Compact Film Cameras

In Compact Cameras, Film

Leica CM | Portra 160

I’m currently having a little love affair with compact film cameras. Three to be exact. Shooting them is like shooting with an iPhone, except loaded with film.  Point and shoot.  Definitely not instant gratification like the phone, but much more satisfying when the images come back from the lab.

Compact cameras are a great option if you’re interested in dipping your toes into the film camera waters without having to dive into the deep end of manual 35mm SLR or medium format photography.

For me, the clincher is the convenience of a smaller camera that I can easily carry with me on a daily basis. Especially when I’m on my daily walks in the city and don’t want the extra weight of my bigger cameras. Compacts are perfect for vacations and street photography, if you’re into that.

I have three in my arsenal. There are many reviews for each of the three cameras on the interwebs, so no need for a detailed technical review from me. I’ll link to the reviews for each camera below.

Here are my thoughts about, and images from, each of the cameras.

Leica AF-C1

I happened on this camera at a sidewalk sale, it was only $30 USD — a bargain or should I say a steal. The camera is very plastic-y, OK it’s all plastic and quite bulky for a compact. Not quite a throw-in-your-pocket camera, but it’s light and still small enough to fit in a purse or small bag. Images are sharp and it’s very easy to use.

Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Leica AF-C1 | Kodak Gold 200
Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Leica AF-C1 | Kodak Gold 200
Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Leica AF-C1 | Kodak Gold 400
Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Leica AF-C1 | Kodak Gold 400
Leica AF-C1 | Kodak Gold 400
Leica AF-C1 | Kodak Gold 400

Leica CM

This is by far my fanciest compact camera and most loved. It’s easy to throw in a coat pocket on your way out the door. It’s not the easiest camera to use and by that I mean, read the manual.  Actually, it’s the worst camera manual in the world (literally, I think).  But once I figured out that  to store a setting permanently, you must hold menu buttons down until the LCD registers a little flash of acknowledgement, everything was smooth. I fell in love. I shoot it on aperture priority and AF.  The lens is amazeballs.

Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Leica CM | Portra 160
Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Leica CM | Kodak Gold 200
Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Leica CM | Kodak Gold 200
Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Leica CM | Kodak Tri-X 400
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Leica CM | Fuji Neopan 400
Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Leica CM | Portra 160
Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Leica CM | Portra 160
Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Leica CM | Portra 160
Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Leica CM | Portra 160
Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Leica CM | Portra 160
Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Leica CM | Portra 160
Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Leica CM | Kodak Gold 200

Minolta Riva Mini

This cutie is my newest. She’s all plastic and fantastic. You don’t really need to read the manual on this one, everything about the camera is straightforward. I read it though, force of habit.

Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Minolta Riva Mini | Fuji Superia 200
Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Minolta Riva Mini | Fuji Superia 200
Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Minolta Riva Mini | Fuji Superia 200
Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Minolta Riva Mini | Fuji Superia 200
Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Minolta Riva Mini | Fuji Superia 200
Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Minolta Riva Mini | Kodak Gold 400
Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Minolta Riva Mini | Kodak Gold 400
Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Minolta Riva Mini | Ilford FP4 Plus
Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Minolta Riva Mini | Ilford FP4 Plus
Cindy Loughridge - Viewfinders
Minolta Riva Mini | Ilford FP4 Plus

 

Definitely give compact cameras a try if you want to go light and move fast.  Do your research and find the one that fits your needs.

Read reviews of the cameras herehere and here.

 

6 Comments

  1. Lovely lovely photos and wisdom.
    It has been many many many years since I used film and at that time I was printing my own B&W.
    How much does it cost to print a roll of film these days? Do you even get prints or just an electronic file?
    One thing I miss about using my DSLR (it is SO big) is the depth (not just DOF) but the actual almost 3D-ness I get with it. The iPhone is so convenient and the pictures are fine but not the same.
    Can you feel that in the images with these little compact film cameras?
    It sure seems like it from your images above. Oh the SF skies. Thanks Nina

    • Hi Nina, I think printing costs are varied these days, you’d have to shop around with different labs. I used to get prints and scans at the same time, but darn those prints take up quite a bit of space. Now, I get scans and then print my favorites only. As for the compact camera images, they’re not quite 3D, I think you get that effect more from medium and large format images. But, film images, imo are always > iphone.

  2. Cindy, you inspired me to load up my little Leica Minilux (loaned to me years ago by my dad) with some expired B&W Kodak film. I’m ready for an adventure!

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