Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Canon AE-1, AT-1 etc.

The Canon AE-1 is a very popular camera, maybe just because the Canon logo is pretty cute looking. Personally I think it's a pretty good camera. The AE-1 is your typical full featured SLR from the 70s but what sets it apart is having an auto aperture mode which is unusual because it is an unnatural auto mode. Usually cameras only have auto aperture (shutter priority) if they also have aperture priority. One of the main benefits of this camera is the extremely available and high quality Canon FD mount lenses. There are a couple of downsides. The camera cannot be cocked without batteries, which is an annoyance in itself. This is also a problem because you can find them often at thrift stores and flea markets and you want to be able to check the shutter and shutter bearing which becomes ovoid over time and the camera becomes trash. This happened to a friend's AE-1 that used to belong to her friend. So if you find one, you basically don't know if it works unless you bring a battery. I prefer the AT-1 version of this camera which doesn't have the shutter priority mode and has "match needle" guages for the light meter instead of LEDs. For a camera that goes for about $80 on ebay with a standard 50mm f/1.8 lens, it wouldn't be my first choice in that price range. In the under $100 category, there are a lot of excellent options; such as the Miranda EE Sensorex (auto) with a few good miranda lenses, the Canon Canonet QL-17 GIII rangefinder, maybe a Pentax ME Super with a 50mm f/1.4 lens, or a Kodak Retina IIa folder rangefinder with a light meter and a Schneider f/2 lens.

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