Featured Camera: The Canon AV-1

Autumn has to be one of photographers' favourite times of year with all those colours of the leaves and that gorgeous golden hour light. I took out the Canon AV-1 for a test roll around the Peak District using Kodak Colorplus film. Here is our thoughts on the camera and some of the results from our roll of film.

Person holding a Canon A-1 35mm SLR film camera next to a lake. Side profile of the person wearing a beanie and blue coat. Taken using the Canon AV-1 with Kodak Colorplus 35mm film stock.

What is the Canon AV-1?

The Canon AV-1 is one of Canon's most popular amateur SLR cameras. It was introduced in 1979 and its introduction also coincided with the introduction of the new Canon FD mount lenses. It was released in the classic silver colour, as well as a limited black colour. The black is an enamel that the camera is coated in, making it more durable and less prone to rust. You can see our available Canon AV-1 cameras in our SLR collection.

Canon AV-1 35mm slr camera on a bed of orange leaves

I always recommend the Canon AV-1 for people who want to use a traditional SLR but can be confused by all the different dials and settings.

The Canon AV-1 has a light meter that reads what your shutter speed will be, so you can change your aperture and ISO to expose your images how you would like them. This is referred to as aperture priority, as you only have to set your aperture to take a photograph. It is a great way to learn how aperture affects your images, and how shutter speed and aperture work together to correctly expose your images.

If you have used cameras before and want a SLR to start your film journey or you are completely new to photography, the Canon AV-1 is a great option for you.

View of a road running through the Peak District with autumn leaves in the foreground and trees in the background. Taken on the Canon AV-1 35mm SLR film camera using Kodak Colorplus film.
View of a road running through the Peak District with autumn leaves in the foreground and trees in the background. Taken on the Canon AV-1 35mm SLR film camera using Kodak Colorplus film.

Using the Canon AV-1

Using the Canon AV-1 with this roll of film was a great experience as I was able to take photographs quickly during my adventures.

View of a path running through a field of orange and green ferns in the Peak District. Taken using the Canon AV-1 35mm film SLR camera.

What is the Canon AV-1 like to use?

The thing I like about the Canon AV-1 is that you can set your ISO and aperture at the start of your roll and, unless you want to toggle with the camera's brain, you can leave these for your entire roll. There is an option on the lens for automatic aperture, however the camera will always select the smallest aperture (f/22), so your shutter speed is likely to be quite slow.

When you are busy and on the move it can be hard to set your camera settings quickly enough to capture an image. The Canon AV-1 takes all the pressure out of film photography and allows you to just focus on your composition and focus. 

Exposure compensation dials allow you to over or under expose your photos when you are in a difficult light situation, such as a bright sky but dark shadows in the foreground. 

Not having this dial on the Canon AV-1 is not an issue as you can change your ISO setting to control how the light meter will react. I did this for a few photographs on this roll. This concept sounds a little tricky but is a skill you can learn over time and when you decide to upgrade your camera, all the skills you learned with the Canon AV-1 will transfer.

Which film did I use?

Kodak Colorplus film stock is probably most associated with summer time and is considered a stock great for bright daylight. It is one of the most common colour 35mm film stocks, and at the moment, it is highly sought after. 

There have been delays with colour film stock being available to customers since the pandemic started, but every few months or so, stock appears with various film sellers. Don't go paying over £10 for a roll of Kodak Colorplus, as when it is available, it should cost around £6 per roll. 

I had a few options for this roll of film including Kodak Portra 400 and Ilford HP5, but I decided to use the Colorplus to see how it performed with the colours of the landscape. Good results are always guaranteed with a roll of Colorplus, and I often choose it when I am taking a trip and want to know that my images will come out well, rather than using one of my expired rolls of film that can produce very random results.

I think the film replicated the colours that were present in person. I am really impressed with how it handled the oranges and greens of the landscape and gave a really good amount of contrast, making the colours really pop and bringing life to the images. You can see the results of the roll of film dotted throughout this article.

View of river running through a field. Taken on the Canon AV-1 using Kodak Colorplus.

My final thoughts on the Canon AV-1

Detaching from technology and being able to enjoy what is going on around the camera is one of my favourite things about using 35mm film. The Canon AV-1 allows you to do this without any laborious process of setting your camera up. 

The interface of the Canon AV-1 is really easy to use and has the feel of a traditional SLR without all the different dials and settings. The Canon AV-1 is a great way to connect with the practice of using analogue cameras and exploring analogue photography, which makes it an excellent choice for people new to film but are looking for something more substantial than a point and shoot.

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Max, owner of Cameras By Max

Article written by: Max

Max is the owner of Cameras By Max. They work full-time repairing and refurbishing all the 35mm film cameras you see on the website. Their favourite camera (at the moment) is the Olympus XA, and their favourite city in the world is Edinburgh.


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