My First Film Experience

I’ve owned a 35 mm film camera for just over a day now. I’ve been shooting on a digital Nikon bridge camera for about a year but as I endeavour to learn more about the art, I decided it would be fitting to take things back to simpler times.

I’ve been completely encapsulated by taking photos for a couple of months now. Since I visited Dubrovnik I’ve been borderline obsessive about catching that evening light as it bounces from the sea, or the old lady carrying a sack larger than her body across the road. When you’re looking for it, there’s beauty everywhere.

Anyway. On with the show. Today I went out to shoot with my new/old Canon AV-1. Its an aperture priory 35 mm camera from 1979.


As I’ve been studying film ISO, Aperture settings and shutter speed religiously, I knew I’d have at least some baseline knowledge to play around with. The day went well for a while and I got 16 pictures before I started to have some problems.

The camera is fitted with a light meter inside the viewfinder, this tells the user if the image is overexposed, underexposed or if there is a risk that the image will blur due to low shutter speed. after the 16th photo I noticed the light meter had shot up to 1000 and didn’t change, no matter where I pointed it. I tried to continue using it, dismissing it as a faulty meter. However, this fault wasnt’t allowing the shutter to operate. This was a problem, and after another 20 minutes of trying to work out how to use it, i decided to call it a day.

I’ll be returning the camera to the seller and looking for either another AV-1 or an AE-1. But my brief moment shooting film was great. The sound film cameras make is much more satisfying and visceral than a digital camera. There’s a mechanical sense of purpose when using one. From the shutter sound to the film lever movement, it’s a completely different experience and one that I’ll likely be indulging in again in the near future.

It’ll be sad to see the AV-1 go. Even after such a short amount of time, the human-esque qualities it possesses will be sorely missed.


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