Any photographer who still shoots film today knows all too well the meaning of the phrase “slim pickings,” whether it be in regards to film, developing labs, chemistry, darkroom equipment and even cameras. Sure, we all rely on a stock pile of vintage cameras that the majority of the world doesn’t care about, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt each time a film camera is discontinued by a manufacturer. Many people are mistakenly under the impression that there are no more film cameras being manufactured today, but that would be wrong.
As many people are aware, Lomography offers a huge selection of film cameras, many vintage and many which are directly manufactured by Lomography itself. Fuji has also had large success with its Instax line of instant film and cameras in multiple formats, and the Impossible Project managed to raise Polaroid film from the dead so we can all keep using our old cameras.
But what about Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus… and many of the other camera giants? We did a lot of research and figured out exactly which companies are making which cameras as of the end of 2013.
Die-hard film users might be pleasantly surprised that some classics never change:
(All prices listed are for new cameras in USD)
PART I: 35MM
Fujifilm is a Japanese company, so I guess we technically shouldn’t complain - but for film lovers worldwide it stings a little to know they only consider their own to be hard-core film users. Beyond the Instax line and photographic film, Fujifilm outside of Japan manufactures zero film cameras today. In Japan they manufacture two. For now.
Fuji Natura Classica - $400-$450
The Fuji Natura Classica is a high-end, compact 35mm camera designed for natural light use, and more specifically low-light situations. Fuji’s Natura 1600 film complements the cameras NP (natural photo) mode. The Natura Classica comes equipped with a f/2.8-5.4 28-56mm lens and, oddly enough, an integrated pop-up flash.
As previously mentioned, Fuji manufactured the Natura Classica exclusively for Japan, but they can readily be found online. For more on the Natura Classica, check out our review on how it performs in low-light situations.
Fuji Klasse W - $550-$700++
Another “premium” compact 35mm camera and Japan-only exclusive, The Fuji Klasse W is like the Natura Classica with a major upgrade. With an f/2.8-16 28mm lens, it provides a far more profound depth of field and also offers fully manual functions. The Natura Classica is to an automatic SLR as the Klasse W is to a fully manual SLR, in compact camera form. The price ranges quite a bit on this little guy, as it can be difficult to find online - particularly if you don’t read Japanese.
For more info on comparing and purchasing, check out Japan Camera Hunter’s Buyer’s Guide to Premium Compact Cameras.
Here’s where we talk about quality classics. Personally, I have never been a rangefinder girl, but no one can argue with the fact that Leica’s are a) known for their exceptional image and mechanical quality and b) a ridiculously loyal following. An iconic brand in and of itself and renowned as the camera for street photography, some famous photographers who shot with Leica cameras include Man Ray, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Helmut Newton and Diane Arbus.
This is the official Fuji Natura Classica blog….. so far I’ve only tested the Fuji Superia 1600, but I’ve heard that Natura 1600 is just repackaged Superia. Anyone know if there’s truth to that claim?
Ok, so I have now had my Fuji Natura Classica for about 6 months and have played around with it sufficiently to finally give you guys a decent review.
Let me start with the Pros:
- It’s small (easily fits in purse/pocket)
- It’s light as a feather
- It makes very little noise
- It’s great for dark interiors and dusk
- Generally it replicates the exact same colors and light as your shooting situation
- NP mode with 1600 film is fabulous.
- It’s easy to use.
- It has a remote. Sweet.
Now let’s take a look at the Cons:
- It’s expensive (for a point and shoot)
- It doesn’t like bright light. So far this is my biggest problem. The aperture on the Fuji Natura Classica goes from 2.8 to 5.4, which means that even with ISO 50 your shots are overexposed in direct sunlight. I would not use this camera at the beach, for example.
- Camera shake. This is not a “walk and shoot” camera. Not unlike a Holga, you have to stop moving and hold the camera really still for a truly sharp image.
- No manual settings. You can tweak this guy a little bit (for example it has a slow shutter mode) but you’re mostly shooting automatic.
- Generally it replicates the exact same light and color as the shooting situation. Yes, I listed this as a pro as well, but I can’t decide if it’s good or not considering I use a lot of Fuji Velvia and Provia because I likes me some hot poppy color.
Overall, if you buy this camera with the intention of using it as you’re all around go-to camera for any situation, you will be disappointed. However, if you buy this camera with the intention of using it for what it was designed for, you will love it. This little guy is specifically for low-light, and that’s when it really shows it’s capabilities.
Let’s take a look at some of the shots from my wedding reception (
(these were shot by az2dc aka Man Flame, because I was too busy briding-it-up): correction these were totally taken by my TWIN FLAME aka meauxwastaken on Tumblr)
This is the courtyard at dusk:
and this is the same shot at 10:00pm
I feel like both of these are really pretty, and I think I would have had a hard time getting natural light shots like these even with my FM2. Obviously, I could’ve cleaned up the dust a little more but let’s not get too demanding now…
Moving on, we have inside the tent at dusk (around 7:30-8:00pm):
and inside the tent at night (around 10:00 pm)
Keep in mind that there are no other lights besides the Japanese laterns and fairy lights around the tent. That’s why they call it the “Natura Classica”
and last but not least, this is my wedding cake, shot inside at night:
Isn’t it pretty? (thanks Edna!) Notice how the shadows and highlights have a great tonal range… not one bit of white on that table cloth is blown out (hello, advantage of shooting film).
I get a lot of questions about where I bought my Fuji Natura Classica; it was given to me by my husband but he ordered it off of Japan Direct Shop: http://hovanfue.com/products/Fujifilm-NATURA-CLASSICA.html
More samples I have shot with the Fuji Natura Classica: http://istillshootfilm.org/tagged/fuji_natura_classica
Overall, do I recommend the Fuji Natura Classica? Yes!
Help Ha Ha Ha | Fuji Natura Classica | Fujicolor Superia 400
[extremely loud & incredibly close by jonathan safran foer, given to me by az2dc aka man flame]
Fuji Natura Classica | Village Saint Paul (notice my princess walking…)
FujiColor Superia 400