Fuji DL 300 point and shoot film camera

When thinking of great 35mm point and shoot film cameras, the Fuji DL 300, or any Fuji camera for that matter, is unlikely to immediately cross your mind.

You’re much more likely to instantly think of the 35mm point and shoots that have, to a much greater extent, seen their legacies extend to the present day; the likes released by companies such as Canon, Nikon, Yashica or Olympus. The only problem is that this legacy, given the resurgence of film photography, has led to scarcity and some hefty price tags.

Many film photographers, therefore, seek out the hidden gems. The lesser-known 35mm film cameras that punch well above their price bracket. This is where Fuji’s family of point and shoot cameras comes into their own.

This article is about, what in my opinion at least, is the pick of the bunch.

 

The Fuji DL 300

 

Like the vast majority of the best film camera deals found nowadays, my Fuji DL 300 was a charity shop find.

When I stumbled across it, I had no idea that the DL line of cameras existed. In fact, despite being a huge fan of Fujifilm’s digital cameras and being the proud owner of a Fujifilm X70, none of Fuji’s 35mm film cameras had even come across my radar.

Fuji DL 300 point and shoot film camera

I immediately admired its distinctly 1980s design and plastic sliding cover that protects its lens. It seemed to be in great condition, so when I saw its £10 price tag, I was immediately sold.

 

A bit of background

 

The Fuji DL 300 was released in 1986 by the Japanese company Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd., which has since been rebranded to the catchier and more recognizable name of Fujifilm.

Most of Fuji’s DL line of fully automatic point and shoot film cameras were manufactured with fewer functionalities and, crucially, a cheaper lens. The DL 100, DL 200 and DL 300 are the exceptions to this rule.

The Fuji DL 300 comes with a sharp Fujinon 35mm f/2.8 lens. While its maximum aperture of f/2.8 allows it to perform pretty well in low-light situations, particularly when paired with a faster, higher ISO film stock, the DL 300 also comes equipped with a powerful automatic flash.

Operating it also couldn’t be easier since everything, from loading the film to focusing and exposing the photos before rewinding the film, is fully automatic.

Once you have your composition, all that is needed is a half-press of the shutter button to check that the camera has found focus, before pressing it the rest of the way to take the shot. If the DL 300 can’t find the right focus point, (for example, if the subject is closer than the 0.8m minimum focal distance) a light will flash in the viewfinder to alert the photographer.

Fuji DL 300 top

Why the DL 300 is among the best point and shoot film camera deals around

 

While I’ve mentioned what initially drew me towards buying the Fuji DL 300, most of those reasons was purely superficial. I didn’t even know if it worked properly so I could well have spent £10 on a glorified paperweight.

Luckily though, the DL 300 was full of pleasant surprises.

 

Light-weight and portable

 

One thing that’s great about the Fuji DL 300 is the fact that it weighs only 260 grams (or just over 9 ounces) and it easily fits into a jacket pocket. It’s the sort of camera that you can throw in your bag and carry around without ever noticing it.

This was a particularly nice change from the only other film camera I owned at the time, the hefty orange brick that is the Nikonos V.

DL 300 sailing
Fuji DL 300 solent sailing

Image quality

 

Given its age and the fact that the Fuji DL 300 was aimed primarily at casual and hobbyist photographers when it was released in the 1980s, this point and shoot camera’s image quality is surprisingly good.

The Fujinon 35mm f/2.8 lens pleasingly captures colours and finer details despite the grain in its images. It retains the character and feel that draws many of us to continue shoot film to this day.

DL 300 glastonbury
DL 300 museum

Pure convenience and ease of use

 

While some creative control is, of course, lost when shooting with a fully automatic camera, a point and shoot camera such as the DL 300 provides extreme user-friendliness and ease of use to the photographer. All that you need to focus on is what you want to capture.

No experience with cameras or film photography is necessary – it even advances and rewinds the film by itself. While this is more a general benefit of point and shoot cameras rather than the DL 300 specifically, it still deserves a mention as the DL 300’s auto-exposure and auto-focus functions better than I’ve found in some similar cameras.

 

What could be better with the Fuji DL 300

 

Of course, no camera, especially one you buy for a tenner at a charity shop, is without its flaws. And no review of a camera is actually useful unless it touches on those flaws.

 

Unusual CR-P2 battery

 

It’s quite telling that probably the biggest issue I have with this camera is the type of battery it takes. The Fuji DL 300 takes a CR-P2 battery, which isn’t all that common anymore. Of course, it would have been much more convenient if it took AA or AAA batteries as these are much more easily found and aren’t quite as expensive.

That being said, once you have the battery installed, it will last for years. This makes buying a battery at close to the price I paid for the camera much more acceptable.

 

The camera will still take a shot if it hasn’t found focus or proper exposure

Dl 300 into the sun
DL 300 sunset

Ok, so this is another instance where I have been well and truly spoilt.

Cameras such as the Olympus Trip 35 have a blocking mechanism which prevents you from taking a shot when the camera cannot expose an image correctly. In the Trip 35, a red flag pops into the viewfinder and the shutter doesn’t fire, ensuring that no frame on your precious film is wasted.

With the Fuji DL 300, ensuring that the scene is well-lit enough and that the camera can find focus is up to the photographer. Though since that’s pretty much the only thing the photographer needs to do, we’re really just nit-picking here.

 

Should you invest in the Fuji DL 300?

 

Now we’ve covered a brief history of this camera, its appeals and its possible shortcomings, on to the big question: is it worth investing in the Fuji DL 300? The answer to this question is largely dependent on what it would be used for.

As a casual camera that you can carry around and not really worry too much about, the Fuji DL 300 is a treasure trove. I, for example, carried the DL 300 around a couple of festivals last summer. Given its price, you don’t have to worry about it getting damaged and its ease of use means you can still get some cool shots even if operating it in a less-than-sober state.

DL 300 Glastonbury 35mm film

If, however, you’re a photographer that wants the sharpest results 100% of the time, or you want full control of the settings to have the maximum level of creative control, the DL 300 won’t be for you. But then, you likely wouldn’t be in the market for a point and shoot film camera anyway.

If the DL 300 sounds like the kind of 35mm film camera you’re looking for, why not check out the latest prices on eBay? Otherwise, keep an eye on any charity shops near you – you never know when someone might uncover one in their garage before deciding to donate it.

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Wrapping up

 

Of course, the Fuji DL 300 won’t get you the social media clout of the Yashica T4, and you won’t get the out-and-out performance of a Contax T3 or Leica Minilux. What it will get you is a capable point and shoot film camera that can come everywhere with you and can deliver great results at a truly negligible price. If you’re still not convinced, why not check out some images posted on Lomography that were taken using the Fuji DL 300?

As long as your intentions and expectations are in the right place, I think the Fuji DL 300 would make a great asset to any film photography enthusiast’s travel bag.

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