The most overrated and underrated film cameras of 2021

The film’s popularity is still on an upward trajectory with no signs of slowing down. With the ever-changing world of cinema, it’s time to update the list of underrated and overrated film cameras.

Before I start, I would like to say that this list contains cameras that I know and know well enough to have expressed any opinion about. With thousands of different film cameras that have been produced over the decades, the overwhelming majority of cameras will not be on this list. You can expect, however, that if a camera is fairly mainstream and well-known, I will try to include it. I would also like to say that this list is largely, if not exclusively, determined by cost / quality and convenience. One could then argue that this list is based on the most overrated and undervalued cameras, and not “rated”. Finally, the reason this update was necessary is that the cost of the cameras has not been linear across the board. Indeed, some of the more popular cameras have maintained their same price point since last year, but many haven’t (I don’t think some have gotten any cheaper).

As mentioned above, this list will not be exhaustive. This is because it will only contain 35mm and medium format cameras, but it will not contain large format cameras. Also, I will not be including special edition cameras, even though they are special edition cameras from the same cameras on this list. Take, for example, the Nikon F2 Titan, which sells for 10 times more than a normal F2. They both take the exact same photographs, but one is just considerably more expensive than the other. Since there are so many cameras and so many special editions out there, I can’t cover them all. If I had to give a general tip, it would be to avoid special edition cameras if this is a camera you will be using regularly.

Overvalued cameras

This list has not been easy for me to put together last year, but I am much more comfortable with it this year. Why? Because the cameras that were on the list last year have become even more in demand and expensive. In addition to the cameras from last year’s list, I have several more to add that I think I deserve even more to be here. Their presence on this list doesn’t mean they aren’t fantastic cameras. Indeed, most of them are quite amazing and really worth a pretty penny. The question here is whether they are worth their list price, and to be on this list I would say the answer is a definite ‘no’.

  • Bronica RF645
  • Contax T2 & T3
  • Contax 645
  • Hasselblad XPan and XPan II
  • Leica M3
  • Mamiya 7 and 7ii
  • Mamiya RZ67 Pro and Pro-II (reviewed here)
  • Mamiya 645 Pro and Pro-TL (review here)
  • Minolta TC-1
  • Nikon 28Ti and 35Ti
  • Pentax 67 II

For starters, it really pains me to put my favorite film camera on this list, the Mamiya 645 Pro-TL. It has been my go-to camera for years, so much so that I have continued to develop my lens collections for this system, and all I can say is that it is priced way above that. that I think it is worth. And again, this is from someone who has the camera and uses it regularly. I would even go so far as to say that without the Mamiya 645 Pro-TL, I wouldn’t be as passionate about cinema as I am. Still, it’s not worth the price it costs today. If you could get a full kit with a lens you’d like to use (except the 80mm f / 1.9) for around $ 500 or less I’d say it’s a good deal, but nothing more and suggest to move on.

My thoughts on the cameras from last year’s list are still the same. I would personally like to have a Mamiya 7 or 7ii. I think these are fantastic cameras. And I would love to have a Nikon 35Ti because I think these are the coolest point and shoot cameras I have ever seen. I would also like to try the Hasselblad XPan, but I can’t even bring myself to google it with such a high price tag. Finally, the camera that was the biggest problem for me (and maybe it doesn’t make this list) was the Pentax 67 II. One of my closest friends has this camera, and I think it’s amazing. If I found one for $ 1,500 or less for a kit that was in good condition, I would pick it up in the blink of an eye. Sadly, I don’t think that day will ever come back.

Cameras in the middle

  • Fujifilm GA645 series (see here)
  • Hasselblad 500C / M
  • Mamiya RB67 (see here)
  • Mamiya 645 (first models: M645, M645 1000S, M645J)
  • Minolta SR-T Series
  • Nikon F-F5 (F2 review here)
  • Olympus XA
  • Pentax 645
  • Pentax 6×7 and 67
  • Pentax K1000
  • Carpet Yashica-124 G
  • Zenza Bronica ERTS
  • Zenza Bronica GS-1

This list is, like last year’s version, a bit more difficult to compose. The point is, cameras can vary widely in terms of price and condition, so it’s impossible to say bluntly that a camera is priced appropriately. Truth be told, any camera on the overrated list can be a good buy under the right circumstances, and any camera on this list or the underrated list can be a bad buy under the conditions. In general, these cameras are on average priced higher than last year but are still reasonable considering the prices they are currently offering. I would suggest anyone looking for a camera to buy to look for a camera on this list or the list below.

Underrated cameras

  • Canon Elan 7
  • Mamiya C330
  • Nikon FA (see here)
  • Nikon FE and FE2 (reviewed here)
  • Nikon f80
  • Nikon F100 (see here)
  • Pentax KX and KM

Final thoughts

The world of cinema has undergone turbulent changes over the past year or two. The prices kept going up with no sign of going down at any time. I still find it hard to believe the rate going on some of these decades-old cameras with no warranty and limited repairability (or no chance depending on the model) if something goes wrong. With the expansion of the world of cinema as it is, the world is actually getting smaller. There are fewer and fewer cameras that are now reliable and costing no more than what one might expect to pay for a decent to nice digital camera. As such, consider how reliable a camera is (put a lot of stock in all manual cameras) and the ability to repair the camera if something goes wrong.

Do you have any cameras in mind that you think should have been added to one of the lists?

About Debra D. Johnson

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