35mm film compact cameras

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LEICA:
Leica Minilux
Leica Mini 3 Titan
RICOH:
Ricoh GR1v (coming soon)
KYOCERA:
Yashica T3 Super
Yashica T4 (coming soon)
OLYMPUS:
Olympus Mju II - Stylus Epic
Olympus Mju II Zoom 80
Olympus XA2 (coming soon)
KONICA:
Konica Big Mini 510z
Konica A4 (BM101)
AGFA:
Agfa Optima Sensor 335
CANON:
Canon Sure Shot Z135
NIKON:
Nikon L35AF2 (coming soon)

Olympus Mju II - Stylus Epic (info)

Olympus Mji II35mm Film - 1997

You can read a lot online about this small camera. There's a reason when a camera gets this kind of cult status (at least among the film community). This little camera has an amazing lens, the Olympus 35mm 2.8 that you can carry everywhere and anytime because the camera is really small, and also weather resistant. You can buy one from eBay for a price range between 50£ and 90£ depending on the conditions of the camera. Usually the black ones cost more, while you can find silver and champagne versions for around 50/60£. The Mju II is highly recommended, and while you can find the Mju I (Infinity Stylus) and other Mju I & II with zoom lens for less money, I suggest you to go straight to the Mju II (called Stylus Epic in US), because the difference is quite huge in terms of quality of the lens (while body and design are very similar). The other models are just OK, while the Mju II is great.

The body of the these Mju (all models) feels a bit cheap plastic, maybe a little bit less evident in the black models. The camera has a nice design anyway, very 90's, with a slide cover that protects the lens when the camera is off. You switch on the camera simply by sliding the cover. For the Mju II just slide the cover and it's ready to shoot, since the lens doesn't need to extend. If you don't want to shoot with flash you need to turn it off every time you switch on the camera, since it resets the settings when it's off. The shutter button is OK, you can feel the half press to lock the focus, but since it's is very sensitive don't keep the finger on it while you walk.

If this camera had a solid metal body and a larger viewfinder (which is really really tiny) it would be among the best consumer point and shoot ever made, and anyway the lens still is among the top of its category.

The CityOlympus Mju II - Kodak Ultamax 400

Olympus Mju II Zoom 80 (info)

Olympus Mju II Zoom 8035mm Film - 1999

Before buying the Mju II, I got a zoom version (38 ~ 80 mm). I expected some great results from this camera since I had read a lot about the Mju II. The photos though where quite disappointing, even if for this special occasion I chose to process and scan the film in a good (and expensive) lab in London. The camera has a slow lens and it produced soft corners in the pictures. The overall quality of the photos wasn't the same one I could get from the Konica Mini 510z (zoom camera as well). When I bought the Mju II with the prime 35 mm lens I really noticed the difference. The design of the camera is nice anyway, just slightly bigger than the Mju II prime lens. The flash pops up instead of being fixed like in the Mji II 35 mm. Generally the price for this camera is really too high for what it offers, probably because it contains "Mju II" in the name. I suggest to buy a Mju II with the prime 35 mm, or go for a cheaper and better camera, like the two following Konica ones.

BooksOlympus Mju II Zoom 80

Konica Big Mini 510z (info)

Big Mini 510Z35mm Film - 1994

This Konica has also a zoom lens, and while generally I suggest to avoid zoom lenses (specially in compact cameras), with this one I could get very nice quality pictures. Its sisters Konica Big Mini models are quite famous among the compact point & shoot film cameras, since the lenses are great, and the designs of the cameras are simple and clean. I also had a Konica A4 (broken now), which basically is the first Big Mini (BM101) and doesn't have the zoom. While I could see much difference between the Olympus Mju II and its zoom counterpart, with these Konicas I didn't notice the same huge gap between the two cameras. The Konica Big Mini 510z has a simple and nice design body. The shutter button feedback is very good. You can buy it very cheaply on eBay since it doesn't have the attention that people reserve to the Big Minis 201 and 302. If you need the zoom, this is a nice choice.

TourKonica Big Mini 510z - Fujifilm XTra 400 - digital BW

Konica A4 BM101 (info)

Konica A4 BM10135mm Film - 1989 - Big Mini Series Grandma

You can find still cheap Konica A4s as well, since it doesn't have the name "Big Mini" on it. Still, this camera is a Big Mini, indeed the first one of the series (code BM101). Also the shape of the body is very similar to the Big Mini 201, even if the A4 feels much more 80's in its design than the later Big Mini versions. The camera is light and slim. It has a 3.5 lens (that extends when switched on) just like the later Big Minis, except the Big Mini F which has a 2.8 aperture. I could get some very nice quality pictures from the A4. The macro mode has a dedicated button on top (I think it's really handy). The shutter button is too sensitive, and it happened to shoot a photo while I was trying to lock the focus with half pressing the button. It's a bit annoying. It's a bit difficult to see the LEDs inside of the viewfinder sometimes, but the viewfinder itself is bigger than the Mju one.

Anyway I recommend the A4 over the Big Mini zoom, prime lenses are always better, but if you need a zoom the Big Mini won't disappoint either. The Konicas are made in Japan, and the overall quality of the cameras feels better than the Olympus Mju, more solid and with a less cheaply plastic body. The lens is comparable but behind the Mju II's. This camera broke, and I tried to recover the lens somehow. Still experimenting with it, but could use parts of the lens on the iPhone's camera for some macro close up.

NapKonica Big Mini A4 - Fujifilm Superia 200

Yashica T3 Super (info)

Yashica T3 Super35mm Film - 1990

This camera often gets less love than its famous sisters Yashica T4 and T5. Less love means less money (well at least for cameras), so you can buy this model on eBay for a lot less than a T4/T5. It also has a faster 2.8 lens comparing to the 3.5 lens of the T4/T5. Anyway, these are all good cameras, with a lovely and sharp and contrasty Carl Zeiss T* Tessar 35 mm lens.

This Yashica T3 camera is pretty big. You can compare the sizes of the camera on the first and last pictures here, with all the cameras all together. It's big, massive, thick, not really a beauty, but I love it. It reminds me of the Sega Master System (first version), and this might be another reason to love it. Its body feels really solid, good plastic, and a great grip. The feature I love at most (after the lens) is the N.A. Scope, an additional viewfinder, on the top of the camera. It's a great features, I really wonder why I don't see this additional viewfinder in more cameras. Not all the Yashica Ts have this N.A. Scope, you need to find a Yashica T3 Super, or a Yashica T4 Super, or a T5. Plain T3s and T4s don't have it. Another great feature (specially for discreet street photography) is that if you keep the shutter button pressed the camera takes the picture but doesn't run the motor to get to the next film exposure until you release it. Even if the camera is not very silent, this functionality helps a lot. The shutter button itself is too sensitive, but I guess you can get used to it. Just like the Mju II, slide the cover to switch on the camera, ready to shoot without lens extension (another good point).

The camera is also weather resistant, and it feels it can survive pretty much everything. Highly recommended if you don't need to carry it in your jeans pocket. Or enlarge the pocket since it's worth it. One of the best compact cameras for street photography.

Going to flyYashica T3 - Kodak Gold 200

Leica Mini 3 Titan (info)

Leica Mini 3 Titan35mm Film - 1996

I have mixed feelings about this camera, since it gave me inconsistent results. It's a Leica rebrand of a Japanese production (Minolta, Panasonic, or Kyocera), and it's made in Japan. The body itself feels quite cheap, plastic, light and not very strong. I got the Titan version, that has a champagne body without the black stripe in the middle (I think the version I have looks better). I wonder why they didn't include any cover for the lens, it just retracts in the body when off, but without cover. I also hoped for a better lens, since anyway it's branded Leica, but I wasn't very impressed. Probably when you think of Leica you get also higher expectations.

The start up of the camera is pretty slow, the lens takes a while to extract and be ready, and it's noisy during this process. The use is similar to the average common point & shoot camera: auto exposure with auto focus, with only the flash to set (usual settings, auto, on, red eyes, off, and so on). The autofocus is quite good, not particularly slow or fast, but precise. Also the shutter button feedback is fine, with a sound half press to lock the focus. The lens itself is a 32mm f/3.2, and in some shots it provided some sharp details with contrasty colours, but other times colours were quite weak and soft details overall, this inconsistency is what makes me wonder about the camera. The auto exposure was another point of inconsistency, with mixed lighting situation the camera doesn't behave very well.

This Leica Mini 3 is not a bad camera, and the 32mm focus length is an interesting one, even if a bit wide for my use. I would recommend it anyway for a reasonable price (being branded as Leica tends to be pricey), or you could find the more economic Minolta Riva Mini, or Minolta Freedom Escort that seem to be like the Leica Mini I and II.

AquamarineLeica Mini 3 Titan - Agfa Vista 200

Leica Minilux (info)

Leica Minilux35mm Film - 1995

The Leica Minilux didn't disappoint me. Loaded it first with a Ilford FP4 Plus 125 roll it deployed some alive and crispy black & white photos. I had worse and blurry results in lower light environments, or when I used the camera with the DOF hyperfocal distance, or situations where probably I pushed the camera to take the shot anyway.

The overall feeling is great, this Minilux is a lovely camera. Not one of the basic point & shoot like the Leica Mini 3, the Minilux is completely on another level. It has some manual controls as well, you can set the aperture to shoot in aperture priority, set the zone focus, or focus to infinity. There is control over the flash of course (which by the way works very well), and exposure compensation, too. The position of the control is also very good, aperture and AF or focus distance on two knobs one on top of each other, and with the aperture knob you also use to switch on the camera. The "P" mode is for the automatic exposure, both aperture and shutter speed. The autofocus is great, the fastest among all the film cameras I have. The camera behaved perfectly, giving balanced exposure every time, in all the situations I tested it.

Leica MiniluxAmazing lens

The body of the camera is amazing, both the design and the quality of the material. It's a joy to use, and it's a camera that slows you down in a good way, making you think about each shot you take. It's a perfect camera for different styles and kinds of photographers, since it can be very flexible. Unfortunately you cannot put filters on the lens, I'd love that, but the lens itself is simply great: Summarit 2.4/40mm. It's so great that in Japan they take the lens from dead Minilux and convert it for Leica M mount. And why do they convert it? Well, this is the sad part of the Leica Minilux: the error E02. It's the definitive error that transforms your Minilux in a - still lovely - brick. So you want to continue to use the amazing lens, like a transplant. It seems that almost all the Minilux can get the error E02 at some point (assumption), no matter how it behaved until the day before. It's scary, and makes you use the camera with being afraid to meet read this code on the display. I got some information that suggests to change the battery when the camera still shows it as half-full, since it can help to avoid the error. I don't know if it really helps, but I'm going to do this for sure. The battery btw lasted just for a couple of rolls, which is quite ridiculous. When it's shown as half-full, swap it with a full battery, and use the half one on another camera.

I mentioned a display, and this is another great feature of the camera. When you half press the shutter button the small display on top of the camera shows the aperture (if automatic mode) and the shutter speed. This is absolute helpful when you want to check the exposure before taking the photo, and if you want to tweak it. The camera is silent, and the shutter button is great, too, sensitive but still easy to half press. A negative point is the viewfinder. It's really too small and completely bare of information about the shot, except the green and red LEDS. They could have done much better, and it doesn't feel at the same level of the rest of the elements.

You can get this camera on ebay for about £200/300, it really depends on the moment, on the conditions, and if you're lucky. Since the error E02 is quite famous, and it always appears with googling the name of the camera, people tend to buy the zoom version of the Minilux (because it doesn't get the error E02) that has a 35-70mm f/3.5-6.5 zoom lens. It's very different. It's not as good as the Minilux prime lens Summarit 2.4/40mm. Leica doesn't repair the camera anymore, but there are some other local stores that could repair it.

CambridgeLeica Minilux - Ilford FP4 Plus 125 B&W

Agfa Optima Sensor 335 (info)

Agfa Optima Sensor 33535mm Film - 1978

This is a camera from the 70's, and not really a point & shoot in terms of auto focus and auto exposure. It has a selenium-meter, with an aperture ring on the lens to shoot in aperture priority mode. The body is simply great, a made in Germany design masterpiece. The camera has a HUGE and clear viewfinder, and the famous HUGE red/orangish shutter button, even if the body is small and compact.

Like many other compact cameras without rangefinder from the 70's it has a zone focusing system. In a sunny day, with f/22 or f/16 aperture, you can easily get a clear DOF zone focus using the hyperfocal distance, even on a 40mm lens (not really a wide focal length). The lens is a 40mm f/3.5 and it's quite sharp, but the other Agfa Optima Sensors such as the 535 or the 1035 with also the rangefinder have a brighter f/2.8 lens. I suggest to go with the latter one, since it seems to be the more complete. I like the 40mm focal length, I find it to be the right one for my style. I enjoyed using this Optima Sensor for this focal length, for the aperture ring on the lens, for the film wind single stroke (instead of the electronic motor), and for the overall mechanical feeling of the camera. The batteries are used just for the meter (shutter speed), that is precise with consistent results. I think shooting with a more mechanical camera is a refreshing experience, that slows you down in a good way.

Canon Sure Shot z135 (info)

Canon Sure Shot Z13535mm Film - 1996

I was not disappointed by the photos this camera takes, I kind of expected a certain amount of quality in the Canon lens, even if a zoom one. The lens is a 38-135 (hence the name Z135) f/3.6-8.9, not too bad for a lens zoom (better than the Mju II zoom 80 and its 38-80 f/4.5-8.9), even if I almost always used it at 38mm. The camera is big, very big. Longer than the average, and quite thick. The lens is also quite long even when the camera is off. The camera has some nice options on its back, the ring you can find pretty much on all the Sure Shot series cameras. Macro, sport, portrait (with a limited but existing DOF), auto, and so on. The body is really nice, the front part is metal, and its design fits very well when holding the camera. This model can also imprint the date and a caption on the photo. I tried the date, since it reminds me of the 90's, and I think I won't use it anymore since it just makes me want to erase it with Photoshop.

I think this model is almost completely unknown, at least ignored by the compact point & shoot film community, as people pay a bit more more attention to the Canon Sure Shot Classic 120. I don't really think they are so different in terms of performance, since this Z135 holds up quite well, and I could get some good photos with it.

The camera metering gets a bit confused in mixed exposed situations I think, I tested it in particular lighting situation and it didn't behave as well as the Yashica T3 for example. I also noticed the auto focus went off in a couple of shots, focusing on the background or near the point I wanted to focus. The camera anyway behaves quite well also indoors and in low light without flash. It has a good shutter button, you can easily get the half stop for focusing, so it's never happened to take a photo instead of a half stop press.

I think this would be a nice camera for a general photography, specially for travel. It's not really a camera for street photography itself, but it doesn't suggest a particular purpose either.

35mm camera reviews film photography street photography