Lomopedia: Canon A-1

Beautifully styled and packed with impressive features, the Canon A-1 is an advanced level 35mm SLR camera manufactured by Canon in 1978 in Japan. Find out more about this notable camera in this installment of Lomopedia!

Manufactured from April 1978 to 1985, the Canon A-1 was a top-of-the-line 35mm SLR camera from Canon’s A-series. It had a unique and stylish design, and unlike most SLR cameras of its time, it was available only in all-black. The A-1 was a historically significant camera for having the first fully automatic AE mode, preset aperture-priority AE, and Speedlite AE mode aside from the shutter speed-priority AE and aperture-priority AE modes. It was also one of the first cameras that relied completely on battery power.

Photo via Canon Camera Museum

Technical Specifications:

  • Type: 35mm SLR (Single-Lens-Reflex) camera with electronically controlled, multiple-mode AE (automatic exposure) and focal plane shutter.
  • Format: 24 × 36mm.
  • Photographic Modes: Six modes, including 5 AE modes — Shutter-speed priority AE, Aperture priority AE, Programmed AE, full AE flash photography with specified Canon electronic flashes, and stopped-down AE, as well as manual override.
  • Interchangeable Lenses: Canon FD lenses (usable with 4 full aperture metering AE modes and with stopped-down AE) Canon FL lenses (usable with stopped-down AE).
  • Standard Lenses: Canon FD 55mm and 50mm lenses.
  • Viewfinder: Fixed eye-level pentaprism.
  • Field of View: 93.5% vertical and 95.3% horizontal coverage of the actual picture area.
  • Magnification: 0.83X at infinity with a standard 50mm lens.
  • Focusing Screen: Standard split-image microprism rangefinder
  • Viewfinder Information: Displayed in the form of LED digital readout below the visual field. Includes shutter speed, aperture, flashing warning of incorrect exposures and settings bulb indication, charge completion indicator with specified Canon flash units, manual aperture control signal, error indication for incorrect stopping-down operation. Shutter speed and aperture data displayed in 1/2 step increments. Viewfinder information can be cancelled by turning off the viewfinder display switch.
  • Eyepiece Shutter: Built-in. Keeps out extraneous light during self-timer or remote control operation.
    Mirror: Instant-return type with shock-absorbing mechanism No image cut-off in the viewfinder even with the FD 400mm telephoto.
  • AE Mechanism: Electronically controlled. Employs 3 LSIs with 12L, one Linear LSI and one Bi-MOS IC for light metering.
  • AE Mode Selection: By means of the AE mode selector. Two main settings: Tv for shutter-speed priority AE, Av for aperture priority AE.
  • Light Metering System: Through-the-lens (TTL) Central Emphasis metering by silicon photocell located just above eyepiece lens. Light reaches the silicon photocell after passing through a Fresnel lens condenser.
  • ISO Film Speed Setting: ISO 6 to ISO 12830 in 1/3 step increments. With lock.
  • Meter Coupling Range: EV—2 to EV 18 at ISO 100 with FD 50mm f/1.4 lens. In the programmed AE mode, meter coupling range depends on the programmed shutter speed and aperture combinations.
    Exposure Compensation: +2 f/stop scale gradations in increments of 1/3 of a gradation, with 1/4, 1/2, 1, 2, and 4 markings.
  • Exposure Memory: EV is stored and locked when the exposure memory switch is pressed. When pressed, the shutter-speed/ aperture combination can be changed for the same EV stored in the memory.
  • Exposure Preview: Viewfinder digital readout activated by pressing the shutter button halfway, or by pressing the exposure preview switch or the exposure memory switch.
  • Stop-down Lever: Operates when pushed in. Stopping-down an FD lens is possible only when the aperture ring is disengaged from the “A” mark.
  • Manual Override: Possible by disengaging the FD lens from the “A” mark and setting the AE mode selector to Tv. Aperture manually controlled with aperture ring, shutter speed with AT dial.
    Shutter: Cloth focal plane shutter with four spindles. Electronically controlled, stepless, from 30 sec. to 1/1000 sec. Shock and noise damper mechanisms are incorporated.
  • Shutter Speed Scale: B, 30, 15, 8, 4, 2, 1, 2, 4, 8,15 30, 60, 125, 250, 500, 1000 plus P (with the AE mode selector at Tv). “P” setting is required for programmed AE mode. Intermediate speeds not on the scale cannot be set.
  • Aperture Scale: 1.4 2 2.8 4 5.6 8 11 16 22 (with the AE mode selector at Av).
  • Shutter Release Button: Oversized, 2-step button with electromagnetic shutter release. Pressing it halfway activates meter circuit; pressing it all the way sets shutter in operation. Can be locked by setting the main switch to “L” to prevent accidental shutter release. With cable release socket.
  • Power Source: One 6V silver oxide battery (Eveready No. 544, UCAR No. 544, JIS 4G13, Mallory PX28) or alkaline manganese battery (Eveready No. 537, UCAR No. 537, Mallory 7K34). The battery lasts approximately one year under normal use. Battery is loaded into the battery chamber on the front of the camera body.
  • Battery Check: A red LED on top of the camera flashes on and off to indicate power level when the battery check button is pressed. Flashing frequency decreases with power level.
  • Main Switch: 2 positions — “A” and “L”. At “L” all circuits are off and the shutter button is locked as a safety feature. Doubles as self-timer lever.
  • Cancellation of Camera Circuit: Shutter and self-timer operation cancelled by setting main switch to “L” or by pressing battery check button.
  • Multiple Exposure: Possible by setting multiple exposure lever before winding film advance lever to recock shutter. Frame counter does not advance. Unlimited.
  • Self timer: Electronically controlled. Activated by pressing shutter button. A choice of 2 or 10 seconds time lag is available. Red LED flashes on and off to indicate its operation. Flashing frequency increases 2 sec. before shutter release.
  • Flash Synchronization: X-synch at 1/60 sec., FP- and M-syneh at 1/30 see. and slower.
  • Flash Coupling: Accessory shoe has contacts for directly coup" Ied flash units and automatic flash control contacts for automatic exposure. JIS-B (PC) type flash terminal with shock preventive rim on front of the body.
  • Automatic Flash: Full AE flash photography with Canon Speedlites 199A, 177A, 155A and 133A. Shutter speed automatically set. Aperture automatically controlled according to the flash settings.
  • Back Cover: Opened by pulling up rewind knob. Removable for attaching Data Back A. With memo holder.
  • Film Loading: Easy film loading with multi-slot take-up spool.
  • Film Advance Lever: Single-stroke 120° throw with 30° stand-off. Winding with several short strokes is possible. Automatic winding possible by mounting Canon Motor Drive MA or Power Winder A.
  • Frame Counter: Additive type. Counts back frames as film is rewound. Automatically resets to “S” upon opening back cover. Does not advance during multiple exposure.
  • Film Rewinding: By pressing the rewind button and cranking the rewind knob. Rewind button automatically resets when the film advance lever is turned.
  • Other Safety Devices: Camera will not function when power level is insufficient. Use of self-timer is impossible with shutter speed set at “B”. Film winding is impossible while shutter is in operation. Lockable controls.
  • Size: 141 × 91.5 × 47.5mm (5-1/2″ × 3-5/8″ × 1-7/8") body only.
  • Weight: 620 g (1 lb. 6 oz.) body only, including battery. With the 50mm f/1.8 lens: 830g (1 lb. 12-3/16 ozs.). With the 50mm f/1.4 lens: 860g (1 lb. 14-5/16 ozs.)
Von: emkei, yukayy, eskimofriend, undiscovered, herr_zeit, poepel & bravebird

All information for this article were sourced from Canon A-1 on Wikipedia, Canon A-1 on Mir.com, and Canon A-1 on Camerapedia.

written by plasticpopsicle on 2013-09-16 in #reviews

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