Gearview: Olympus AF-1

People, play with your cameras!

This Olympus AF-1 has the typical story that happens to many older cameras these days. It get’s thrown in a box or bag by the original owner and then it just lies there wasting away until someone eventually throws it out. In this case, I found a bag full of camera’s like this before their fateful demise. Since it was all worthless in the owners eyes, I could have them all.

I’m is never sure what to expect from a batch like this, but one particular camera was a very nice and fun surprise. The AF-1 has the aesthetics of a small brick, it only works on auto mode and it is hard to predict when the flash will go off. So… basically, I have no control what so ever. I can’t even say where it will focus on exactly. It’s something different for sure. Oh and it is also all-wheather sealed and tough as nails.

The lens is sharp for a camera like this and the aperture is wide at f/2.8. This allows me to play with depth of field, but as I said, it will always be an educated guess as to what it will focus on. As for the flash, after a while I learned to appreciate it somehow (with a bit of cheating to be honest, but more on that later).

One of the decisive things with photography is how much control you take over what you capture. With cameras like the AF-1, it seems like you give up all the technological influence that you could exert during the capturing process. Yes, you decide what type of film goes into the camera, but that’s all folks. Now point it at the pretty thing and click.

Now let’s not give up that easily. I sought for something that would allow me to have a bit more creative influence. As you might have noticed in the picture, there is a piece of red gel stuck over the flash. So every time the flash goes off, it turns red. If you control the color of the light, you are influencing the image. In this case, the red light resulted in even harsher contrast with my black and white images and a surreal feeling with color film. I also played around with a blue and yellow gell, but red worked out the best for most of my images. The theory behind this, is that film has a different sensitivity to each color range, this is also why there are colored filters for lenses. If you really get into this, you will learn the differences between each type of film regarding this.

To bring it all together; don’t discard your old camera’s that quickly but play with them, find solutions to get over their limitations and form new and exciting visuals.

Oh and to top it all off, look at the commercial of the AF-1! It’s a magnificent piece of dadaistic expression.


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