Teach me how to get better pictures from my Canon AE-1

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Joe_K, Nov 18, 2009.

  1. Joe_K

    Joe_K TPF Noob!

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    Hey guys, I'm new here and have a few questions about my Canon AE-1.

    First off, I took a few photography classes in high school and stuff, but it was all black & white, and I some experience with making my own prints, darkroom, etc.

    I have been using this camera for about 5-6 years now. It is my only camera, and truthfully, I can't afford anything else, so I just use this.

    My "equipment" is just this:

    -Canon AE-1
    -large Vivitar flash (which I never use)
    -Lens hood
    -2 "standard" lenses (the ones that come on the camera I guess)
    -1 telephoto lens (which I never use)
    -motorizer film advancer that screws to the bottom

    Since I don't develop my own pictures anymore, I now use color film (usually just 400 series 35mm color print film), and get my stuff developed at walgreens at the one hour counter.

    Well, I have a basic understanding of how to use the light meter in the camera to choose the proper aperature setting, etc, and how to choose the appropriate shutter speed. I am pretty good at doing that during day light. However, most of my pictures are taken at night.

    I am looking for some advice on how to get better quality pictures form this camera at night. I am sure that my settings are all wrong, but these pictures here were at "30" on the shutter speed (except the daytime ones), and some of them were taken on "AUTOMATIC", and some were taken on the lowest aperature (most light inlet). They all have some pretty decent grain, and mediocre quality. Is that due to my settings, or is that just how this camera is?

    Are there any types of film that have less grain/higher quality? Would some different fancy lenses help me out? Anyways, here are some of the pictures. Any help is appreciated

    PS, I know some of these aren't in focus. My friend and I took these pictures and it was just our own fault. Also, these have been globally corrected in photoshop

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  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    I'm seeing some grain in the night photos. That will likely be a result of the film you're using, the processing, the scanning and any digital adjustments.

    Since it looks like you are already using a tripod, you might as well use a lower ISO film. That should give you less grain.
    Also, your exposure will be a factor in how the film grain shows up....especially in the dark areas. Usually, the more a shot is underexposed, and thus has to be 'brought back up'...the more grain you will see. It can be hard to really tell how your shots are coming out because the lab may be making adjustments before the prints are made and the CD is burned.
    You could try asking them for 'no adjustments' when you take your film in. If they will do that, then you should get back your images, just how you shot them. If they are too dark, then it's likely that the lab was brightening them for you...thus bringing out the grain.
     
  3. WimFoto

    WimFoto TPF Noob!

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    some good composition here jk. the last one in particular i like for that reason. the garage door makes an excellent back ground on the first one.
    for camera settings; put your camera on manual and write down all your data, that's the best way to learn when it comes to aperture etc. then use different settings for the same shot. later you compare. fuji velvia film is a great slide film if you don't want grainy-ness. agfa scala black and white slide film is also an excellent film. i have bags of them still in my fridge from back in the day :)
    for more on film photography check this out. (Film Discussion and Q & A)
     
  4. Craig J

    Craig J TPF Noob!

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    I had an AE-1 a looong time ago. It is a good camera. The AUTOMATIC mode is not the same as on modern cameras. It is really what we call shutter priority. I really have to say, "read the manual". Knowing your camera is the best advise you can give someone learning photography.

    As far as the grain goes, that is from the 400 ISO film. Do not worry about it because there is nothing you can do except maybe despeckle in PS. The 400 is good for night photos. At "30" you will need a tripod. A general rule is anything under 1/60 sec will need a tripod. I am not that good and use one at 1/125 sec of slower. This changes with the person shooting.

    You did not really say what lenses you have so it is hard to recommend others. They are probably OK. A lot of problems that are inherent to cheap lenses in digital photos, do not bother film. Chromatic abboration being #1 on the list. I am not saying lenses do not matter, just that they are more forgiving with film. Then again, some lenses just plain suck in low light. Google your lens with the word "review" and read what other people say about it.

    Overall, I would say you did good. Keep shooting

    Craig
     
  5. Craig J

    Craig J TPF Noob!

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    I just found the owners manual for this AE-1. The "kit" lens that comes with the camera is the FD mount, 50mm, f1.8 (those were the good old days). If you still have it, keep it.

    Do you have the owners manual? If not PM me and I will give you this one.

    Craig
     

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