unMonday: Canon AT-1

I’ve had the itch to get a new camera for the past few weeks. Upgrading my dSLR is an option. An expensive one. On the other hand, I’ve really enjoyed playing with my pinhole camera… so I thought maybe taking my photog skills a bit further into the world of film would be fun. I considered my options, did some research, looked up some different models listed for sale on eBay and our local bookoo.com listings, and then headed out… my husband and I went digging through barn after barn of flea market junk looking for an old film camera. It was awfully humid, and we ran across a few spiders. But, we did find quite a few old cameras. Sadly, none of them were both in working condition, and had the manual control that I was looking for.

So, we moved on to pawn shops. We had much better luck with our search there! (Even though digging through the flea markets was more fun.) After inspecting a few Minolta and Canon options, this Canon AT-1 seemed to be the best one. They weren’t sure if it worked, but mentioned several times that we could return it in a few days if we tried it out and weren’t satisfied. Not many people around here have been interested in film cameras for a while I guess. It was pretty dirty, but James and I saw potential! The shutter fired, the lens looked pretty clear and the mirror looked alright. There was a piece on the bottom missing, but the nice pawn shop lady pulled one off of another camera there and fit it onto ours. I was sure hoping that it would work!

We took it (James talked them down $30 so it ended up being a pretty good deal according to all the research I’d done) and bought a roll of film to test it out. Now, we didn’t want to invest in a new battery or spend time cleaning it until we knew for sure that it was going to work. But, as is hopefully obvious from my photo, it worked!!! I spent a night cleaning it up, scraping dirt and grime out of each of those little grooves and giving it an all-over scrub. We bought a battery and a new strap (it did have one, but it was thin, old and uncomfortable) and I’m so excited to take it out again. I’ll share some of that first roll later this week!



  1. Good choice – with an f1.8 lens, I dread to think how much you’d have to pay for a modern dslr lens with the same maximum aperture.
    If you get into the film thing with the canon, you’ll probably be able to get some really nice lenses relatively cheaply too.

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