Its strange to think how my kids will approach photography when they grow up. Technology is second nature for them, using smart phones from the age of two or three they can make movies or pictures with simple intuitive touches. And the results are instant.
Thats why I thought it would be fun to get my oldest boy Kurtis (nearly 4) a film camera. I’m always playing around with old film cameras and kids all react the same when you let them have a go. They click the button then stare at the back of the camera waiting for their image to appear! Children are stupid.
I started doing some research and found a number of blogs extolling the Canon Sure Shot A1 as it was simple to use and being a waterproof camera, child proof! I picked up the one in the picture below for £17 on eBay. Its fully automatic with one big dial on the front and a big red button on top. Stick it on auto and off you go! There were a couple of downsides though. Kurtis being so young cannot wink yet, so looking through the viewfinder was problematic. He also won’t put his head under water. I tried dunking him but it just made him cry. On a serious note, I found the autofocus pretty slow, meaning you have to hold the button down for quite a long time while it focuses and calculates exposure. This confused him, having to wait. Kids aren’t good at waiting. It was good to see Kurtis’ artistic side blossom though as he kept trying to take pictures of the ceiling.
All in I was pretty impressed with the results. Focus missed A LOT but then again I wasn’t really using the viewfinder under water, just pointing the camera using guess work. Kurtis took many of the shots as well so I suppose file these under ‘user error’. Out of the water I was surprised by the sharpness and lack of distortion from the fixed 32mm wide angle lens. The picture of the ferns below starts to stretch at the corners but in the centre its really quite excellent, especially when you consider it cost £17!
The instructions advise when shooting underwater to use fast film. The below shots are on Fuji Superia 1600 and Ilford Delta 3200. I’ve scanned the negs but my scanning skills are lacking so some of the colours look a bit funky.
For me film is all about the accidents, the focus misses, the guesswork. Its not knowing what you’ve got until you get it back from the shop. Thats where the magic is and thats what i’m trying to show the kids. If he’s lucky I might even make some darkroom enlargements of the black and white pictures with him. Smart phones are amazing but sometimes its nice to slow down just a little.