My Top Five Favourite Film Cameras of 2023

6 min read by Dmitri.
Published on .

In today’s short post, I’ll introduce you to my top five favourite film cameras from the nineteen I tried this year. I’ll explain why I picked each for this list with a short pro/con list and add a link to their full review.

Enjoy!

Polaroid SX-70.

I’ve had this camera for nearly five years and reviewed it previously. But in 2023, I gave it another look and re-wrote my article using the new knowledge and prolonged experience with the SX-70.

👍 Things I love about SX-70. It’s decidedly unique — the only foldable, nearly-pocketable instant film SLR ever produced — and incredibly useful for my photography. I shot it at events, while documenting my work on this year’s edible film camera, and just for fun: it’s joyous to play with. Not to forget the things you can do with one of the largest instant film formats freely available today.

👎 Things I don’t like about SX-70. The exposure controls. The unfortunate truth about modern Polaroid film is its narrow dynamic range, which means it’s hard to take good photos with. SX-70 makes the fact even more challenging due to its outdated exposure meter and ambiguous exposure control wheel with no manual mode.

👉 See my full Polaroid SX-70 review for more. Buy Polaroid SX-70 here.

Hasselblad XPan a.k.a. Fuji TX-1.

XPan is a truly unique piece of photographic equipment. I only had a few days with it, and parting ways was hard (but necessary). It’s the most expensive camera reviewed on this blog!

👍 Things I love about Hasselblad XPan. XPan creates the largest possible image on 35mm film with incredible detail — all in a very compact, fully-featured camera body. The shell is made of metal and feels like a tank; this camera does not feel precious, but it’s well-made. It has brilliant controls with aperture priority and manual mode, excellent TTL metering, and automatic film transport.

👎 Things I don’t like about Hasselblad XPan. The price: with lenses, this camera can set you back well over five thousand dollars. There’s also a chance it may stop working and require expensive repairs (if they are at all possible).

👉 See my full Hasselblad XPan review for more. Buy XPan here.

Minolta P’s (Riva Panorama).

Minolta P’s is a panoramic film camera — but it’s on the opposite side of the price spectrum from the XPan. Whereas the latter can set you back $5K, the Riva can be easily found for less than $100. Haters will call it a “fake panorama” — but I don’t believe in such things, and neither should you.

👍 Things I love about Minolta P’s (Riva Panorama). The viewfinder on this camera is as bright and comfortable as XPan’s (the same can not be said about any other point-and-shoot film camera with optional panoramic mode). It has a 24mm 𝒇4.5 lens, which can capture sweeping perspectives with a 77-degree horizontal angle of view — wider than XPan’s kit 45mm. It’s fully pocketable, has autofocus, and motorized film transport. If you scan film at home, you can save time by selecting the exposed part of the frame (not applicable to DSLR-type rigs). This camera is positively addictive.

👎 Things I don’t like about Minolta P’s. Unfortunately, Minolta P’s can sometimes miss focus, often lacks sharpness, and renders ugly bokeh. It can only shoot ISO 100, ISO 200, and ISO 400 films. The smaller-than-standard 35mm film exposure area makes taking well-defined images even more difficult with this camera.

👉 See my full Minolta P’s review for more. Buy Minolta P’s here.

Pentax Espio Mini.

Point-and-shoot film cameras (even the plasticky ones, including the ones that reset flash to “on” each time) can capture photos as sharp and well-exposed as any tricked-out SLR. Pentax Espio Mini is one of those high-quality, pocketable, fast-shooting cameras, yet it’s relatively affordable (you’re looking at the $200-300 range, depending on condition).

👍 Things I love about Pentax Espio Mini. This camera is incredibly light and compact (just 155g/5.4oz!). It sports a great lens and simple controls in a beautiful shell. It has a date back that still works with today’s calendar and will continue to do so until 2030! But the key components that make the images from this camera sing are the superb autofocus and the beautifully-balanced flash.

👎 Things I don’t like about Pentax Espio Mini. Espio has a tiny, dim viewfinder. I won’t hold the lack of manual controls against the Mini (after all, it is a point-and-shoot), but I wish Pentax used a more sensible default film ISO; Espio’s is ISO 25, which makes shooting most film without DX-code tricky or impossible on this camera.

👉 See my full Espio Mini review for more. Buy Pentax Espio Mini here.

Welta Penti 0.

This last camera on the list surprised me with its compactness and image quality. It was produced in the 1950s and it looks incredibly so. But unlike most cameras of the day, it can fit in a pocket and save tons of film. I was told these cameras are sold very cheaply in Germany; I’ve seen good copies for less than $50 on eBay.

👍 Things I love about Welta Penti. Welta Penti is borderline tacky, but I call it beautiful. There are multiple colour accents to choose from. It has a 𝒇3.5 coated glass lens that can take reasonably sharp photos. Its simple construction makes it a reliable, easy-to-fix film camera. It makes 24 half-frame exposures on 35mm film, which helps avoid the boredom of shooting with the same film for too long. It uses about a quarter of a 36exp. roll each time you load it.

👎 Things I don’t like about Welta Penti. The controls are a little fiddly. It’s very difficult to tell when Welta got to the end of the roll other than by looking at the frame counter. It uses an extinct 35mm film cassette; to use it with modern film, you need to feed/respool it into an Agfa RAPID cartridge in absolute darkness; you need two of those cassettes to shoot this camera properly. The reloadable cassettes can be hard to come by, so you’ll need to explain to your lab that you want them back.

👉 See my full Welta Penti 0 review for more. Buy Welta Penti 0 here.


I hope that you found this list entertaining and maybe even helpful. If you’d like to add any thoughts about these cameras, give me a list of your faves, or suggest something new for me to review, please feel free to comment below. 💬