One Roll with The Canon A1 | Portra 400 | Miami Beach

One Roll with The Canon A1 | Portra 400 | Miami Beach

On this episode of Focal Collective we shoot one roll of Kodak Portra 400 with the Canon A1 in Miami Beach, Florida (South Beach). The video gives a behind the scenes look at the photos taken with this camera. The Canon A1 is a great 35mm film camera for beginners.


The Canon A1

This is my first film-SLR camera - it’s the camera that kick-started my interested in photo and eventually video. With a built-in light meter, intuitive controls, and Aperture / Shutter Priority modes, it is perfect for beginners. It also looks great as an accessory / prop if you’re looking for that vintage vibe! Back in 2013 I bought the camera and lens used for $60 while I was living in Australia. Current prices on ebay are within the $100 - $200 range.

Choosing the Right Film Stock - South Beach, Miami

As it was my first time in South Beach we were looking for the perfect film stock to highlight the palm trees, the Art Deco buildings everywhere, and the golden light across the sand. In the summer, it’s unbelievably hot. There are tons of beach-goers and a whole strip of bars with those huge touristy-novelty drinks. Surely a great location for breaking out the old film cameras to preserve that sense of antiquity.

Basically, Miami has a lot of vibrant colors and a lot of Art Deco buildings, so we’ve chosen specifically to use Kodak Portra 400 to really show off the vibrancy of Miami and golden colorful hues.

Film Rating and Camera Settings

Portra 400, as the name suggest, should be shot at ISO 400. In this case I rated the film at ISO 200 because color negative film is flexible during development and I did not want to underexpose my shot while still aiming to protect the highlights.

For the run-and-gun nature of the shoot, my camera stayed in AV - Aperture Priority mode and the aperture on the lens stayed between f/1.4 and f/3.5 to showcase this lenses shallow depth of field.

Adapt Vintage Lens to Modern Digital Cameras

The FD 50mm f/1.4 Lens is a manual focus lens made by Canon in Japan. The best part about having this lens is that I can adapt it to my Sony e-mount camera bodies using the Fotasy Canon FD Lens to Sony E-Mount Adapter. If you are shooting other camera systems, I’m sure there are other adapters available for your needs. The lens, of course, remains manual focus.


Sample Images - Kodak Portra 400

The following images were taken with the Canon A1 using an FD 50mm F/1.4 Lens on 35mm Kodak Portra 400.

Miami Beach Police
Miami Art Deco
Miami BMW motorcycle
Art Deco
Miami Beach
Miami-1-2.jpg
Miami Art Deco Building

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