A Look at a Classic Film Camera: The Canon A-1

Film photography has seen a bit of a resurgence in the last few years, and if you are just getting into it, the vast array of cameras out there can be a bit overwhelming at first. This great video review takes a look at a classic camera and a great choice for trying out film, the Canon A-1. 

Coming to you from Benj Haisch, this excellent video review takes a look at the Canon A-1. The A-1 is widely lauded as one of the most well-designed film cameras of its day — a tank with intuitive, easy-to-use controls. As it was released prior to the appearance of the EF mount, you will not be able to use your EF DSLR lenses on it, but FD lenses are widely available and generally quite affordable. Furthermore, because it was Canon's standard mount for several decades, just about any standard lens you desire is available, as well as some more esoteric options that allow you to experiment for less money than more modern equivalents. Beyond that, though, the A-1 is simply a ton of fun to shoot with, with controls reminiscent of modern Fujifilm cameras. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Haisch. 

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9 Comments

Art Mozak's picture

Was in a JC Penny store one time way back when and saw this neat little camera in the display case. Handled it and immediately fell in love with it. Bought it and loved it for years. In my humble opinion this was one of Canon`s finest examples.

John Rowland's picture

That was my first real camera. It was a work of art.

Tom Kinkel's picture

Maybe the worlds first multi mode camera as most Canon camera's were shutter priority automatic mode prior to this model , where most other manufacturers were predominantly aperture priority -a very feature laden model . The dreaded squeaky shutter noise that became a common shutter issue with these models .I have owned a few of these and saw many in for repair or service .Reliable yes but very hard to get good lenses as FD mount lenses are hard to repair or replace due to no more parts easily .I guess like most things that could be said of many old film cameras - but at a low price and needing repair be very careful .Sorry to spoil the party !

El Dooderino's picture

Thanks for this article!

The A-1 was my first *good* camera, and served me well for many years and many rolls of film!

(I still have it too!)

Tom Kinkel's picture

The Dude is one of my most loved characters, but In my opinion a lens mount that has more depth with recent lens options for mixing with digital bodies would be a K mount or Nikon Ai/Ais . Possibly a better long term option for someone looking to have Analogue and Digital integration ? It's about advice not a comp ( I still have my Horseman LX 5x4 and it works )

Jason Winters's picture

It's a fantastic machine. Old enough to give you the retro aesthetics and the feeling of 'making' rather than 'taking' photos, and yet advanced enough to feel familiar to any DSLR shooters.

The common shutter squeak (or more correctly mirror squeak) can easily be fixed with a screwdriver and syringe of sewing machine oil.

Tom Kinkel's picture

Fair comment Jason .My idea of introducing the user into what could possibly be a digital and or emulsion based format using the same lenses doesn't wear with FD lens mount options readily .But hey adaptors are out there .My point is to maybe think of this before discovering FD,MD or other glass .

Wesley Ramsey's picture

I love my A-1. Took it this last Austral Summer to my 5 month deployment in Antarctica.

Tom Kinkel's picture

What I am hearing is that many of responders love their cameras ,which is really nice .I am genuinely interested , is it because you have the camera and just like film or is it the experience .Or both?