Different Film Camera Types

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Different Film Camera Types

Over the last century, a plethora of different film camera types has been introduced to the market. Each has its own design and characteristics that gives it its unique appeal. The variations in each of these film camera types provide you with an unparalleled look into the history of film cameras. The camera has been one of man’s most powerful tools. Let us take a look at some of the most popular film camera types from the last century.

SLR – Single Lens Reflex Cameras

They have an internal mirror that reflects the light as it passes through the lens. This design type allows you to compose your image seeing exactly what the lens sees. SLR film cameras are extremely accurate and were used as the industry standard by professionals well into the mid 1990’s. Today they are still used by professional photographers. An SLR camera is composed of a lens that light enters from, a mirror that reflects the image into the prism, and a prism that corrects the image so what you see is not reversed. This is the most modern type of film camera with the majority of Nikons and Canons falling into this format.


This type of camera has a split image range finder. This camera uses a separate viewfinder to aim your camera. No mirror is had by this unit inside of its frame. If the lens is removed by you from a range-finder camera, you shall see the shutter. These are smaller than SLR cameras. The range finder is illuminated through a light window located on the front of the camera which is then projected along with your lens image onto your viewfinder. By lining the two images up you are able to get your pictures in focus.

TLR Cameras – Twin Lens Reflex

Twin Lens Reflex cameras use 2 twin lenses. The top lens is used to help you focus and the bottom lens goes straight to your film. This style of camera allows you to accurately configure your image very. The main disadvantage to this type of film camera is the known fact you are unable to change the lenses.

Shoot and point

Point and Shoot cameras are very compact because they do not possess any internal mirrors and their viewfinder is not connected to the lens. Exposure and focus automatically are done for you. This type of camera was very popular in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s with the introduction of disposable cameras. The ease of use makes this camera very appealing and this type of camera is also much less expensive than SLR and Range-Finder cameras.

Stereo Cameras

This camera design uses 2 lenses shooting at a piece of film from a distance which gives an effect similar to 3D when viewed with stereo glasses. It was this type of camera that was used in WWII to discover hidden Nazi bases and weapons.

Instant Cameras

Polaroid is one of the most famous examples of this type of camera. An instant camera exposes your film the moment you take the picture which gives you almost instant access to your photography. This type of camera uses a special type of film that can be developed in minutes. Before the advent of digital technology, this was the only way to check your images without having to get your film developed.

Folding Cameras

Designed to be ultra thin, this type of camera has a lens that can be retracted into the frame. Older press cameras utilized this configuration. Eventually, light leaks became a huge design flaw in these units.

Panoramic Cameras

This type of camera comes in two variants. The first version works by rotating the lens to capture a larger image. The other type of panoramic camera relies on a curved lens to capture the additional landscape.

Large Format Cameras

This camera combines a fixed cone design with an interchangeable lens. This gives this type of camera a unique feel and look, which make it appropriate for certain applications.

Box Camera

This is one of the original film cameras that were introduced by Kodak first. The design was very simplistic; a hole would capture the light and burn it onto a negative. The disadvantage of this type of camera was the fact you had to send the entire unit into Kodak to get your picture developed. Box cameras were popular in the early part of the 19th century and they contributed to Kodak’s success during this period.

Pinhole Cameras

Any camera can be converted into pinhole format by changing the lens simply. Many people use a special pinhole lens cap to convert their camera into a pinhole configuration. What makes pinhole cameras very unique is the fact that they do not use a lens.

Toy Cameras

This type of camera can be characterized by its very simple settings, just one exposure usually. These are inexpensive and great for children. Despite their cheap lack and cost of functionality, they can still capture fairly good images and can be a great way to teach your children about photography.

The creative art of photography has been essential to the development of man, with the original theories of photography being developed by ancient cultures. As far back as Ancient Greece, man has learned he could capture light by using the concept of camera obscura. The word Photography comes from combining the Greek words for light and drawing actually. It would seem, once again, the wisdom of the ancients has been applied to modern to society to create an extraordinary leap in man’s technology.
After studying the different types of film cameras, it is easy to see how the progression to our modern day digital cameras came about. Film cameras will provide photographers with a more authentic looking photograph always. These traditional cameras seem to be regaining popularity within the niche photography market and because of this we can expect to see a continued use of film cameras for many years to come.

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