Where the Problems Start

July 7th, 2019 | Category: Canon | Author: Jeff Chu

The Canon AE-1 is a highly successful classic camera. Unfortunately, there are many possible problems that can occur.

Canon relies on advanced electronic circuitry to significantly reduce camera manufacturing costs and provides a relatively reliable and efficient shooting tool for home users and amateurs.

1. Battery Cover

The battery cover is poorly designed. The plastic battery cover is fragile. There are too many examples of chipping at the tab that holds the cover shut. Just check eBay to see all the cameras with problems.

As time goes one, the plastic continues to age. Given enough time all of the battery doors will become brittle and crack or break.

Originally, I would like to praise the Canon AE-1 for using of four LR44's (the same as the Japanese film SLR generally uses two LR44 batteries), but this battery cover is really a big failure.

What disappoints me even more is that when the AE-1P was released, Canon still didn't fix the problem. Adding a small plastic handle still didn't solve the fundamental problem. Even though the A-1 is a quasi-professional camera, Canon still left the problematic part.

2. Focusing Screen

The second problem is that the focusing screen can not be replaced. This will cause the focusing screen to be dirty and can not be removed for cleaning. Other models of focusing screens can not be used.

With the Canon AE-1P, the focusing screen can be changed. That shows Canon was aware of this problem.

3. Shutter Squeak

The third issue is the shutter squeak problem. It happens when the grease on the mirror return dampener dries out. Although it is not a particularly big problem, it reflects the immature design of camera. It shows that the durability of the parts is not reliable.

4. No Exposure Compensation

As a semi-automatic exposure camera with shutter priority, there is no exposure compensation setting. This makes the camera less reliable to use in tricky light. Making the feature pointless.

5. Cheap Electronic Shutter

A cheap electronic shutter is used in the camera. This low-cost curtain shutter is also used for the vertical metal shutter of the Japanese test group COPAL on the previous EF camera. The shutter speed is not going up. One-tenth of a second, although the curtain shutter is small in sound, it is prone to moisture, mildew, and light leaks.

6. Build Quality is Poor (Too much plastic)

I am not satisfied with the material used on the AE-1. Too much plastic was used. The camera is a complete departure from the previous Canon cameras, such as the FTB. The AE-1 shows the start of Canon embarking on the road of plasticization, lightweight, and poor durability.

After the release of Canon AE-1 in 1976, Japanese SLR cameras showed a significant drop in workmanship and materials (except for PROFESSIONAL, such as Canon NEW F-1, Nikon F3). Of course, the function is more advanced, aperture priority, shutter priority, and program. Program exposure gradually becoming the standard.

In my blunt opinion, regardless of the three advantages of size, weight, and shutter priority, the camera’s workmanship and materials are defeated by Canon's FTB made in 1973.

The Canon FTB also has mirror lockup, full mechanical shutter, and QL for quickly loading film.

Not Worth Buying

This is a living example of the Canon AE-1. Although I am a Canon fan, the AE-1 is not worth buying. You can see a Canon AE-1 35mm film camera review here. There is no advantage when compared to other models. I highly recommend the Canon FTB. If you have used a FTB, you will see the difference in quality and regard the AE-1 as a cheap plastic toy.

For example, in terms of workmanship and materials, Canon FTB is equivalent to Pentax KX (K2) and Nikon's Nikkormat FTN (Nikon EL2), while AE-1 is equivalent to Pentax ME SUPER and Nikon FE. And the material drop is much worse. Of course, the Nikon FE's workmanship and materials are significantly better than the Canon AE-1 and Pentax ME SUPER.