Canon has done a better job than its competitors when it comes to marketing, and I think that they learned that from the AE-1 and certainly the Rebel with Andre Agassi.
Sometimes, it's not about whether you have a better camera. It's really about being able to sell your product.
For nearly all photographers in that era, the offerings from Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax and Minolta (plus the others) would serve them well.
I had some friends who had the AE-1, and I always thought it was a very nice camera.
True, elekm, marketing is much more important than one would think. But the AE-1 had follow-through reliability. And few complaints other than the 'expensive' battery (at that time). Now batteries for digital are outrageous.
And Chan Tran: also true that those other cameras really were just as good. But the perception was important with the AE-1 as it did seem to be more user friendly. Few knew at the time that the top and bottom were plastic. The advertising, as I well remember, was constant and incessant. - David Lyga
It's a good shooter. Reading through this thread I brought mine out of hiding, loaded a roll of HP-5 & went for a walk. I had it CLA'd a couple of years ago for the "canon squeal" Cleaned up it's a joy to use & oh, if you ever have an A series Canon with the squeal, A CLA'd Canon sounds so solid to the ears.:)
I've read the viewfinder on the AE-1P (or maybe on the A-series entirely) was one of the brightest and best of its time. I have always enjoyed this. Even in dark situations I can see through my viewfinder better than the shot actually turns out!!
I love the ergonomics. I love the shape and size. I love the handling. You can bling it well up with flash and power winder and data back and massive zoom lense and this and that, but when you want to you can just take the body and a single prime lense and have a blast shooting.
It's not perfect, but it's darned good in almost anything you need. I can only give positive reviews, so long as you picked up one that's working, and not one that somebody pawned off because it doesn't work. Getting a full service for it can be expensive, and will probably be needed at some point down the line. I used mine for 10 years with shutter squeak before getting a CLA and I'm at 16+ years now and it still runs great. Just needs a new battery door! (lol)
Thanks for all the information, I also picked up a EOS Rebel with lens at the local Goodwill for $20.