The Canon AE-1 Program was the first 35mm SLR camera that taught me the only 6 things a photographer has to know.
- Shutter Speed
- Film Speed
These are the only six factors that make or brake a photograph. A lot of professional photographers, especially when famous, spiritualize a lot of things. As if it is difficult to make the best photograph. If you are a beginning photographer, don’t let them trick you. Study these six factors in depth enough and you will become a great photographer.
About The Camera
My dad bought this camera in Haute Nendaz, Valais, Switzerland on Saturday November 26th in 1983 along with the kit lens called the Canon FD 50mm F1.4.
The sales person must have been of limited understanding, since my dad was not a camera guru, he used this camera mostly in Program Mode, and typically had it loaded with Kodachrome ISO 64 or Agfachrome ISO 100. The camera in program mode would decide both aperture and shutter speed, but always favoured shutter speed.
I still regret the sales person at that time did not suggest he should buy the Minolta X-700 or X-570, which ran circles around the limited capabilities of the Canon AE-1 Program. The Minolta SLRs already featured center average light measurement and aperture priority mode.
Hindsight it was still the best beginner camera for me as it forced me to use full manual settings.
Canon AE-1 Program Specs
|35mm single lens reflex (SLR) camera with a magnetic electronically controlled cloth focal plane shutter.
|Program Mode, Shutterspeed Priority, Manual
|24 x 36mm
|Canon FD and Canon FL lenses
|FD 50mm f/1.4, FD 50mm f/1.8
|Canon FD New
|Fixed eye-level pentaprism with 94% vertical and 94% horizontal coverage with 0.83x magnification with focus at infinity.
|Built-in eyepiece is adjusted to standard -1 diopter.
|Standard split-image / microprism rangefinder.
|Electronically controlled, programmed AE and shutter priority AE metering system using one IC and three LSI’s.
|Light Metering System
|Through-the-lens (TTL) Center-Weighted Averaging by silicon photocell (SPC).
|EV 1 (1 second at f/1.4) to EV 18 (1/1000th sec. at f/16)
|EV is locked in when the shutter button is pressed halfway down and the AE lock is pressed once. Exposure is then memorized as long as the shutter button is pressed halfway.
|By pressing shutter button or exposure preview switch.
|Cloth focal plane electronically controlled. With mirror shock absorber.
|Instant-return with shock absorber, not very responsive below -20 Celcius.
|ISO 12 – 3200
|2 seconds to 1/1000th of a second, PROGRAM and Bulb mode.
|Shutter Release Button
|Electromagnetic shutter with exposure preview, with screw cable release socket.
|Three positions: A, L and S – S is shutter priority, L locks the camera (off switch).
|Electronically controlled. Ten second delay.
|For depth-of-field preview or metering with older lenses.
|Available colours were Black, or Silver and Black
|One and a half stop automatic correction with backlight control switch.
|Shutter button or exposure preview switch.
|One 6V 4LR44 silver oxide, or 4 X LR44 batteries. (Same as Mamiya 645)
|X-synchronization at only 1/60th M-synchronization at only 1/30th
|Aperture controlled automatically with compatible flashers.
|Various versions available, latch is opened by pulling rewind knob.
|Standard Take-Up Spool
|Film Advance Lever
|Single stroke, with reset button on the bottom of the camera.
|Resets when the back cover is opened.
|Manual crank film rewinding.
|Camera will not function when battery juice is too low.
|5 and 9/16″ by 3 and 7/16″ by 1 and 7/8″
|20 and 5/16 ounces.
Canon AE-1 Program Review
The camera is easy to use and is a great choice for a beginning film photographer. The lenses available for this camera make it a great asset to your camera collection.
A great camera for street and portrait photography, especially with the large aperture lenses. I greatly recommend all their FD S.S.C. lenses, since their Super Spectra Coatings, were almost half as good as a standard Minolta lens. Not many camera manufacturers could compete with Canon to be almost half as good as Minolta. A true accomplishment on Canon’s side.
Make sure to check if the rewind crank is turning as you advance to the next frame, sometimes the film lets go and at the end of the roll you don’t have any photos.