Andy Warhol’s Olympus AF-1 Camera

There is evidence on the Internet that Andy Warhol used an Olympus AF-1 camera.  Although I can find pictures of Andy Warhol using an Olympus AF-1 camera on the Internet, I don’t know who owns those photos so I won’t show them here.  But The Shutter Goes Click has a nice article on Andy Warhol and his cameras.

Andy Warhol
Creative Commons License photo credit: Sonietta46
Since I visited an Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh, PA with my family, since I do shoot film cameras, because I had read on the Internet that the lens for this camera was very good, I purchased two of them on eBay.  $12 plus shipping in the fall of 2010.

For now, I would call purchasing the Olympus AF-1 a minor mistake.

Perhaps Andy Warhol and I would agree:  the Olympus AF-1 camera is an average film camera from a great manufacturer, Olympus.  I can’t speak for Warhol, I can only speak for myself.

Decent Photo with the Olympus AF-1

Here’s a taste of what an Olympus AF-1 camera can do with ASA 200 speed film.  This photo was taken near dusk as shadows covered the alley behind my Chicago, IL bungalow.  It may not be exciting, but it’s Chicago.

Olympus AF-1, Alley at Dusk, Chicago, IL


Olympus AF-1 Technical Details

Thinking of purchasing an Olympus AF-1?  They also were sold in Europe under the name Infinity.

  1. Clamshell design not made by Mr. Maitaini (Olympus’ greatest designer).
  2. Lens.  35mm, f/2.8.  Some people think its a fine lens.
  3. Autofocus.  It has a button for this.  I’m still not convinced that it worked.
  4. Autoflash.  OK, it has autoflash.  But my indoor flash pictures looked primitive with this camera.  Also, there are no controls for the flash as in later point and shoot Olympus cameras.
  5. Autoexposure.  I think the camera did well in this regard.  No complaints.
  6. Battery.  Purchasing a new battery may cost more than the cost of your camera.

OK, I’ve been a bit negative about this camera.  But if you’re photographing landscapes that aren’t too bright, I think the Infinity can do well.  The photograph below was taken from inside my Toyota Camry in rush hour traffic on North Milwaukee Ave in Chicago.  I think it’s a pretty good demonstration of the accuracy and clarity of this camera on a good day.

Olympus AF-1, Chicago Traffic, N. Milwaukee Avenue

Provenance or History

Sorry, I don’t know where it’s been.  As I said before, purchased two of these cameras on eBay for $12 plus shipping.

As I purchased them I was thinking:

  1. Andy Warhol used this camera.
  2. The lens might be great.
  3. It’s cheap.

Sometimes the reasons for my film camera purchases is a little quirky.

Repairs – Olympus AF-1 (Infinity)

No repairs needed.

Luckily I had a spare battery hanging around the house so I didn’t need to buy one.

I think the autofocus on the camera isn’t working but I’m not investing any money to find out why.  Just not worth it.

Working in the Garden with my Olympus AF-1 Camera

My test roll was shot driving around, on my lunch hour walk in Mount Prospect, IL, and working in our Chicago bungalow’s backyard.  ASA 200 speed color print film from Walgreens.

Olympus AF-1, Rich in the Garden, Chicago IL


Nice features of the Olympus AF-1 camera.

  1. The lens shows promise.  There were a few photos on my ASA 200 color film roll that looked quite good.  A good lens.
  2. It’s an early Olympus clamshell design.  It’s not waterproof, but I could easily take it out during a rainstorm and not worry about it.

Will I use the Olympus AF-1 (Infinity) again?

I don’t think so.  I have 20-30 other cameras waiting downstairs for some future testing.

Perhaps what I disliked the most about the Olympus AF-1 is that it was absolutely a point and shoot for me.  Even my newer point and shoot cameras (Yashica T4 for example) allow me to adjust my photos in some way and be thoughtful in the act of taking photographs.  This camera just doesn’t encourage thoughtful photography, for me.

I wonder what Andy Warhol would say about his Olympus AF-1 camera from decades ago.


Andy Warhol’s Olympus AF-1 Camera — 2 Comments

  1. That photo of Andy Warhol is of him using an Olympus OM77 AF SLR, not an AF-1 Infinity. I have the same camera. It was manufactured in the mid 80’s and used special AF lenses, and could also use the manual focus OM lenses. It had 2 battery grips available, the #300 grip had a pop up flash, and the #100 grip did not have a flash. The camera used 4 AAA batteries and was pretty much point and shoot. Here is a photo of the camera from Flickr that someone has posted:

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