5 frames with...

5 frames with a Canon Av-1 and a Elicar 28mm f2.8 – A.K.A. “Don’t think, React” – by Gael Berthon

January 2, 2018

I was looking for a 35mm f2.8 for my Canon A1. After telling a friend about it, he sent me a Wallapop offer from a guy selling a Canon Av-1 with a M42 35mm f2.8 and a FD to M42 Mount, all for 30 bucks and 10 minutes away from my home. Bought it and left it on a shelf, just using my A1 with that lens the Av-1 body came with, for a while.

A few month later I participated in a small project and wanted to have the option of having 2 lens with me and not willing to swap lens every now and then… And so… Took that Av-1 from the shelf to have 2 bodies with me that day. Something that a really rarely do. It’s its lightweight that charmed me that day, compared to my bulky A1.

The Canon Av-1 is an extremely simple Aperture priority only camera (and so, battery powered which is its main downside), that I mainly use with a Elicar 28mm f2.8, M42 mount. That lens was given to me by a friend back in my “youth town ” in Marseille, France.

I live in Madrid, Spain for the last 13 years, where we have about 300 sunny days per year. That Av-1 and my 28mm set to f16 to f22, pre-focused at 1.5meter… It became almost instantly my “don’t think, react” camera.
As for the aesthetic, I usually use Kodak Tri-X pushed two stop and I love being really close to my subjects in the street. Needless to say that I do like high contrast quite a bit.

All 5 pictures presented here are from the Av-1 with a Promura 35mm f2.8 or an Elicar 28mm f2.8 (altho just one picture is with the 35mm). The film used was Kodak TriX pushed 2 stops (ASA1600) that I processed in D76 (1+1) for 13min15sec. My agitations do change from roll to roll, depending of what I shot that day and what I expect to get, contrast wise. Altho I have made prints in darkroom of those negative, what I’m presenting here are scanned negatives (Epson V550).

I also can be found on Instagram
And here, my Madrid AgBr serie.


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  • Reply
    Dan Castelli
    January 2, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    Nice work. Your narritave & photographs once again drives home the point there is still much life & potential in older, supposed ‘obsolete’ equipment.
    Inexpensive & plentiful on the market, more people should take advantage of the offerings. Great adventures & photos await.

    • Reply
      Gael Berthon
      January 3, 2018 at 2:35 pm

      Hey Dan,
      Thank you for the comment mate, appreciated 🙂 Altho I’m not sure about the “once again”. That’s the first time I’m writting for 35mmc 😉

      • Reply
        Dan Castelli
        January 4, 2018 at 4:15 am

        Hi, I was casting a wide “net” referencing to you & other guests that produced fine work with ‘dinosaur’ equipment. It’s refreshing to continually see creative photography produced by this equipment.

  • Reply
    January 3, 2018 at 3:03 pm

    Love the contrast, especially in the first pic. Definitely going to try pushing Tri X more this year!

    • Reply
      Gael Berthon
      January 4, 2018 at 8:35 am

      Hey Dexter, cannot agree more 🙂 I love the aesthetic of Tri-X pushed +2 or +3. Downside, you’ll have way less to work with once in the enlarger in the dark room. As you’ll be left with almost no mid-tone to work with 🙂 Upside, while walking the streets you know you’ll always have a fast enough shutter speed.

  • Reply
    Jens Knappe
    August 6, 2022 at 12:44 pm

    Very narrative pictures !
    I’m glad to see you used only simple analogue tools ! Wonderful Elicar and Promura lenses.

    • Reply
      Gael Berthon
      August 7, 2022 at 7:21 am

      Thank you Jens! Indeed there are loads and loads of M42 mount lenses that are way too underrated out there. There’s beautiful glass for 10 bucks waiting somewhere, no doubt 🙂

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