If you’re a lover of retro cameras, you’ll be happy to know that many modern cameras still adopt a retro style. In this article, we review the top seven cameras on the market. What we’re looking for is technical excellence in a vintage-inspired package.
Our top pick has stunning looks, excellent performance, and is very reasonably priced.
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What is the Best Retro Camera?
Before we look at our recommendations for digital cameras with a vintage look, here’s a summary of our suggestions.
- 20.3 MP Live MOS sensor
- 5-axis image stabilization
- 4K video recording capabilities
- Silent shooting for discreet photography
- Articulating LCD monitor for versatile shooting
- 47 MP full frame sensor
- 28mm fixed f/1.7 Summilux lens
- Weather-sealed magnesium body
- 4K Video and 4K Photo Mode
- 3" LCD touchscreen display
- Durable titanium construction
- High-resolution 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 Sensor
- Advanced hybrid viewfinder with optical and electronic capabilities
- Fast autofocus and wide ISO range of 160-12,800
- Comprehensive film simulation modes
- Professional-grade quality
- 20 MP Live MOS sensor
- OLED electronic viewfinder
- Full HD video recording
- Interchangeable lens capability
- 16.2 MP full frame CMOS sensor
- 4K Ultra HD video recording
- 273-point hybrid autofocus system
- Up to 12 fps continuous shooting
- Integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
- Compact and lightweight design
- 26.1 MP APS-C sensor
- Fixed Fujinon 23mm f/2 lens
- Fully featured hybrid viewfinder
- 4K/30p video recording
- 24.2MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor
- 6.2K/30p video recording and F-Log Gamma
- Weather-sealed magnesium alloy body
- 0.75x 3,690k-dot OLED
- Pixel-shift High Res mode
Now let’s look at those cameras in more detail, starting with our top pick.
1. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV looks like a “proper” old-fashioned camera. With its brushed metal and leatherette body, it really looks the part. Chunky knurled dials add to the retro vibe. But it’s not all about the looks. And those same dials make controlling the camera easy. And they lead to an understanding of how the various elements of
This is one of the reasons the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is ideal for a beginner to intermediate user. It’s easy to use, affordable, and is a perfect camera to learn photography with. And it is loaded with fantastic features that will get beginners excited. And those same features will keep experienced photographers interested.
It’s not just a capable stills camera, but it’s a decent performer with video too. At this price, you might be surprised to find 4K video at 30 fps. But it’s there and it delivers smooth, clear footage. Your video and stills work will benefit from the impressive 5-axis image stabilization. It’s a great help in low light.
The 121 autofocus (AF) points help it to achieve accurate results when shooting photos and videos. It even tracks the subject’s movements in the frame.
There’s a 180-degree rotating screen. This makes selfies and vlogging a breeze. A 15 fps burst mode is really useful for action photography. Built-in shooting modes and art filters allow you more creativity. And built-in Wi-Fi makes transferring images easy.
It’s a fantastic camera that matches knockout looks with technical excellence at a great price. Pair it with the equally beautiful Olympus ED 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens and you have one of the best contemporary retro cameras available.
2. Leica Q2
The Leica Q2 costs more than I have ever spent on a car. When you look at the list of what it doesn’t have, the price seems even more surprising. It has a fixed focus, non-interchangeable lens. There’s more plastic than you’d expect on an expensive camera. And high ISO performance is not that good.
But Leica has set the standard for compact cameras. Several cameras in this review clearly want to look like a Leica. And Leica has a band of loyal followers.
The reason for that is the stunning quality of the photos that a Leica camera produces. In the Q2, the 47.3 MP full frame sensor achieves incredible image quality. Quality that you don’t usually find outside of professional-level full frame mirrorless cameras.
The fixed focus 28mm f/1.7 lens lives up to Leica’s reputation for excellence. And that f/1.7 means you’ll have many shooting opportunities that a zoom-toting competitor with their f/4 or f/5.6 lens won’t. The AF performance is quick and reliable, too. Almost appearing to anticipate your subject’s movement.
There’s no denying that the Q2 looks fantastic. It brings a clean and uncluttered feel to its vintage-inspired camera body. Most people probably won’t notice that you’re shooting with a classic of its kind. But those in the know will quickly spot the red circle with the distinctive logo and understand. If you can afford it, this won’t disappoint.
3. Fujifilm X-Pro3
The Fujifilm X-Pro3
You can swap to a more conventional screen if you wish. Or use the excellent electronic viewfinder (EVF) instead. In fact, the EVF is so good that you might see the sense and humor of the X-Pro3’s design. The EVF shows you what the sensor sees and replays the photo you just took. If you want to go old-school, you can even switch to an optical viewfinder. Even then, you can overlay certain aspects from the EVF to give a really useful hybrid viewfinder.
The body is beautifully finished in leatherette and titanium, either silk-finish black or natural. The latter is my favorite. The frame is magnesium and the body is weather sealed. A little rain shouldn’t interrupt your photographic adventures.
And those adventures should provide some fine images. The X-Pro3 is a very capable camera with excellent high ISO performance up to 12,800 ISO. Picture quality is sharp, although the autofocus is not the fastest at tracking objects. It’s not a camera for the dedicated sports enthusiast.
If you want to shoot in style with a solid, well-made camera, this Fujifilm could be ideal for you.
4. Olympus PEN-F
The original Olympus Pen was a popular classic. It took 35mm film but only took half-frame photos. Thus, it squeezed 72 photos out of a single roll. The Olympus PEN-F oozes with the style of the original. And it packs its attractive body with first-class tech. The body itself is faux leather and metal, with knurled chunky control knobs.
The specifications are impressive. The electronic shutter has a maximum shutter speed of 1/16,000 s and can rattle off exposures at up to 20 fps. The mechanical leaf shutter can still achieve 1/8,000 and 10 fps. And that has much less chance of the dreaded rolling shutter.
The image stabilization (IS) system is also impressive. Its five axes provide up to four stops of compensation in real-world situations. This is both impressive and useful. Another clever trick with the IS is High Res mode. The Pen-F takes up to 50 MP JPEGs or 80 MP RAW photos. It does this by taking a rapid series of shots. Then it moves the sensor by one pixel between each
The image quality in general is impressive, and the Pen-F is unlikely to disappoint. As with most of these retro-style digital cameras, there is much pleasure to be had simply looking at them and using them. The Pen-F doesn’t disappoint in either of these regards. It is easy to use and offers many creative possibilities. It’s a worthy heir of the Pen brand.
5. Nikon Z fc
As a photographer, one of the things I love about the Nikon Z fc is that it is a triumph of style and function. This vintage-inspired camera has carved aluminum dials that look amazing. Shutter speed, ISO, and
Perhaps the best example of the blending of old and new is the neat little LCD screen on the top. It’s nestled between the shutter speed dial, shutter button, and
Even the excellent rear touchscreen folds away to present its discreet leatherette back cover. It looks good and it protects the screen from knocks. What looks like an old-fashioned pentaprism viewfinder is actually an OLED electronic viewfinder. It gives all those modern conveniences of real-time previews of actual
6. Fujifilm X100V
Another beautiful camera is the Fujifilm X100V. It’s a modern retro camera that uses leatherette and brushed metal to sublime effect. It is a favorite with street photographers, who love the f/2 23mm lens (equivalent to 35mm on a full frame). The controls are all easy to use, and like the Nikon Z fc, all the major elements of
This camera is neat and compact, so it invites you to slip it into your bag and take it with you. It will outperform your smartphone and it won’t weigh you down like a DSLR. Image quality is excellent and even wide open, the f/2 lens provides impressive sharpness. Many photographers will appreciate the built-in 4-stop ND filter.
They will also like the excellent dynamic range and ISO invariance. This helps recover detail in underexposed shots. The X100V copes well at ISOs up to about 4,000, but you will find noise at the maximum of 12,800.
Overall this is a really capable camera with excellent retro looks and practicality. If you want to know more, check out our full review.
7. Fujifilm X-T5
The Fujifilm X-T5 is the new old kid on the block. Released at the end of 2022, it shares many of the style notes of the X100V. Film photographers will like the clear, beautifully crafted dials and knobs. These are complemented by the aperture ring on the lenses. The brushed metal and black faux leather also reflect the old-school style of this APS-C interchangeable lens camera.
Like the other cameras in this review, the X-T5 is no slouch when it comes to performance. It has a 40 MP sensor, which is impressive. But when the IS system is engaged, it can use pixel-shift technology to produce 160 MP High Res photos. You’ll need Fujifilm’s software to merge the images in post, but the possibilities are truly impressive.
That same IS system gives you up to 7 EV improvement. This can be a game changer in tricky low-light situations. Although, of course, it won’t stop your subject from moving! You can shoot at up to 15 fps, even at maximum resolution, and 6.2K / 30p video.
This looks like it will be a very capable camera. And it does it with style. Photographers will appreciate the camera’s high-end features. These include two memory card slots and the tilting rear touchscreen.
Conclusion: The Best Retro Camera
These cameras all show that modern and high-tech don’t have to mean black plastic. They all show how vintage looks can be carefully married to excellent technology.
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is our top pick retro camera for 2023. It has superior image quality, advanced features, and a stylish design. It’s the perfect choice for both beginner and more experienced photographers.
The combination of classic design and modern technology makes it a great choice for capturing beautiful images with a classic look. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a reliable, stylish, and powerful retro camera.