Instructions for the Canon AE-1 Camera


The Canon AE-1 is one of Canon's earliest cameras, designed primarily for mid-level photographers who wanted more automatic features. The Canon AE-1 and the AE-1 Program are considered vintage cameras, and they were the first SLR cameras controlled by a CPU. The Canon AE-1 was built for durability, and an abundance of Canon AE-1s are still in use today. The Canon AE-1 is easy to master, has fast response from the light meter, and utilizes lenses that are known for their sharp images and contrast.

Attaching the Canon AE-1 Lens

  • Remove the rear lens cap from the supplemental lens by turning it counter-clockwise. Remove the lens cap from the body of the camera. Align the red dot on the lens with the red positioning dot located on the camera. Turn the lens clockwise until it stops and the lens release button pops up. Remove the lens cap by pressing in the two tabs located around the edges of the lens cover.

    Set the lens to AE (automatic exposure) by pressing the AE lock pin (located on the top of the lens) and turning the aperture ring clockwise until the "A" stops in alignment with the red dot on the camera.

Installing the Battery

  • The Canon AE-1 requires one 6V battery, made of either silver oxide or alkaline manganese. To install the battery, remove the viewfinder cover from the accessory shoe located on the top of the camera. Open the batter compartment cover (located on the front of the camera to the right of the lens) with the viewfinder cover by sliding the viewfinder cover tab beneath the battery compartment cover and lifting the battery compartment cover free. Insert the new 6V battery into the battery compartment as indicated on the legend inside the battery compartment. Return the battery compartment cover and press down until it clicks into place.

    To test the battery, press the battery check button located on the top of the camera. Look into the viewfinder while holding down the battery check button and you will see the meter needle at or below the battery check index of five. The standard battery life for a Canon AE-1 is about one year.

Loading the Film

  • To load film into the Canon AE-1, pull the rewind knob (located on the top left of the camera) until the back cover pops open. The Canon AE-1 uses standard 35-millimeter cartridges. Insert the film cartridge into the film slot on the left side and press down on the rewind knob, rotating it until the rewind knob drops into its natural position. Pull the film lead across the back of the camera and line up the teeth of the receiving spool with the perforations on the edges of the film so that the receiving spool can grab the film.

    Advance the film one time by pulling the film advance lever (located above the receiving spool on the top of the camera) and make sure the film is pulled taught. Close the back cover and snap a few blank images by pressing down on the shutter button.

    You are now ready to shoot with the Canon AE-1.

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