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Getting the Shutter
March 22, 2018
With great sadness, I laid to rest a tried and trusty friend. My Canon AE-1 bit the dust. Cue "The Breaks" playing in the background (if you don't know the magnanimity that is "The Breaks" by Kurtis Blow, you should probably pull it up in another window and listen to it while you read this. It's highly advisable).
AE-1s, or Auto Exposure One, are 35mm SLRS that were manufactured by Canon in Japan from 1976-1984. The shutter is actually cloth and controlled by a magnet (a fact I found out the hard way). Canon sold over a million of these cameras making it one of the most popular cameras.
I shot my AE-1 faithfully for three years, until the "Canon Squeal" infected it. The "Canon Squeal", if you've ever shot a Canon SLR with a well worn shutter, is the sound of nightmares. My camera started to make this high pitched whine every time the shutter was released. And then all of a sudden, it wouldn't fire at all. The fix wound up outweighing the cost of a new body, so I shelled out some cash for a new
The new body only lasted me a few months (I shoot at high volume so maybe I'm a camera killer? I certainly hope not) until the shutter started giving me trouble again. This time the shutter became demagnetized and only fired upon advancing the film and it didn't even expose the film. I managed to fix it, but I certainly didn't trust this body anymore. The time had come for another camera.
When I went into my local camera shop, I asked my guy there what I should get next and he showed me this:
The Nikon FA debuted in 1983 and stayed on the manufacturing lines until 1988. It was Nikon's most advance manual-focus camera ever. Loaded with matrix metering, it's pretty advanced for the analog world. The FA has a lot more function that I didn't even know I was looking for: increased shutter speed, more light sensitivity, and more control.
So after heartbreak, I went back to a first love. My very first SLR was a Nikon FG20 and I loved it dearly. Unfortunately, that camera also met an untimely end at the curbside (I might have been wearing dumb shoes, tripped, dropped it, and cracked the housing. Or maybe not). I started shooting my AE-1 because it was what I had on hand analog wise, and don't get me wrong, I loved it, it just couldn't hold a candle to my FG20's contrast and color saturation.
Mind you, I had no clue how to operate this camera; I still pretty much have no clue what I'm doing with it yet. It's like meeting a new friend, it takes some time to warm up to each other before you're slamming tacos, drinking a little too much, and dyeing each other's grey hair.
I've shot a few rolls so far with this new edition to the fold. Naturally, I'm anxiously awaiting a trip to the lab to see the results (barring I loaded the film correctly. Still learning, like I said.)
As for now, my two Canon AE-1s officially retired. It's definitely bittersweet considering how many rolls of film I shot between those two cameras, but it's all for the best. We're off on a new adventure. Au Revoir, old friends.
Do you have an AE-1? Have you had any issues with it? What analogs are in your arsenal? I want to know! Leave your hoarde in the comments!