Chances are, if you have been into photography for more than 5-8 years, then you have shot 35mm before. 35mm was the standard for both at-home picture taking (vacations, snapshots, etc), and for learning the basics of photography on. If you have joined the photography world, whether for hobby or career in the last couple of years and went straight to digital, then this post if for you.
|Canon Rangefinder IIs, without lens|
35mm is one of the largest format categories of available cameras and equipment. 35mm refers to the type of film that is used which is 135 film, or more commonly referred to as 35mm (due to its measured size.)
The three main categories that fall under 35mm are: manual focus, auto focus, and rangefinder systems, which are all categorized based on how they are focused.
|Nikon (AF) F4S|
If you're interested in shooting 35mm and have no prior camera gear, then there's a few things you will need to ask yourself before trying to figure out which system to start on. Do you want a more manual or more automatic camera (and focus)? What is your price range? Do you already have a system that may have compatible lenses and accessories (such as Nikon or Canon AF)?
|Contax T2 (AF point and shoot)|
I asked a few other people around here what their recommendations were, and they were: (Also more K1000 recommendations), Canon AE1, Nikon FM, Nikon FE, Nikon FG, and Minolta SRT series.
If you have been around 35mm for awhile and want to move up, Leica is typically considered the 35mm elite, as the cameras are better quality and much more expensive.
Luckily, 35mm is the easiest film to both purchase and have developed. Consumer grade color film can be found many places including grocery and drug stores, which makes it very convenient. Pro films can be found online or at pro photo labs. You can read more about where to buy and develop films here.
In addition to a camera body, the only other thing you will NEED is a lens, unless the camera you choose doesn't have a built-in light meter (but most do). Other accessory options include a flash unit, filters, grips, and motor drives/winders. None of these are necessary when starting out however. After mastering the camera alone (and in natural light), the first accessory I would suggest purchasing would be a flash.
Since most manual 35mm cameras are older these days, there's one specific thing to check before shooting with one- the foam or light seals! If you purchase a camera from KEH, the foam and any light seals the camera has will have already been checked and replaced if necessary. But, if you've found an old camera in a family members attic, or found one at a yard sale, chances are the foam will be bad. This will cause light leaks on your film. It's a fairly inexpensive repair, and our repair center does them regularly. You can read more about this topic and how to check the foam in our troubleshooting light leaks article.
So, thinking about picking up 35mm yet? Consider all the "pros": it's easily transportable, affordable (and affordable as a second system, no need to ditch your digital!), aids in learning and mastering manual photographic principles, can produce an authentic "vintage feel" without the digital manipulation, the film is available and easy to find. Most manual 35mm systems are also far less delicate that digital systems and have less electronics (or none) to worry about failing or becoming damaged. Unlike with digital, you also don't have to worry about charging the batteries constantly (but do occasionally check the batteries to make sure they are still good and not corroded). And what some digi. users may consider a con, but most film enthusiasts consider a pro is that you must be more selective of what photos you are taking since you are more limited on space.
35mm brands and categories (browse on KEH.com)
Canon EOS (AF)
Canon Manual Focus
Contax G Series
Contax N Series
Minolta Manual Focus
Nikon Manual Focus
Pentax Manual Focus
Tamron Adaptall (35mm Lenses)
+ many other 35mm miscellaneous and collectibles