Canon AE-1 Program

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Canon Mount (FD/FL/EF) SLRs:
Canon AE-1 Program

by Karen Nakamura


Overview and Personal Comments

The Canon AE-1 Program is an advanced manual focus SLR produced by Canon, Inc. between 1981 and 1987. It features through the the lens (TTL) full aperture metering and shutter priority metering.

The AE-1 Program can take the entire Canon FD series of bayonet mount lenses (which can be bought very inexpensively on ebay at a fraction of the EOS equivalents) as well as most FL and non-FD lenses. It has AE-lock, exposure compensation, multiple exposure ability, and depth of field preview features. It was leaps ahead of any of its Nikon counterparts at the time. Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.

Read's Classic SLR Series report on the AE-1 Program. This page also has a full manual on how to use the AE-1. KJSL calls it one of the most popular amateur cameras of all time. You also have to check out the Canon Museum's AE-1 Program page. It features a cool 3D rotating display of the camera as well as advertisements of the time.

The AE-1 Program (serial #479612x) that I sold a while ago on ebay was in pristine mint condition.The AE-1 Program was built as late as 1987. I have the feeling this is a late-model because it is so clean. There were almost no wear marks visible anywhere on the camera (except for the bottom plate, just your usual rub marks). The AE-1 Program uses a 6V PX28A alkaline battery that you can get at any major drugstore, Radio Shack, or camera store.

This is an excellent camera for a student or as the second body of a professional who uses the FD system (which includes the excellent F-1). It was is perhaps the lightest of the metal-clad Canon FD body (ie, before Canon moved fully to polycarbonates in the T-series).

If you want a slightly more sophisticated camera that uses the FD mount, look at the Canon A-1 which is the professional model in the Canon A series.




Interesting quirks


Canon offered a variety of optional accessories which are often listed on ebay. They include the Canon Speedlite flashes which offer full automatic exposure as well as the power winder unit which turns the camera into a motor driven powerhorse. Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.


Technical Details

Camera Name
AE-1 Program
Canon, Inc.
Place of Manufacture
Date of Manufacture
Focusing System

Single-lens reflex with pentaprism eye-level viewfinder

Fixed eye-level pentaprism. 0.86x magnification (EX 50mm), 93.5% vertical coverage, 96% horizontal coverage. Split-image rangefinder encircled by microprism rangefinder at center with a fresnel matte screen.

Lens Mount
Canon FD bayonet mount

Focal plane shutter 2 sec.- 1/1000
Horizontal silk-curtain
X-flash sync at 1/60

Metering System

CdS through the lens (TTL) metering
EV 1-18 @ ISO 100
Program automatic exposure
Shutter priority automatic exposure

Full manual (shutter speed/aperture) control possible


External hot-shoe and PC connection

Hotshoe has extra pins for dedicated Canon Speedlite flashes

Film type / speeds

Type 135 film (35mm standard)

ASA 12 to 3200

Battery type
6v PX28 alkaline (readily available)
Battery test switch on top left cover (6 beeps/second = good)
Note: Using the text or images on this site in an ebay auction without permission is a violation of your ebay Terms of Service. I will report you to ebay if I discover such a violation taking place. This may result in your account being cancelled. I also reserve the right to file claim for civil penalties.



About Canon

Canon started out its life as Seiki Kohgaku Kenkyuujo (Precision Optical Research Company). Its first goal was to produce domestic inexpensive Leica clones, and it released the Kwanon, its first camera in 1934. Interestingly, they used Nikon lenses since Nikon was already established as an optical lens manufacturer and was not making any of its own camera bodies at that time. Canon soon gained the ability to make their own lenses and never looked back. Nikon also went on to produce some reasonably popular cameras of its own as well.

The name 'Canon' comes from the Buddhist deity Kwanon and early Canon cameras were actually spelled 'Kwanon' and the lenses were named 'Kyasapa' after another deity.

Side note: Canon is my favorite Japanese company along with Honda. I actually interned for Canon Japan (ok, Canon Sales Japan, a part of the Canon keiretsu) during a summer in college and loved my coworkers to death. They keep coming out with innovations that take your breath away.

On the Net


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