My mom’s favorite camera was her Canon AE-1 (no P). My dad convinced her to give it to their tour guide in Hong Kong on their honeymoon. He said he would replace it with a nicer camera, which my mom swears was an AE-1P, but I’m not sure where they would’ve found one new in 1992.

Later on, around middle school, I did find some kind of Canon SLR in the closet and played with it for a summer. One of my sisters took it with her to college and I’m not sure where it is now.

Manual focus SLRs are great if you have time to compose, but my mom wanted to take pictures of her three kids and that replacement Canon made things a bit tougher than they had to be. She owned a few different Pentax point and shoots, but the one I really associate with my childhood was the IQZoom 160. That little camera with its long lens was basically omnipresent at events growing up.

2021 was the inaugural season for the first major professional sports team in Austin, Austin FC. They have a lot of rules about what you can’t do at soccer matches, and some of the things that will get you kicked out are “Throwing objects of any kind, including streamers,” or “Declining to promptly return a ball that enters the stands.” You would think they could afford a few balls, right? Baseball can.

Anyhow, there were four rules that stuck out to me:

  • Cameras with professional and/or removable lenses are prohibited
  • Camera cases are prohibited; reference the Bag Policy for more details
  • Monopods and tripods are prohibited
  • Selfie sticks are prohibited

I had been really hoping to bring something fun like my Panomicron Oxygen but I also really didn’t want to get that confiscated. So I thought about it and realized the camera that had taken so many pictures of me playing soccer as a child just might work for taking pictures of soccer as an adult. After checking a lightmeter app on my phone it looked like shooting at 3200 might just do the trick, even if the lens is a little slow at 160mm. I was a little concerned things would be blurry at the long end especially, but the stadium lights are bright enough that even players in motion were pretty well defined.

Unfortunately, that camera died not long after, in the middle of shooting a roll entirely in panorama mode. That’s why it’s got its snout out in the picture for this article. Maybe if I ask nicely this year they’ll let me bring the Oxygen and I’ll have something fun to share with y’all from this season.

~ James

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