We entered the end phase of our year-long backpacking journey from the “end of the world” in Ushuaia towards North America. My partner and I could not ignore the loud calling of Mexico City. As street-photo and film camera enthusiast my internal radar was tuned to places selling used gear along our way. Mexico City did not disappoint in this regard. Besides visiting various collector shops in the center I went to see flea markets in remote parts of the city.
Canon AF35ML Flea Market Find
On a suburban street market, I discovered a black Canon AF35ML aka “Super Sure Shot” aka “Autoboy Super” film camera. I did not know anything about the model. The big piece of 40mm fixed lens glass and the f/1.9 inscription made me curious. The body looked well used. A tape held the top together and the moldy scent of the attached camera bag revealed its recent whereabouts.
A couple of tests later I decided to gamble and give it a try. The uninformed seller threw in an expired roll of Konica VX 100 film. I happily loaded it after cleaning the body. Thanks to Torsten Kathke´s ML review on 35mmc I learned about its lackluster AF performance and annoying underexposure alarm sound. It could not be silenced without cutting some cables inside the body.
Visiting Soumaya & Jumex Museum
I took the ML out for a photo walk and went to visit the Soumaya Museum. It counts as one of the architectural highlights in the Mexico City. The twisted cylinder-shaped building features shiny silvery scales on the outside and looks exceptionally alien when discovered from afar for the first time.
I skipped looking inside Soumaya and went to see a multimedia exhibition at the Jumex Museum next door. On display were photographs featuring TVs (including “Lee Friedlander´s famous TV Sets of 1960s Series). Next to them were fake living rooms with TVs playing vintage video clips. The Canon sounded its eerie underexposure warning sound as I kept looking through the limited viewfinder and kept the shutter half-pressed. While pre-focusing I was waiting for something interesting to show up on the TV. Suddenly a big face filled the screen and the scene was worth a shot. In this indoor light situation, it was worth having a fast f/1.9 lens.
Trip to Teotihuacan
On the next day, we decided to make a trip out of town and visit Teotihuacan, an ancient Mesoamerican city. On the way to the bus station, we walked through a park in which kids were playing with a water fountain. The water and light were creating miniature rainbows. There is no way to confirm this, but the droplets in the photo indicate that the Canon was operating at its 1/400sec. top shutter speed.
After arriving in Teotihuacan, we slowly approached the impressive 65 meters high Pyramid of the Sun. The hot temperature and dusty wind-blasts on the surface weren´t inviting us to climb the many steep steps, but we had to go! Compared to us, the ML´s energetically loud film motor kept winding the film in between frames with ease.
Once on top, we discovered not only fantastic views but also a bunch of guys who fell asleep. They seemed soaking in the ancient powers of the Pyramid of the Sun.
Farewell Autoboy Super
The Canon continued to travel with me back to Germany, but we never became close friends. The main reason was the not reassuring AF performance. Acquiring focus in daylight is not its strength. Luckily the supposedly fastest prime lens on a non-interchangeable film camera body has a wanted tag on it! And when the time was right I sold it to a Berlin-based analog Camera Store.
Film Scanning & Processing
All photos above were shot on an expired Konica VX 100 with 36 exp. The film was developed in a discounter laboratory. I scanned it using a Plustek 8200i and processed it using SilverFast. A purple color cast was visible and I chose to colro correct it using their NegaFix tool.
Thanks You for your interest!
More photographs with the Canon AF35ML and other cameras are available on my site michaelkowalczyk.eu
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