The unfortunate reality: film is popular again, making the gear more expensive than recent years. Wondering how to get into film photography but without breaking the bank? That's what I'm here for.
So... why are film cameras so expensive?
With the rise in popularity of film, a lot of popular cameras have gotten special attention. For example: the Mamiya RB67, Mamiya 7, Canon AE-1, Pentax K1000, and many other popular cameras have more than doubled in price recently. While they are great cameras, the difference between them and similar, cheaper bodies is not as big as you may think.
An important thing a lot of film shooters need to come to terms with is that gear matters a lot less than we're led to believe. Unlike digital, all cameras shoot the same film, and camera bodies only impact how light is let in. The only true piece of gear that will change the quality of your film image is your lens. And even then, there is some great glass out there for cheap.
What am I getting at with this?
Essentially, I'm saying to pick a camera that gets you excited to take pictures. Especially if it's your first camera, you're picking it to get into the hobby, not to start taking photos for Art museums (yet).
When it comes to picking a camera that gets you excited, this can come in many forms. Maybe it's by picking one that sounds cool when you take a photo. Or maybe one that is easy to carry in your pocket. There are lots of possibilities, and it's up to you to decide what matters to you.
While there are popular cameras, they aren't for everybody. Personally, I hate the form factor of the $4,000+ mamiya 7. And the RB67 requires a gym membership to carry due to its weight. The K1000 is a bit too barebones for me. And the AE-1 is pretty basic in relation to the price you pay.
Cameras are all subjective, and I'd recommend shopping locally so you can get your hands on some so you can see what you like. Many of these big brands have lesser known bodies that work just as well. Personally, I wanted to get my girlfriend a Minolta X-700, but it was too expensive. So instead, I went to the store and got my hands on some. I ended up grabbing the Minolta XG-M, which I hadn't even heard of. She loves it, it fits her perfectly, even more than a more popular body than an X-700.
At the end of the day, it's up to what you like and not what's popular. Part of the fun is in the search. Best of luck finding one!