While I'm definitely a big time gadget freak, it took me a long time to make the jump from film photography to digital. I still love film, especially some of the more unique stuff, such as Polaroid (all kinds) and Holgas.
Partly it is also that I just love the look of film cameras, particularly vintage ones. Small point and shoot Digital cameras, while incredibly practical and economical, just aren't very exciting looking. They all look alike -- tiny silver or black rectangular boxes. That is until some of the camera companies started designing their digital cameras with a bit of retro style. Film may be dead, but the camera body that used to use it may be alive and well.
Here's a few examples of the retro digital cameras available. Not all of them are easy to find in the US, but if you live or travel in Japan, you are lucky, lucky, lucky!
Rolleiflex Digital Camera
The first one, depicted both here and above, is the miniature "Rolleiflex". I love the look of Rolleiflex cameras and owning the real thing is on my wishlist, but I'd happily take one of these babies as well, despite the fact that these mini-cams aren't exactly known for their stellar picture taking abiliities. They look awesome though, so they are tempting.
Made by the Komomura Corp., their new miniature-size "Rollei", is a 5.1 digital camera modelled on the original twin-lens 6×6 Rolleiflex, which was first made in 1929. This is the second minidigi Rollei made by Konomura. Their first one was a 3.1 digital. If you want to grab one, it is probably worth keeping an eye on Ebay.
Leica M8 10.3MP Digital Rangefinder Camera
Leica has two different digital cameras that resemble their analog rangefinders quite well. In fact, the priciest offering, the Leica M8, is a true Digital rangefinder, part of Leica's M Range. It will only set you back about $6K *g*
It is gorgeous though and if you finally made the switch to digital, but miss your old rangefinder, these Retro Leica's may be just the thing for you.
The Leica M8 is a 10.3mp digital camera and most of the M range lenses will fit its body. It also incorporates the rangefinder system and outputs in raw format.
Leica's retro D-Lux 3 digital camera
The second option in the Leica digital range comes in at a bargain $585 on Amazon, and don't forget the classic Sixties-style brown leather case to go with it. The case alone will set you back $115.
This Leica is a 10mp point and shoot with a lot of manual settings available. It also inputs in both raw and jpg format. If i didn't already own a point and shoot that I'm very happy with (a Sony) I'd probably this camera.
Minox DCC Leica M3 4.0
Like the Rolleiflex miniature reproduction above, this camera is a miniaturized digital version of the classic Leica, the 1950s M3 rangefinder camera. But it should be noted that, at this price, it is a rather expensive plastic toy.
Most of the control dials are merely ornamental and the photos it takes are are a bit rubbish. It is one of the cutest things I've ever laid eyes on, but in my opinion it should really cost about $50. At that price, I'd buy it just to display it on my camera shelf.
If you really want one, the best prices are definitely on Ebay and you may just get lucky on a much better price.
Pentax Optio 750Z
The Pentax Optio is an older digital camera, but you can still find it used on either Amazon or Ebay. This is a ruggedly retro design in a decent 7MP camera with a 5x Optical zoom, full manual controls and an LCD display. It also looks like a camera straight out of the 60s. Love it!
Can't afford a Leica? Neither can I! But this new Fuji X100T is extremely tempting. It's the first electronic rangefinder camera and it has a gorgeous retro look to it. This camera won the DPReview Silver Award in 2015 and Fuji makes GREAT point and shoot cameras. If I had the money, I would be all over this one.
Martin on January 06, 2012:
so cool camera .i say the leica M8, but you know the aotek retro camera. look like the M8. i don't know how about it !
Bjarne on December 16, 2011:
What about the Leica X-seres? Expensive, but cheaper than the M, and they have a good retro-look.
Will on August 30, 2011:
i think these 2 cameras could definitely be added to the list.. the Fuji Finepix X100 and the Olympus PEN EP-1/EP-3.
The Fuji is a beautiful piece of work.
Lux on June 16, 2011:
The Digital Rebel is also really nice too. Sets you back $400-600 depending on where you go, but it has a nice look, the brand is reputable (Canon I believe?), and the photos are quality.
Ryan Shields on January 14, 2011:
Hi Elisha, and Embitca,
I found a review that said the Olympus-Pen-E-P2 has a built in filter for cross proccessing images to look like old photos. Also has a built in filter that makes them look like a tilt shift. From what i have read it slows the camera down to use these features. But if you don't have photoshop it is a nice alternative. Also I haven't used it as im in the process of looking for a retro style digital at the moment. Thanks for your advice on cameras. i will check them out.
Andrew Wood on July 21, 2010:
They forgot the Epson R-D1! Perhaps the most retro one of all, besides the Leica.
kate oates on July 20, 2010:
i want that blue one
Emma (author) from Boston on May 27, 2010:
Hi Elisha, I can't think of any digital camera that is going to give you that kind of look like the one you linked. That pic was definitely not taken with a digital camera. If you are using Digital, Photoshop and imaging software is the only way to achieve that.
If you want to try film though, any of the toy cameras like the Holga or the Diana should get you close to what you want. Based on the tags in that photo, I would say it was taken with a Holga and Polaroid back using 669 film, which is what I use.
Or -- I just had a thought. You might be able to achieve the look you want with Through the Viewfinder. That is when you use a digital camera to shoot through a film camera's lens. It is a little cumbersome, but it would probably save you some scanning work. Would still need a bit of work with Photoshop though to crop the images. Search for TTV images on Flickr and you will see what I'm talking about.
Elisha on May 27, 2010:
Hi you seem to know a lot about cameras. I am a total rookie when it comes to which cameras do what. So I'm wondering if you could tell me what digital camera I could get to achieve a vintage/70's look. I know the photos I like but I don't know how to get them. Here's a picture of the style I like. I also don't want to have to scan or photoshop. I want to point and shoot. Cheers :) http://www.flickr.com/photos/courtneybrooke/655784...
awsomechica9 on May 15, 2010:
wow i love it !!!!! i want a retro digi sooooo bad but the good ones are just to much monies!! sad but true
dphillips on August 15, 2009:
This is a very interesting hub. I've been shooting digital for about 6yrs., and did not know that retro-digitals were even made. I own a Mamiya C330 Twin Lens Reflex that I purchased through ebay and it takes great photos. I am a Nikon fan at heart, but I too love the look and feel of the traditional 2 1/4 format cameras. Thanks for a great article.
Research Analyst on July 26, 2009:
the retro style digital cameras look really cool and they seem to get smaller and smaller by the day, my favorite would be the Leica M8 is a 10.3mp digital rangefinder specifically because it has that vintage look but modern digital upload capabilities, nice well done.
Glenn on January 25, 2009:
Also, check out the Lumix (Panasonic) DMC-L1. Has the nice square retro look.
britneydavidson from united kingdom on January 19, 2009:
nice hub and great collection of cameras in your hub...its really informative.
satya on July 09, 2008:
you forgot the classy retro styled canon g9.
Emma (author) from Boston on April 01, 2008:
You definitely cannot have too many cameras *g*
Raven King from Cabin Fever on March 28, 2008:
Gorgeous collection. Stylish digital cameras, who knew? Can anyone have too many cameras?
Emma (author) from Boston on March 27, 2008:
I want one too *g*
monitor from The world. on March 27, 2008:
Rolleiflex, 420 you say. I still want one.
Emma (author) from Boston on March 27, 2008:
Thanks, Kathryn! They are fun cameras!
Kathryn Vercillo from San Francisco on March 27, 2008:
What a fun article. Makes me want to take more pictures!