5 frames with...

5 Frames with a Canon A-1 and Ilford FP4 – Alessia Becheri

May 18, 2019

As you can see, these shots are quite simple and don’t have much in common. To me, though, they have a precious value; in fact they represent the first time I ever shot using a Canon A-1 and a black & white film. That’s why I’d like to tell you about my experience.

I got interested in analog photography last summer, but the Canon A-1 entered my life only in November. The camera seemed practically new, but the man who sold it wasn’t even sure it was functional. I bought it anyway, encouraged by the amazing bargain. Luckily, the camera worked. I’ve loved it since the second I lay eyes on it (or “her”, if we want to make it even more romantic).

If I had to describe Canon A-1 in a few words, I’d say it’s complete, fairly professional and totally cool. It has everything an analog-lover like me needs. It has shutter priority with speeds from 1/1000 to 30 and Bulb, aperture priority, and an ASA selection from 6 to 12800. It also that cool square slot on the back that allows you to put a bit of the film box in to remind you what film you loaded, and that makes me feel like a real devoted-to-photography hipster… It’s quite heavy though, and not very comfortable to carry around, but it’s definitely worth the pain!

I was so curious to try it that as soon as I got home I put my newest Ilford FP4 film in it. I was sparkling with joy. I really wanted to see how the fine grain and the tones of this film would come out. I read a lot about Ilford films’ great quality and I’ve always noticed that this particular Ilford is considered the most flexible and easy to handle; I thought it would have been perfect for a beginner.

Unfortunately, as we learn from good old Spider-man: “with great power comes great responsibility”. What came out wasn’t totally perfect. As you can see from the pictures, some light leaked into the camera due to the failure of that little spongy coating on the inside. Of course, it’s easily reparable. I brought it to a specialized shop for a repair, and now it’s completely fixed and roaring. Anyway, besides the little inconvenience, I loved the sharpness of the lens and the shooting performance. I now consider it my precious jewel. I’m so glad the lovely Canon A-1 is part of my collection!

If you want to know more about my photography and my life, go take a look on my instagram profile @alessiaabecheri. Sometimes, I also post on my WordPress blog which you can find it here: angolidimemoria.wordpress.com

Thank you so much for the interest on my post, sending you my biggest hug!

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  • Reply
    May 18, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    Looks like you have mastered your A-1 and FP4. Lovely moody images.

  • Reply
    Patrick Amory
    May 18, 2019 at 9:20 pm

    Such a great camera, and I think your nighttime shots are lovely. I’m presuming that with 125 ASA film you must have used a tripod? Also, I highly recommend the FD 50mm f/1.4 lens – it’s a significant upgrade from the kit 1.8 (which is no slouch itself).

    • Reply
      May 18, 2019 at 9:29 pm

      Thank you ! Actually, I didn’t use a tripod but the results where quite good. I’ll consider your precious advice

  • Reply
    May 18, 2019 at 11:55 pm

    Nice work indeed. Well done! Many of the FD lenses (which are excellent) are still semi-reasonable price. I suggest you buy as many as you can, or as as many your wife will allow you to bring into the house. After all, they are not made any more, and it looks like much of this classic film equipment is going up in price. Cheers and have fun.

  • Reply
    May 24, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    This camera is my new favorite. My mother had a pair of A-1s back in the 1980s that she used for her advertising business. Recently she dug one out and gifted it to me. She still has no idea what happened to the other camera or the lenses she had, probably sold them 20 years ago. Anyway, I do love the flexibility this camera offers and I’ve been able to pair it with the 28mm f/2.8 S.C., the 50mm f/1.4 S.S.C., a Tamron 90mm f/2.5 Adaptall Macro lens, and a lovely 135mm f/2.5 S.C. portrait lens. It’s really a joy to use. The only thing I have wished is that it had a higher max shutter speed.

  • Reply
    July 28, 2019 at 10:54 am

    i agree it is a very cool camera with a fabulous shutter sound. I just bought one (with the standard 50mm lens) for my 11 year old son to learn the art of 35mm film and he already loves the feel of this 40 year old masterpiece. Nice pics too, particularly the streetlight one!

    • Reply
      July 28, 2019 at 11:11 am

      Thank you so much ! I’m happy to hear that someone so young is already into film photography

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