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Discovering Film with AE-1 Film Cameras

The ease and convenience of digital photography allowed it to become the standard medium in the photographic world, but there is a resurgence in the interest of film as photographers look for a more artistic medium. Vintage Canon cameras using film still hold a few advantages over their digital counterparts, as well as the challenge of thinking through shots before capturing them. The AE-1 was one of the company's most celebrated models and the first microprocessor-equipped SLR on the market.

Why Should You Buy a Film Camera?

Film photography is a great way of understanding basic photographic techniques including composure, lighting, shutter speeds, and aperture priority. While digital photography allows you to make alterations to all of these after capturing the image using digital editing software, in film photography, you need to consider each at the time of shooting to achieve the desired result.

  • A film camera will generally deliver a higher dynamic range compared to a digital camera, which makes it a good option for those interested in capturing highly detailed and accurate black-and-white photos.
  • With a limited number of exposures on each film, you need to carefully consider each and every shot you take. Digital photography often involves taking the photo then thinking about the aesthetics of it later, while film photography requires you to think before you press the button.
  • A film camera usually offers higher resolution than what you find in most entry-level digital SLR cameras. Therefore, you need to invest in a digital camera that offers moderate-to-high resolution to achieve the level of resolution you may have come to expect from your film camera.

What Should You Look for When Buying a Film Camera?

While some cameras that use film come with a shutter-speed priority auto-exposure mode, such as the AE-1, others are manual only, like the AT-1. In most cases, the SLR you select will not significantly affect the images it is capable of capturing, but some functions on particular models may be easier to manipulate than on others.

  • The lenses you already own may impact the camera you choose, and some digital lenses will also be compatible with film SLRs. The FD mount for Canon lenses was the standard for 35mm SLR camera bodies introduced in the 1970s, including the AE-1, so you can also look for vintage FD mount lenses when you're building your camera kit from scratch.
  • Look for cameras that give you complete control over the shutter speed and aperture settings so you can gain an understanding of how exposure works and how you can control it.
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