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Thread: Canon A1

  1. #1

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    Canon A1

    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. #2

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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. #3
    Markster's Avatar
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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)
    -Markster

    Canon AE-1P 35mm | 50mm/f1.8 FDn | 28mm/2.8 FD | 70-200mm/f4-5 FD | 35-70mm/F2.8-3.5 Sigma FD

  4. #4

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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. #5
    Markster's Avatar
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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.
    -Markster

    Canon AE-1P 35mm | 50mm/f1.8 FDn | 28mm/2.8 FD | 70-200mm/f4-5 FD | 35-70mm/F2.8-3.5 Sigma FD

  6. #6

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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 . . . ;-)




    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. #7
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    $275 seems excessively high. I think you could do better on craigslist or scoping eBay. Just my 2¢
    If you are the big tree, we are the small axe

  8. #8
    Markster's Avatar
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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.
    -Markster

    Canon AE-1P 35mm | 50mm/f1.8 FDn | 28mm/2.8 FD | 70-200mm/f4-5 FD | 35-70mm/F2.8-3.5 Sigma FD

  9. #9

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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 . . . :-)

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by holmburgers View Post
    $275 seems excessively high. I think you could do better on craigslist or scoping eBay. Just my 2¢
    $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.

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