5 frames with a Canon AE-1 Program – By Greg May

Hello old friend. We have previous. But that is ok, I’m happy to take you out and walk you around. Doing what you do best. Capturing moments in time. Moments he’d nod curtly at and enjoy. I hope.

These days, every time I shoot with the Canon AE1 Program is memorable. I usually keep the 28mm on as it is the same as my Leica Q and tends to be the way I view the world.  Together they make a light combination and one that people don’t look at twice in the street. Just another camera. Perfect for taking it places a bigger camera normally gets left behind.

The simplicity, and usefulness, of a aperture priority camera is often looked out with an upward nose turn. I for one welcome it. Sometimes it is ok for photography to be easy. To be, of all things, fun. Not a task to be mastered. Focus on the image for a while, ignore the technicalities.

All images were shot with my oddly favourite film Kentmere 400 and scanned at home with a Plustek 8200i.

Website – https://gregorymay.ie
IG – https://www.instagram.com/gregory.c.may/

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18 thoughts on “5 frames with a Canon AE-1 Program – By Greg May”

  1. Thanks for sharing 😉
    My own AE1 just gave up when firing the shutter. No more shutter release and no more film advance lever movement 🙁

    1. Tried getting it serviced? Mine died about 3 years ago, brought it to my local backstreet camera shop and they fixed it for me. Cost about £20 if I recall.

  2. I prefer aperture priority shooting. Yeah, I can do full manual, and I sometimes do it, but if I don’t have to, why make it hard on myself?

  3. When using digital at 90% I use aperture priority, 5% pentax’s aperture+shutter priority (it triggers auto iso), and 5% full manual. But when working with film I prefer using full manual for two reasons: the first is that I have to think carefully to which shutter speed/aperture to use depending on the light, as I fear that letting auto could lead to too long shutter speeds and thus blurry pictures. If I am lucky I would be able to feel that the shutter stayed open too long and I would take it again, but anyway I still would have lost a frame from the roll.
    I can accept it on digital where I can check straight after the shot, but not on film where I discover it only weeks later… The second reason, not practical, is that I prefer mechanical shutters, if not for reliability I like to hear the personality of the camera that emerges in the form of all the mechanical noises it makes!

  4. The Canon AE-1 was my first “real” camera but if I compare it now to one of my old Nikons
    it just feels not half the way as solid.
    The time I used it I never trusted the automatic and handled the settings manualy – so why
    a program automatic makes life easier if it dont work for 100% ?

    1. Good thing with the AE-1 is you can still shoot it without the aperture priority. In that use, it’s no different from my M6 bar the ergonomics, of which, I enjoy.

  5. That is some righteous advertisement for Kentmere 400. Or the AE1, or the 28, or even the photographer. Maybe even some of each, but Greg, you surely do work them together mighty well.

    1. David, thank you for your kind comment! For a cheap film K400 is excellent if you shoot it right. I do like it, and usually get some good images from it.

      1. Any recommendations for shooting the Kentmere? I’ve bought a test roll to try prior to buying a 100ft reel for home rollling.

        1. Not really, it tends to have a high degree of flexibility. It’s ok in low light and tends to do well in very bright light too. Just shoot it and see!

    1. My recollection of the AE-1 is that it was a shutter priority and fully manual camera only. Although the camera required a battery to work at all, it could not set intermediate speeds and which would be needed to enable it to provide full program auto mode. Early auto exposure cameras were either aperture or shutter priority only. Minolta were first to market a camera that could do both and provide programmed auto and full manual as well with their XD-7/XD-11 released in 1977.

  6. I have the same battery since 2 years and I have shooted like 10 films with it. For me the batteries are very reliable.
    This camera is fantastic for me because of my personal history : My father had one in the past, and my grand-father too.
    I have a 50-135mm zoom who I don’t use very much because of the bad aperture and not very good quality but I got a 25 mm and 50 mm are very good, and the 200mm zoom can be very good to.

    And the best is that this stuff cost me less than 100€ because FD canon mount are so cheap !

  7. Pingback: Camera Review Blog No. 04 – Canon AE-1 Program – Alex Luyckx | Blog

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