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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.