I bought a A1 a few years ago for very cheap. I had a CLA done on it with a new shutter put in and cost me about $200. I still think it was money well spent. It should last another 20 yrs. I probably will not out live my A1. The prices of the lenses are what you are really willing to pay. That is why you should shop around when to want to add on to your collection
You've heard about the Canon squeal which is not hard to fix but it will take a professional an hour or so to fix and they can be very pricey.
Another thing is you have to remember the camera is 30 yrs old and there are NO new parts being made eg. circuit boards. but usually any repair man worth his salt can combine 2 or 3 to make 1 good one.
For me all my A body Canons sit in my china cabinet looking pretty while I am out shooting film in one of my semi-disposable EOS models. Cannot beat auto focus, auto film rewind etc. for shooting film comfortably. Just like an old antique car would you drive it to work every day ?
Last edited by dances_w_clouds; 11-24-2010 at 01:55 AM. Click to view previous post history.
The dreaded Canon A series cough, isn't anything to do with the shutter it's a popular misconception, it's a dry bearing in the mirror breaking mechanism that causes the sound.
Originally Posted by hpulley
I've had an A1 I bought second hand for nearly a quarter of a century, and have found it to be a very light weight and pleasant camera to use,, I recently got it back from it's first ever CLA it now looks and operates like a new one and I hope to enjoy it for many more years.
Last edited by benjiboy; 11-24-2010 at 03:17 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Sorry, you're right, it's the "mirror squeak" not the shutter squeak, my bad...
The A1 is very simple to use in Program mode, just put the lens aperture on 'A' and shoot and the camera will figure out shutter speed and aperture for you. Or use Av or Tv modes to choose aperture or shutter speed. Other buttons and levers do things like DOF preview stop down, backlighting exposure compensation, battery check, etc. but you don't generally need them.
I have an A1 (as well as Pellix, EF and F1-N) + around 15 FL and FD lenses.
I've used my current A1 (which I bought 2nd hand) regularly and it's a lovely, compact and very well featured body. It was, as far as I can remember, the first proper multi-mode camera with P, Av, Tv and manual controls and has been extremely popular ever since.
There's always a possibility that old cameras can let you down but, aside from the aforementioned "squeak", I'm not familiar with any other known issues.
Paul Jenkin (a late developer...)
I also acquired my A-1 through my parents. They also moved on to point and shoots. I had my A-1 CLA'd recently, but don't use it very often. As far as ease of use, the A-1 is terrific. Set the film speed, set aperture ring to A, and set mode to P, focus and fire!
Originally Posted by Brian Legge
I wanted more control, and after a stint with some Olympus OM gear, I'm also shooting Nikon (a nice FM-2n). I don't really feel attached to my Nikon, and I absolutely abhor its viewfinder, but it's a good, reliable camera. I'd rather have an OM-4T, but my OM-4T had a tendency to lock-up on me from time to time (requiring me to set the shutter speed ring to Bulb, and fire the shutter). I guess I'd rather have a camera that works when I want it to work
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I got my A-1 from a reputable camera repair guy a couple years ago. It's been pretty much error free, but I have noticed one weirdness. I have a dedicated-for-Canon-FD Sunpak flash. When I put it on my AE-1 Program and set the aperture on the flash, the aperture in the camera's viewfinder changes to the same f-stop. On my A-1 it's always a half-stop-ish wider open, so if the flash is set to f4 the camera sets itself to f3.5. So some calibration isn't in sync there, but as I almost always bounce the flash, that extra 1/2 stop helps make the exposures dead-on perfect. So I haven't bothered to have it looked into. I'd love to know if other A-1 owners have the same "fault" (meaning that's just how the camera interprets communication signals from Sunpak's dedicated flashes) or if other A-1's are like the AE-1.
In life you only get one great dog, one great car, and one great woman. Pet the dog. Drive the car. Make love to the woman. Don't mix them up.
I just use Canon Speedlites (199A and 177A, used to have 155A but sold it) and they work perfectly for me with A-series cameras. They even work on EOS cameras in manual mode which is what I generally use anyhow.
Other things to watch for on an A-1 or any camera of this vintage are deterioration of the mirror shock foam and light seals in the mirror box and the film chamber and back. If they're gone you may get fogged film, I was blaming processing problems on some fogged Velvia but I think it was actually light seal issues. If the mirror shock foam is falling apart, the bits can fall into the mechanics and jam things up which is not good.
The A series of Canon cameras are interesting because they were the first to use hi-tech automated mass production techniques in the production of the components, electronics and the assembly of them that enabled them to manufacture and offer cameras to the public at a reasonabley low price at a level of a a sophistication that was previously unknown, for example in that era when SLR s were all metal the A series of cameras top and bottom plate was pressed out of laminated plastic that's not only very strong and doesn't dent but is also light and durable. I'm not sure when they stopped producing the A series, probably about twenty three years ago, and although I should think a very small proportion of the ones still around have ever been serviced there are still millions of them around in working order
The microprocessor in the AE-1 was I think the first AE camera to use such technology and reduced the parts list by more than 300 discrete components. The predecessor EF and F1 AE finders were much more complicated and expensive to build.
I think the basic choice you are confronted with is if you want to develop a system with a mount that is not any more in production. You will find plenty of second-hand lenses, but if you miss autofocus, you will miss it forever. I would consider a good servicing (gasket substitution, lubrication, shutter time check etc) for any camera which is not in use since decades anyway. After this, you can enjoy thousands of rolls and you can build a cheap and effective second-hand park of optics.
FD mount has a very short focal-plane-flange distance so you can use adapters to mount other lenses (maybe Leica, Zeiss etc.) and not loose the possibility to focus at infinity. You would lose all automatisms though, including automatic diaphragm. If I remember well the FD mount at the time had the shortest such distance immediately after Alpa.
The first camera to have a "program" mode, an aperture-priority mode and a shutter-priority mode was the Minolta XD if memory serves, which is the camera which was the basis for the Leica R4. The Canon A1 came just after the Minolta. The A-series of Canon was a revolution as it was to first to employ digital logic instead of complex mechanics or electric circuits.
The biggest shortcomings that can be moved to the A-1 (which my brother has) are probably:
- Indication in the viewfinder using LEDs instead of LCDs. That makes your battery last less than they could. A-1 uses 6V silver batteries, not very cheap.
- No mirror lock-up. That is a problem if you like using a tripod and slow shutter speeds around (1/4th to 1/30th) or with tele lenses.
- The shutter is a traditional and robust horizontal-movement tissue one. Synchro-flash is limited to 1/60 and maximum shutter speed is if I remember well 1/1000th. This is all you need for most situations anyway. This kind of shutters also tends to produce less vibrations.
Otherwise, the camera is a milestone in photography. The fact that the indication in the viewfinder are "solid state" make it also robust as the needle would be one of the most easily broken things in a camera.