As you might recall, I bought a little Canon Canonet QL-19 rangefinder (pictured on the left) as an inexpensive attempt to start working with film. I know, I know – the whole world has gone digital. What the heck could I possibly be thinking ? Let me try to explain…
The truth of the matter is that modern cameras are built to help new photographers with “auto everything”, whether it’s shutter speed, aperture or ISO. Straight out of the box, they take darn decent photographs without any knowledge or forethought from the person behind the lense. Where is the creativity in that ? I first got into photography because it stoked the geek side of my brain – learning about new techniques – while engaging the less-developed creative side of my brain.
Modern cameras, be they DSLR or Mirrorless varieties are able to shoot multiple frames per second, and many amateur photography blogs suggest new photographers set their cameras to do so, hoping to get that one “good” shot. I tried this method early on and my “success” rate was dismal. There had to be a better way. And there is – slowing down.
By slowing down, elements like composition, framing and story-telling emerge. Good advice includes “What story am I trying to tell ?”, and “What emotion will this photo evoke ?”. By forcing myself to manually meter the light, and spending more than a few minutes looking for the right angle, and even waiting for the right light, I hope to nurture the more creative side of my craft.
Sadly, the little Canonet suffered the same fate of most of its brethren – sticky shutter. I blew threw an entire roll of 24 exposures before I finally diagnosed the problem. I might tear it down – there’s plenty of instruction videos on YouTube, but in the long run it may not be worth the effort. Even if I do get the shutter working properly, I still can’t purchase batteries for the on-board light-meter. Containing mercury, that size & style of battery has long been discontinued. Pity, really…
But I’m a died-in-the-wool Canon fanboy. I have bought a number of Canon bodies, including the T3i, 60D, and my mirrorless M5. I carefully selected these bodies to grow with my skills. I got good advice about investing in glass rather than the latest & greatest bodies (still haven’t seen a need to go full frame yet !), so any body has to work with my Canon L-Series lenses. I worried that this would be a problem in returning to film.
Then I read a review on The Phoblographer, written by Chris Gampat about the Canon EOS Élan 7N. It was one of the last semi-pro (or pro-sumer) film cameras before Canon switched to digital. A quick search on kijiji.com and lo & behold a student at ACAD had one for sale in good shape ! It’s the one pictured on the right in the above photo.
I’m going to start by shooting Black & White, hoping to learn more about contrast & texture. I’ll get the local London Drugs to develop them for me, and ask for digital copies. So if you see B&W photos on my Instagram feed, you’ll know what they were shot with. Wish me luck !