This is a Canon A-1. The code stamped inside says it was made in 1980, I think. The Canon A-1 was the first camera to use a microprocessor to calculate exposures, one of the last to use a cloth shutter, and one of the last to use the Canon FD-mount lenses. It belonged to my father. Read on for the memories aspect.
My Dad wanted to be a photojournalist — he went to school for it. But somewhere along the way, he got “sidetracked” by a new idea that was spreading: emergency medicine. For the young ‘uns like me, you might not be aware that ambulances, paramedics, EMTs, etc, have only been around for the last 40 years or so. And my Dad was part of their beginnings.
Since then, he’s risen through the ranks, started a professional journal or two which have since become national giants and for which he still writes, put out some books, contributed to still others, given countless talks and presentations, and is widely known and respected throughout the EMS (Emergency Medical Services) community. Many times I’ve been asked by EMTs and Paramedics, “Hey, you’re Thom Dick’s kid, huh?”.
But while he has kept on top of the journalism aspect (I may be biased, but he’s an awesome writer) but what of the photography aspect?
Well, when we had just become teenagers, my dad took us aside. He handed my sister a Canon A-1, and me a Canon AT-1, along with the lenses to go with them. He showed me where the light meter was (a floating needle on the AT-1), and told me ” you want that to be in the middle”.
Now I’m an adult in love with art (photography included), and while I’m not sure what happened to the AT-1 (it may be in a box in my parent’s basement), the A-1 given to my sister has made its way into my hands.
There’s a couple lenses that still work, a telephoto that’s jammed, and a 50mm f1.8 prime that needs to be repaired. The mirror’s a bit dinged up, the double exposure lever slips now and then, and it eats up the old batteries quickly (rechargeable? What’s that?), but I love it. It’s full of sentiments for me, not to mention this thing is a durable workhorse of a camera, and the pictures it takes look (not too surprisingly) look a bit like they were taken 30 years ago.
The only thing keeping me from using it much is that shooting film has become OBSCENELY expensive.
I plan to give this camera to my son some day, though by then we might have to mortgage the house to afford to shoot a roll of film.