Best Vintage Cameras of 2020 – Complete Guide

Imagine sitting on your sofa in a gloomy afternoon and reminiscing over the glory of your past days. Then a jolt of realization hits you, and a smile emerges on your face. 

You suddenly remember that you captured all those glorious moments on your vintage camera once. You get up from your sofa and go and see all those precious memories because memories are everlasting, and there is no denying that.

This review looks at the best vintage cameras available today. It also provides a list of their main features, pros, and cons. Not only that, but it also includes a well-researched buying guide, which will clarify any confusion that you might have in regards to Vintage cameras. 

Comparison Chart of the Best Vintage Cameras

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Has the classical body but improved abilities
  • Automatically sets the shutter speed and aperture
  • Comes with full manual modes and auto-exposure
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  • Ideal for beginner photographers or hobbyists
  • Comes with flash and lens cover switch
  • Hand strap makes handling much easier
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  • Best for the Money
  • Beautiful vintage camera that still works well
  • Flash is an add-on piece that attaches to the top
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  • Best Vintage Polaroid Camera
  • Equipped with a fixed focus lens
  • Protective film shield for long-lasting use
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  • Best Vintage Film Camera
  • Features a good light meter
  • Has a neckstrap included in purchase
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  • Best Vintage Kodak Camera
  • Able to deliver sharp and well-exposed images
  • Manufactured from quality materials for durablity
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What Makes a Camera Considered “Vintage”?

It is very easy to confuse vintage with old cameras. The lines between the two can be pretty blurry sometimes, though it shouldn’t be. Vintage cameras aren’t only old, but they are also exquisite and revered all over the world for their symbolic value. 

People also love getting their hands on these because they remind them of humanity’s glorious past. So if you need to have a vintage camera, it is important that you first understand what makes them fall in that category. So here is a list of things that makes one considered vintage.

Single Lens Reflex

DSLRs are the new thing, but before them, there were SLRs that came with a single-lens reflex. These are completely manual and don’t allow for any autofocus modes. 

These are also bulky that require skilled photographers to set the shutter speed and aperture lengths. Without the autofocus option, it can be difficult to operate vintage cameras.

Canon AE-1

Compact

The cameras that existed in the 90s were usually rather small. This was because they didn’t have many functions or didn’t come with different lens options. Vintage cameras easily fit inside your hands and can be carried easily. 

Some of them are also bulky and might weigh significantly more than others, but their overall size is relatively less. They also tend to come with easy to use buttons that make operations easier.

Distinctive Look

This is a pretty obvious feature that will help you identify a vintage camera easily. Vintage cameras tend to have a distinctive look and shape to them. Unlike modern models, these do not have very complex designs and will usually have a simpler mode of function. 

Moreover, they tend to come in 3-4 distinctive colors. These include black, brown, and grey colors. So when you go out to buy a vintage camera, make sure it’s not too modern and actually reminds you of the old time.

Quick Take - Best Vintage Cameras

Before we dive into our review, here are the best vintage cameras:

  1. Canon AE-1
  2. ​​Halina Ansco Pix Flash
  3. Argus C3 35mm Rangefinder Brick

Review of the Best Vintage Cameras

Vintage cameras, as the name suggests, are old cameras that not many people use these days. But contrary to what people think, these aren’t only useful as decoration pieces or equipment to look at. 

Some of these models are also great at what they do, which is to capture breathtaking moments. Here is a list of the best ones to get your hands on.

Best Overall:
Canon AE-1

Vintage Canon AE-1 Program 35mm SLR Camera with 50mm 1:1.8 Lens

PROS

  • Comes with light meter display
  • Features a sturdy design for durability
  • Has a wide aperture for low light settings
  • Offers higher compatibility with most models
  • Both manual and auto exposure modes are available

CONS

  • Relatively heavier than some models

What Recent Buyers Report

We have yet to come across a buyer who isn’t pleased with the aesthetics and beauty of this delightful model. Buyers are pleased with its sturdy design that offers them greater reliability. 

Moreover, they have also praised the wide aperture and the diverse setting options which make this camera perfect for everyday use.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

Wide apertures are definitely the best ones out there, and there is no doubt about that. The obvious advantage of this model is that it comes with a wide aperture that is needed to take clearer pictures, even in the dark. 

Moreover, the aperture also decreases the depth of your field, thereby putting the subject in more focus.

Who Will Use This Most

This camera is definitely for people who want to add to their vintage collection but also want to keep some modern features in hand. It differs from all other vintage cameras primarily because it offers both auto and manual settings. This allows the photographers to play around the sceneries and try out new angles every now and then.

Bottom Line

Canon has been in the market for a long time, and its modern cameras have always exceeded expectations. But this praise isn’t limited to the modern cameras only. 

This vintage camera is also exquisite as it offers a light meter display that allows you to capture the true essence of the pictures. Moreover, it comes with auto and manual modes, both of which make it deserving of the top position in this list.

Halina Ansco Pix Flash 35mm Film Camera Vintage Point & Shoot Focus Free (Pix Flash)

PROS

  • Flash comes with on and off settings
  • Durable design adds to the longevity
  • Has manual winding for more diversity
  • Relatively lightweight for better portability
  • Features a frame counter for more convenience

CONS

  • Gives less room for creativity
  • Leads to relatively higher shutter

What Recent Buyers Report

Halina has been a revolutionary product in the market as it comes in a black and red accent, which looks exquisite to the eyes. It looks stylish and appealing to the eyes. 

Not only that, but it also has a frame counter design that is both durable and rigid. Moreover, it comes with a manual winding that offers higher compatibility.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

The model stands out to us, mainly because of its fixed aperture. This, coupled with a 28mm focal length, makes this model one of the best ones in the market. The combination of wide aperture and small focal length makes it apt for portrait photography. Not only that, the camera includes a flash, a smooth lens cover switch, and a perfect hand strap.

Who Will Use This Most

Our runner-up model is equipped with everything that you need in order to excel in photography. It is highly compatible, which makes it suitable for a variety of purposes. Moreover, the model is also lightweight and compact, which makes it easy to carry around. So, it is mainly for people who like to travel a lot

Bottom Line

Vintage cameras are known for their stylish yet compact designs. This model will exceed all expectations as it comes with a frame counter design, which adds to the durability. Moreover, it is relatively compact, which makes it easily portable. The fixed aperture is also a unique feature as it allows users to work on their skills until they perfect their style.

Vintage Argus C3 35mm Rangefinder Brick Camera

PROS

  • Brickfilm design is durable
  • Has a focal length of 35mm
  • Can capture pictures in low light settings
  • Relatively cheaper hence more affordable
  • Compact and lightweight which makes it portable

CONS

  • Backed by a low warranty
  • Not suitable for sports photography

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers were in for a real treat when they got their hands on this Argus vintage camera. It comes with a good focal length and a wide aperture, which makes photography smooth and enjoyable. Not only that, but it is also known for having an ergonomic design, which makes its usage easy. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

It was hard deciding one feature that makes the model stand out, but after thorough research, we finally got our answer. The brick firm design is fully durable and comes with a rigid exterior. With a sturdy design, most people assume this model to weigh a lot, but it doesn’t actually. It’s one of the most lightweight and compact designs in the market, which makes it stand out.

Who Will Use This Most

Simply put, this unit can be used for a lot of different things, such as portrait and wildlife photography. It has a focal length of 35mm, which, when combined with a wide aperture, makes low-light photography super easy. Moreover, people who prefer cheaper models will also make good use of it as Argus cameras are one of the most affordable ones in the market.

Bottom Line

One look at this vintage camera is enough to convince anyone. It is not only very attractive, but its commendable features also make it stand out in the market. It is compact and lightweight and hence very easy to carry around. It is also easy to operate, which makes it in line with Argus’s vision of convenience and comfort.

Best Vintage Polaroid Camera:
Polaroid Originals 4723

Polaroid Originals 4723 Polaroid 600 Camera, Flash, Black

PROS

  • Has a fixed focus lens
  • Comes with a 1-year warranty
  • Features a stylish design that looks attractive
  • Fitted with a protective film shield for better protection
  • Can take more than 600 films and prints at the same time

CONS

  • Colors are not very attractive

What Recent Buyers Report

The 600 series of vintage cameras have surely proven to be a landmark chapter in Polaroid history, and this one is no different.

This instant photography vintage camera us extremely easy to use, which makes it appealing to recent buyers. Not only that, it tells a story of the 20th century that is worth reminiscing over.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

Most people prefer vintage cameras because they appeal to the general eye, just like this one. They have an attractive design that looks amazing, especially as part of a wider collection. 

Polaroid cameras are known for their exotic colors and black and white versions. Not only that, but this one also stands out because it comes in a range of special editions, thus offering more variations.

Who Will Use This Most

The simplicity of the camera makes it suitable for any person who has no experience with photography. Unlike some modern cameras, this one works on the simple principle of point, shoot, and share. It comes with an ergonomic design that makes understanding the usage pretty easy.

Bottom Line

No doubt, this model is very much in demand these days mainly because it is able to take more than 600 films and prints in a single go. It also has a fixed focal length, which lets you appease your creativity. Not only that, but it also offers a better warranty and a smooth and protective film that offers greater security.

Best Vintage Film Camera:
Canon TL QL 35mm SLR

Canon TL QL 35mm SLR Professional Vintage Film Camera with Lens

PROS

  • Suitable for those on a budget 
  • Offers more diversity in settings
  • Has a sturdy mount for more durability
  • Allows variable settings for more diversity
  • Focal length is good for portrait photography

CONS

  • Does not have a compact design
  • Low warranty than other models

What Recent Buyers Report

For any product to stand out, it’s important that recent buyers not only like the product but love it. This Canon vintage camera not only offers diverse aperture settings, but it also offers a good focal length. But the reason buyers rate is so high is because it is relatively more affordable.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

Having a good focal length is what stands out most for this model. This makes it suitable for a range of photography options such as wedding and portrait photography. Not only that, but the model also offers different aperture sizes, which could enhance your picture quality in low light settings.

Who Will Use This Most

Creative people are most likely to make better use of the model. This is because unlike other vintage cameras, this one is known for offering greater diversity in speed. 

Not only that, but it also offers customization on aperture size. This means that photographers can experience a variety of angles. They can also learn new techniques by changing aperture settings.

Bottom Line

Customized aperture and diverse speed settings come together to make this model one of the best ones so far. It has a sturdy design that comes with higher durability and strength. This comes in handy while using this camera for a longer time. All in all, the model is known for being relatively cheaper, which is another noteworthy feature.

Best Vintage Kodak Camera:
Kodak Brownie Hawkeye

Vintage Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Camera

PROS

  • Lightweight hence portable
  • Shutter functions perfectly well
  • Backed by one year of warranty
  • Comes with a film advanced knob
  • Dark brown and 2-piece molded body for a vintage look

CONS

  • Results in greater shutter
  • Coating on the camera may wear out with time

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers couldn’t be more pleased with the superior performance of the Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera. It is extremely lightweight, which makes it more portable. Not only that, but it also appears in distinctive colors that make it stand out. Moreover, the large focal length also makes it capable of street photography.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

Vintage cameras have been in the world for a long time, and hence many companies don’t offer good warranties on them. This indicates that these companies don’t trust the longevity of their models. Kodak is different as its warranty is relatively better. This ensures customers that they are getting a reliable model for themselves.

Who Will Use This Most

People who like nice framed cameras will definitely like investing in this one. The outer body uses plastic in a number of places where the glass was used previously. These markers also hide the framed edges, thus adding an extra level of smoothness to the design. Moreover, the shift from glass to plastic also makes the camera less vulnerable to damage.

Bottom Line

Kodak cameras have gone through considerable changes over the years, but one thing that has remained consistent throughout is their superior designs. This vintage camera comes with shutter functions that cause no problems even in the most complex of settings. It is also known for its distinctive color combinations. The frequent use of brown and black colors is a delight to the eyes.

Pros and Cons of Vintage Cameras

Vintage cameras can be a great addition to your collection as they come with their fair share of benefits. These are unique cameras that add beauty and a sense of trueness to your life as well as your collection. Here are some of their pros, but to achieve fairness, we have also included some cons to give you a clearer picture.

Pros

First, let’s go over the advantages:

Cost-Effectiveness

The best thing about vintage cameras is that they are really cheap and easily affordable. You can get your hands on a brilliant model at half the price as a normal camera. A medium format will also have a lot of interesting advantages over a larger film area. This includes its ability to take sharper images with more clarity.

Reeducation and Creativity

Modern cameras have stolen the true essence of photographs. They come with so many different modes and settings that it’s hard to enjoy school level photography. Using a vintage camera takes you back to the old times when you used to enjoy working with different angles.

Durable Gear

One of the most astonishing features of such cameras is their gear. It is hard to believe that models that cost so less could be in such amazing condition.

These vintage cameras aren’t only durable, but they also come with higher strength, which ensures they can last for a longer time.

Cons

Meanwhile, some limitations include:

Faulty Shutter

When using vintage cameras, sadly, you will be encountering a lot of shutters. This may vary between metal blade leaf, metal leaf, or cloth shutters. Each of them poses different problems that the photographer will have to deal with.

Absence of Shooting Modes

This is a recurrent problem with most vintage cameras. Unlike modern cameras, these don’t offer auto modes.

Conclusion

Just like the old times, there is something unique about vintage cameras that modern cameras cannot replicate. The latest high tech equipment focuses a great deal on enhancing your pictures; however, vintage cameras tend to present a clearer yet aesthetically pleasing picture. 

They also come with higher wear and tear, which further adds value to the design, because the older the cameras, the more sought after it will be. 

People Also Ask

People who enjoy buying vintage items are very excited about the prospect of buying vintage cameras. But there are so many companies that claim their models when in reality they are not. We have answered some frequently asked questions to help you get a clearer picture.

What is a Vintage Camera?

Vintage cameras are usually old units that were mostly introduced in the 90s. They come in distinctive looks and are usually capable of manual mode photography only. Moreover, they are usually used for decorative purposes or to take simple photographs that depict natural beauty.

How Do Vintage Cameras Work?

Such units are usually covered in emulsion, which is made up of a special solution of silver halide crystals. These will capture the image when exposed to light. When the shutter opens for even a fraction of a second and light passes through it, the silver halide crystals immediately turn into silver ions.

Other Camera Types

Looking for a camera for a different purpose? Here are some other categories:

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