I finally decided to retire the old Kodak “Pocket Instamatic” on a chilly October day in 1981. I was tired of paying for fuzzy prints, expensive drop-in film cartridges and Flashcubes.”
I remember browsing the selection of new and used 35mm cameras at “Christian Camera and Studio” in downtown Norfolk, Nebraska. After picking up and hefting several cameras, I settled on a Canon AE-1 outfit. It consisted of the camera body, a standard lens, a Canon flash unit, and a snap-on leatherette field case. It was a refurbished second-hand camera that I really liked and could barely afford. It cost $400 in 1981 (or $1,128 in 2020 terms).
The camera opened up a whole new world of creativity. I went through roll after roll of various brands and types of film. My preferred print films were ISO 200 Kodacolor; and Kodachrome ISO 64 and Ektachrome 100 for slides. (I really miss Kodachrome film.)
As my budget allowed, a macro lens was added for extreme close-up photography. I ordered a zoom lens for all-purpose and travel pictures. Otherwise, I wasn’t a fan of swapping lenses in the field. The zoom became the default lens.
During the next decade or so, the Canon accompanied me wherever I went, even many times to work. Some of the work photographs were used by the radio station company as promotion and advertising images for brochures and newspaper ads. In effect, the camera began to pay for itself. That said, photography before digital cameras was an expensive hobby–even at the entry level I remained in.
I mention my first excellent camera because today is “World Camera Day”. The old Canon is the camera I usually visualize when someone brings up the topic of cameras. The AE-1 is a well-liked companion that I want to have around as a keepsake. It is now kept in a plastic display case on a shelf in the living room. It’s more “soulful” than the modern digital cameras and the built-in camera on my phone even though the image quality of film is inferior to that of digital. It might be compared to the difference between a mechanical analogue clock and a battery powered quartz digital clock.
I have some aging rolls of Fujicolor film stored in the refrigerator, well past their expiration dates. I really need to shoot it up before Walgreen’s discontinues their film developing service.
That said, today, I’ll be spending some quality time with one or two modern digital cameras, just for fun. After all today is Camera Day.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes iconic portrait photographer, Annie Leibovitz. “The camera makes you forget you’re there. It’s not like you are hiding but you forget, you are just looking so much.”