What’s the best 35mm autofocus SLR?

35mm af camera

With the many 35mm autofocus SLRs out in the used and brand new market today, it’s no wonder there’s a hot debate on which is the best out there. In one of the Facebook groups I’m in, someone had the balls to ask the community’s opinion which is the best.

Naturally, everyone had their own opinion on who’s the alpha. Seeing that this could be great content, I’ve noted down the votes and listed the 10 most mentioned cameras in the heated discussion. Here are the results:

(10 lowest – 1 highest)

10. Minolta Dynax 9

35mm Auto-Focus Cameras - Minolta Dynax 9

Also known as the Maxxum 9, this pro camera is legendary for its full metal body and weathersealed controls. You can take the Minolta Dynax 9 practically everywhere within reason. It also boasts a shutter speed of 1/12000th of a second, the fastest of its era (do correct us if we’re wrong).

9. Nikon F90

35mm auto-focus camera - Nikon F90

By the 90’s, Nikon was losing the autofocus game to Canon. Enter the brand’s savior the F90. It focused faster compared to previous models with the help of its motor that drove the lens via mechanical link. It outperformed its competitors and made photographers switch to the dark side IYKWIM.

8. Minolta Dynax 7

35mm auto-focus film camera - Minolta Dynax 7

The Minolta Dynax 7 was considered by many (or at least those who knew of its existence) as one of the best autofocus film cameras back then. It’s fast and accurate; and when paired with its wireless flash and you’re sure to get sharp photographs. It also had a bunch of well-placed buttons for easy navigation.

Unfortunately, poor marketing strategy by Minolta and the aggressive campaigns of Canon and Nikon contributed to the demise of Dynax 7. Don’t believe me? Tell me when you last saw a Minolta ad?

7. Nikon F4

35mm AF film camera - Nikon F4

The Nikon F4 was the 1st fully-electronic camera to come with a practical TTL phase-detection autofocusing system. Aside from that, the F4 had weather sealing and a tough metal body perfect for rugged conditions. In addition, the F4 came with a bunch of accessories such as various remote controls, film backs, and viewfinders.

6. Canon EOS 1N

35mm autofocus camera - Canon EOS 1N

The Canon EOS 1N, designed by Luigi Colani, featured a tough polycarbonate body with improved weather-resistant seals around the buttons, dials, and its lens mount.

This top-of-the-line SLR had 5 autofocus points that can be seen in its eye-level pentaprism viewfinder that boasts 100% vertical and horizontal coverage. It can also cover film speeds from ISO 6 to 6400.

5. Canon EOS 3

35mm autofocus camera - Canon EOS 3

The Canon EOS 3 came with a 45-point autofocus system and Canon’s top-of-the-line autofocus system. Combine that with the brand’s Eye-Control System, which uses infrared sensors to track the user’s iris to set the focus point, and you have one AF monster.

4. Canon EOS 1V

35mm autofocus camera - Canon EOS 1V

Aside from having 45 af points and a fast af system, the Canon EOS 1V was labeled the quickest shooter at that time with 10 frames per second. With this, it quickly became the camera of choice for professional sports photographers up until the time DSLRs caught up with the image quality around 2005.

3. Nikon F5

35mm autofocus camera - Nikon F5

Built from 1996 to 2004, the Nikon F5 featured a rain and dust resistant body that weighs at 1,210 grams. It can shoot 8 frames per second and has an impressive af system that can keep up with its frame rate. The F5 is compatible with AF, AF-D, AF-I, AF-S, VR and G lenses.

2. Nikon F100

35mm autofocus camera - Nikon F100

The Nikon F100, which is geared towards prosumers, is one of the easiest cameras to use especially for those who started out using DSLRs. Button layout is almost the same as the modern dslrs and loading film is a piece of cake. Also, the F100 can use modern Nikon lenses making it a good SLR to use with your current Nikon kit.

1. Nikon F6

35mm autofocus camera - Nikon F6

The F6 is the current top-of-the-line SLR of Nikon. Yes, you read that right. The Nikon F6 is still being sold on the Nikon USA and Japan website. It has 11-area (9 cross-type) af points powered by a Multi-CAM 200 sensor that helps the F6 lock onto its subjects accurately and quickly. It also has a 3D color matrix that, according to Kenrockwell.com, can give vivid, perfect exposures even with vintage manual focus lenses.

Speaking of lenses, the F6 can also pair up with nearly any Nikon F-mount lens, except for non-AI lenses built before 1977.

As of this writing, the F6 sells for $2,669.95, however, the Nikon USA website says it’s currently “out of inventory.” Is this a sign that they’re about to stop making this? Or maybe they plan to build an F7? We wish it was the latter.

Do note that the list is limited to the opinions of just 1 Facebook group. If you disagree with the list, feel free to comment below and maybe we can do our own tally.

Yabee Eusebio

A humble photographer who wants to share his passion of chasing light with others, whatever format it may be.