The test roll of film from my new Canon AE-1 P is back from the drugstore and I’m happy to say that the camera works great!
I was a bit worried about manual focusing – I’m still not sure whether I’ll be able to correctly focus on people who are not posing (especially small, fast moving people) – but it’s really not scary at all. Especially once you notice the distance guides on the focus ring. If the object of your affection is about 10 feet away, that’s a pretty good place to start. Then you can fine tune the focusing through the big bright finder. Easy! In fact I don’t think any of my test pictures are incorrectly focused.
I actually had much more trouble getting a borrowed dSLR to focus on the right spot (I accept that as user error in part, but it’s also a clever camera that thinks it knows better than me what I’m trying to photograph). And my Olympus sometimes gives me issues with shutter lag – by the time the damn shutter fires the kid had run out of the shot! That’s annoying. I don’t have to worry about that with this camera. You press the button and click/clunk! or whatever that sound is…
The dog hasn’t quite decided if it’s a camera yet. If she had I wouldn’t have gotten this shot – usually she lets me take one picture then jumps down to claim her reward.
I did have a few problems with exposure…
This camera does not like backlit subjects, or more accurately, I haven’t learned how to handle backlighting with this camera yet. One of these pictures (top right) might be overexposed because I don’t have the little viewfinder cover anymore. When you use the 10 second self timer you’re supposed to use the hot shoe cover to cover the viewfinder to get an accurate exposure. It’s also possible that my position when I pressed the shutter was incorrect – the camera measures the exposure at that point, not when the shutter fires, so I really would be better off with a cable release if I want to do self portraits. I want one anyway because they’re retro cool!
I used my normal Kodak 400 film for this test. I had the camera set to auto-exposure program mode. The pictures look a lot like what I would get from my old Pentax camera except I suspect I have a nicer blurry out-of-focus background. I’ll have to compare some similar shots.
This picture, which my friend took to try out the focusing process, is a little green – I’m always amazed that our eyes can automatically adjust to awful fluorescent light! Luckily this room has some lovely big windows so I don’t look like kermit.
btw I found the front piece to the camera case that the Canon came with. St Vinnie’s had a nearly identical one that fit together with my existing base piece. I had no qualms about throwing out the base piece from the thrifted case because it was falling apart. $1.50 well spent! And I paid another $2 for a purple and aqua silk scarf which I’m going to sew into a camera strap cover – an idea I saw on photojojo.com. It’s fancier and more comfortable than a normal strap – and everyone who sees it will know you’re a creative diy hipster type ;)
There was an old guy at the thrift store who saw my camera and exclaimed “single lens reflex – I haven’t seen one of those in years! do they still make film for those?!” I had to laugh.
Which reminds me – when I picked up my Poppa’s photos from the drugstore the other day (I had them printed to share with my mother and aunt and they looked great) the 20-something girl behind the photo counter asked me if they were real original vintage photos. She thought they might be instagram-filtered photos of people dressed up as if it was still the 60s… lol