Creative Avenues

The Fine Print

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Film Play: Kodak Portra 800 + Canon AE-1 Program

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:

  1. I have no idea how to operate this camera.
  2. Where do you get film developed these days?
  3. What is the best way to shoot with film? Overexpose, underexpose..?
  4. 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].



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  • Ah, this makes my heart sing. Love these film photos – and I might be a bit biased, but I definitely think you should continue. I have found that I know *prefer* my film images.ReplyCancel

    • Tronesia

      That’s what I need to find…a film I really like. I do know I need to practice so that I can get more comfortable with the idea of film. It makes me feel a little crazy not knowing how my photos are going to turn out.ReplyCancel