When looking for a vintage camera or retro camera it’s easy to go overboard or spend a lot but really, if you’re going for vintage authenticity, it’s cheaper than you think.
If you want to take photos like people back then, some of these vintage cameras are the perfect choice – they’re retro, they’re cheap, they’re reliable.
A cheap camera might seem like there’s a catch somewhere but seriously, do you think the girls from Yellowjackets spent hundreds of dollars on their Polaroids? As a 90s kid, I’m here to tell you that they didn’t – they probably had one of these retro cameras from below.
Vintage camera models: the iconic cameras from the 90s
Why do old photos always make you feel a bit sad? For most people, it’s a dose of nostalgia. For younger generations, I’d venture to say that they feel connected to vintage stuff because stuff just felt easier, lighter back then. With a vintage camera and photos shot on film, there’s little chance of someone posting you on social media and every picture taken with friends feels like a very intimate memory, not a bragging opportunity.
For your next hangout, you can use one of these vintage cameras to create some authentic memories. And, if you go and develop those films, you can decorate your room super 80s or 90s style. Who needs hygge stuff when you could have a lanyard full of Polaroids with smiling friends?
You can also get an awesome Kodak slide viewer for under $50 and gather your friends around to review your adventures.
Vintage Polaroid cameras
Yes, the Polaroid I-Type Instant Camera is the absolute king of vintage and retro cameras but really, they’re not really one of the portable options. I myself have one at home and used it for a few birthday parties and trips here and there but when it comes to travel? Forget about it.
A Polaroid Instant Camera might be vintage but it also occupies more than a quarter of a carry-on bag, so if you want a vintage camera, I’d personally advise going with one of these models – and get a cool carrying case.
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Don’t get me wrong, I love my Polaroid I-Type, but I do also find myself reaching for a vintage Kodak whenever I have a cool event coming up.
What made Polaroid cameras popular is a combination of factors. You didn’t need any technical knowledge to take photos and develop them – and most of all, you could have instant prints, which wasn’t something other cameras offered. Plus, Polaroids do have that unique look and aesthetic that feels just so…artistic.
Still, they aren’t all that portable.
Alternatively, you can always go vintage with a Fujifilm Instax Mini 40, the more portable option for retro lovers.
This camera doesn’t waste film on every picture you take, like a Polaroid. In the long run, that will be a lot cheaper to maintain, since film for instant photos is not cheap (think more than $5 per photo in some cases). Instead, you have an app that you can download, then choose the photos from your phone and print those with the camera.
Personally, I think this is the best vintage digital camera – it combines that nostalgic feeling with modern features for the budget-conscious.
Vintage Kodak cameras:
The most famous vintage camera of them all is definitely the Kodak Funsaver, the 35mm disposable camera, but is it right for you today? Back then, people might have bought Kodak Funsavers for pennies at tourist hotspots and tossed them away after the film was spent, but it doesn’t feel ok to generate so much plastic waste today.
And really, why spend $20 on a disposable camera with 35mm film when you can get one that looks the same and you can reload film forever in it, for not much more than a couple of bucks extra? Check out some options below.
Similar to Kodak’s disposable cameras , the Kodak M35 has a fixed focus lens and manual film winding and re-winding, with a simple switch to turn the flash on and off.
The M35 is an absolute classic 35mm camera because it’s a cheap, easy-to-use camera for anyone. Plus, it comes in multiple fun color schemes, from the basic white to red, purple, yellow, and green.
If you want to go the extra mile and capture some fun shots, check out the Kodak Ekhtar H35. As a half-frame camera, the Ekhtar H35 does exposures per frame – doubling the number of photos that can be taken with a single roll of film. What a fun way to capture a vacay!
With a fixed 22mm lens with a fixed aperture of f/9.5, it’s a cool camera for photographers of all levels of know-how. Its unique aesthetic and the photos taken via a half-frame camera make this a great vintage camera to start with.
What do you think, do these vintage cameras scratch your nostalgic itch? If you have a suggestion we could include in this guide, do share it with the community!