The Canon AE-1 is a 35mm film SLR camera with shutter-priority automatic exposure and manual override, produced by Canon in Japan and produced between 1976-1984.

By using a microprocessor, Canon was able to simplify the design, and by using a highly automated production process, they were able to keep costs low. The result was one of the first affordable TTL autoexposure cameras to hit the market. After its introduction in 1976, the Canon AE-1 quickly became a very popular camera worldwide. The AE-1 was replaced a few years later by the AE-1 Program.


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  • Lens: Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 SC
    • Mount: Canon FD breech-lock mount, accepts New FD (FDn) lenses also; filter thread: 52mm
    • This is the Standard lens, other normal lens is Canon FD 50mm f/1.4 SSC. There are many Canon lenses for the camera
    • Aperture: up to f/22, setting: ring and scale on the lens for manual setting
    • Focus range: 0.6-10m +inf
  • DOF pre-view: button on the right of the lens flange
  • Lens release: press the silver button on the lens and turn to anti-clockwise
  • Focusing: manual, via Canon standard split image rangefinder with microprism collar
  • Shutter: cloth focal plane electronic shutter travelled horizontally, speeds: 2-1/1000 +B; setting : dial on left of the top plate
  • Shutter release: on the top plate, w/ cable release socket, w/ lock lever, L means the shutter locked; when on A, pressing half way, the meter is readable in the finder
  • Cocking lever: 120° stroke (partial strokes enabled). Ready position at 30°.
    • Canon Winder A optional for power winding
  • Frame counter: counts up, auto-reset, on the top plate
  • Viewfinder: fixed eye-level SLR pentaprism, split-image rangefinder encircled by microprism rangefinder at center with a fresnel matte screen. Exposure meter needle, aperture scale, over-exposure warning zone, stopped-down aperture metering needle and battery check indicator, and under-exposure warning LED and Manual control (M) signal are visible
  • Exposure meter: center-weighted CdS meter with shutter-priority automatic exposure, full-aperture TTL metering
  • Film speed range: 25-3200 ASA; setting: lift the knurled ring on the winding button and then set. If the speeds dial turns when you setting the ASA, turn it to B or 1000.
  • Metering range: EV 1-18 at 100 ASA/ISO
  • Exposure setting: shutter priority auto; set to A, while pressing the AE lock button on the lens turn the aperture ring of the lens; needle pointing along a vertical f-stop scale on the right side of the viewfinder. Shutter release lock lever must be on A.
  • Manual: TTL stopped-down match needle manual metering
  • Back-light control switch: silver button, on the right of the lens flange
  • Exposure compensation range: +1.5 EV.
  • Exposure preview switch: black button, on the right of the lens flange
  • Re-wind lever: folding crank, on right of the top plate
  • Re-wind release: small knob on the bottom plate
  • Flash PC socket: Flash sync 1/60, auto-switching
  • Hot-shoe: the dedicated flash units are Speedlites
  • Self-timer: release lock lever sets to S , then release the shutter, the red LED blinks when self timer working; before the shutter release, you can cancel it by pressing the battery check button
  • Back cover: hinged, removable, w/ memory slot
  • Engraving on the bottom plate: Canon, Japan
  • Tripod socket: ¼"
  • Strap lugs
  • Body: metal; Weight: 798g (with standard lens)
  • Battery: 4LR44 6V battery or 4x LR44 1.5 V batteries (Needs small foil ball spacer to take 4 button batteries)
    • Attention: the camera is fully battery dependent
  • Battery chamber: on front of the camera
  • Battery check: black button beside the re-wind lever. If the battery is in very good condition, in the viewfinder, metering needle stays below the index near 5.6. If it stays on index, it is in low condition and over the index the battery must be replaced.
  • On/off switch: shutter release lock lever must be on L
  • The winder terminals and coupling sockets are in the bottom plate.
  • Serial no. on the top plate
  • Date code: inside the film spool compartment, eg. R 217 means the production year 1977 and month. [1]

Notes and references[]

  1. Canon SLR Date Codes is as to: Bob Atkins' website


Canon Cameras