Canon A1 Đánh Giá

This is the Canon A-1, a legendary & very advanced(for its time) manual focus 35mm SLR camera made from 1978 to lớn 1985, andalso the best camera ever made. Really, I don"t know how these thingsfind themselves idle, or how anyone could like them so little that theymake their way onlớn eBay or car boot fairs. You might find me nitpicking here. You canignore it because I could find many more things I didn"t like about any other cameraever made, too; the A-1 is just superb, and the only camera I"d usethese days if I weren"t for the fact I find writingabout other junk amusing.

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Fight the powah!Canon A-1 in program tự động hóa and Canon FD 28milimet f/2.8 shooting Kodak Ektar 100.


I thought this was all metal, but after looking it up it turns out that itonly looks & feels like it (which shows how good Canon were at foolingus). The chassis is aluminium, but the top & bottom plates are ABS (plastic),copper-electroplated & enameled in blaông chồng. Minus a lens, it weighs in at ahealthy 6trăng tròn grams.

Did I mention I think it"s gorgeous? Because I think it"s gorgeous. Angular1970s SLR styling is awesome (although the nooks và crannies aredifficult lớn get clean).

Exposure modes

Aperture-priority, shutter-priority& program automatic! Yay! As far as I know, this is the first SLRcamera lớn have sầu this. In fact, it"s one of the first to lớn have sầu it, period; the muchold Olympus Trip 35 did this ina somewhat less sophisticated way (but stillvery cleverfor its time). It does a prettygood job of choosing an aperture & shutter tốc độ which will work formost photos most of the time. Sorry, there"s no program shift, becausethis is 1978.

Yup, you can tiệc nhỏ like it"s 1954 và have fully manual exposuretoo; turn the lens off "A" và to lớn your preferred aperture và phối theshutter speed in Tv mode, you weirbởi. You"ll have no indication in yourviewfinder to lớn tell you whether you"re under- or over-exposed, though.Oddly, it won"t even tell you what aperture your aperture ring is setto.

Nitpick: the dial (Canon called it the "AT dial") used to lớn changeshutter speeds & apertures is way too damn small for me,though people with smaller hands might not have this problem. Youalso can"t select apertures from the aperture ring on the lens itself, onlyon the camera body. The beastly professionalF-1doesn"t have sầu this issue, so it"s a limitation of the A-1, not of the FDsystem.

There"s a silly multiple-exposure switch. This is the A-1"s only uselessfeature & I"d maybe shed half a tear if they never bothered with this. (I"mnot even going to count the number of useless features that myD2H has; the A-1 rocks for having so few.)

The Ouse at dusk. Canon A-1 inprogram tự động and Canon FD 28mm f/2.8 (wide open) shooting Kodak Ektar100.


Electronically controlled horizontal-travelcloth shutter, fasdemo tốc độ 1/1000 sec. The top speed is a little tooslow if you"re shooting faster films, but that"s okay: if you want speedshoot digital. There"s little reason khổng lồ shoot fast 35milimet film anymore,let alone on a bright day wide-open.

Tip: if you buy one of these,make sure the shutter is actually working. Point it lớn a brightlight source on one of the faster speeds và make sure you actuallysee something when the shutter fires. As I found out, a shutter thatsounds lượt thích it is working is not the same thing as a shutteractually working. Here"s what happened to lớn mine:


See the oily crap where the shutter curtains overlap? This was gluingthem together, making them separate very very reluctantly (& not atall above sầu 1/15 sec). This meant that at any reasonable speed, the filmwasn"t being exposed at all. Unfortunately, I went through two rollsof Velvia and two rolls of Superia before I found this out. Oops! Thesensible thing would have been to have sầu it repaired professionally. I"mstupid and reckless (or "brave"), so I had a glamourous assistant holdthe shutter open on "B" while I caught the first curtain in its travel,swabbed the oily crap off with a petrol-soaked cotton bud, then caughtthe second curtain as the shutter closed and did the same thing. Don"ttry this at home page, kids! ;)

Customs House, King"s Lynn.Canon A-1 và Canon FD 28milimet f/2.8 shooting Kodak Ektar, trăng tròn secondsat f/9.5 (aperture priority).


The A-1 has centre-weighted through-the-lens metering, which is dead-onaccurate. The "center weighted" bit simply means that it pays attentionmostly lớn the center, and a little bit of attention lớn the rest, so sometimes you"llhave to use exposure compensation, or lochồng exposure on a different partof your scene & then recompose, to get consistent lighting. No big khuyễn mãi giảm giá,and at least the results are always predictable (unlike some of the crappier evaluativemeters -- hello Pentax!).

You get exposure compensation from -2 lớn +2 in 1/3 stopincrements/decrements. I really don"t lượt thích the exposure compensation dialon the A-1; it requires pushing a button lớn unloông xã it. With the way it ispositioned, it is really really awkward khổng lồ vì with one handuntil you get used to it. A tip: vị what I vị và use the ISO dial instead!You can move sầu the ISO dial easily with one fingertip. If you want tooverexpose? Move sầu the ISO to a lower value. Do the opposite for underexposure.

This has an auto-exposure lock, too, by a button on the left of thelens mount. I find this annoying; you have sầu to hold it down lớn keep thelock until you take your pholớn, which is awkward even on normal lenses, andmore or less rules out using the AE lochồng hand-held with a telepholớn of anyform size (then again, are you going lớn vày this? I don"t). This is not such anissue. This is actually better thanat least some later Canon cameras, which release the lock when the metertimes out. The A-1"s way of doing it is, at least, obvious andpredictable. Later Pentax camerasare the only cameras I know of that are perfect on this count.

Red và xanh. Canon A-1 in programmedtự động hóa, with Canon FD 28milimet f/2.8, shooting Kodak Ektar 100.


The A-1 takes one weightless A544 cell. The camera won"t work at all withouta battery. No big deal; these cost almost nothing to lớn replace & can fitin your car"s ashtray, so carry a spare. I"m a gigantic idiot, andI used the one which came with my camera when I bought it. Of course, mycamera died on me because I"m too cheap to spover £2 on a battery(or about £10 for ten or twelve, if you know where to look). Inow have three kicking around. The camera will probably die before Iuse these up.

There"s a battery testing button on the top of the camera on the lefth& side, right above sầu the button lớn unloông chồng the exposure compensationdial. Press it from time khổng lồ time; if this causes the battery demo LED(on the right of the camera) to bliên kết less often than 2hz then it"s timefor a new one.

These are also called PX-28A, 4LR44 và a variety of other names. Samething. Brands don"t matter, but for what it"s worth, I use Energizer, becausethey will replaceany equipment that gets damaged by a battery leak.

Lens compatibility

The A-1 uses the Canon FD mount. This is obsolete; Canoncompletely broke backwards-compatibility when they introduced the CanonEOS autofocus system in 1987. Canon FD lenses will not work on an EOScamera. This is good news, because it means youcan get some superb lenses insanely cheap, & part of whatmakes this the best camera, pound for pound, that you can buy today.

I believe sầu this would have sầu typically beensold with a 50milimet f/1.8 when it was new. It"s a lovely lens that feelsgreat khổng lồ use. And it seems plenty sharp, even wide open, but I"ve nottested this scientifically. I"m just a person on the Internet withopinions, so ignore me.

365504at King"s Lynn. Sharp enough for you? Gofull-size! This was shot with the A-1,armed with Kodak Ektar 100, fitted with one of Canon"s cheapest lenses, a28mm f/2.8, which I bought for 30 quid in almost perfect condition.

And by the way? If you"ve sầu got one & want to lớn buy lenses for it,don"t bother with anything but genuine Canon lenses. With modern Canoncameras there"s almost a good reason to economise by using non-Canonicallenses, namely, that EOS can be horridly fucking expensive sầu. Withthe FD system? Play your cards right và you can get a superb Canon50mm f/1.8 (if you don"t have one) for the same price I paid for a strapfor my D2H. Want a 28milimet f/2.8? That might cost you a wholethirty pounds if you"re in a rush & use "Buy It Now" on Fleabay. Everygenuine Canon FD lens is pretty cheap (even the 300milimet f/2.8 sells for alot less than any other lens of its kind), & opticallysuperb if you use them right.

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Canon FD 50mm f/1.8, with chrome locking ring: the way God intended it.

I can"tfor the life of me work out why people say that breech-loông chồng FD lensesare more difficult or slow khổng lồ fit than bayonet-mount systems lượt thích NikonF and Canon EOS. I actually prefer the breech-locking system, and Idislượt thích the later lenses without the chrome locking ring (pretending tobe a bayonet-mount). I also eat kiwi fruits without peeling them, so makeof that what you will.

Funwith cheap Tudor colour negative film. Go lớn thegallery entry for the story.Canon A-1 in program tự động hóa & Canon FD 50milimet f/1.8 shooting "Tudor" (pseudo-brand)colour negative film.


It"s a huge, bright SLR pentaprism. I love the simplithành phố of theviewfinder; you get nothing but youraperture và shutter tốc độ displayed in your viewfinder in red LCD text(và a tiny "M" to lớn indicate you"ve sầu taken your aperture ring off "A"for a manual exposure, if you"re a weirvì who does that sort of thing).It"s beautiful, and totally clutter-miễn phí, và is probably my favouritething about the camera (& also my least favourite thing of prettymuch every camera made today).

The downside is thatif you"re doing manual exposures you have sầu no way of knowing whether yourexposure is correct or not; there"s no meter lớn indicate this in theviewfinder. I don"t vị this, so that"s okay, & having a meter wouldjust clutter the viewfinder. If you"renot doing manual exposures, it spanks every camera I"ve sầu ever seen.You have the two critical readouts in your viewfinder. That"s it.None of the junk that more recent cameras stick in there (hi Nikon!).Every camera should be lượt thích this.

The red LCD numbers vary their brightness depending on where you pointthem, as modern cameras vày. The numbers are perfectly legible in anylighting conditions.

Cool feature: an integrated viewfinder blind. Fliông xã a switch and alittle shutter will blochồng out the viewfinder at the eyepiece. Not thatI"ve sầu ever used this; but that"s not the point, it"s cool (& useful ifyou"re doing long exposures (but seriously it"s mostly just cool)).

Film advance

My A-1 with the nguồn Winder A I got with it.

Manual wind-on, by a nice, comfortable lever. Canon also madego-faster-stripes for it, if you must have powered film advance. Mine camewith a PowerWinder A, which gives you 2 frames per second (faster as I ever careto lớn shoot film). I find it a bit of an albatross; it weighs about 300g.I keep it on the camera because it sounds so damn cool.Click-whirrrr-rrrr! :D

There"s a couple of other winders for it, if you lượt thích. ThePowerWinder A2 also gives you 2 frames per second, but can switch betweencontinuous and single-shot mode (the Winder A is always continuous). TheMotorDrive sầu MA gives you 5 frames a second, has switchable speeds& also looks seriously awesome. Get it for the awesomeness, but don"tget it for practicality; the A-1 isn"t really a camera for sports orthings that move sầu quickly enough to merit using a 5 FPS camera.

Reeds (orgo full size). Canon A-1 in program automatic,Canon FD 28mm f/2.8, Kodak Ektar 100.


The A-1 was way ahead of its time; with the A-1, Canon even experimentedwith show-stopping camera bugs twenty years before digital SLRs turnedthis into lớn an art form. Seriously, try this: Move sầu the lens" aperture ring away from the A position, then move sầu it bachồng without taking a photograph. Theviewfinder will show "EEEE EE" & refuse lớn take photographs from there.Oh no!

To solve sầu this, move sầu the multiple-exposure lever to the left, cockthe shutter then move sầu the multiple-exposure lever back khổng lồ where it shouldbe. Your A-1 will be bachồng in action.

Using it

Fit a 50milimet f/1.8, stiông xã it in P & go outside.

Honestly, there"s very little to lớn say here. Don"t let the manualfocus bit scare you; the viewfinder is so big and bright that you"dhave sầu to try to get a phokhổng lồ out of focus. This camera isincredibly easy khổng lồ use.

Ultimate beginner"s camera? Definitely. It"s the best cameraof all time, & that doesn"t stop being true because you"re a beginner.

Buying one

Swans. Canon A-1 in program automatic shootingKodak Ektar. I think I used the 50mm f/1.8.

I paid 55 quid for mine on fleaBay in early 2009, including lens,strap, almost-dead battery and power winder. This is a tiny fraction of any newdigital SLR (let alone a full-frame one), & I like the A-1 better than anydigital SLR. And that"s stillfar less than the point-and-shoot digitals that tech sites gush about --& for that money you"re getting a serious, durable,semi-professional camera. And if you have a friend with one of thesethat has downgraded to digital, you can probably get it off them for farless. You also have the option of a vast range of awesome & incrediblycheap FD lenses. Go & buy one.

If you"re a time-traveller, go baông chồng khổng lồ July 1978 & pichồng up acopy of that month"sPopular Science. Page 86 says the A-1 was selling for $595with a 50milimet f/1.8 lens. That"s just a little bit under $2000 adjusted forinflation, or £1233 over here in damp, cold Engl&.

Around the Internets

Addendum: The best camera of all time?

Yup, I meant that. It is all personal preference; if there"s something you lượt thích better, then we can still be friends. If you wondered, this is how I feel about everything else:

Anything digital: I lượt thích film. If I liked the look ofdigital as much, I"m sure a £1700 5D Mk II would be every bit as good asthis £55 camera for what I shoot.Anything autofocus: Manual focus suits what I do betterthan autofocus does. I shoot things that don"t move, và when I"m shooting film,I focus, take one shot, và move on. I prefer manual focusing for that sort ofwork. I also don"t like the feel of the shutter buttonon all auto-focus cameras; the A-1 is perfect on this count.AE-1 and AE-1 Program: The vanilla AE-1 doesn"t do programautomatic. Neither offers aperture priority, which I use a lot.Anything Nikon: Every Nikon film (& digital) camera ever madeis superb, and there"s probably several which do everything that the A-1 does(I"m thinking about the FA right now). Then again, you"ll be spending more money tovị that. Nikon"s wide-ranging lens compatibility means you"ll be spending more moneyon glass, too.

Thanks to lớn Monica for proof-reading this before I published it.