Over the Memorial Day weekend, I got a chance to use my father’s Canon AE-1 Program camera with a roll of Kodak Portra 800 film. I purchased the film and batteries online, and patiently awaited its arrival. Once I got the camera all set up, I realized a few things that I needed to know:
- I have no idea how to operate this camera.
- Where do you get film developed these days?
- What is the best way to shoot with film? Overexpose, underexpose..?
- The condition of the lens (i.e. scratches, dust, focus reliability..)
Thankfully, I was able to find instructions online and a YouTube video that was very helpful in loading the film in the camera and setting it up.
Here are a couple of photos:
Do I love the look of the film? Yes and no. I definitely know I have more learning to do. As much as I wanted to love the Porta 800 tones, they were a bit too green for me. I do not like my photos too warm but I also don’t want them too cool or having a green tint. Another thing I noticed in the other photos (not posted) is that the focus fell behind the area of focus that I chose. My 50mm 1.4 and 7D would do that a lot, and it drove me crazy. The 50 still does it even on the Mark III every now and then. The lens I used on the AE-1 Program was the Canon 50mm 1.8 that came with it. I probably should have it looked at. If you look closely at the photos, you may notice a few dust spots and scratches. I actually like that;I did expect that before I even looked at the photos. I love the very fine grain of the Portra 800 film.
Will I try it again? Probably. It depends. I would want to either try a film camera that is compatible with my EF lenses I already have or try to figure out the focusing. With the AE-1, you have to manually focus. Trying to get the focus just right with 2 children running around and wearing glasses (of a very strong prescription) is challenging. My diopter never shows clear enough for me to tell if things are in focus. I love that with my DSLR the focus point will light up red or beep when in focus.
Where did I have my film developed? I decided to go with a local place, The Camera Company, for my first roll. From them, I paid for developing and a CD for just under $13. I plan to use my photos on my digital scrapbook pages, so prints were not necessary. When I went to pick them up, I received an envelope with the negatives, a thumbnail index of all of the photos on the roll, and a CD. However, I did bookmark a few online places if I decide to get serious and try again [see list below].
- North Coast Photographic Services
- Indie Film Lab
- Richard Photo Lab
- Photoworks SF
- The Darkroom
- The Photo Place