About two months ago I was doing my regular browsing of r/photography over on reddit.com when I happened up on a post from a fellow redditor who’d just inherited his grandfathers cameras.
From the post on reddit…
My Grandpa is cleaning out his house and invited the whole family over to take what we wanted. I found these camera throughout the house. They’re all very common cameras, but they represent sequentially each camera my Grandpa has had throughout his life.
The models: Brownie Target SIX-20, Brownie Bull’s-Eye, Brownie Holiday Flash, Instamatic X-45, Polaroid OneStep, Canon AF35M
I know they’re nothing special, but it means the world to me that my passion for gadgets and photography came from somewhere. Thanks Grandpa!
He followed that up with…
Honestly, I’d like for someone to have them and use them. I’d probably need some help for shipping, and maybe to shoot me some prints of shots made with them every once in a while.
Immediately I jumped. Free cameras? Quickly I messaged my fellow redditor known as “hornflips” and explained to him that not only do I shoot film but I value the history behind cameras and knowing their story — instead of just buying old cameras off eBay from some random person — means a lot to me. Sizing them up, I knew a couple were still capable of shooting photos.
I asked him if he was serious about letting them go…
They’ve got some serious sentimental value for me and the family, but I’m more interested in them getting actually used than I am in showing them off as “Grandpa’s relics”.
After some quick introductions to prove we were both normal individuals and I wasn’t going to get a bomb in the post, we struck a deal. Derek (aka hornflips) dropped them in the mail and about 10 days later they were in my hands. Admittedly, when they showed up I was so busy I’d just plopped the newly received vintage cameras on my shelf. A quick look over as I unboxed them showed a couple were just unusable without modification of some sort. Another is a Polaroid and each frame costs about $2.00 and the last one was a Canon AF35M Rangefinder.
Fast forward about two months to sometime last week. I’ve been doing research into older rangefinders, specifically for something silent and small that’s both easy to use but versatile. As well, a quick focusing and a quality lens was a must. As I researched for a Rangefinder to purchase, I spun around in my office chair and glanced up my shelf. There it was…
There sat the Canon AF35M, nicknamed “Autoboy” by Canon Japan. Launched in November 1979 the Autoboy was Canon’s first auto focus 35mm lens shutter compact camera. With a f/2.8 38mm lens mounted on a small black body, it’s speed and size matched my demands. After a quick clean, I loaded it up with 400iso film and started snapping. It seemed to work. With no way of knowing if it truly was working, I did the only thing any sane photographer would do, I went out shooting the new to me camera.
And here are the results.