The Canon AE-1 is definitely not heavy on the eyes, but maybe a bit heavy on the shoulder. Completely worth it though. Let me tell you why after the jump!
There are several reasons why it’s worth shooting with this Canon classic. The viewfinder is amazing—big, extensive, informative. When focusing on your lens, it is super easy to see that you’ve got your focus exactly right. When you hold the shutter button down, it will tell you if the shot will be under-exposed or not, depending on which aperture setting you’ve chosen. It will keep telling you it is over/under-exposed until you change the shutter-speed to a good speed. Another button will show you how much battery you have left (or more like when it’s time to change).
The shutter button is super smooth and easy to push down, almost instant reaction. For this purpose there’s a neat little lock on it — no unintended shots fired! Not to mention that the sound that the shutter makes is definitely pleasing on the ears. Same with pulling the lever/film forward. Absolute joy.
Multiple exposures on the same frame is super easy. Take your shot as normal, then don’t forward the film. Instead push in the little button on the bottom which you push in when your roll is full and you’re supposed to rewind the film. Push that in and THEN you pull the arm forward like you would if you’re advancing to the next frame. This tricks the camera into thinking that you’re not on the same frame and you’re then welcome to fire again!
The body is very WIDE. At least a good 3cm wider than the LC-A+, and for some reason, the advance wheel goes backwards, or clockwise. When you load film into the LC-A+ the advancing wheel turns counter-clockwise. This means you’ll waste one or two frames when loading the film, but I’ll show you in a bit that it’s really worth it.
It has a hot-shoe for flash devices, shutter speeds from 2 seconds to 1000/1 second. There’s also a Bulb mode which I haven’t quite figured out yet. It has the exact same hole in the shutter button as the LC-A+ does for attaching a cable release. It takes a whole bunch of lenses (and the used market is big) so just stick on a lens and go mad with it. You won’t be sorry, especially not if you like your pics a bit sharper.
Honestly, however, there’s only one downside to this camera (besides the weight, there’s a huge difference between this and your LC-A+, for example) — and that is the lack of a tiny hole at the back of the camera that shows you if you’ve loaded the camera with film or not. It does, however have a slit on the back where you can insert the cardboard box lid of the roll of film you have, to see which film you’re shooting with. But honestly, who keeps those little cardboard boxes? Not me anyway.
Here are some photos to show you why it’s worth shooting with the Canon AE-1:
I have a 35-70mm lens on mine and it works splendid. I don’t give the Canon as much love as it deserves because it’s a lot bigger and heavier to drag around, but it never ever disappoints me when I take it with me.