Jul 10

Film Photography - The Canon A-1

A while ago I stumbled across an old Canon A-1 in my father-in-law’s office. He was not using it anymore but the lense was kind of broken (pretty much twisted and not correctly connected) and I was not interested in getting it fixed. Neither was he. Then a few weeks ago I saw it again and took it with me to get it repaired at a local shop. Since I got it back I shot 2 film of 36 pictures each. This post is about my experience with it so far and how you can get started with a Canon A-1, which is not too expensive if you buy it online.

The Canon A-1

The camera was built and bought in 1982 (in words nineteeneightytwo) – so it’s pretty old, yet all the buttons and controls are still in place and working. When you hold the camera you know that it’s built to last as it is kind of heave compared to newer cameras of the same size. It also already features a nice used look that Lenny Kravitz put on his Leica design on purpose.

Getting started

The A-1 was back then (one of) the first camera to come with an automatic mode. This enables you to just go out, focus and shoot, it will set the aperture and exposure automatically. All you have to do is load the film and you are good to go. OK, you should not forget to insert that LR44 on the front of the camera, without it, the camera will not be working.

I found these sites to be helpful in getting started, too:

Those were the sites that helped me the most in my quest to getting started with the A-1. And so far it has been a blast. Once you get used to manually focussing every single shot and once you get around the „Can I see the picture?“ question of people pointing to the back of your camera – it is awesome – see the next section for the first results.

The first two films

As there was no quick importing the pictures into Lightroom (or any other tool) one first had to shoot a whole film and then get it developed and then get totally excited if any of the pictures turned out at all? You know, one wrong setting and you could have ruined the whole film. But, to my pleasure, the results were pretty good. OK, the first film contained a large number of blurry test shots that no one would understand if you should them, but the second film turned out great. Here is a selection of my favorites from the first two films:

Development of films and digitalizing them

Most people asked where you can get a film developed and how much it was and how do you digitalize them, so here is a short summary of what I did: I went to the “dm Store“:http://dm.de/ (German version of CVS/Walgreens maybe) and handed in the film, checked the “also give me a CD checkmark“ and waited. It usually takes up to a week until you can pick it up, it was around 10 Euros for each film, including all the prints and the CD with the scanned images. The digital images come out in 1536 × 1024 / 1.7 MB.

10 Euros seems a bit much but you do not do that every other day. The hardest part in my opinion is the waiting game, waiting to finally see the results. On the other hand when you look at the pictures after picking them up you think of the situation you took the picture and appreciate the moment a little bit more.

What’s next

So far I have only used two color films – the one I currently have in the camera is a black and white one though, and I am curious how the images will turn out. Also I would like to take more portraits of people with this camera as I really like the portraits that came out of the first two films.

Do you still have a film camera? Are you still using it? Which one is it? If you do not have one -> Get one! It is definitely fun and a nice topic to talk about with others.

Tags: canon, film, photography