Thoughts On the Canon AE-1 Program so far…

Hey guys,

This is the Canon Ae-1 Program I picked up last week from Facebook Marketplace.

Alot of people recommended this camera when I was researching what film camera to buy. I wanted something simple, affordable and easy to take with me.

Fortunately, the guy I bought this from was more than willing to teach me about the camera’s mechanics and how to properly adjust the settings for a well-balanced image.

Thanks Tim!

Canon ae-1p with the 35-105mm f/3.5

I’ve only shot six rolls of film on this camera up until now and so far I’m having alot of fun despite not knowing how the pictures are turning out! I haven’t developed any photos yet, so I’m in the dark with any sort of feedback.

To be honest, It’s a little nerve-racking (alot, actually) but that’s the fun of shooting film.

The anticipation is unreal.

I went to Mt. Hope Farm in Bristol, RI to experiment with the camera for the first time. I brought three rolls of Fujifilm Superia 400.

The first photo took me 3-5 minutes to take. I was worried about my settings the entire time and the pressure of limited exposures made me particular about my composition.

Photo-ready check:

  1. compelling composition
  2. ideal focal length
  3. subject is in focus
  4. Shutter speed is quick enough
  5. aperture is correct
  6. ISO is set at 400 and ready-to- go

OK.

I’m ready.

aaaaand…

Nothing.

I forgot I had to advance the film lever until the shutter-count window read “1.”


After taking a few photos and getting into a flow I started really enjoying the slower-paced process and the overall feel of the camera. When I got back to the house I took portraits of my cousins on the front steps and a few candid shots of them talking among themselves. If I properly exposed and focused those frames, I really think they’ll be timeless photographs!


I’ve been writing this over a few days and have had more time to think on how I actually feel about this camera. The Canon AE-1 is, to put it plainly, everything I wanted.

Ever since my Nana gifted me her old point-and-shoot I’ve been fascinated with learning more about film photography and the AE-1 Program is perfect for that exact purpose.

What I love most, besides the sweet, sweet sound of advancing the film is… no wait. That’s probably my favourite thing about the camera.

It sounds trivial, but the sound makes me excited to use the camera. It’s the feeling I get from pressing the lever forward, hearing the teeth hook the film strip and then clicking the shutter button is just…satisfying.

It’s like the photographer’s equivalent to a bolt-action rifle. It’s tactile and unlike a digital camera, you’re much more aware of how the camera functions.

I found myself way more engaged than I usually am partly because I was forced to consider my settings and partly because I wanted to make each shot count.


One thing I found inspiring about this camera, and I suppose what I’m about to say isn’t exclusive to this camera, but instead about film as a whole, is that it made me slow down when I switched back to shoot with my digital camera.

I started implementing the slower paced process and attention to detail with my Canon 6D. It was exactly what I needed to feel reinspired with digital photography.

Instead of rapid fire shooting and adjusting settings without knowing why I’m choosing those particular settings (beyond that it looks good on the photo display,) I’m making sure I ask myself how the settings I pick serve the photo I’m trying to make.

It makes photography way more intentional and way more meaningful.


What’s your take on film photography? How has it changed your perspective on photography as a whole?

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