Setting Up a Canon AE-1

Film cameras have the distinct disadvantage of having a limited number of shots. You don’t have the luxury of clicking again and again to capture the perfect moment, as you usually would with a digital camera. Each picture taken with a film camera must be perfectly timed, with all the elements such as lighting and shadow taken into consideration for the end result to come out perfect.

The invention of SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras meant a great deal for photographers around the world. It meant that they could now see exactly how the picture will turn out before it gets developed. Canon, one of the world’s foremost leading brands of cameras, released its own SLR camera: the Canon AE-1. Canon AE-1 was the earliest SLR camera to take advantage of a microprocessor. It was at the cutting edge of photography in its time, the late seventies through the early eighties. If one of these models happen to fall into your hands, here’s a few tips on setting it up.

Attaching the Lens

Being an SLR camera, the Canon AE-1 was designed to support different types of lenses. To affix a lens to your Canon AE-1 camera, simply take off the rear lens cap by twisting it off counterclockwise. Remember that the back portion of the camera should be towards you. Align the lens you’re about to mount to the red dot found on the camera. This time, turn the lens clockwise until the “Lens Release” button pops out. If it doesn’t the lens is not securely fastened and you’ll end up with distorted pictures. Try again.

Loading the Film

Canon AE-1 is a versatile model that can use both black and white as well as colored 35mm film. Make sure that the ASA of the film you’re using matches your camera. To adjust the ASA, turn the grooved ring found around the shutter speed dial at the top right-hand side of your Canon AE-1 until the number is the same as the ASA o your film.

Loading film into the Canon AE-1 is easy, simply pull on the rewind knob on the left of the camera and the film cover will pop open. Put the roll of film in its designated compartment making sure that the small, round area on top of the cartridge is pointing down. Next, pull the bit of film that sticks out and slide it into one of the spool slots. Make sure that the tiny holes at the end are lined up with the tiny spokes of the spool before pressing on the ‘film advance’ lever. If you notice a bit of slack in the film, spin the ‘rewind’ knob clockwise until the film is taut. Once you’ve loaded the film, close the compartment.

Push on the shutter button to advance the exposed bits of film. Don’t forget to monitor the frame counter. You can stop pressing on the shutter button and start taking pictures with your Canon AE-1 when frame counter is pointing at the white dot in between the numbers 0 and 2.

Taking a Picture

Before snapping off a photo with your Canon AE-1, you should set the shutter speed first. Do this by rotating the shutter speed dial. A small number means that the shutter will stay open longer, this is best for taking pictures under bright light. Higher shutter speeds are best used under low light conditions. To see if your shutter speed is correct, depress the shutter button down only halfway while taking a peek through the viewfinder. There is a meter on the left where you will observe a blinking red light if the shutter speed needs increasing. On the other hand, should the small indicator needle be way up in the red area, lower your shutter speed.

Find your subject and make sure that it is within the frame of the viewfinder. Zoom in on your subject by rotating the focus ring until you’re satisfied. Push the shutter button all the way to snap a picture using your Canon AE-1.

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