Second-hand film cameras are not only inexpensive, they're also feature-rich and surprisingly capable. John Wad guides you to the best


Second-hand film cameras continued…


second-hand film cameras Zenit B

The Zenit-B fitted with an M42 mount 58mm f/2.8 Biotar lens


  • Type 35mm SLR
  • Launched 1968
  • Original price £41
  • Guide price now £10-20

The M42 lens mount was one of the most popular of the past and there is still a vast amount of the lenses on the second-hand market. So, for an
inexpensive but basic 35mm SLR, it makes sense to invest in a body with an M42 mount. Pentaxes, Prakticas and Zenits are among the most popular.

The Zenit-B has everything you want and nothing you don’t. The focal plane shutter offers speeds of 1/30-1/500sec but there is no automatic diaphragm, which means the lens has to be manually opened to its widest aperture for focusing and stopped down to its taking aperture for shooting. There is no rangefinder to aid focusing, either.

WE SAY The Zenit-B isn’t exactly sophisticated but if you feel the urge to get right back to basics for the lowest possible outlay, this is the camera for you.

second-hand film cameras Lubitel 2

The Lubitel 2, an inexpensive copy of the Voigtländer Focusing Brillant

Lubitel 2

  • Type Medium format TLR
  • Launched 1955
  • Original price £8
  • Guide price now £15-20

Post-war Russian camera manufacturers were good at copying pre-war German cameras, and this one is a copy of the Voigtländer Focusing Brillant made in 1938. The format is 6x6cm.

The Lubitel 2 is a very simple TLR with the shooting lens linked to the viewing lens by cogs around both, which ensure they turn and focus at the same time. A useful range of shutter speeds of 1/15-1/250sec and apertures of f/4.5-f/22 are adjusted on scales beside the shooting lens.

What sets the Lubitel 2 apart from other cheap TLRs is its focusing screen, which takes the form of a large glass lens, rather than traditional ground glass. The result is a brighter than usual image, which photographers will find especially useful in low light conditions.

WE SAY The Lubitel 2 is an interesting camera with some unique qualities at a budget price.

Six things to check…

Avoid buying a dud with our quick guide:

  1. Do the shutter speeds sound accurate?
  2. Do the focusing and aperture controls turn smoothly?
  3. Is the meter accurate?
  4. Does the rangefinder focus at infinity?
  5. Are there scratches, signs of fungus or cloudy elements in the lens?
  6. If the camera has bellows, are they light tight?

Where to buy

  • From dealers to websites, there’s no shortage of places to buy your bargain camera…
  • Second-hand camera dealers: check out the adverts at the back of AP
  • Camera fairs: Good list at
  • Auctions: Lots of options at
  • Online: > Cameras & Photography


  1. 1. Good quality, decent price
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