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Canon AE-1
France Version française
Photos by Sylvain Halgand text by Sylvain Halgand. From the collection of Sylvain Halgand. Last update 2023-09-15 par Sylvain Halgand.

Manufactured or assembled in Japan from 1976 to (After) 1981.
Index of rarity in France: Frequent (among non-specialized garage sales)
Inventory number: 962

See the complete technical specifications

Chronology of cameras Canon 

The Canon AE-1 left its mark on its time and an entire generation of amateur photographers, including myself. The sight of this camera in catalogs would leave me daydreaming, and I guided hundreds of birdwatching tourists to save up enough money to buy it (and the last few hundred francs had to come from my parents' pockets).
A 300mm lens, and later a 400mm (though not Canon ones), were added to the camera, filling my leisure time as I chased after anything that flew. A hefty Vivitar 283 flash (another best-seller of the time), a grip, and a winder completed the setup. A few years later, having sold some photos, the Canon AE-1 became my second camera, with the first being the Canon A-1 (which I regret selling so much).

The Canon AE-1 featured shutter priority, which was very handy for capturing birds. This shutter priority, easy to use for amateurs, played a significant role in its success. Exposure control was handled by a central unit (the first computer of my life!), with the exact description in the manual being "central processing unit comprising two integrated circuits and an LSI circuit with I2L (Injection Logic Integrated Circuit) technology. 

In the viewfinder, there was a coincidence/microprism rangefinder. At first, I missed a lot of shots trying to align the broken lines. When the line became continuous, it was too late; there was no subject left to photograph. A needle indicated on an aperture scale, the one calculated by the LSI thingamajig. At the top of this scale, there was a red zone to indicate overexposure. A diode at the bottom of the scale would start flashing in case of underexposure or to indicate that the chosen speed was out of the coupling range for the film's sensitivity. An M would start flashing as soon as the lens was set to manual mode. The camera could be motorized, up to 2 frames per second.

The black version of the camera is less common than the silver version because black was much more expensive to buy.

The AE-1 had siblings and a cousin. The AT-1 (1977) lacked automatic exposure control, the AV-1 (1979) was a simplified version. The A- (1978) was the big brother, with multi-priorities, perfect.
The cousin was the AE-1 program, the son of the A-1. The A-1's functions were complemented by a Program mode (which I always detested) where the camera lived its own life.

Canon AE-1

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