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Field Study: 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.

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.

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 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.

If you have used cameras before and want a SLR to start your film journey or you are completely new to photography, this camera 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 AV-1 with this roll of film was a great experience as I was able to take photographs quickly during my adventures.

The thing I like about the 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, but personally I like to set my aperture manually, which can also be done.

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 erases this problem for you and means all you have to focus on is your manual 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 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.

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.

Kodak Colorplus film stock is probably most associated with summer time and is considered a stock great for bright daylight. 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.

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.

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

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 AV-1 allows you to do this without any laborious process of setting your camera up.

The interface of the camera is really easy to use and has the feel of a traditional SLR without all the differents dials and settings. The 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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