Keep it classy and affordable with the Canon Demi EE17 half-frame camera.
Photo: Dan Bracaglia

No, you aren't imagining things – the cost of shooting film has gotten ridiculous. You can’t even pick up a 36-exposure roll of Kodak UltraMax 400 for less than $10 these days. Want a roll of Portra? That'll be $18. Not only is this a bummer for current analog shooters but it’s also a financial barrier for those curious about the medium.

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Fortunately, there’s a simple way to double the number of shots you get per roll – from 24 to 48 or 36 to 72 – and that’s by using a half-frame film camera. While standard 35mm frames are 36x24mm, half-frame cameras split the image vertically, producing two 24x18mm images for every single full 35mm frame.

[Half-frame] cameras became popular for their diminutive size and cost-saving design

First introduced in the 1960s in Japan, these cameras became popular for their diminutive size and cost-saving design. These days, they are popular for similar reasons and also because they make it super-easy to capture in-camera diptychs.

Below you’ll find a selection of half-frame models to suit every taste, from entry-level automatics to fully manual models. Some of these cameras were released in the past few years, while others debuted in the past several decades. Whether you prefer Space Age design, a chunky 80s aesthetic or a sleek modern look, we’ve got you covered.

Most affordable: Kodak Ektar H35 half-frame camera

The Kodak Ektar H35 is the simplest half-frame camera on our list. It's also the newest.
Photo: Kodak

The Kodak Ektar H35 is the newest half-frame camera on our list. Launched in May 2022, this model is your most affordable entry point into the world of half-frame film photography (aside from disposables).

Tiny in size with a weight of just 100 grams (3.53 oz), the Ektar H35 is built entirely of plastic and sports a fixed 22mm F9.5 wide-angle lens and a built-in flash. Aside from toggling the flash on and off, there are no additional creative or exposure controls; the shutter always fires at 1/100 sec. Simply point, shoot and advance the film. Focus is also fixed.

This camera is perfect for someone just beginning their creative adventure in analog

This camera is perfect for someone just beginning their creative adventure in analog. The flash is powered by a single AAA battery, though the camera can be operated sans battery. Plus, the Ektar H35 comes in four snazzy colors, including my favorite, Sage (pictured above).

Another affordable option in this category, the AgfaPhoto Half Frame camera, is similar in design and simplicity to the Kodak. Either can be purchased for less than $50 from major camera stores and retailers.

Most versatile: Lomo LC-Wide 35mm

The Lomo LC-Wide 35mm is pricey but feature-packed.
Photo: Lomography

For a more feature-rich modern half-frame option, look no further than the Lomo LC-Wide 35mm. This tiny wonder allows users to choose between shooting full-frame or half-frame images on the fly. There’s also an option to shoot square frames.

Like the Kodak Ektar H35, exposure control on the Lomo LC-Wide 35mm is fully automatic, though you can use the ISO wheel to manually override it. However, exposure control is more sophisticated on the Lomo thanks to a variable-speed shutter (bulb to 1/500 sec) and variable aperture lens (F4.5 to F16).

This tiny wonder allows users to choose between shooting full-frame or half-frame images

Up front, the Lomo sports a high-quality 17mm wide-angle lens with two focus settings: Near (0.4m to 0.9m) and Far (0.9m to infinity). There’s no built-in flash, but a hotshoe allows for an accessory unit to be attached.

Other notable features include the ability to shoot multiple exposures, a bulb mode, a threaded shutter release and a bottom tripod socket. Of course, all this sophistication comes at a somewhat steep price of $400. But hey, this is the most advanced new half-frame camera available in 2023.

Classy and fully manual: Canon Demi EE17

With full manual controls and stunning good looks, the Canon Demi EE17 is among our favorite classic half-frame options.
Photo: Dan Bracaglia

Forget Hasselblads and Leicas – I’m convinced this 1960’s Canon half-frame model is the classiest-looking camera of all time. Better yet, these bodies are fairly easy to come by in decent working order, which is impressive for a nearly 60-year-old camera.

Oozing Space Age charm, the Canon Demi EE17 was Canon’s top-of-the-line half-frame model when it launched in 1966. With a sharp, fast 30mm F1.7 lens, a bright viewfinder and accurate metering, there’s a lot to like here. You also get fully manual controls as well as shutter priority shooting.

The controls are a bit strange, though. Users set their shutter speed via a dial on the lens barrel (from bulb to 1/500 sec). Meanwhile, the aperture control is located around the front of the lens (F1.7 to F16).

Oozing Space Age charm, the Demi EE17 was Canon’s top-of-the-line half-frame model when it launched in 1966

Focus is adjusted using a tab along the left side of the lens barrel – you’ll also find a corresponding focal distance scale at the base of the barrel. Additionally, a rudimentary focus distance scale is visible at the bottom of the viewfinder. Metering info is also displayed in the finder; a needle points to the correct corresponding aperture based on your chosen shutter speed.

Constructed of aluminum and wrapped in leatherette, the Canon Demi EE17 doesn’t just look pretty; it’s also solidly built (and a tad heavy). On the used market, you can expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $300. And while these cameras work without a functioning meter (or batteries), you’ll get more enjoyment out of one that does function properly.

A fan favorite: Olympus Pen EE-2

The Olympus Pen EE-2 is another handsome 60s-era half-frame camera.
Photo: Jastrow

The Olympus Pen series is perhaps the most well-known half-frame family of cameras ever created. With 15+ variations to choose from, many of which are still great today, we’re going to focus on just one: the Olympus Pen EE-2. This doesn’t mean that other Pen models are more or less worthy of your consideration – the Olympus Pen F SLR certainly is – this is just our favorite thanks to its simple, straightforward design.

If you found the Canon Demi EE17 tempting but prefer something a bit more automatic, the pocket-friendly Olympus Pen EE-2 is worth considering. Making its debut in the late 1960s, the ‘EE’ in the name stands for ‘electric eye,’ which refers to the selenium cell light meter located around the lens. These meters require no battery power to function, nor does the camera.

The Pen EE-2 is easy to operate with fixed focusing and automatic exposure control

The Pen EE-2 is easy to operate with fixed focusing and automatic exposure control. The camera chooses between two shutter speeds, 1/40 and 1/200 sec, depending on the aperture, which ranges from F3.5 to F22. For additional control, users can bias the automatic exposure using the ISO dial (25 through 400). There’s also a manual override that allows you to dial in the aperture of your choice.

In addition to the camera’s stellar looks – just look at that gorgeous frame counter – users also get a super-sharp 30mm F3.5 lens as well as a flash sync port and cold shoe mount.

The Olympus Pen EE-2 can be picked for under $200 on the used market but be sure to opt for one that’s been fully tested. Selenium cell meters eventually stop working, especially when continuously exposed to light. So you’ll want to buy one that’s been stored with a lens cap on. That said, even if the light meter is fried, the camera is still operable, though considerably less simple to use.

Strangest looking: Yashica Samurai X3.0

Say hello to one of the world's first 'Bridge' cameras.
Photo: BlueBreezeWiki

Not all half-frame cameras look like rectangular boxes with a lens attached. Some look like a camcorder RoboCop might use. Meet the Yashica Samurai X3.0, a half-frame camera from, you guessed it, the late-1980s.

Larger and whackier than any of its aforementioned half-frame friends, this is the only model on our list that’s an SLR instead of a viewfinder camera. The ‘X3.0’ in the name refers to the built-in x3 optical 25-75mm F3.5-4.5 zoom lens. You also get autofocus, autoexposure and a built-in flash. Other fun features include a self-timer, sequence shooting and a strange handgrip that slides between the user’s index and middle finger.

This is the only model on our list that’s an SLR instead of a viewfinder camera

Weird form factor aside, this is a super-capable half-frame point and shoot, and a camera that’s definitely going to turn some heads. It’s also one of only a handful of half-frame cameras with a zoom lens and autofocus. Best of all, you can easily find one for around $100.

The wrap

Ultimately, half-frame photography is a great way for anyone to dip their toes into 35mm without worrying too much about wasted shots. And the options there, both new and vintage, are plentiful and fairly affordable. These cameras can let you dabble or dive right in and get creative – that’s what film photography is all about, after all!

What’s your favorite half-frame film camera? Let us know in the comments below.