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Canon AE-1 Manual

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It revolutionized many of the concepts for future camera designs especially in the field of
electronic applications and mass produced technique with a lower cost of production with the
use of plastic injection molding, resulting in simpler assembly of parts. It also popularized and
made devices like Power Winder and electronic Speedlites a household name in the consumer
market. The camera was controlled entirely by electronics precision rather than by mechanical
functions - and depends solely on battery power for all of its functions. Despite defying the
mainstream camera design concept in the '70s, the AE-1 came through well and attained a
huge during its availability years. This was very much due to Canon's efforts in promoting the
camera - it offers very precise and stable timing of shutter speeds, which was also extended to
other areas like auto flash-synchronization speed when any dedicated Canon electronic
Speedlites is used. Although the technologies employed within the AE-1 looked very simple
when compared with today's modern SLR cameras, it has to be remembered that during its
era, the market was still dominated largely by those heavy, mechanically-controlled type of
cameras. Canon used these points to enhance the advantages of electronic applications in
camera designs - where in many areas, electronic cameras do offer much more precise timings
and other features that can never be matched by mechanical technologies.
However, the AE-1 was not in anyway a professional-grade SLR as compared to the Canon F-
1. It was generally regarded as a classic and top amateur SLR model due to the impact it has
created with its then innovative concept that went on to influence other future camera designs,
both Canon and other makes, of the industry as a whole. The camera was eventually replaced
by a newer model with added features, the AE-1 Program in 1981, following on the success of
Canon's semi-pro and top-of-the-line A-series camera, the multi-mode Canon A-1, which
made its debut in 1978.
The Canon AE-1 was the first 35mm SLR
camera to be controlled solely via a built-in
Central Processing Unit (CPU) and made
SLR photography available to beginners and
amateurs at a reasonable prices - with a record
of over 5 million units been sold worldwide,
the success of which firmly established Canon
as the leader in camera innovations.



  Summary of Contents for Canon AE-1

  • Page 1 Canon and other makes, of the industry as a whole. The camera was eventually replaced by a newer model with added features, the AE-1 Program in 1981, following on the success of Canon's semi-pro and top-of-the-line A-series camera, the multi-mode Canon A-1, which...
  • Page 2 4. Continuous Shooting with Power Winder A. 5. AE (Automatic Exposure) Computer Flash Unit, Speedlite 155A - world's first Dedicated autoflash. 6. Full Use of Canon FD Lenses. CANON AE-1's MAIN FEATURES 1. Very Little Battery Consumption. The battery lasts the equivalent of 20,000 shutter releases or one year under normal use.
  • Page 3 It was extended to the various accessories, all with the same standard of precision. The AE-1 was also the first camera to offer a totally automated electronic photographic system. It takes its name, AE-1 (Automatic Exposure-One), from this concept.
  • Page 4 In a way, the AE-1 has influenced (and inspired) many other manufacturers to look into the application of plastic materials in camera manufacturing to reduce costs of production.
  • Page 5 (but with auto-diaphragm) as found in the FL-type lenses, were introduced along with the Canon F-1 in 1971. It was still too early to see an SLR model exploring the potential benefits of what the 'new' and sophisticated breech lock mount system these FD lenses can offer.
  • Page 6 Compact, Light weight Design for Great Handling Ease Although still consider bulkier when compared with compact SLR cameras such as the Olympus OM-1, but within the Canon line, the body dimensions have been reduced as compared with other models such as Canon F-1, and the lightweight structure, with a special finger grip and rounded back contours, provides great handling ease.
  • Page 7 Speedlite 155A is used with the AE-1, flash photography can be performed with the aperture ring set at the "A" mark for automatic exposure. When the pilot lamp lights to indicate the proper charging level has been reached, the shutter speed is automatically set (1/60 sec) and the aperture automatically determined.
  • Page 8 SLR photography, if you have little intention to upgrade, the 'abandoned' FD lens-based SLR camera like the AE-1, with the huge pool of resources available in the used market presents a really attractive alternative if your budget is tight. But if you intend to grow with the system and migrated to autofocus or action related photography in the future, I do have a little reservation to invest into the manual focus FD system.
  • Page 9 3. Attach the Battery Pack A to the Power Winder A. 4. Take off the winder coupler cover. 5. Attach the Power Winder A to the AE-1. 6. Turn the main switch on. 7. Focus and press the shutter button.
  • Page 10: Loading The Battery

    Check on other section with specifications of the battery when the camera is used in extremely cold conditions. 4: Checking the Battery Since the AE-1 is an electronically controlled camera, the shutter will not function without sufficient battery power. The battery requires checking in the following circumstances:...
  • Page 11 When the battery is just about to fail, the meter needle in the viewfinder rests close to the index. 5. Loading the Film The Canon AE-1 uses color or black and white film in standard 35mm cartridges. Since this is a 25 years old camera, you can't expect it is as convenient as today's modern SLR with nifty feature such as Auto DX coding , auto film advance and power rewind.
  • Page 12 The shutter curtain is a most delicate and fragile part in the camera, a deformed shutter curtain may result in a permanent damage and since the AE-1 may not have any support in replacement parts from Canon, always handle loading and unloading of film roll...
  • Page 13 Closing the Back Cover Close the back cover until it snaps shut. Gently turn the film rewind crank clockwise in the direction of the arrow to take up the film slack. Then, advance the film a couple of times pressing the shutter button until the first exposure appears in the frame counter. Checking Film Winding Operate the film advance lever while watching the film rewind knob.
  • Page 14 Film winding can also be accomplished by advancing the lever in short strokes. Canon has developed the Power Winder A to be used with the AE-1 for automatic film winding. It greatly increases the automation and mobility of the AE-1.
  • Page 15 The shutter speed priority system is ideal for catching fast-moving subjects, especially at the decisive moment. Even most of the models in Canon's EOS System of AF cameras have this shooting mode a standard feature. Furthermore, the shutter speed priority system allows you to control image blur at will and to emphasize the movement of the subject.
  • Page 16 The "B" setting is for long exposures. At the "B" setting, the shutter remains open while the shutter button is depressed and closes when it is not depressed. See page 48 for more details concerning long exposures. To set the shutter speed, rotate the dial in either direction until the desired number clicks into place next to the white index mark.
  • Page 17 With them, near-sighted or far-sighted persons can perform photography without glasses. The built-in eyepiece lens of the AE-1 has -1 diopter. The following 10 kinds of dioptric adjustment lenses are optional accessories: +3, +2, +1.5, +1, +0.5, 0, - 0.5, -2, - 3, - 4 (diopters).
  • Page 18 Holding the Camera Unlike the mechanical release system, the magnetic release system of the Canon AE-1 electronically controls the shutter. The shutter button moves with a very light touch and its travel is very short. The shutter will be released by lightly depressing the shutter button so as to prevent camera shake.
  • Page 19 In such cases, the Canon Adapter A for Tripod with a rubber matte should be placed between the tripod and the camera for easier handling.
  • Page 20 In order to provide the AE-1 with the best possible magnetic release system, Canon developed a special circuit for instantaneous light metering, Due to this innovation, even in place as dark as EV1 (at ISO 100, f/1.4, 1 sec.), metering can be performed in only 0.04 second.
  • Page 21 Metering Range TTL metering is possible with a f/1.4 lens at ISO 100 from EV 1 (1 sec., f/1.4) to EV 18 (1/1000 sec.. f/16). ASA Film Speed Coupling Range 25..50 2 to 1/1000 sec ..100 1 to 1/1000 sec ..200 1/2 to 1/1000 sec ..400...
  • Page 22 "A" mark, the manual aperture control "M" signal will blink as a warning. Also, when Canon FL lenses, Bellows or the like are used, this warning signal flashes on and off when exposure measurement is performed.
  • Page 23 There are two methods of confirming the extent of the depth of the field: by stopping down the lens diaphragm or by reading a value from the depth-of-field scale on the lens. Confirming the Depth-of-Field by: 1). Stopping-Down the Lens Diaphragm. Wind the film and determine the aperture required for the subject by metering, and then set the f/stop by turning the aperture ring after disengaging the aperture ring from the "A"...
  • Page 24 If the battery check button is not depressed and the self-timer lever is returned to its original position, the shutter will be released. Shooting Against the Light with the Backlight Control Switch In most cases, the Canon AE-1's Central Emphasis Metering system will give correct exposure readings in AE photography.
  • Page 25 Stopped-Down Metering When the AE-1 is used with Canon FD lenses, photography can be performed with through- the-lens (TTL) metering and with AE coupling. However, with the Canon FL lenses and most earlier non-auto coupled accessories such as bellows, extension tubes, or a microscope adapter, it is necessary to take a stopped-down meter reading.
  • Page 26 switch and adjust the aperture ring and/or shutter speed dial until the meter needle inside the viewfinder is aligned with the stopped-down metering index mark. Press the shutter button and the photograph will be perfectly exposed. If the lens should be mounted on the camera with the stopped-down lever locked, correct exposure will not be obtained.
  • Page 27 When you are taking stopped-down meter readings, the manual aperture control "M" signal above the aperture scale inside the viewfinder flashes on and off only when the shutter release button is depressed halfway. Changing the Lens Earlier FD lenses (With inner chrome ring) incorporate a safety mechanism to prevent the bayonet ring and the diaphragm blades from moving when the lens is not mounted on the camera.
  • Page 28 EE Switch Pin This pin protrudes when the aperture ring is locked at the "A" mark. In this position, it transmits a signal for AE photography. Reserved Pin This pin is designed for use with accessories that may be developed in the future.
  • Page 29 When the 155A is attached to the AE-1, set the aperture ring of the lens to the "A" mark and the shutter speed dial to any position other than "B" (Bulb). With the...
  • Page 30 X synchronization speed at the time the pilot lamp lights up. When the AE-1 is used with other flash units, the shutter speed should be manually set at 1/60 sec. 2. Flash Terminal: The AE-1 offers a choice of two kinds of flash terminals; one is a directly coupled contact of the hot shoe type, and the other is of the B type terminal, as determined by Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS) for use with flash units with a cord.
  • Page 31 The Winder A has an upgrade later in Winder A2 (Introduced with the AE-1 Program in 1981) which can be used on the earlier Canon A-1 and all other models within the A series (As well as the flagship model, Canon New F-1!). It is also compatible with the AE-1.
  • Page 32 The camera is provided with the following (But don't expect these items will be as complete when you acquired a AE-1 as used unit): Body: Soft Case, Viewfinder Cover, Silver Oxide Battery, Eyecup 4S, Flash Terminal Cap, Camera Cover RF, Neckstrap 7, Spare Battery Case, and Adapter A for Tripod.
  • Page 33 Interchangeable Lenses: Canon FD series with full aperture metering and AE coupling. Canon FL series with stopped-down metering. Standard Lenses: Canon FD 55mm f/1.2 S.S.C; Canon FD 50mm f/1.4; S.S.C. Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 S.C. or the New FD 5omm f/1.2, New FD 50mm f/1.4 and the New FD 50mm f/1.8.
  • Page 34 Viewfinder Information: Split- image/microprism rangefinder, aperture scale with meter needle and stopped-down metering index mark which also serves as battery charge level check mark. Besides, there are two red zones at the top of the aperture scale to warn of overexposure. Below the aperture scale, a red warning LED lamp blinks to indicate underexposure.
  • Page 35 Back Cover: The camera's back cover has a memo holder for your convenience. The cover can be removed for attaching the Canon Data Back A. To open, pull the rewind crank up. Film Loading: Easy film loading with multislot take-up spool.
  • Page 36 This made it possible to produce a low-cost camera having high-end features. The record sales of 5 million units attributed by a combination of variable factors set by the AE-1 will be long remembered and chances of breaking by another model is very slim.
  • Page 37 A second LED at the bottom of the aperture scale flashes on and off to warn of underexposure. Both LED's flash at 4 Hz. • When you push the battery-test button, the needle should move to the battery-test mark or below it. The battery-test mark also provides the stopped-down-metering mark when you're using the FL lenses.
  • Page 38 Flash Photography with Canon A-1 There are four groups of flash can be used with Canon SLR camera system. Since Canon only introduced TTL OTF (Through-the-Lens, Off-the- Film-Plane) feature very late in 1986 with the Canon T-90 and a dedicated TTL-flash in Speedlite 300-TL , flash photography method was primarily using AE (Automatic Exposure) flash system.
  • Page 39 Canon AE-1, AE-1 Program. Can the Canon A-1 or for that matter, all the A and T series SLR models interchangeable to use with all the A, G and T series flash units ? With the exception of the T90, all of Canon's A-series and T-series as well as the New F-1, will automatically set their X-sync with any A-series, T-series (except 300TL) and G-series (533G &...
  • Page 40 "A", 1.5-6.4m and at yellow "A", 1-3.2m without Adaptor Flash Coverage: Adequate for 35mm lens on a 35mm format. With Wide Adaptor, adequate coverage for 20mm lens. With Tele Adaptor, covers 100mm lens. Specifications for some popular shoe mount flash units by Canon 199A 188A...
  • Page 41 Flash Duration: 1/500-1/50000 sec. Aperture Choices: f/2.8 (red), f/5.6 (green) and f/ll (yellow) at ASA 100, and manual. Auto Coupling Ranges: 1.5-10.6m (1.5-6.3m with Wide Adaptor) at red "A". 1-5.3m (1- 3.2m with Wide Adaptor) at green "A". 0.5-2.6m (0.5-1.6m with Wide Adaptor) at yellow "A".
  • Page 42 Recycling Time: 0.5-7 sec. with alkaline batteries and 0.5-5 sec. with Ni-Cd batteries. Number of Flashes: 250-2500 times with alkaline batteries and 80-830 times with Ni-Cd batteries. Flash Duration: 1/1000-1/50000 sec Auto Apertures: f/2.8, f/5.6 at ASA 100. Auto Coupling Range: 0.5 -7 m (1.6-22 ft.) at ASA 100 Flash Coverage: Covers 35mm lens.