Need help with exposure control in AE-1

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Robert Ellis, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. Robert Ellis

    Robert Ellis Member

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    Hi,

    I recently read Fred Picker's book, 'The Zone VI Workshop,' and am attempting to take a series of photographs from zones I through VIII to test development time for my film. I'm shooting Legacy Pro 100 (rebranded Fuji Acros?) in a Canon AE-1 with a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens. So, according to the test, a piece of cardboard (I used a greycard) is set up in daylight, metered for Zone V, and a series of shots exposed from zones I - VIII. What I did was adjust the shutter speed so that Zone V would fall on f/5.6, then closed down the lens to f/22 (Zone VIII) and exposed, next frame opened up to f/16 and exposed, etcetera. After these 8 exposures, I take about 10 photos of whatever is laying around, and leave about 10 or so frames unexposed. So far, so good.
    My problem comes in after the film is developed. Development is normal with HC-110, stop, fixer, wash, and Photo-Flo. When the negative is inspected, the photos of normal things appear fine, but the 8 exposures of the greycard that are supposed to represent zones I - VIII all turn out the same¬ógrey (remember, this is the negative). What I would expect to see for those 8 frames, is a series of photos starting out light and getting incrementally darker. What am I doing wrong? I assume this is something to do with my camera equipment. No, the lens is not set to auto-set the aperture, and the AE-1 has no automatic shutter speed settings. What really gets me is that the other photos turn out fine. What's the deal? Is the lens going crazy and somehow setting its own aperture to match the 18% light reading of the meter? Please help.

    Robert
     
  2. Andrew K

    Andrew K Subscriber

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    SO the negatives are all the same density?

    Are you sure the lens was not set to A? The AE1 is shutter priority. What you did sounds right..

    Open the camera bak without a film in it, set the aperture to 5.6 and fire the shutter at a slowish speed - say 1/30th. Look at the size of the aperture. Now change it to f22 and fire again - make sure the aperture is changing in size....

    I used to repair these cameras at Canon way back when...only thing I can think of is either a faulty lens or the aperture is on A
     
  3. Robert Ellis

    Robert Ellis Member

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    Andrew,

    Yes, the 8 shots were all the same density and the lens was not on A. I tried what you said about opening the back of the camera and using a slow shutter speed. Sure enough, all of the aperture positions were doing nothing and the lens was stuck wide open! I pulled it off, fooled around with it a touch and put it back on, and now it's working fine. Weirdest thing.

    Thanks for your time!

    Robert
     
  4. SkipA

    SkipA Member

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    Glad your problem went away. I was going to suggest two things: Make sure you have a good battery. The AE-1 won't work without one, but a weak and almost discharged battery may appear to work, but not properly. Make sure when you attach the lens that you turn it firmly until you hear a click and see the red button on the lens (assuming FD lens) pop out.
     
  5. Andrew K

    Andrew K Subscriber

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    Hi Robert

    do youhave very early version of brreechlock lens (chrome locking ring on the lens) - these had a lock on the aperture stop down which could jam

    As you say....very strange

    Chers

    Andrew
     
  6. Robert Ellis

    Robert Ellis Member

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    Hey, thanks for the replys. No, I have the new lens with the button which pops out as SkipA described. I shot a roll of film, and the test worked fine with all of the zones exposing properly. I think I'll have to make a habit of checking that it's unstuck every time I reload it. Interesting stuff happening as these cameras are aging. Thanks again for the help, guys!

    Happy shooting,

    Robert
     
  7. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Your lens may have a touch of oil in the aperture housing. When you begin to see oil on the blades or the diaphragm sticks on a regular basis it will need the CLA. Probably be cheaper to replace it though.