My first Canon ever: an AE-1 with 50/1.8 and 28/2.8 ;-) What do you think??

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by TheToadMen, Feb 20, 2013.

  1. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    Hi everyone,
    I'm a Nikon camera user. I don't want to start a Nikon vs. Canon war, but it just so happened that I was given my first camera by my aunt when I was about 19 years old (27 years ago): a Nikon EL2 with 3 lenses. So I sticked with Nikon when I started taking photography seriously in 2001: cameras like Nikon F2, F3, F4s, F5, FT2, FM3a and an abused F followed and my first digital was a Nikon D1X. I also have several Nikkor lenses: old and new. (BTW: I also use a Bronica SQ-B, a Leica SL, Leica M7, an Agfa Clack, pinhole cameras and a lot of other old school cameras).

    Recently I saw a post on APUG about someone selling a beautiful FTN with lens. See: http://www.apug.org/forums/forum379...w-50mm-hc-f2-lens-2x-tele-converter-75-a.html
    Someone said (in an off topic posting) that a Canon AE-1 would be a nice camera for someones 12 year old son as an introduction camera. This comment triggered me. I'm a Nikon user by fate it seems, but I would like to see what Canon is about. So, in a whim I checked a local site (like Ebay) and found a like new Canon AE-1 (#1627163) with a FD 28 mm f2.8 S.C. lens and a FD 50 mm f1.8 S.C. lens. Everything looks like new, even the original case and booklets. He even had his original bill from 1978 for $ 450 (excl. the 28 mm lens). He accepted my offer of $25 so I am now the proud owner of my first Canon camera.
    canon-AE1-50-mm.jpg canon-AE1-28-mm.jpg canon-AE1-tas.jpg canon-AE1-boekje.jpg
    (photos from the add on internet)

    Since I have no knowledge of Canon cameras what so ever I would like to ask what I did buy. Is this considered a good model? What are these Canon lenses like?
    Don't get me wrong, I think this is $ 25 well spent. Even if it was only for placing it in my camera display. But I'm going to test the camera when spring arrives. And if it works I might even get me the original motorwind.
    So tell me, what are your memories & experiences with this camera?

    Thanks,
    Bert
    http://thetoadmen.blogspot.nl
     
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  2. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    Canon lenses are pretty well much the same as Nikon. The 50mm isn't bad, but the 28 can be a little soft in the corners. I tried an AE1 but could not get on with the shutter priority auto exposure and went and bought an A1 which has both. But ..... like all good things, I gravitated back to Nikon and so have stayed for the last 30 yrs.
     
  3. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I'm not too Nikon-knowledgeable, but it might be roughly the equivalent of the Nikon FE: manual focus, shutter-priority autoexposure (contra the Nikon's aperture priority), respectable-quality center-weighted meter, robust but not really built for "professional" abuse by the standards of the day. A lot of people feel that Nikkor lenses are a touch better than their Canon equivalents, but a lot of people also will dispute it---certainly a lot of the Canon FD glass is very good any way you look at it, and FD lenses are cheaper than comparable Nikkors because they won't work on modern bodies (Canon abandoned the FD mount when it launched the EOS autofocus line).

    There were a LOT of AE-1s sold; in the US, everybody's dad in the 1970s had one for taking family vacation photos. Most of them came with the 50/1.8, which is a good general-purpose lens not unlike, well, the Nikkor manual-focus 50/1.8; the 28/2.8 was the usual second lens and also has a good reputation as far as I know. You don't have to do the Nikon lens-registration routine with the aperture ring. Everybody has their own taste and preferences, but to me the AE-1 seems like a really convenient body; it sort of gets out of your way and just does its job with no drama.

    The only significant common problem I can think of is the shutter squeal, which you'll hear if it's there---I assume you've already dry-fired the camera and you didn't mention any horrible noises, so you're probably OK on that front. If the battery is OK, the meter should be fine; it's a center-weighted incident meter, so it'll have the limitations inherent to that design.

    There are some very good FD lenses (both Canon and third-party), but the kit you've got is more than adequate for practical use, apart from the absence of a telephoto. I'm not sure you need to wait for spring---it's a nice fast lens; just drop some Tri-X in and do a test roll of winter street shooting to make sure things are in working order.

    -NT
     
  4. AgX

    AgX Member

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    It was my first SLR back then when it was introduced. It would be my first choice if asked what analogue SLR to advise a beginner to: It has useful features, but still is not hard to understand. And there is actually nothing missing what one definitely must have.
    What I miss is a is +/- correction to the exposure meter. But one can handle this via the film-speed setting, and actually this is quite a good idea for a beginner to be tought how things relate to each other.

    Another advantage is the good availability including most of the lenses. Concerning lens performance these even outperformed Nikon equivalents. I know, lens tests, MTF's... I just hint at this concerning the Nikon/Canon discussion.

    Concerning being bound to a certain system: with the low prices of most SLR bodies today, changing a body for another type is the least to worry about.

    As already said, the lens range was cancelled in the mid-80's, but the Canon-FD bodies have one of the shortest flange/film distances so adapting other lenses is technically quite possible.
     
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  5. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Inactive

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    I am shocked you got it for $25, I would think $125 would be more on par, so you got a deal there.

    AE-1 was my first camera (the non-program one) and I still have it, still works great, never needed a CLA even.

    The foam on the mirror can dry out like many old cameras, that's the only caution I can give, make sure the foam isn't flaking or it will potentially get black spots on the film.

    The SCS lenses are specially coated and supposed to be better (for back then) than non-coated.

    I love the 50mm, the old idea was to learn on a 50mm and then once you understood and perfected that size, THEN move to others.

    My favorite memory was going to the zoo and shooting a lion, the fence was in they way and I complained to my dad I couldn't get a good image with the animal "behind bars" so my dad showed me how to open the aperture all the way and "bend the light" around the fence and make it invisible to get a nice lion shot. I was hooked ever since.

    I never used it on auto, always manual even in the beginning, it's pretty simple since the needle inside tells you exactly what aperture number to choose and the meter is fairly accurate.

    One caution is be VERY careful with the battery door, when opening it, be gentile, they are well known for breaking and can't be replaced.

    That's really the only issue :smile:

    If you don't like that 28mm I'll take it :wink:


    ~Stone

    Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  6. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I started with a Canon AE-1.

    Jeff
     
  7. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Coating lenses started much earlier and there is no uncoated Canon lens than can be fixed to an FD-bayonet, thus including the R-lenses from the late 50's.

    Canon indeed changed in the 70's from SC coating to SSC coating, which means from single-layer coating to multi-layer coating.
     
  8. whowantstoast

    whowantstoast Member

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    I agree with the above statement that the shutter-priority is a pain, but that's what manual mode is for. I don't use my AE-1 or my Nikon FE much, but they are very similar. I've felt I've gotten better results from the Canon, but the Nikon handles easier.
     
  9. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Why would shutter-priority be a pain? You still can steer the aperture by setting the apt shutter-speed. (The AE-1 will show the corrresponding aperture in the viewfinder, though not the set exposure time.)
    The idea behind shutter-priority auto-exposure was that shutter-speed is of more effect on a photograph giving a sharp image (of the scene in focus) than aperture-priority.

    That more SLR's offered aperture-priority was based on the greater technical simplicity of it.
     
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  10. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    Half the AE-1s in the world have a piece of electrical tape over the battery compartment. To me that's how they're supposed to look.

    I prefer aperture priority personally, but with this camera in practice, twiddling the speed dial while watching the needle is quick enough for most situations.

    -NT
     
  11. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Inactive

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    I broke mine opening it but managed to super glue the pieces together and thus far it hasn't broken ... Again.. Lol


    ~Stone

    Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  12. Allen Friday

    Allen Friday Member

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    This was my starter camera back in 1977. It is a great camera for learning as it is not auto-everything. The photographer actually has to think. I still have mine and use it from time to time. I am now a Nikon man, however, as I never got used to the EOS line from Canon.

    I also shoot a Mamiya 7. It reminds me of the Canon in that the shutter speed dial and the aperture rings are in the same locations on the camera. Adjusting the dials just seems natural after shooting the Canon for years.

    When I take the Canon off the shelf and shoot with it, it is like shaking hands with an old friend.
     
  13. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Inactive

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    OMG I never realized that! You're right they are the same! No wonder I like the Mamiya 7 so much! haha
     
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  15. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    Hi guys,
    You have me worried ......
    The battery is still working but not for long. And having to break off the door of the battery compartment doesn't sound appealing.
    The instruction manual says "Open the battery chamber cover using the viewfinder cover". Sounds like an accident waiting.
    So, what is the best way without braking of the cover?
    (Didn't have these problems with my old Nikon EL2, though).
     
  16. AgX

    AgX Member

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    The battery compartment door has a tiny lock that has to be pushed aside to enable opening that door.

    As a tool to do so Canon added a tiny cam to that plastic plate which is supplied with the camera to shield the viewfinder window in case it will not be covered by the photographer whilst exposing (to avoid stray light entering the meter).

    This shield is typiccally missing with used cameras.

    I never ever used that shield for opening that door, but just my (short) fingernail. The door opens most easily. It is the first time I learn about broken doors and this all is enigmatic to me.
     
  17. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    It opens really easy with the viewfinder cover as a leaver. The small button to push is a "hook" to push aside (towards the lens, not into the body). I can imagine that if you don't know this and try to pull the door open, it will brake off easily. It's made of the kind of plastic that isn't flexible.
    My viewfinder cover was still present ;-) and I did have the manual, but if you don't have both, it is likely to go wrong.
    Here is a copy of the manual (click to enlarge):
    canon-AE1-battery-door.JPG
     
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  18. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Inactive

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    Just do it gently, it has a spring so once the lock is released by you fingernail it will open itself. Don't worry too much, just don't cut your nails for a few days :smile:


    ~Stone

    Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  19. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Inactive

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    Ya know it's funny I have that hot shoe cover, I always thought it was from something else since I never knew that tab in the front was for the battery door haha, it always looked like it didn't belong to that camera as the tab sticks out in the hot shoe and doesn't fit properly as I would think anyway.

    Thanks now I know I have the right thing haha


    ~Stone

    Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  20. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    Hi Stone,
    Now you know in what model to cut your finger nails ;-)
    But seriously. I think Canon made this too complicated. If you don't have the manual (or didn't read it in time) there is no way to figure out this combination. How many people threw away that "plastic hotshoe fill-up thing", thinking it had no use? Or thus breaking open/off the battery door, not knowing the right tool was right in front of them all the time? Or even unscrewing the motorwind disk in the bottom, without finding any battery?
    I call it a wrong solution for correcting a "design flaw". Not the best example of Japanese engineering .....

    Well: I got me a new battery today and will load the camera with a test film to see what it is up to. Will it perform better than my old Nikon EL2? We'll see.

    BTW: the manual for the Canon AE-1 can be downloaded here: http://www.butkus.org/chinon/canon/canon_ae-1/canon_ae-1.htm

    BTW2: Nikon was also good in hiding the battery in those days. You'll find it in my EL2 behind the mirror (take off lens, flip up mirror, open small door inside the body).
     
  21. AgX

    AgX Member

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    As said, I don't find it complicated. And to be fair: How often does one need to open that little door (I leave aside very cold conditions)? What about all those more recent cameras that necessitate a point of a pen, match, tooth-pick or alike just to have the film rewound. Not always is the apt tool bound (via carrying strap) to the camera.
     
  22. airgunr

    airgunr Subscriber

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    My first "real" camera was an AE-1. I traveled all over the world with it with very good results. As is the case for most any camera it is the glass you put on it that has the most impact on quality of your images. It is a very good camera for a beginner and you can get very good glass for not much money as there are litterly hundreds of thousand of them out there sitll.
     
  23. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    Hi Airgunr,
    I agree: the camera itself is only a black box. But what is considered to be good glass (single focus length) for the AE-1?
    (Don't forget: I'm an ignorent Nikon user)
    Bert
     
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  24. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Inactive

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    Canon also included a backup batter holder that attached to the camera strap. It took me 17 years to discover that this was the function, I kept it, but can't find it, I've been wanting to use it on my Mamiya as the batter size is the same I think... Anyway yea good engineering but bad too, at least they TRIED to give you a second battery which most never do.


    ~Stone

    Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  25. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Inactive

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    To be a jerk, canon GROWS their glass (some of it) which isn't glass it's a crystal, it cuts down heavily on CA, something Nikon can't do. So :tongue:

    However none of the basic canons have that, just the L series glass.


    ~Stone

    Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  26. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    Hi Stone,
    I did wander what that plastic thing was for. I found it in the case. I knew it was for the strap but didn't know why (didn't read the manual again, did I?)
    And no: I don't even know what L series glass is.....
    Since I only used Nikon, I never bothered to find out what the Canon universes are like.
    I know this camera uses FD lenses, though ;-)