5 Best Point and Shoot Film Cameras – Part 2

5 Best Point and Shoot Film Cameras – Part 2

1280 720 James Tocchio

A while back, we published a rather popular list of some of our favorite point-and-shoot film cameras. We made it pretty clear that our list was just a small sampling of the amazing machines out there. Even so, many of you chimed in with your favorite models that we may have overlooked.

We loved the response, so to thank our readers for their enthusiasm, we’re bringing another list of five super slick point-and-shoots.

Like the previous five, these machines are remarkable exemplars of thoughtful design and optical capability. They’re affordable, well-made, and easy to use, and they’re machines that any photophile would be happy to have in their hot little hands.

So let’s get to it. Here are five more amazing point and shoot film cameras.

Contax T2

This is a camera that point-and-shoot fans know and love, as evidenced by the number of readers across our social media accounts who called for its inclusion in our last list. So, here it is!

The German-branded T2 was released an astounding twenty-five years ago, in 1990, as the second in Contax’s series of high-end, compact film cameras. The T-series was marketed toward the professional photographer who wanted a hyper-quality point-and-shoot, and to the luxury consumer who wanted a camera the color of champagne or gold.

Okay, it was also offered in black. But even in this plebeian finish, it was an expensive camera. Thankfully that high price was justified, since the Contax T2 offered shooters truly exceptional performance in a minuscule and stylish package. Today, it’s still a pricey machine, but it’s also just as capable as it was back in the ’90s (perhaps even more capable due to advances in film emulsions).

Most renowned for its incredible optics, the T2 features a Carl Zeiss T* multi-coated Sonnar 38mm lens comprised of five elements in four groups. The legendary Zeiss optical coating ensures impeccable image quality, while the relatively quick maximum aperture of ƒ/2.8 allows shooting in all but the darkest of environments.

Beyond incredible optics, the T2 offers something many point-and-shoot cameras don’t. While it’s perfectly comfortable shooting in Autofocus and Program Auto Exposure modes, for users who want more artistic control, manual focus and Aperture Priority Auto-Exposure  are readily available with the flick of a thumbwheel.

This emphasis on compactness, quality optics, and user-controllability results in a camera that’s sophisticated, capable, and perfect for street photographers.

Our readers weren’t wrong; the T2 is certainly an exceptional point-and-shoot.

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Leica Minilux

Following the Contax T2 we have another German-branded, champagne-colored point-and-shoot. It’s Leica’s Minilux, and it’s a camera that’s nearly perfect (as covered in our review).

Hailing from the same era as the previously mentioned Contax T2, it’s naturally one of that camera’s biggest competitors. Marketed toward the same high-income and highly knowledgeable customers, it features much of the same exemplary qualities of the pre-mentioned machine.

Like the T2, the Minilux’s key selling point is its exceptional optics. The 40mm Leica Summarit uses six elements in four groups, with a maximum aperture of ƒ/2.4. This exceeds the specs of the Contax T2 (though we’re not proclaiming either to be better here).

The camera’s ability to auto-expose in Program mode, or to allow depth of field control in Aperture Priority Auto Exposure mode provides an artistic control similar to that of the T2. And the camera’s zone-focusing ability allows shooters to dictate focus with ease.

The size is perfect; small without being too small, this machine is another fantastic choice for street photographers and travelers.

Unfortunately, the Minilux has a sordid reputation for breakage and shutter problems. While we can’t confirm the severity of such problems in our own experience, the volume of reported breakage does give us pause.

So which should you pick between the T2 and the Minilux? That’s your decision. It may come down to a fear of reliability issues, the difference in maximum aperture, or simple aesthetics. It may also come down to which German name you want engraved on your camera.

In any case, buy a cared-for example of either and you’ll have one of the best point-and-shoot cameras in the world.

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Olympus Trip 35

Let’s say you’re not into German things, or the last two machines have been simply too high-tech for you. You want a point-and-shoot from a truly bygone era, something that will look completely radical in its antiquity.

Then look no further than the Olympus Trip 35. This is your grandpappy’s point-and-shoot. First introduced in 1967, the Trip 35 enjoyed an enviably long production run, just shy of twenty years! Why was it so popular? In a word; simplicity.

The Trip 35 was about as basic as a point-and-shoot gets, yet its fantastic optics and its accurate light-metering allowed shooters to make consistently excellent photos with little effort.

The selenium light meter requires no batteries to operate, and while these light meters’ effectiveness does wan over time, an example that has been stored properly should be as good as the day it was made.

The camera uses a Program Auto Exposure mode to set the shutter to one of two available speeds (either 1/40th of a second to 1/200th). While this would seem to be a seriously limiting factor, the camera actually performs remarkably well. Exposures are rarely off the mark, especially considering that overly sunny or dull shooting environments can be compensated for by the user-controllable aperture.

The Zuiko 40mm Tessar style lens is seriously impressive, sporting four coated elements in three groups. And the maximum aperture of ƒ/2.8 is as capable as many, more modern point-and-shoot cameras.

Originally marketed as the traveler’s dream machine, the camera enjoyed incredible and unprecedented commercial success. Olympus sold over ten million Trip 35s. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, we don’t know what is.

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Rollei 35S

We reviewed the Rollei 35B some time ago, and came away unimpressed. Since that time we’ve shot a 35S and the difference is night and day, landing it a spot on our list of the best point-and-shoots.

What makes it so great? Similar to many of the cameras listed here, we can chalk it up to the 35S’ superb lens. The Sonnar 40mm ƒ/2.8 offers tremendous sharpness that’s far superior to the super-soft Triotar lens of the 35B.

The collapsible lens, Compur leaf shutter, and thoughtfully placed control mechanisms all combine to create one of the smallest 35mm film cameras in existence. This thing is truly tiny, and it’s not until one holds it in the hand that they can fully appreciate its compactness. We’re surprised every time we hold one.

While the camera can be a bit deliberate in use (manual scale focusing, manual aperture and manual shutter speed), it produces excellent photos. Take things slow and you’ll fall in love. Try to rush the 35S and you’ll just get frustrated.

If you’re interested in a quirky, tiny camera that’s more than four decades old, the Rollei 35S is the point-and-shoot for you. Just try to avoid the cheaper models (35B, 35C, 35LED).

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Ricoh GR21

The point-and-shoot cameras we’ve listed thus far have been varied and eclectic, but they all share similarly standard focal lengths. If you’re looking for a different perspective on the world around you, you’ll need a wider lens. Ricoh’s got you covered.

With the GR21, Ricoh has managed to create the world’s first point-and-shoot camera equipped with an ultra-wide lens. The 21mm focal length is astoundingly wide, capable of pulling in a staggering volume of sheer visual information. Made up of nine elements in six groups, the lens is well-corrected and sharper than a Ginsu knife.

Offering aperture adjustment for control of depth of field, it’s a truly capable machine for the discerning photographer. It’s amazingly small, weighs next to nothing, and offers respectably quick autofocus.

But technical ability aside, the GR21’s ultimate strength lies in its ability to capture things in a way that’s rarely seen. It’s the perfect camera for photographers who are looking to see the world from a truly unique point of view.

Yes, it’s truly an amazing camera. The downside? It’s rare and expensive. But for those striving to gain and present a unique perspective, the Ricoh GR21 is the ultimate point-and-shoot.

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And that wraps up our second visit to the world of exceptional point-and-shoot cameras. As always, this list is far from complete. There are countless other desirable point-and-shoots out there. So if you’ve got one you’d like to see on our next Top Five, let us hear about it in the comments.

Want to hunt out your own point and shoot? Check out F-Stop Cameras‘ selection of gear, browse eBay’s Film Photography listings.

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James Tocchio

James Tocchio is a writer and photographer, and the founder of Casual Photophile. He’s spent years researching, collecting, and shooting classic and collectible cameras. In addition to his work here, he’s also the founder of the online camera shop Fstopcameras.com.

All stories by:James Tocchio
  • I’m loving my Samsung ECX-1. I considered the point and shoot in the list but I cannot live without a versatile zoom lens; I choose it because the lens seems to have the same quality of a Schneider Kreuznach lens and is more luminous than the usual for zooms.
    Said that I’d love to have in hands a Rollei QZ. Thank you for list, they are classics (y)

  • Minilux an Contax T2 both were replaced by an even better successor. Since your article goes about 5 best point-and-shoot film cameras, I believe listing these Leica CM and Contax T3 might be a god start for part three.
    Thank you for keeping film alive…

  • Well 10 cameras down now and not a mention for the stylus epic. I guess I will wait for part 3.

  • Thanks for this really helpful guide (and the previous one) –
    After bit of research prior to these guides- the useful info in above cemented my decision to buy my girlfriend a Nikon35ti for her birthday – I also treated myself to a Canon AF going cheap on ebay.

    We re both beginners really and I wondered if you had already written a guide or have tips for choosing appropriate 35mmfilm- both for the cameras and specific settings?

    thanks again for a great guide.

    • Hey bud. Thanks for the kind words, and that’s a pretty fantastic present for the little lady.

      As for what films to use; there are so many to choose from and people’s preferences are so varied that it’s tough to say for sure. Start out with general purpose film and go from there. ISO speed 400 is good for most shooting situations.

      After that just start experimenting with different film. Kodak’s Portra and Ektar make beautiful images and we’ve profiled them on this site. There are also fantastic offerings from Fuji and Ilford, Cinestill, and more.

      If you want to shoot black and white film and have it developed at a local lab (like your color films) you’ll need to buy C41 process color film like Kodak’s BW400CN or Ilfords XP2 Super. These two films are beautiful and easy to use, but if you want true black and white you’ll need to shoot Tri-X or a similar film, and develop at home or send them out to a more specialized photo lab.

      This isn’t as complicated as it sounds and I’m writing up a step-by-step for developing your own B+W film at home that’ll be publishing in the coming week or two.

      There’s lot of information when you’re just starting out, but the most important thing to remember is that it’s all good. Just pick some film, shoot it, and have fun.

  • Hi, I really dont know much about cameras, so please ignore my ignorance. My partner is going a trip and i know she loves shooting film, ive heard her talking about getting a point and shoot before… she loves takes close up shots of finer details (macro setting almost) can you recommend a camera that is best suited to this close up, sharp clarity? if thats possible.. cheers casey

    • Hi there. That’s a really good question. Often point and shoot cameras are far from specialized, and macro shooting is a highly specialized facet of photography. You may be better off looking for an SLR camera that’s in your price point (some of these can be almost as small as a point and shoot- Olympus OM cameras for instance) and buying a really good but affordable macro or standard lens that’s capable of macro shooting.

      I am aware of some point and shoot cameras that offer rudimentary macro capability, such as the Canon Sprint, but I’m afraid I can’t recall many others off the top of my head. Perhaps someone else can help.

      If you would like to talk more about SLRs you can email me directly at contact@fstopcameras.com

      • cheers thank you very much for the advise, ill check out the Olympus OM, i know she also loved the final results of the contax T2.. also one final question off topic, do any companies make Waist level viewfinders (hasselblad style) that were not for 120 film?

  • Randle P. McMurphy March 30, 2016 at 7:54 am

    Dear James, did you ever heared about the Yashica T5 ?
    The Carl Zeiss 3,5/35 Tessar lens they build in there is just amazing sharp
    and for a Point & Shot camera it offers you SLR lens quality for a low price !

    • I have indeed. I’m always looking for T cameras. Eventually I’ll review them. I just found a T2 at the local thrift store yesterday for $7.99!

  • Hi James!
    Thanks so much for all your articles, they’ve really helped me out. I’ve been wanting a vintage film camera for the longest time, and I never really considered treating myself to it. As I’m just a beginner, I think a point and shoot is where I’ll start and then I might invest in more manual ones. I want a camera that really has that vintage feel and produces that nostalgic effect in pictures, all the while being easy to use. I don’t mind not having all the functions automated, if that produces a better result. There isn’t any specific price range, but I want something reliable. Do you have any recommendations? There are so many to choose from! Thanks for your advice.

    • Hi Lucile. I’m happy the site’s helped you begin this journey into film shooting. It’s an amazing hobby.

      As you said, there are so many point and shoot cameras to choose from. It might be best to narrow down your search to a certain brand or style of shooting.

      Also try to think about the lenses that are in the camera. If you want a wide angle lens, look for cameras that offer a wider lens, like the Nikon 28Ti (though that’s an expensive camera). If you want a zoom lens, try looking at the Olympus Stylus series- these are fantastic cameras and very affordable.

      If you want something super retro and still very usable, look at the Olympus Trip 35. These are amazing, storied machines with a lot of street cred among photo geeks.

      Let me know if this helps. And if you have any particular camera in mind that I can advise you on I will happily do so!

  • Great post packed with good stuff! Any one of these amazing cameras would be a blast to own and shoot with. I’ve found that the Yashica-Kyocera L AF (1986) is a close (very close) cousin to the Yashica-Kyocera T3 without the Zeiss name (and coatings) of course. Nice 32mm f3.5 lens (probably built by Tomioka Optical). But for true P&S shooting it’s hard to fault the L AF – excellent contrast and color and in my opinion, little drop in sharpness from edge to edge. The metering is almost spot and can handle some tough AE situations. The AF is accurate too and in bright light super fast. Let’s face it, we’re not going to print these P&S images above 8.5 x 11 inches anyway and most will be viewed on a screen. You can pick up an L AF for under $40, way under (if you can find one).
    I enjoy your articles.

  • CHARLES B SALAS-HUMARA March 31, 2017 at 11:28 am

    Y’all going to think I’m crazy, but I bought a yashica t4 and think it’s great. I recently bought an Olympus infinity jr for 2 bucks and I think it takes better pictures. Grainier for sure, but the viewfinder is way better as the yashica is great for close-ups and distance but I find that what I am seeing through the viewfinder doesn’t match with the photo. The Oly infinity jr just looks so 70’s and interesting. Picked up an Mjui and looking for a konica big mini to play with. Thanks for the site

    • It happens a lot that the “legendary” cameras aren’t what they’re cracked up to be. Don’t believe everything you read online. Errr, wait.

  • I don’t know why you even bothered with this post as three out of the five cameras are the usual expensive suspects in the main. One day i’l be able to read a camera post without seeing the word Leica pop up but that day might be a long way off.

  • Arthur Gottschalk October 7, 2021 at 10:13 am

    Not sure why the Contax TVS fails to make these lists. With it’s zoom lens it becomes a supurb travel camera capable of great photos. I took mine as my only camera on a trap to India and Sri Lanka several years ago and came home with perfect and wonderful pictures. Unfortunately it stopped working at some point. I liked it so much that I’m thinking of buying another one now.

  • Eduardo Amadeo Desouza July 31, 2022 at 4:12 pm

    why are all the images broken links?

    • No idea. Possibly something to do with this article being from seven years ago, but in any case I have fixed the images. Sorry I can’t say the same about the cameras I picked… Rollei 35 as a point and shoot? What was I thinking?

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James Tocchio

James Tocchio is a writer and photographer, and the founder of Casual Photophile. He’s spent years researching, collecting, and shooting classic and collectible cameras. In addition to his work here, he’s also the founder of the online camera shop Fstopcameras.com.

All stories by:James Tocchio