Instructables

How to Use a Canon A1/AE-1 35mm Camera

Picture of How to Use a Canon A1/AE-1 35mm Camera
Got an old Canon A1 laying around? Don't know how to use it? Well, if you fall into this category, then you may be able to take professional-looking photos with this rather than your digital point-and-shoot camera. You will be able to learn how to utilize this pro-range camera with just your point-and shoot skills. You will also learn how to diffuse/soften a flash, how to set the correct aperature, shutter and film speeds and also learn a little bit about multiple exposures with the A1. Also, if you are interested in panoramic photos, this Instructable will teach you all about it. I'm Eren S., and I will be your guide.
 
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Step 1: Learn the basic parts of the A1

Picture of Learn the basic parts of the A1
The basic parts that you may need to use are listed in this step.

Step 2: Turn on the camera and test the battery

Switch the A/L knob to A and test the battery. If you cannot see the LED blink rapidly, then you need to get a new battery. Getting film would be good, too. Mind the fact that all film is different. I normally use 400 ISO film for indoor pictures in good lighting conditions and 800 ISO for a sunny day outdoors when there is a lot of action. I would also reccomend to go to Radioshack for the 4LR44 battery. It is only 4.99 USD. They have a great selection of batteries there, so if  your flash takes AA's (if you have one) pick some of those up, too.

Step 3: Insert film

Picture of Insert film
Remember what I said in the last step? You need film, because this thing is from the 80's. It's not digital, and if film just doesn't fit your budget, then you can stop reading. Also keep in mind that film, when exposed to light, reacts. To open the back, cock the lever halfway and pull up the rewind knob. Put the cassette in the holder. Be careful not to pull out too much film, but don't be afraid to pull out enough. Catch the leader in the film spool and close the back quickly, but not too hard. You're almost ready.
really like this instructable i wanted to ask how much did this camera cost you cause i just recently got it from a sidewalk sale for 30 dollars with the lens no others what type of lenses do you suggest to get right off the back or close to it
There's tons of options for outfitting your A-1 but I'd start out with a 50mm, 1.2 or 1.4 if you can find them. 30 bucks is a great deal. I had to fix mine but it's a great camera and as far as cameras go, fairly easy to fix most problems.
Well, I know I'm succumbing to "someone is wrong on the Internet" syndrome with this, but here goes:

Step 2: ISO 800 film in bright daylight? I guess if you *have* to shoot at f/22 all the time (hello, diffraction) then that's fine; anything larger than than that and you're going to max out past the 1/1000 fastest shutter speed.

Step 3: You don't cock the lever halfway. In the picture (which is one I took; it'd be nice if you credited me for this and all) the wind-on lever is in the dead area of its travel. Pushing it to this position does exactly *nothing*. Also, it doesn't mention anything about advancing to the first frame. Just closing your back quickly (why?) and winding on once.

Step 4: Turning the dial to Av and setting the aperture, *then* turning it to Tv to set a shutter speed will do nothing to set the aperture manually, as you seem to be suggesting. Av lets you select an aperture and have a shutter speed set automatically, Tv allows you to select a shutter speed and have your aperture set manually. If you want a fully-manual exposure, you set it to Tv, choose a shutter speed, then set an aperture manually on the ring on the lens.

(I'll note that the title refers to the AE-1; the AE-1 operates quite differently, being a shutter-priority-only camera, and does not have an AT dial.)

>The faster, the less bright and the more grainy.
Film grain is a factor of the film you're using, not your shutter speed.

>The shutter speed I'd recommend for a well-lit room (no flash) is 1/400. At what ISO and aperture? If you're wide-open on an f/1.4 lens on ASA 1600 film, maybe, but you should say so.

>The aperture is how wide the shutter opens to expose the film.
No, it isn't.

>Now you know about aperture
You got this part right, but it's not from reading this. No discussion of the effects of the aperture on exposure?

>The exposure compensation is for low-light or high-light conditions.
No, it isn't; it's for conditions where you know better than the camera's meter.

"Canon A-1 Specialist"? Really?

Eren S. (author)  Lewis Collard3 years ago
Thank you, Lewis. I am so sorry about these insanely inaccurate factoids. I have fixed them to your standards and hope that you keep helping me by finding these small mistakes. Apparently, one of my siblings had accessed my account and messed up a couple of my other ibles, too. I have changed my password and also fixed the others, too. Thank you, yet again, and I hope to see you visiting me again shortly!
Eren S. (author) 4 years ago
Nightninja, I am sorry for not getting back to you soon but I inherited this camera. 30$ is a great deal, though. Anyways, I hope to see you around on Instructables! (P.S., if you liked this instructable, I could write more on how use neat stuff like spy lenses and home made adapters. Also, you can apply some hacks to this camera. If you want more help, drop me a line) Eren S. Former maniacmusicman and Canon A-1 Specialist