Two Affordable 35mm Film Cameras | Kodak H35 & Ilford Sprite 35-II
Everything that you love about shooting disposables, except they're reusable! Here are the pros and cons of these fun and affordable 35mm film cameras.
Shooting analog is a unique and rewarding experience, and in this article, we compare two newly manufactured and highly affordable film cameras — the Kodak EKTAR H35 Half-Frame and the Ilford Sprite 35-II.
One of the most significant advantages of these cameras is their affordability, especially in comparison to the high cost of film rolls and their chemical processing.
With the money saved, you can purchase either camera with just a few days of skipping coffee runs.
This article isn't a comparison piece between the Ilford and Kodak cameras, as these options are similar in quality, price, and use case. Instead, think of this editorial as an overview of the best choice in the film camera game of 2023.
Let's face it: the prices of film cameras and film stocks are exponentially higher than years ago. Thanks to high inflation, chemical processing, supply chain concerns, and excruciatingly high demand — it's best to save money for the various film stocks where your photos yield higher-visible results.
EKTAR H35 Half Frame Film Camera
Wanna maximize your film roll? The EKTAR H35 Half Frame Film Camera doubles your images per roll using half of each frame per shot. Reduce cost, shoot more!Buy for $49.99
Sprite 35-II Reusable 35mm Film Camera
Dip your toes into film photography with the Ilford Sprite 35-II! A really fun and affordable way to start experimenting with 35mm filmBuy for $36.95
Kodak H35 Half-Frame Film Camera
With the Kodak Ektar H35 Half-Frame, you'll achieve double the number of photos per roll of 35mm film, giving you twice the value. A single film roll with 36 exposures can provide an astounding 72 half-frame images, more than twice the amount. The double exposure effect creates a diptych-style unique result. Its convenient pocket-size body is extremely lightweight and small enough to be taken along on any daily outing.
Truly so easy, so fun, and so damn affordable.
Note: Half-frame photos have a lower resolution than a full 35mm image and are ultimately less sharp. However, this trade-off is worth it for those who love film photography's colors and nostalgic feel.
Stunning exterior shell.
Easy to use.
FUN! And unique captures, unlike most 35mm cameras.
Super small in size.
The image quality is great.
I could argue for a more durable rewind system.
The built-in flash illuminates the subsequent frame after being turned off.
Although minor, it has a smaller resolution than full-framed 35mm cameras.
Ilford Sprite 35mm-II Film Camera
In contrast, the Ilford Sprite 35mm is a conventional film camera producing 36 frames with any 35mm roll. I used this camera nearly every day last year as my daily shooter to capture family road trips, my dog, and sunny skate sessions, and it held up beautifully. Again, the file images are more prominent in resolution than those from the Kodak H35 camera, but unless you're a colossal pixel peeper — the visual difference is relatively minimal.
And although it has automatic capture settings, it features a manual film advance winding lever that allows you to rewind each exposure. The camera boasts a 31mm, single-element F9 fixed-focus wide-angle lens, allowing you to capture stunningly-focused daylight scenes. Its fixed shutter speed of 1/120s ensures vibrant, sharp images and also comes with a built-in flash.
Comes in lots of colors.
Easy to use and can take anywhere.
Higher resolution due to the full-frame sensor.
Way more reliable than older 35mm cameras.
VERY light hungry with no flash, more suitable in brighter conditions.
Better for beginner or non-serious use. It wouldn't satisfy serious film photographers.
I don't recommend E6 color-positive films like Kodak Ektachrome or Fuji Velvia with a camera like the Ilford Sprite. These film stocks require nearly perfect exposures for optimal results, and the auto setting on this camera cannot guarantee that every time.
Regarding durability and overall build construction — the Ilford Sprite and Kodak H35 are both sturdy and lightweight. And while both are made from plastic, they can withstand minor drops without damage. I've dropped both bodies multiple times on various ground surfaces, like concrete, sand, and the back of my Volkswagon bus (arguably dirtier than any sidewalk, thanks to my kids), and they held up perfectly.
Overall, you can't beat the price of either camera. Whether you prefer the half-frame or full-frame — the quality of the Ilford and Sprite are comparable to that of a popular ~$350 Olympus point-and-shoot you would find on eBay. These lightweight bodies can frequently shoot amongst rugged environments, even more so than vintage, seemingly unreliable cameras.
These new and affordable options from two famous brands are an easy, no-brainer purchase for those wanting a quick, fun, and quality solution to everyday film captures.
Easy to use; even a 5-year-old can use it.
Way more reliable than older cameras off eBay.
Reloadable for endless use.
Both offer plastic construction and a built-in flash.
Both are damn beautiful.
Reasons To NOT Get These Cameras
If you haven't gathered this already — both these cameras are much better for beginner and non-serious use cases.
If you're a highly attuned analog artist who values dynamic range, near-perfect resolution, or manual settings for better control, then the Sprite 35mm-II and H35 Half-Frame wouldn't be a satisfactory choice as your sole 35mm option.
However, both cameras operate seamlessly for everyday use. Why not spend $30-60 on a more miniature, less-risky-to-drop camera to take to parties, quick road trips, concerts, or family dinners? These two cameras are almost so cheap and accessible that it'd be silly not to add them to the camera bag.
In conclusion, the Kodak H35 and Ilford Sprite 35-II are affordable and reliable film cameras producing unique, beautiful, and playful photographs. These cameras offer a pleasurable and rewarding shooting experience despite their fixed settings. And while the film and processing costs may be high(er), the satisfaction and originality of the results are always worth it.