Canon AE-1 Program

AE-1 Program with 50mm f1.8

The Canon AE-1 Program(me), is a classic camera by any standard. Released by Canon in 1981, it built on the success of the earlier AE-1 by adding a programme exposure mode. Mine has the 50mm f1.8 lens mounted and along with it’s 6v (KS28) battery, weighs in at just 565g. In the said programme mode I can, set the lens to “A” and within reason, shoot away!

Another of my favourite points is the viewfinder – it’s clear and big. With my eyesight as it is, I find I can use it without glasses, just. I really ought to get a dioptre for it (and many of my other cameras too) but of the millions of them that must have been manufactured over the years, they seem very difficult to find! Canon did 10 different powers in their “S” range according to the instruction book. The AE-1 Programmes finder is bright, has split focussing, and in Leica speak, offers 0.83X, with a coverage of 94%. Another addition that this model added, not available on earlier models, was the ability to change focussing screens. I do wonder how many people ever did this in practice, but Canon offered a choice of 7 including the standard micro prism that came as standard.

The batteries are the easy to come by 6v (KS28/4LR44) type, so no issues there, another blessing! It can cope with ISO 12 to 3200, and offers Program, shutter priority and  manual metering. (TTL Centre weighted)

The top plate of the Canon AE-1 Program

There is a downside, partly. It has a cloth shutter, similar to the slightly earlier A series cameras, this limits it’s top shutter speed to 1/1000th, that doesn’t bother me, I rarely use 500th never mind higher. It’s the shutter unit that causes most of these cameras to fail however, the lubricant tends to dry up over time, and the famous “Canon Squeak” appears. I remember being in a church once, heard the noise and said to my friend, “someone’s using a Canon AE1 in here somewhere!” – sure enough, around the corner…. Thankfully mine is showing no sign at the moment!

Canon 28mm f2.8 FD

The mount is the Canon FD mount, I’ve only ever got as far as having a 28mm with mine. I’d like a nice 135mm at some point, but that said – in practice I very rarely actually ever use one!

I’ve currently got a roll of Kodak Color Plus in mine, doing a little “picture a day” challenge, so expect to see some recent results soon!

2 thoughts on “Canon AE-1 Program

    1. Hi Jim, I feel the same, myself I rarely go above 250 – I just don’t make many of the type of photo’s that need it. Perhaps a moving train but that’s about it!! – All best wishes Andy


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