With the popularity of digital cameras these days, it’s easy to forget that film cameras still exist.  Not only are they readily available, but many can be found for under $100. 

Film cameras are an inexpensive entry point into the world of photography and they offer many benefits as well as a touch of nostalgia.

Film photography

Film cameras have come a long way since the 1800’s and are still popular despite their competition with digital cameras.  One of the biggest advantages of film cameras is that they require very little battery power, if any. 

For a long day of shooting with a digital camera or the camera in your phone, you may need to recharge after just a few hours.  If you’re using a film camera, you can easily shoot for days at a time without worrying about losing power.

Another benefit to film photography is the high quality and resolution of your images.  Resolution for a film camera is determined in part by the speed of the film used, so resolution can easily and relatively inexpensively be changed. 

With a digital camera, resolution is determined by the technology, with a higher price tag for higher resolution.

Basic film camera parts

A camera body is a lightproof box, designed to protect the film.  The body includes a shutter which is a spring-loaded button you press that allows light to enter through a small circular hole called the aperture. The shutter button can be found on the top or on the front of the camera body. 

The lenses are pieces of glass made to direct light to the back of the camera.  Depending on how the lens is shaped, the distance the light needs to travel varies.  The millimeter specification of a lens indicates this distance and is often referred to as focal length. When light hits the film, it causes a chemical reaction to recreate the image onto the film which is developed to produce the image.

Low-cost film cameras

Some of most inexpensive film camera options include instant cameras. Polaroid and Fujifilm are two manufacturers that are still making instant cameras. 

One thing to consider when looking for an affordable camera is the cost of the film itself, and the cost of developing the film.  With an instant camera, there is no additional cost to develop the film, making it a good choice for someone on a budget.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Film Camera

The compact Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 9 Instant Camera is stylish, easy to use and costs under $100. It has a slim profile and lightweight body making it the perfect camera to stash in your purse or pocket.

 

Not only is this camera affordable, it’s very user friendly.  Simply press the power button next to the lens, adjust the dial to the appropriate setting, and snap your picture.  You print will be ejected instantly.

The INSTAX Mini 9 features an automatic exposure measurement that determines the best light for the conditions.  The proper setting is shown by a flashing light and you simply turn the brightness adjustment dial to the indicated setting. This helps to ensure that you capture the perfect photo every time.

This camera is an extension of the Instax line and has many upgrades from previous versions.  A High-Key mode is available on the INSTAX Mini 9 cameras. This mode allows you to take brighter pictures with a soft look, which is perfect for portraits. The viewfinder has been improved for enhanced subject viewing. Framing a shot becomes even easier with greater clarity and improved visibility.

Additional features include:

  • Electronic shutter speed 1/60 second to capture even quick moving subjects
  • Built in lens cover that opens and closes when the camera is turned on or off
  • Superior quality Fujinon lens for sharp pictures
  • Works with Fujifilm INSTAX Mini Instant Film

Polaroid 300 Instant Camera

Another option for a film camera below the $100 price point is the Polaroid 300 Instant Camera

The Polaroid brand has become synonymous with instant cameras since they created the first instant camera for consumers back in 1948.

 

The Polaroid 300 Instant Camera is the modern version of the classic Polaroid. Not only does it look good, but it’s compact and lightweight, making it a great camera that won’t take up much room if you’re traveling.  With four lighting settings and an auto-flash, photos will be perfect, despite varied lighting conditions.

With this Polaroid camera, photos come out instantly and develop in a matter of minutes. The business card sized pictures are perfect for capturing a fun event and sharing with your friends and family.

This lightweight camera comes in a variety of trendy colors, has a 4-scene mode and auto flash.

Additional features are:

  • Auto flash in low light
  • Picture size: 2.1″ x 3.4″
  • Image size: 1.8″ x 2.4″
  • Works with Polaroid 300 Instant Film (not Included)
  • Auto adjust
  • Electronic shutter 1/60 second
  • Manual exposure compensation
  • Wrist strap for carrying convenience

 

Verdict

While digital photography is everywhere, there is still something about having an instant photo in hand and putting one up for display in your home. There is a lot to love about the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant and Polaroid 300 Instant. They both look great with their retro styling, plus they’re compact, portable and lightweight.

Instant film cameras provide a bit of nostalgia while giving users the opportunity to experiment with a unique photographic medium that is rarely seen today. 

Either of these cameras is a great option for under $100 and will set you apart from other photographers by giving you a multitude of unique features to create one-of-a-kind photographs. 
If you are looking for a fun inexpensive camera with multiple features to allow you to take creative pictures, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant and Polaroid 300 Instant are two great options for you to consider.

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