A test and review of a dedicated flash for the Canon AE-1, a match made in analog heaven
When I inherited my father’s 1978 Canon AE-1, he had already misplaced the flash he purchased for it. I have attached some cheap flashes to it with unsatisfactory results. Most of my photos were blanched white in the center. While looking at expensive dedicated flashes for my wife’s DSLR, it occurred to me that Canon may have had made one for this AE-1.
I was surprised that I could find one online in great condition under $20 US including shipping. The Speedlite 155A was made to be matched with both the A-1 and the AE-1. When turned on, the extra contact points active the match mode of both cameras. For the AE-1 in particular, the camera is set automatically to 1/60s no matter what speed selected on the dial. On the flash there are 3 modes: Green, Red and Manual and an ASA (ISO) dial. On the front is a sensor much like that of a LC-A+ which the flash receives reflected light and makes sure the appropriate amount of light is used.
First you should dial the ASA (ISO) on the flash you are going to be shooting. This dictates the aperture the flash will dictate to the AE-1. Next is choosing the GREEN-MANUAL-RED modes on the flash.
- GREEN is used from 1/2 meter to 3 meters of shooting range. This assigns a more narrow aperture.
- Manual makes the flash behave like a non-dedicated flash.
- RED mode is used from 1/2 meter to 6 meters with a more open aperture.
For example, I shot Lomography CN 100 film. When dialed in on the flash, RED mode was f/2.8 and GREEN is f/5.6
It recommends using GREEN when you want depth of field. RED is for when a subject is farther away or if you really want your subject to stand out from the background.
I was really apprehensive when shooting for the first time. I thought so many of my pictures would be washed out or so narrowly focused. It is still an older piece of electronics so I do not expect perfection, I was pleasantly surprised.
Here is an example of GREEN (1) vs RED (2)
Here is another
Here is a fill flash situation with no flash, GREEN and RED
I find the flash an awesome compliment to my AE-1 and worth every penny. I can now take my primary camera to parties and night time situations without ridiculously high speed film.
Here are some other pictures that I took on the roll in different situations.