Vintage Cameras to Buy for Old Time Photos in 2024

By Tati Taylor 23 days ago, Cameras & Lenses

I got excited to find the best vintage cameras when I stumbled upon an old film model at a flea market a few years ago. There is something special in putting in the film, adjusting settings manually, and waiting for the pictures to develop.

To my mind, all these processes establish a special connection between a photographer and the art of capturing moments.


hasselblad 500c/m vintage camera
Hasselblad 500C/M
  • Professional

kodak happy times vintage camera
Kodak Happy Times
  • Stylish

mint slr670-x vintage camera
Mint Slr670-X
  • Polaroid

lomography lomo'instant vintage camera
Lomography Lomo'instant
  • Multiple Lens

ricoh gr digital vintage camera
Ricoh Gr Digital
  • Street Photos

argus argoflex vintage camera
Argus Argoflex
  • Tlr Design

rollei rolleiflex 3.5e vintage camera
Rollei Rolleiflex 3.5e
  • Zeiss Lens

sony handycam ccd-trv87 vintage camera
Sony Handycam Ccd-Trv87
  • Camcorder

sony betamovie bmc-100p vintage camera
Sony Betamovie Bmc-100p
  • Betamax

Vintage cameras may not offer the same ease of use as modern digital ones.

However, their hands-on feel and nostalgic vibes make them a lovely option for people who want to immerse themselves in the photography world.

In this overview, I've described reasonably priced vintage cameras and hard-to-find vintage cameras for photographers who crave classic retro style.

Where to Buy Old Cameras?

Amazon. Most cameras here are brand new, but you can also discover pre-owned cameras from a trusted seller.

eBay. There's a wide range of vintage cameras up for grabs, and you can also put your cameras up for sale.

Etsy. The platform often features unique shops that sell cameras, vintage lenses, and accessories tailored to specific interests.

KEH Camera. It is famous for its top-notch secondhand equipment, especially when it comes to good vintage cameras.

Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. These are local platforms where you can come across vintage cameras. Just be careful and double-check whether they're the real deal not forgery.

Local camera stores or shops. Check out if they have any vintage gear, or you can swing by local events that specifically feature vintage items, like trade shows or flea markets.

What to Know Before Buying a Good Vintage Camera

1. Get to know the exact model you're eyeing. Some vintage film cameras may have quirks or typical glitches. Look into the camera's background, reputation, and the usual problems linked to it.
2. Consider what you're aiming for. Are you collecting, displaying, or using a camera practically? The intended use has a direct impact on what features to prioritize in a camera.

Note! When venturing into online purchases from a vintage digital camera shop like eBay, it's advisable to focus on vintage cameras specifically labeled as "tested." Based on my experience, sellers typically maintain a high level of transparency regarding the camera's condition and quality.

3. Examine the camera's condition. Make sure common problem areas are in good working order. These are the light meter, shutter, film advance, viewfinder, light seals (though imperfect ones may result in interesting images), controls, and the lens.

vintage camera buying guide

4. Pay attention to accessories. Think about the availability of add-ons such as lenses, viewfinders, or flash units. Also, make sure the type of film for the camera is still easy to find.

5. Check out the return policy and warranty. If you can, purchase from sellers who provide return options or warranties. This way, you have a backup plan if the camera doesn't work as promised.

  • Check out how to choose 35mm film for your camera.

Types of Old Cameras to Choose

vintage camera types

SLR. Such cameras brag about their through-the-lens viewing system. It's like looking through a prism or mirror and getting a sneak peek of what your final photo will look like. These cameras have slightly more advanced features than regular point-and-shoot devices, but they're still beginner-friendly.

Rangefinder. They are called "rangefinders" because of the way you focus with them. You need to turn a ring to line up two pictures of your subject until they're sharp. Travel photographers love rangefinder cameras because they're small, have a wider lens, and a silent shutter. They may be a bit trickier to handle, but the good news is they use the same 35mm film as those fancier SLR cameras.

Instant. If you get a vintage camera of this type, you can take a shot, and just a little while later, you're holding that picture in your hand. That's the charm of instant cameras. Back in the '60s and '70s, instant cameras wowed everyone with their special feature – a self-developing film.

Point-and-shoot. These cameras are compact, so you can take them anywhere. And true to their name, you don't need to be a pro photographer to work one. Just point it, make sure your subject is sharp, and press that shutter button.

TLR. TLR cameras have two lenses on the front. It's a bit like a 35mm rangefinder, where one lens helps you frame and compose the shot, while the other one actually takes an image.

For video. Such vintage camcorders are small and easy to carry. Thus, you can rely on them for filming in different places. However, the most interesting part is that they give your videos a distinct handheld style, a bit different from the smoother, polished footage produced by modern digital cameras. If you're aiming for a specific vibe when looking for the best old cameras to buy, opt for classic camcorders.

• Check out main differences between mirrorless and DSLR.

1. Nikon F2

nikon f2 old camera to buy
  • Fully mechanical design
  • Interchangeable viewfinders
  • Wide lens compatibility
  • Automatic lens aperture control
  • Lacks in-body auto exposure

One of the main characteristics that sets the F2 apart from other early 35mm SLR cameras is its all-mechanical design, which makes it stand out even in the era of modern DSLR cameras.

This means that it can operate under extremely harsh conditions.

Plus, it's a very fast vintage camera with no noticeable delay when you press the shutter release.

This Nikon camera has the ability to utilize Photomic metering.

old camera to buy nikon f2

Photo by Nikon F2

This metering system can be read and set using the finder's through-the-lens metering mechanism, which allows you to read the meter with the camera above, below, or to the side of you.

This is an important for those who don't want to have to use a tripod, as this ensures that you have full access to the camera's controls without sacrificing sighting ability or visibility.

2. Hasselblad 500C/M

hasselblad 500c/m old camera to buy
  • Modular design
  • Suitable for various conditions and weather
  • Highly durable
  • Provides classic, high-quality images
  • Expensive
  • Unable to shoot continuous frames

What I find the most spectacular about this old camera is its flexibility.

You can use different lenses, film backs, and finders like waist level and eye level prisms.

It's 100% mechanical, so you don't have to worry about expensive electronics failing on you.

old camera to buy hasselblad 500c/m

Photo by Hasselblad 500C/M

What else many photographers like about this camera is the fantastic Carl Zeiss lenses that come with this camera.

These lenses are renowned for their exceptional quality and are considered some of the best optics in the world.

This vintage camera doesn't come cheap (its price is about $4,000). It's pricier than most comparable SLRs or DSLRs, and it requires a significant upfront investment.

3. Leica M3

For travel
leica m3 old camera to buy
  • Iconic design
  • Purely mechanical and manual controls
  • Compact and portable
  • Quiet operation
  • Limited frame lines for wider lenses
  • Slower film advance lever

The Leica M3 is an iconic rangefinder camera that differs because of its purely mechanical nature. Unlike modern camera for photography, it doesn't rely on electronic or digital controls.

Another advantage is its versatility when it comes to lenses.

While it can be used with various lenses, the Leica Summicron 50/2 V and Zeiss ZM 50/1.5 Sonnar are my favorite choices.

old camera to buy leica m3

Photo by Leica M3

The M3 is also portable, making it perfect for photographers on the go.

It's easy to operate and doesn't have any complicated features, making it suitable for beginners as well.

This vintage Leica camera is made of high-quality materials and has a clear and bright viewfinder, allowing for precise composition.

4. Contax G1

contax g1 old camera to buy
  • Sleek and stylish design
  • Real image viewfinder
  • Superb focusing performance
  • Ability to make double exposures
  • Autofocus system may take time to get used to
  • Not ideal for low contrast situations

The Contax G1 has got that classic design that looks absolutely stunning in your hands.

Plus, it comes with some nifty automatic features like autofocus, automatic film advance and rewind, and TTL flash metering.

These features really help simplify your photography sessions and allow you to focus on your creative vision.

old camera to buy contax g1

Photo by Contax G1

One of the standout features of the G1 is its versatility with a variety of lenses.

You can use different lenses with this old camera, which gives you the freedom to experiment and achieve different looks in your photographs.

It's a compact camera that you can easily carry around, making it convenient for various shooting situations.

5. Kodak Happy Times

kodak happy times old camera to buy
  • Retro design
  • Takes great pictures
  • No battery required
  • Capable of sharp images
  • Can be difficult to operate
  • Inconvenient shutter trip arm location

One of the standout features of the Kodak Happy Times is its simplicity and reliability.

It uses a manual film advancing system, so no batteries are required.

But what impresses me a lot is its vintage design. It's unique, and such a camera can be a great addition to any photographer's collection.

The lens, while a simple meniscus type, is surprisingly capable of capturing incredibly sharp retro-style photos, despite the usual light fall-off and distortions associated with such lenses.

old camera to buy kodak happy times

Photo by Kodak Happy Times

One interesting feature is the little window on the back of the camera.

It allows you to write messages or shoot data on the special Kodak Autographic film. You simply move the door down with a stylus and record your information on the film backing paper.

6. Mint SLR670-X

mint slr670-x old camera to buy
  • Ability to connect an external flash
  • Rechargeable USB-C battery
  • Manual controls for shutter speeds
  • Can be used with Polaroid I-Type film
  • Lack of double exposure mode
  • High price

What sets the Mint SLR670-X model apart is the Time Machine add-on.

This little module allows for manual shutter speed control, giving you more control over your shots.

Plus, you can use 600 film with this vintage camera, which is a huge bonus in terms of versatility.

old camera to buy mint slr670-x

Photo by Mint SLR670-X

One cool thing about the SLR670-X is that it can connect to an external flash through a 2.5mm audio jack.

This opens up more possibilities for creative lighting options.

And speaking of power, this camera is powered by a rechargeable USB-C battery that can last up to 30 packs of instant film or a whole year on standby.

7. Fujifilm FinePix XP140

Multiple lens
lomography lomo'instant old camera to buy
  • Fully automatic with creative features
  • Optical viewfinder
  • Ability to shoot unlimited multiple exposures
  • Bulb mode for long exposures
  • Relatively large and heavy
  • Film dispenser may jam at times

Lomography Lomo'Instant is suitable for photographers who prefer automatic shooting.

I like the possibility of using additional lens converters like fisheye and closeup, which opens up plenty of possibilities for exploration.

I was also impressed by the optical viewfinder, which is easy to see through and has a helpful dotted box for framing your shots.

There's even a built-in self-portrait mirror and a shutter release connection for more precise photos.

old camera to buy lomography lomo'instant

Photo by Lomography Lomo'Instant

The vintage camera also has a zone focusing system, making capturing blurry images or close-ups easier without losing any detail.

Need to mention, it might take a few shots to get used to it, and you might even encounter light leaks or distortion in your photos.

8. Yashica T4

yashica t4 old camera to buy
  • High-quality Carl Zeiss lens
  • Quick and smooth autofocus
  • Very sharp and high-contrast photos
  • Weatherproof
  • Limited manual functions
  • Not very fast in terms of focal ratio

One of the main advantages of this compact camera is its autofocus system.

It uses an infrared sensor to calculate the distance from your subject to the camera and then positions the lens accordingly.

This system is quite effective in the most common shooting situations, but it also allows you to take amazing photographs when you are in tricky lighting conditions.

old camera to buy yashica t4

Photo by Yashica T4

In addition, the camera has a decent viewfinder with blinking LED lights that provide different information snippets to the user.

The green LED indicates focus, and the red one signals if the flash is about to fire.

It's an automatic camera for amateur photographers and it is easy to use, but still, the pictures you can take with it look good.

9. Olympus XA 2

olympus xa 2 old camera to buy
  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Aperture-priority operation
  • Self-timer and battery test
  • Quiet leaf shutter
  • Inaccurate meter
  • May not be suitable for advanced photographers

The Olympus XA 2 is perfect for street photography and capturing candid moments.

The XA 2 has a leaf shutter, which is much quieter than a focal-plane shutter. This means you can discreetly snap photos without drawing too much attention.

With the fixed-focus lens, it's easy to compose your shots, and the focusing range is quite generous, making it suitable for various situations.

old camera to buy olympus xa 2

Photo by Olympus XA 2

Talking about the problems, I need to mention, that the meter on this old point-and-shoot film camera isn't the most accurate.

It tends to under or overexpose by more than one stop, even when set within the manufacturer's specifications.

10. Kodak ULTRA F9

kodak ultra f9 old camera to buy
  • Offers a premium film analog experience
  • User-friendly design
  • Has a fixed focus lens
  • Compatible with a wide range of films
  • Plastic construction
  • Can be confusing for beginners at first

The Kodak ULTRA F9 offers an affordable and user-friendly experience for those who want to capture memories on film.

It's a reusable analog camera that uses widely available 35mm film, for both color and black-and-white photos.

The compact design makes it easy to bring with you wherever you go, perfect for capturing spontaneous moments.

old camera to buy kodak ultra f9

Photo by Kodak ULTRA F9

One of the standout features of this vintage camera is its fixed focus lens, which simplifies the shooting process, especially for beginner in film photography.

You won't have to worry about adjusting the focus, allowing you to focus on the composition instead.

Additionally, it has a manual film winding and rewinding feature, giving it that authentic analog feel.

11. Ricoh GR Digital

For street photos
ricoh gr digital old camera to buy
  • Ergonomic design
  • Customizable features for personal style
  • Effective image stabilization
  • Fast autofocus system
  • Some issues with lens start-up
  • No zoom capability

The Ricoh GR Digital is a compact vintage camera with a fixed 28mm lens, which may not sound like much, but let me tell you, it delivers quality results like no other digital camera can.

The controls are perfectly placed under your thumb and index finger, giving you easy access to all the important settings.

Plus, the startup time is only 1 second, and the shutter lag is just 0.2 seconds, so you never miss a moment.

old camera to buy ricoh gr digital

Photo by Ricoh GR Digital

With its 16-megapixel sensor, you can capture high-resolution prints up to 13x19 inches. That's pretty impressive for such a small camera.

It's perfect for advanced amateurs and professional photographers who want a lightweight, portable, and powerful companion.

12. Argus Argoflex

TLR design
argus argoflex old camera to buy
  • Sturdy construction
  • Double exposure prevention system
  • Fixed focusing lens
  • Can be used with a variety of Argus lenses
  • Focusing systems can be complicated to grasp
  • Limited availability as a vintage camera

The Argus Argoflex is a Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) camera that captures beautiful 6x6 square pictures.

Despite its size and weight, this cheap camera is surprisingly easy to operate.

Its large viewfinder and comfortable shutter release make composing your shots a breeze.

old camera to buy argus argoflex

Photo by Argus Argoflex

Compared to other true TLR cameras of its time, it's smaller and lighter.

So, if you're looking for a more traditional film photography experience, this old camera might just be perfect for you.

13. Rollei Rolleiflex 3.5E

Zeiss lens
rollei rolleiflex 3.5e old camera to buy
  • Built-in light meter
  • Waist-level viewfinder
  • Can use Rolleinar close-up filters
  • Sturdy and well-built
  • Limiting lens and flash options
  • Can be expensive to purchase

The Rollei Rolleiflex 3.5E captures stunning 6x6 images on 120 film.

It even comes with a built-in light meter, allowing you to take high-quality portraits, landscapes, and urban pictures.

One great feature of these vintage cameras is the ability to use Rolleinar close-up filters, which magnify the image and correct parallax error at close distances. This makes them perfect for close-up work in the studio or on location.

old camera to buy rollei rolleiflex 3.5e

Photo by Rollei Rolleiflex 3.5E

The Rolleiflex is incredibly easy to use, with no steep learning curve.

However, there are a few unique features that might require some practice to master.

The waist-level viewfinder, for instance, allows you to compose shots from a different perspective. It can be a bit tricky to get used to at first, but it encourages you to take your time and carefully compose each shot.

Read more about the best neutral density filters to shoot long-exposure photos.

14. Sony Handycam CCD-TRV87

sony handycam ccd-trv87 old camera to buy
  • Easy to use and lightweight
  • Anti-shake
  • Image stabilization features
  • Can transmit video directly to television
  • May be difficult to find
  • Designed for home videos and casual filming

The Sony Handycam CCD-TRV87 features a 2.5-inch LCD viewscreen, which is great for framing your shots.

The auto exposure modes on this old camera are also pretty handy.

They adjust the shutter speed to control image sharpness and depth of field, giving you some control over your final image.

old camera to buy sony handycam ccd-trv87

Photo by Sony Handycam CCD-TRV87

The Sony Handycam CCD-TRV87 is also lightweight, making it easy to carry around for those long filming sessions.

It's got a zoom lens, auto focus, and even an automatic iris and color balance.

These features make it a breeze to use, especially for those who are feeling a bit nostalgic and want to capture that vintage look and feel in their videos.

15. Sony Betamovie BMC-100P

sony betamovie bmc-100p old camera to buy
  • Easy to carry around
  • Built-in microphone
  • High-quality zoom lens
  • Comes with a remote control
  • Relies on a single video head
  • Can be noisy in certain situations

The Sony Betamovie BMC-100P was the first camcorder to combine a video camera and a portable VCR, making it accessible to the average Joe.

One standout feature is the built-in microphone. It's perfect for capturing audio, giving your home videos that extra touch of authenticity.

old camera to buy sony betamovie bmc-100p

Photo by Sony Betamovie BMC-100P

Plus, the high-quality zoom lens guarantees crisp images, and the flash function is a savior in low-light conditions.

This camera's ability to capture intricate details is great for creating top-notch home movies.

Collectors Dream: The Most Rare and Expensive Vintage Cameras

If you're wondering what to do with old camera, consider getting into collecting rare models. Some vintage cameras are extremely hard to find, and collectors are ready to pay big bucks for them. For example, Oskar Barnack's Leica cost a whopping 15 million dollars and became the priciest vintage camera out there.

rare vintage camera hasselblad

Back in 1948, Hasselblad introduced the 1600F model, marking the debut of the world's first SLR medium format camera. With its waist-level viewfinder, the camera gained traction in the photography scene. Nowadays, you can sell one on eBay for around $900.

Leica 0-Series. This is the very first Leica prototype. Back in 1923, only about 25 of these cameras were made, and now they're considered some of the most sought-after and valuable cameras globally. If you're on eBay today, you might find a prototype of this vintage camera going for around $2,000.

Hasselblad 500 Gold. This is a special edition of the Hasselblad 500CM decked out in 24-carat gold. They only made 10 such cameras, and you can sell one for a price starting at $5,000.

rare vintage camera linhof

Linhof 4x5 Master Technika Classic Rangefinder. It is a unique vintage camera that runs about $2,500. What makes it cool is its mix of large format image quality, accurate design, portability, and versatile features. Film photographers love it because it gives them the benefits of a big camera while being convenient like a rangefinder system.

Hasselblad Lunar Surface SWC. It's a modified version of the Hasselblad SWC used for taking pictures on the moon during the Apollo missions. This camera is super rare and holds significant historical value. A few years back, it went for an eye-watering €45,000 at an auction.

Nikon F2H. This is a really hard-to-find type of the Nikon F2 made especially for the U.S. Navy. The fact that it's so rare and has a military backstory is what makes it worth a pretty penny.


  • • What's a vintage camera and why should I buy one?

A vintage camera is a film-based camera that relies on older optics and tech. These cameras bring a unique touch to all types of photography. Photographers are often on the hunt for the best vintage camera because such models are tough, easy to handle, and quality.

  • • How to choose the right vintage camera for my needs?

When deciding on a vintage camera, think about the kind of photography you're into. Consider whether you're more into capturing portraits, landscapes, or action shots. Take some time to check out which camera models and camera brands suit your specific needs best.

  • • What do I need to consider when getting a vintage camera?

The condition of the camera should be your primary consideration. Aim for a camera that's been taken care of and has a clear viewfinder. It will be easy to focus and frame your shots with such a camera.

  • • Which film should I use in a vintage camera?

There are three main film options: 35mm, 120, and large format. Beginners should go for 35mm since it's budget-friendly and straightforward to use.