VSCO preset can only try to replicate.
For me, it’s also the inherent risk that makes film photography more rewarding. This goes for climbing mountains as well as it does for shooting film. And it's not cheap—perhaps there’s something special about an image that’s literally worth something. Film encourages a little more thought and time put into each frame.
Film photography isn’t for everyone and certainly not the most practical medium in which to do so, but for many it helps them be more intentional about seeking and capturing life’s fleeting moments, and that’s priceless.
As for how to do said documenting, I personally love point and shoot cameras— always accessible and ready for action. And I’m not the only one. I’ve owned a wide variety of 35mm point and shoot film cameras throughout my life and career as an adventure photographer. The following are 10 of my favorites— dubbed the 10 best point and shoot film cameras.
Admittedly, this article barely scratches the surface of the world of 35mm point and shoot cameras. Every film camera deserves a several-page article to truly break down its form and function. But hopefully the following gives a good enough glimpse into a few of the beloved models that have and stood the test of time.
11 Best Point & Shoot Film Cameras for Beginner, Intermediate, and Professional Photographers
Read on for our top picks for the best point & shoot cameras for 35mm film photography.
Skill Level: Beginner
Year of Release: 2023
Pros: Cheap, reliable, no experience required
Cons: Cheap, not very durable, plastic lens
We’re starting our list with a bit of a curveball—this new 35mm film camera from Long Weekend (founded by film photog Willem Verbeeck) lands atop our list because it’s cheap, fully automatic, and brand-new, so you don’t have worry about it unexpectedly breaking down after one roll like you may with some of the older vintage cameras on this list. The lightweight 35mm rangefinder camera features a 31mm fixed focus lens, manual wind and rewind features, and a built-in flash with ~10 second recharge time—all powered by just a single AAA battery (again, unlike the rest of the cameras featured below which largely require a more hard-to-find CR123 battery). It's like a disposable camera, except reusable :)
Lens: 31mm F9 optical grade acrylic lens
Shutter: 1/120 seconds
Price: $49 Shop Now at Moment
Skill Level: Beginner to intermediate
Year of Release: 1990
Pros: Durable, dependable, beautiful, Zeiss lens
Cons: Very expensive, trendy, people will ask you about it
If you are at all interested in 35mm film photography, you’re surely aware of the Contax T2. Many consider it the best 35mm point and shoot camera ever made. Others a beautiful fashion accessory. So what’s all the hubbub about anyway? Beyond the fact that everyone from Kendall Jenner to Tom Holland & Zendaya have been seen toting T2s in recent years, the most direct answer is of course the glass. The retracting 38mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss lens holds up to the hype and the sturdy body seemingly forged from a solid block of titanium makes it durable enough for everyday carry in a range of environments.
One of the reasons for its enormous popularity is its automated functions (Autofocus and Program AE) while still offering the ability to manually adjust settings such as the focus and aperture if you so desire. Essentially the Contax T2 is ideal for those who want the functionality of a bigger camera, but in point and shoot form. (Step to the Contax G2 if you’re looking for even more functionality in an equally beautiful camera.)
Whether you love the Contax T2 or think it’s overrated, there’s no doubt that it performs phenomenally, looks beautiful, and is fairly reliable and durable. Making this a tasty, but hard pill to swallow for those not flush with disposable income.
Lens: Carl Zeiss T* Sonnar 38mm
Aperture: f/2.8 to f/16
Shutter: 8 seconds to 1/500th
Average Price on eBay (2024): $1100 Shop Now on eBay
Skill Level: Intermediate to advanced
Year of Release: 2001
Pros: Very small, lightweight, many manual options, sharp lens
Cons: LCD screen often dies, aperture dial slips
Ricoh is no stranger to the camera game, and they make one hell of a point and shoot film camera. The Ricoh GR1v offers a few options that cater to the more advanced photographer such as manual ISO setting (in addition to DX coding 25-5000), Aperture Priority Auto Exposure mode, and different focus options to choose from: single or multi-point autofocus, manual preset distances (1m, 2m, 3m, and 5m), and infinity. Also, the GR1v retains your settings when turning on and off, which is a nice bonus.
The 28mm lens is multicoated with aspherical elements, and is incredibly and unbelievably sharp, and the magnesium-alloy body is sleek and aesthetically flawless.
One thing I found unique to the GR1v is how the camera preloads a roll immediately upon loading a film cassette and counts down the number of images you have left to shoot. In the event of the camera back door accidentally opening (we’re all guilty of it), the exposed images will be preserved as they’re already wound into the film roll.
Earlier iterations of this camera are the Ricoh GR1 and Ricoh GR1s, with the GR1v being the last and final model of Ricoh’s 35mm point and shoot models. Although a bit pricey, the Ricoh GR1v is a classic and an extremely capable camera.
Lens: Ricoh GR 28mm
Shutter: 2 seconds to 1/500th
Average Price on eBay (2024): $800 Shop Now on eBay
Skill Level: Beginner
Year of Release: 1990
Pros: Zeiss lens, very simple design, some are "weatherproof"
Cons: Expensive, trendy, motor might randomly die
The cult-favorite Yashica T4 has grown to enormous popularity as of recent years, and for obvious reasons. Possessing nearly everything you could ask or need in a P&S, the Yashica T4 (also known as the Kyocera Slim T and Super T4 at times) has just three different buttons for flash, timer, and shutter which will leave you worrying less about your settings and more about the moments you want to capture. Perfect for outdoor action and adventure photography. The highly coveted Yashica T4 Super D even boasts a “weatherproof” design.
Introduced in 1990 as a “premium compact” camera, the Yashica T4 is often seen as a more simple, less luxurious alternative to the Contax T2. It features a similar Zeiss lens capable of focusing up to 30cm and is housed in a rather dull plastic body (instead of titanium), making it less conspicuous and much lighter, yet still highly effective. Though also like the T2, the T4 has become a mainstream “accessory” and is no longer the easy Goodwill bargain bin find it once was. It’s also worth noting many T4s are beginning to reach the end of their lifespan—it’s not uncommon for a T4 to work well one day and simply die the next. So be warned!
Despite being closely related to the Yashica T3 and Yashica T5, the T4 has risen in popularity alone. The no-nonsense features of the T4 make it a great camera for both the beginner and expert alike who want to simply point and shoot and not be bogged down by finicky buttons and knobs.
Lens: 35mm Carl Zeiss Tessar T* (multicoated)
Shutter: 1 second to 1/700th
Average Price on eBay (2024): $750 Shop Now at KEH Camera
Skill Level: Advanced
Year of Release: 1996
Pros: Durable titanium body, manual modes, small, cool design
Cons: Increasingly expensive, best for advanced photogs
Another titanium, sturdy feeling camera, many would liken the TC-1 as a close cousin of the Contax T2. The viewfinder is crispy and full of useful information that makes this rig feel closer to a “real camera” than a point and shoot at times. Notorious for its crisp and contrasty images, once again this lens is a product of brilliant Japanese technology (bless them).
The size of the TC-1 is remarkably small and there is little to hate about it, although the manual aperture settings make this a little more hands-on and less “point and shooty”. However, the combo of manual aperture and options to set a fixed manual focus make this rig quite popular with street photogs who tend to “point and shoot” in the truest sense.
Auto DX coding with a manual override option allows you to shoot film speeds higher than 3200 and exposure compensation up to +4 stops.
One thing to note is that there is no mode for auto exposure, but rather an aperture priority mode in which the exposure is manually set by the aperture, making this less of a point and shoot and more of a “real” camera in compact form.
Lens: Minolta G-Rokkor 28mm
Shutter: 4 seconds to 1/750th
Average Price on eBay (2024): $925 Shop Now on ebay
Skill Level: Intermediate
Year of Release: 1991
Pros: Zeis lens, fast autofocus, affordable for a Leica
Cons: No lens cover means easy scratches, cheap plastic body
Much like the Yashica T4, the Leica Mini II’s plastic body helps it to appear as more of a budget option and therefore slide under the radar (an almost impossible feat for anything bearing the iconic Leica red dot). Not gonna lie, the Mini II feels cheap and if it wasn’t made by Leica few might ever know the power this camera holds. I really love how responsive the autofocus is when you push the shutter button halfway, and unlike other point-and-shoot models, you aren’t in danger of shooting a premature photo when you’re simply trying to grab focus. Although the Leica II has a built-in UV filter, it doesn’t have a retractable lens cover so don’t scratch it!
What the Mini II brings to the table is its Leica lens, of course. Not as sharp as some of the Zeiss glass you find in other point and shoots, but sharp enough to take satisfying snapshots. You can even take a 5 second long exposure!
The Leica Mini II is a successor to the Leica Mini, a predecessor to the Leica Mini III, and the fixed lens cousin to the Leica Minilux. Unlike the Mini I, the Mini II has the ability to prefocus, while the Mini III has a wider lens and lower aperture, but seems to be challenging to find. And the Minilux features an F/2.8 lens and titanium body.
Average Price on eBay (2024): $400 Shop Now on Ebay
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Year of Release: 1993
Pros: Titanium body, many manual functions, analog display
Cons: Increasing price, limited shutter speed (details below)
When released in 1993, the 35Ti was marketed as having the power of SLR cameras in point and shoot form. And they weren't kidding. Nikon knocked it out of the park with this one. The lens is unbelievably sharp and the coating helps with flares when shooting into the sun. This well-designed titanium camera offers data imprinting (time/date stamp), exposure compensation, and the ability to manual focus. And there is a panorama option, which you don’t see in a P&S too often.
A nice touch is the shutter speed, exposure comp, and flash indicator that are displayed inside the viewfinder. Autofocus is notoriously fast, and the three shooting modes—A for Aperture Priority, P for Program mode, and T for long exposures aka “bulb” mode, are simple and straightforward.
A complaint that some people have is how the shutter tops out at 1/250th when in A (aperture priority) mode, which is admittedly pretty annoying.
Unique to the 35Ti is the analog display on the top of the camera body that reads aperture, exposure compensation, and exposure number. Most of the leading compact cameras come with LCD displays, but Nikon intentionally designed the 35Ti to have more of an analog feel (this also means less one less LCD screen to fail, as is common with cameras of this age). The sibling of the 35Ti is the Nikon 28Ti, which is essentially the same camera but with a 28mm lens. The 28Ti has evolved into more of a collector item, so expect higher prices.
Lens: Nikkor 35mm
Shutter: 1 minute to 1/500th
Average Price on eBay (2024): $650 Shop Now
Skill Level: Beginner
Year of Release: 1990
Pros: Minimalist, f/2.8 lens, great low light focusing
Cons: Minimalist, partially plastic body, unprotected lens
Konica made an effort to design the Big Mini for one hand (right hand) shooting. On the spectrum of point and shoot to compact camera, the big mini definitely falls on the point and shoot side of things, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s no bells and whistles construction and minimal design is a little less intimidating than other point and shoots.
The lens opens up to an impressive f/2.8, and is known to produce contrasty and sharp images. Thanks to the infrared autofocus, the low light focusing capabilities are known to have a leg up on other point and shoots. The front shell is made out of aluminum, and the rest of the body is plastic. The viewfinder is simple with no displays outside of the frame lines, and the lens can focus to an impressive 35cm.
Hopefully you don’t chew your nails as many complain about the shallow buttons that might require a fingernail to operate. And the lens is not protected when closed, so smudging and scratching pose a threat. Also, it doesn’t come equipped with a lens coating so flaring can be a bit of a bummer (or a perk if you ask Instagram).
There are a few other Big Mini predecessors, with the initial design originally released in 1990, but the Big Mini F is last (and undoubtedly best) in the lineup of its relatives. Perfect for beginner photographers and loved by pros, the Konica Big Mini is a slightly more simple P&S with a powerful lens that tends to avoid the spotlight.
Shutter: 4 seconds to 1/4500th
Average Price on eBay (2024): $200 Shop Now
Skill Level: Beginner to intermediate
Year of Release: 1997
Pros: Cheap, 90s aesthetic, can be operated one handed
Cons: Plastic body, prone to dying without warning
The Olympus Stylus MJU II puts the “compact” in compact film camera. Slip it in your pocket and go anywhere. Undoubtedly one of the most minimal point and shoots out there and arguably the best point and shoot camera for beginners, the MJU II (aka the Olympus Stylus Epic) is small, easy-to-use, and makes great images. It’s easy to see why it has such a dedicated following. Desirable features include but are not limited to: DX coding up to 3200 ISO, an impressively sharp lens that is protected by a slider door, a very capable built-in flash (with red eye reduction), and the camera is weatherproof. (But not waterproof!)
The camera is powered on and off by opening or closing the slider door, which is an oddly satisfying experience. Three buttons make operations simple; a shutter button, a button for flash modes, and a self timer button. It’s definitely capable of being taken out of a pocket, opened, operated, and returned to said pocket with one hand. I.e. it’s well approved for run-and-gun adventure shooting.
The Olympus MJU II model is a successor to earlier models such as the XA and the Stylus / MJU, also fantastic point and shoot cameras, but the MJU II easily takes the cake as the superior camera.
Cons? The viewfinder is about as small as they come, and the flash is set to auto every time the camera is switched on and off (it’s known to be a little trigger happy in auto mode). So if you don’t want flash, you have to dig your little finger nail into the button like 3x to switch to no-flash mode every single time you turn it on. (Can you tell this writer has experience with this annoying feature?)
As with all point and shoots, they aren’t getting any younger and the MJU II electronics are known to fail unpredictably. The same goes for the rest of the expansive Olympus Stylus family. (Speaking of, a few Olympus honorable mentions include the MJU I, Olympus XA2, & Olympus Pen half frame camera.)
Lens: Olympus 35mm
Average Price on eBay (2024): $150 Shop Now
Skill Level: Beginner
Year of Release: 1983
Pros: Easy to use, inexpensive, takes AA batteries
Cons: On the bigger side, limited functionality
Overwhelmed at the prices for 35mm point and shoot cameras? Let’s talk about the Nikon L35AF. If you’ve never shot film before and want to test the waters, this is a fantastic option. The L35AF seems to have been released as a direct response to the Canon AF35M, during the era in which every camera company was competing against the other. Now 40 years later the consensus is the L35F is still an affordable camera that makes surprisingly impressive photos. There’s a lot to love and very little to hate.
Functionally, the L35AF covers the essentials. It has reliable Auto Focus, a pop up flash, a 10 second self timer, and a +2 Exposure Compensation lever (use this when your subject is backlit). It runs on two AA batteries, meaning you won’t have to hunt down semi-obscure speciality batteries like CR123.
Its size does render the Nikon L35AF more of a jacket pocket P&S size and less of a pants pocket camera. But in true “point and shoot” fashion, the user really only needs to compose the image and camera does the rest.
An unexpected but nice feature is the ability to add filters. The metering system sees through the filters and will adjust accordingly. So despite being an incredibly simple camera, the L35AF offers the option for more experienced film photogs to dabble with screw on colored filters for B&W film.
Average Price Online on eBay (2024): $200 Shop Now on Ebay
Skill Level: Beginner to intermediate
Year of Release: 1994
Pros: Waterproof, super simple, panorama mode, inexpensive
Cons: Limited functionality, automatic flash
First of all, to clear up any confusion with the name. The Sure Shot WP-1 is also known as the A-1, Prima AS-1, or my personal favorite: the Autoboy D5. Confusing, I know.
When it comes to waterproof 35mm cameras, beyond the legendary Nikonos V there isn’t much in the lineup to choose from, especially in point and shoot form. At the time of its release, the WP-1 was designed to compete with other underwater 35mm cameras like the Minolta Weathermatic.
The WP-1 is simple—really simple, and doesn’t have features such as exposure compensation, ISO settings, etc. There are essentially four different shooting modes on the dial; auto, macro, forced flash, and flash off modes.
The flash is automatic but can be turned off, there’s a date and time LCD display, and there’s a loophole to attach a lanyard or strap to. There is an option to shoot panoramas as well!
Although it is waterproof (up to 5m) it works as any point and shoot would above the water line! And it's a fun one at that. Just don’t expect this to produce the same visual results as some of the other point and shoots.
Shutter: 1/60th to 1/250th
Average Price on eBay (2024): $150 Shop Now on Ebay
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a point and shoot film camera?
A point-and-shoot film camera is a compact and simple-to-use camera designed for casual photographers. Some point and shoots do feature expert level functionality, premium materials, and even legendary glass, but in general, a typical point and shoot film camera has automatic settings for exposure and focus, designed to allow users to point the camera at a subject and take photos in an instant without needing to adjust many settings manually.
What is the difference between a point and shoot camera and an SLR camera?
The main differences between point and shoot cameras and SLRs are size and portability and lens and viewfinder system. SLR cameras (Single-Lens Reflex) feature an internal mirror that reflects the image the lens “sees” into the viewfinder for the user. Meaning, when you look into the viewfinder of an SLR (or DSLR) camera, you’re actually seeing through the lens.
On the other hand, point and shoot cameras are rangefinders, meaning they do not have an internal mirror but instead a mechanical series of compact lenses and mirrors that approximates what the lens is seeing. Because of this, rangefinders are smaller, quieter, and more compact, but the user doesn't see the same depth of field perception as with an SLR, and accurate framing can be more difficult too.
What is the most expensive point and shoot camera?
The Contax T2 is widely considered the most expensive point and shoot camera. Once found on thrift shop shelves, it’s not uncommon to see a decent condition Contax T2 sell for well north of $1,000. Limited edition T2s can sell for double that. See the T2 above in our list for the full rundown on this iconic camera.