So, having decided to shoot film cameras in a digital age, why on earth would someone then choose to use a point and shoot film camera? It’s certainly not for quality reasons and, from a craft and aesthetic point of view, most (although arguably not all) point and shoot cameras are not as controllable as a film SLR, or even as cool and stylish as an old retro rangefinder?
So, just for the fun of it, I’ve taken a break from reviews and assembled some pros and cons, the good versus the bad, of using point and shoot film cameras.
Point and shoot film cameras can be good because:
- Point and shoot film cameras can often be found very cheaply, in charity and opportunity shops.
- Some P&S film cameras are very good quality products, with decent lenses and advanced features.
- Often they haven’t been used very much and can be found in good condition, in comparison to film SLRs or rangefinders, which are usually more heavily used and often require fixing or, at least, cleaning, lubricating and adjusting (CLA).
- If negatives are going to be scanned, using cheap dedicated film scanners or flat-bed scanners with adapters, does it really matter that much if the photos have been taken with a point and shoot camera?
- Point and shoot film cameras often look like modern digital compact cameras, so it is easy to blend in for street photography. Try being subtle with a Nikon F2 SLR.
- P&S film cameras are usually small, compact and portable.
- Finally, they are often so easily available, they can almost be treated as semi-disposable cameras. In that regard, there is little stress about losing or damaging them (apart from possibly losing any photographs in the process, of course), or even swapping them with friends. Which is not something one would think about with a rare Leica, for example.
Point and shoot film cameras can be not so good because:
- They are often cheaply manufactured and can look rather ugly.
- Some don’t take very good photos – if making the effort to use film, why not choose a decent camera?
- Point and shoot film cameras often lack the manual controls which makes film photography so interesting. And what’s wrong with interchangeable lenses?
- Compared to SLR cameras and rangefinders, they can be small and difficult to adjust, focus and grip.
- Some premium (and even not so premium) point and shoot film cameras are very expensive, often more so than quite high quality film SLRs.
- Some ‘compact’ cameras are not actually all that compact, light or portable, especially the older ones.
- Even some of the more expensive point and shoot film cameras can break quite easily and they are harder to get repaired than old SLRs or rangefinders.
So there we have it. Seven of the best, seven of the… not so good reasons to use point and shoot film cameras. Just my opinion, of course.