Canon A1

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by eskerman, Feb 25, 2011.

  1. eskerman

    eskerman Member

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    Good afternoon to fellow forum members.

    I have been using digital Canon 40D for a few years now and I have being drawn back to analog photography. I have been struggling with this for a while and i was recently offered a Canon A1 with a couple of lenses

    Canon FD 50mm

    Canon FD 135mm

    Tamron 70-210 zoom

    This camera has been in storage since 1990 and I am tempted to have a look at it this weekend. Price asked is about $275 including a couple of old light meters and a bag. I am told the battery was removed from the camera when it was put into storage, and it may need to be dusted off.

    I know it a cracking camera and I have been reading up on some of the problems that can occur with them. Are there any particular tests I need to consider when i view it...and is it in the money at $275..?

    I am looking forward to learning the skills of analogue.. the 40D will have to take second best for a while

    Thanks
    Paul
     
  2. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    Depending on condition, functionality and the lens specs, the price seems very good since KEH sells just the body alone for around that. If you have the opportunity to test it with a roll then it will be an even safer purchase. As I understand it, these cameras can develop the "squeeking shutter" syndrome which requires a CLA, so pay attention to the sound when you release the shutter. Canon put a whole system around these era cameras and given it's success, there are still an abundance of accessories around for it if you want to expand.
     
  3. Markster

    Markster Member

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    Shutter squeak is annoying but it will still function.

    I would say, based on what I've read about the A-1, the A-series in general, and my own personal experience with the AE-1P, the following would be points to look at as soon as you get the camera.

    Inspect:

    1) the rubber seals. Look around the rear door. Look inside by the mirror. Are they rubber-like? Stringy melty blobs? If so your best bet is to have it serviced to clean that up. Sometimes the foam disintegrates on these older cameras, but not always. If it looks good move on.

    2) Put battery in, make sure the camera turns on. Turn on power switch to A, turn on light meter switch near battery test button, half-depress the shutter and make sure the viewfinder LED works. Play around with different speeds/modes and make sure it changes along with what you're doing. Some folks online have complained about shorts or other problems on used A-1 cameras. If all is working, proceed. If any inconsistencies, look them up online or have it serviced.

    3) Battery in, camera on, set shutter to 60 or so, open the back, point at a light source and trip the shutter several times (advancing lever as you go). Make sure shutter isn't hanging up or sticking. Make sure it closes all the way. Old dried oil or grease or gunk can sometimes build up in worst case scenarios and cause shutter issues. I would also suggest trying the higher shutter speeds as well as the lower ones, including bulb. Your eye isn't a good timer, but you'll at least be able to get a yes/no verification that they all work.

    4) Stick the 50mm on the camera. On or off just look around. Focus on different things. Make sure it "looks right" and "feels right." If something is off try to figure out what and work from there.

    That should take all of a couple minutes, a good light source, and a battery to run through.


    (type up off the top of my head)
     
  4. eskerman

    eskerman Member

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    Many thanks for your advice. I have not dabbled with an older camera for many years...too many I think. My curiosity has got the better of me and I am gonna buy either this A1 or I will source another, as there are plenty kicking about. I will have a look at this camera and I will carry out a series of tests... I guess if its anyway right I will take it and book it in for a service at some stage.

    Its a nice camera and I have always had a yearning towards one.

    I take a very practical attitude with this type of purchase... its an old camera and I guess I cant be expecting it to be 100% at this stage in its life.

    I will let you know the outcome of my inspection that will have sometime Sunday

    Greetings from Ireland and thanks again

    Paul
     
  5. Markster

    Markster Member

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    Many of these cameras have been around 30 years and can still be around 30 more years. No reason not to expect complete satisfaction in all areas except external looks.

    If it's not up to par internally, chances are it can be serviced. Got to have the camera to service, though! The investment starts somewhere.

    P.S. Maybe take a fresh battery with when you check it out. No telling the state of the previous battery or if it's still with the camera.
     
  6. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    Well I can tell you that my newly acquired 1958 Argus C3 is cosmetically near new and fully functional although it tool a little while to understand how to operate it. I didn't realize how hard it was to understand how to operate such a simple camera . . . ;-)

    [​IMG]


    My A-1 is in near perfect condition functionally and cosmetically but my AE-1P does have a little bit of a squeek.

    Truly amazing cameras built to last more than a lifetime and can deliver results as good as the latest and greatest!
     
  7. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    $275 seems excessively high. I think you could do better on craigslist or scoping eBay. Just my 2¢
     
  8. Markster

    Markster Member

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    Considering many run $150 or so, then CLA might run another $150...

    If it's in good condition (if the CLA price is rolled up into the already-functioning price) it's about par with what I've seen lately. Some go way way higher. Especially if this is a full kit with lenses and the like. That makes the price more reasonable. I paid probably $160+ for my 80-200 and my 28mm prime combined a few years back off ebay.

    I was looking for one myself a couple weeks back.
     
  9. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    He didn't say what the lens specs were either. A 50mm f1.2 L and I would have picked it up without caring what any of the other components were . . . :smile:
     
  10. parkpy

    parkpy Member

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    $100 should get you a decent condition A1 and FD 50mm F/1.4.

    I had mine CLA'd for $100. I don't think I could get more than $125 for the body and FD 50mm F/1.4.
     
  11. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    The "shutter squeak"on the A series Canons is nothing to do with the shutter, it's a bearing in the mirror breaking mechanism that needs lubricating, and although the camera will function when it makes this sound eventually with no maintainance it will cease up.
    I would recommend if you are going to inspect the camera with a view to buying it you buy a new PX 28 silver oxide battery before you go because the twenty year old original one has probably discharged even if it hasn't been used.
     
  12. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I have a A-1 for a few years, still runs great!

    Jeff
     
  13. eskerman

    eskerman Member

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    Hi Ben

    I am told by the owner that the Battery was removed when the camera was put in storage in 1990. I have picked up a replacement battery and I intend to get to view this camera tomorrow. Are there any other batteries needed in this Camera, as I have not seen one in the flesh before, its a first for me as I consider moving over to try film for a while. I have to get my head around driving this camera if I decide to buy. The guy who is selling it was gifted it by his father ( who was a professional photographer, saddly passed away). There are three lenses with this camera...and a couple of light meters Weston Master V and Sekonic Micro Leader

    I was also offered a Mamiya RB67 Pro and its supposed to be in good order... more decisions...! hmmmm

    Think I will stick with the A1... those Mamiya RB67s look like a handfull

    Paul
     
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  15. eskerman

    eskerman Member

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    I have asked for more details on the lenses that are also with this camera...plus a couple of light meters..and a bag.
    Hoping to view it tomorrow..

    Thanks for your opinion..
    Paul
     
  16. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    The camera only needs one PX 28 battery which lasts for a long time, I've had the current one in my A1 for more than twelve years.years, but since the camera is completely battery dependant I always carry a spare.
     
  17. eskerman

    eskerman Member

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    Hi Ben....

    I will let you know the outcome of my inspection tomorrow... I will shove a new battery in and run some basic tests, give the shutter whirl and check the viewfinder optics and the light meter. I have a roll of film to run off to make sure the winder is also working. As I said, this A1 has been in storage since 1990 and I am told its in very good order, it was running fine up to the day it was taken out of service.

    I note on another thread you had an A1 fully serviced in the UK..? I am based in Ireland and if I purchase tomorrow I may decide to have it checked and serviced. I understand shoving more money into one of these may not be the most sensible thing to do, but I am not going to be reselling it.. I am happy to keep it and get some use from it. I will have to find an instruction manual for an A1... that said from what I am reading on forums its not a very difficult camera to use...!

    My 40D is looking a little sad tonight...!

    Regards
    Paul
     
  18. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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  19. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I bought my A1 second hand Paul, and have found it to be very pleasant and utterly reliable camera to use which is still in Ex ++ condition, that since I had no intention of selling I thought that the £110 I spent for a CLA was worthwhile although it was more than I could buy one for on ebay it's value to me wasn't monetary but in what it does, and at least know where mine had been for the past twenty three years I've owned it, and that no ham fisted kitchen table repairs had been attempted on it.
     
  20. eskerman

    eskerman Member

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    Hi Ben...

    Well I took the plunge and I bought the camera. I did bring a battery with me and fired it up... It does have that slight squeak with the shutter is released but there was no sign of the shutter hanging up or sticking...the viewfinder LED is fine. I also checked the timer and that was working fine and the little LED on the top blinked in timer mode.

    Camera Number: 232353

    Lenses included are all in excellent condition

    Canon FD 50mm SSC f1.4
    Canon FD 135mm F3.5-22
    Tamron 70-210 1:3.8-4
    Light Meter: Weston Master 5 (Model: 461.5)
    8 x Ambico Filters
    5 x Polerisers
    Lens Reversing Adapter
    Various Adapter Rings
    Kenlock M25 Flash Head
    Bag

    The body itself is in excellent condition, no scuff marks or scratches on it.

    I will need to consider a CLA, i think its worth making this investment in it.. I think I did ok on the deal £170 plus £30 for petrol..!

    I did not buy this to sell on... its a camera I always wanted to have to give me the option to shot film rather then digital

    Who did you get for CLA in UK..?

    Regards
    Paul
     
  21. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Hi Paul,
    The local technician who serviced my A1 has since retired, but I recommend a firm in Liverpool called Newton& Ellis http://www.newtonellis.co.uk/
    they specialise in vintage film cameras and have an excellent reputation, if you contact them they should be able to C.L.A your A1no problem :smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 27, 2011
  22. Markster

    Markster Member

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    The 50mm is nice by all reviews. You got the better of the common options (others start f/1.8, as does mine). The Tamron has a number of good reviews online. I would say the 135mm prime is not too great. It's covered inside the range of the zoom, and for being a prime lens is somewhat slow (I've seen a number of 135mm primes at f/2.8 in my online readings).

    I would, however, suggest something in the 28mm-35mm range as well. I was very hindered by indoors shots with my 50mm for many years when I started out. It was just too close to frame anything other than closeups. The wide lets you stand closer and frame what you like much better.


    EDIT: Whoops, I see you have the SSC 50mm. Definitely a keeper, from what I've read!
     
  23. eskerman

    eskerman Member

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    Hi Mark.

    Thank you for your contribution.

    I am kinda starting from scratch with film photography and the A1 was my camera of choice. I am happy with my purchase and I have booked the camera in for a CLA..gives me some peace of mind for a few more years... and that is providing I stick with film. I will continue to use my Canon 40D with all its goodies Canon 70-200 IS/USM f2.8 / Canon 50mm f1.4 / Tokina ATX 16-50 f2.8 / Tokina 12-24 f4

    What is your point about the SSC 50mm lens I got with with the A1..

    Regards
    Paul
     
  24. pentaxpete

    pentaxpete Subscriber

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    Paul : I was GIVEN an A1 a few years ago from a gent in Romford whose Brother had died-- it came with the 50mm f1.8 FD lens, a 28mm f2.8 Canon FD and the 75-150mm f4.5 Canon FD zoom + other things -- it HAS the 'Canon Squeak' -- I was interested to read that it is NOT the shutter after all ! I also have an FTbn 1978 with that SSC 50mm f1.4 and SSC stands for 'Super Spectra Coated' and it has the Canon 'Breachlock' fitting with a ring that turns -- the later FD fitting just bayonets onto the lens mount -- that F1.4 is SHARP OK at full aperture.
     
  25. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I have the old 50 1.4 also, darn good lens!

    Jeff
     
  26. Markster

    Markster Member

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    Simply that it is a good lens, worth keeping! The SSC coatings on the lense reduce glare and reflections, supposedly creating a very crisp and sharp image.

    Sometimes when somebody buys a kit like this, they will be mostly interested in the body (the camera itself). Sometimes they will keep the good parts of the kit and build their own kit over time.

    They sometimes get rid of the parts of the kit that aren't as useful, or aren't as good.

    For example: If you got an A-1 really cheap with a poor quality lens, you might sell the lens and put a good one on it.

    If you were to consider this course of action, I would suggest you keep the 50mm. The Tamron is also good to keep. However, if you wanted to, I would say the 135mm is not that great compared to what you already have.

    That is all I meant. :cool: