Working in secret, my wife bought me this camera with the help of my friend Scott Smith. Being a Canon digital photographer for the past eight years, I knew I wanted a 35mm film SLR and at some point mentioned it to my wife. I was very surprised when I opened this gift on Christmas morning in 2013. To ensure the camera worked properly, my wife had Scott buy one from KEH.com. I’ve never purchased anything from KEH Camera, but it’s a great source for used gear because they inspect, test and rate every item in their used inventory so that buyers are aware of cosmetic condition and back it up with a 180-day warranty.
The Canon A-1 was manufactured from 1978 – 1985. It was typically sold with a 28mm or 50mm FD mount lens, but the three most common at the time were: 50mm f/1.8, 28mm f/2.8, or 70-210mm f/4. Because the A-1 was commonly sold in a kit, it was always discounted and the price ranged from $375 – $425. My A-1 came with the 28mm f/2.8 lens. It’s a good lens, but a little wide for what I wanted. So I purchased a 50mm f/1.4 on eBay. Over the past year I’ve spoken to several people who have this lens/camera combination and they all make the same comment. Canon had an issue with this particular lens at the time and you either bought a good or a bad copy, no in-between. When I heard this, I was a little hesitant, but the price was right. I must have obtained a good copy because the lens is sharp and fun to use.
The A-1 features both aperture and shutter priority modes. This was the first Canon camera to have sophisticated electronics. At the time it generated a lot of debate among traditional film photographers. The purists believed the computer did too much for the photographer as it was the first camera to have true automatic program modes. Since when have “purist photographers” not debated?
My son, Connor, is really interested in robotics. We decide to attend the 2015 First Tech Challenge at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. The FTC robotics competition consists of teenage teams that compete with robots they designed, built and programmed. I took my Canon A-1, 50mm f/1.4, and a roll of Ilford 100 BW film to photograph some of the students with their robots. The challenge was the film speed and the gym lighting. I had to open the lens up to f/1.4 at times and over-expose by +1. I knew I was taking a chance with this combination, but the resulting images have nice detail and contrast. These are some of my favorite images.
This Post Sponsored by:
B&H Photo – The Professional’s Source – B&H has an excellent selection of black and film from Ilford, including HP5, Delta, Pan F Plus, FP4 Plus and more! B&H has been serving professional and amateur film photographers for more than 40 years.