3 ways to use a Canon A 1 35mm camera

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3 ways to use a Canon A 1 35mm camera
3 ways to use a Canon A 1 35mm camera

The Canon A-1 is a legendary, influential and extremely sophisticated (for its time) manual focus camera from the late 70s that, like many other 35mm cameras, can be purchased at fairly affordable prices, yielding results. magnificent. If you've bought or inherited a camera like this, you might feel a bit discouraged if you're used to using fully automatic focus-and-shoot digital cameras. The following simplified instructions that we present below will guide you through the basic rules of preparing and using an A-1 camera.


Method 1 of 3: Basic Preparation

Step 1. Attach the lens to the camera body, if it is not already on

The following steps describe how to fit original FD lenses with a silver safety ring. That was the kind of lens that was typically sold with the camera back then. If your lens does not have the silver ring, then it is a "new" FD lens that emerged from the late 70s. Their instructions differ a bit. In the instructions that we present below, replace the part that talks about screwing in the silver safety ring, by turning the entire lens until you hear a click of total closure.

  • A 1_with_lens_removed_614
    A 1_with_lens_removed_614

    Remove the cap from the camera body, if the camera has one, as does the cap on the back of the lens.

  • A 1_FD_lens_part mounted_610
    A 1_FD_lens_part mounted_610

    Align the red dot on the lens with the red dot on the camera body and gently insert the lens into the camera body.

  • A 1_FD_lens_mounted_2
    A 1_FD_lens_mounted_2

    Turn the lock ring clockwise, that is, if you are looking at the camera from the front. It will not secure when you enter, but you will do it when you screw it in. Don't over-tighten it, just make sure it's firmly in place.


Step 2. Turn on the camera

Turn the main lever from "L" to "A". The Canon manual recommends leaving the lever at “L” (Locked = Closed) while the camera is not in use, to conserve battery power. This is not necessary if you are not using an automatic advance motor; just handle your camera with care (so you don't press the shutter continuously) and there will be no problem.
A 1_viewfinder_display_switch_582
A 1_viewfinder_display_switch_582

Step 3. Turn on the viewfinder screen

This is a small lever that is located on the left side of the camera (if you are looking at it from behind) right next to the selection dial on the ASA. Turn it clockwise to expose the white point. This will turn on the viewfinder screen.
A 1_viewfinder_blind_936
A 1_viewfinder_blind_936

Step 4. Open the visor curtain

The A-1s have a viewfinder curtain to stop light entering the viewfinder itself when taking long exposure shots using a tripod. This feature is great, but little used. If you haven't already, turn the small lever, which is located to the left of the viewer window, clockwise to open the curtain.
A 1_battery_test_219
A 1_battery_test_219

Step 5. Check the battery

THE A-1 is an electronically controlled camera and will not work if the battery is low or discharged. The shutter will not work. Press the battery test button (illustrated). If the light next to the shade button does not blink, the battery is dead. If the light is not flashing rapidly (several times per second), then it is low, and you will need to change it. Please use 4LR44 (aka A544) batteries when changing.

Step 6. Load the film

This is just like any other SLR (Single Lens Reflex / Single Lens Reflex) camera, which is loaded from the back of the camera body.

  1. A 1_rewind_knob_897
    A 1_rewind_knob_897

    '"Pull up on the film rewind button to open the back of the camera.

  2. A 1_film_loaded_39
    A 1_film_loaded_39

    Put the film inside the camera, and arrange the film guide to fit into one of the grooves. Make sure the bottom of the guide fits into the sprocket of the film conveyor.

  3. A 1_frame_counter_332
    A 1_frame_counter_332

    Close the back of the camera, press the shutter button and run the film with the lever until the marker indicates the number 1. As you run the film, look at the rewind button on the left; it must rotate every time you move the lever to run the film, if it does not rotate, it means that the film was not loaded correctly.

    A 1_ASA_dial_618
    A 1_ASA_dial_618

    Step 7. '"Select the speed of the film

    '"This is necessary for automatic exposure to work properly. The film speed dial is located around the shutter, and has a silver button on the side that releases it to allow speed selection, as shown in the picture. Illustration Press and then turn the knob until it marks the same ASA (and / or ISO) speed or sensitivity scale as your roll of film.

    A 1_with_FD_lens_on_A_307
    A 1_with_FD_lens_on_A_307

    Step 8. '"Select" A "on the lens aperture ring

    '"This will allow the camera to set the aperture automatically, and it should be done, unless you want to shoot in manual mode.

    Step 9. Now you are ready to go out and take pictures

    The next part of this guide will show you how to use cameras A-1.

    Method 2 of 3: Take Photos with the A-1

    A 1_AT_dial_guard_327
    A 1_AT_dial_guard_327

    Step 1. Remove the cover from the AT marker

    This is a cap for the marker that sets the shutter speed or lens aperture. Slide the cover down to expose the marker. This is the most important control on the camera, so practice adjusting it to get used to it.

    Step 2. Set the exposure mode

    The A-1 has three modes: Fully Programmed Automatic Exposure (fully Automatic); Shutter-Priority Auto Exposure, Aperture-Priority Auto Exposure; and Manual.

    • A 1_Program_mode_338
      A 1_Program_mode_338

      '"Fully Programmed Auto Exposure", the camera will automatically set the shutter speed and aperture. Turn the mode selection dial to "Tv" ("Time value / Time value", which is Canon's name for "Trigger Priority"), and at the AT marker select the green "P" (Programmed / Programmed) as your shutter speed. Most of the time, this selection is used, unless you are working with creative tricks of depth of field, or if you are using the shutter speed for creative effects. This selection was generally made for most of the photographic shots, since by 1978 no program changes could be made.

    • A 1_Tv_mode_154
      A 1_Tv_mode_154

      Shutter-Priority Auto Exposure, will allow you to select a shutter speed, and then the A-1 will choose an aperture automatically. If you want very fast or very slow shutter speeds for a creative effect, then use this mode. Turn the mode selection dial to "Tv" and select a shutter speed. Remember that the speeds marked in yellow on the dial are trigger speeds measured in "seconds", and the white numbers are fractions of a second.

    • A 1_Av_mode_542
      A 1_Av_mode_542

      Aperture Priority Auto Exposure it will allow you to select a lens aperture, and then the A-1 will select a shutter speed automatically. Use this mode if you want to use very wide or very small apertures (for example, for creative control of depth of field). Turn the mode selector dial to "Av" (Aperture value) and select an aperture on the AT marker to achieve Aperture Priority Auto Exposure. Note that this mode will not allow you to select apertures smaller than f / 22, but it should not be done anyway.

    • Fully Manual Exposure is the resource to use in very weak lighting conditions or in impossible lighting conditions. You can select fully manual mode by selecting "Tv" on the mode selection dial, and turning the aperture ring on the lens from "A" to your preferred aperture. You will need an external photometer to do this, as the A-1 does not have an overexposure and underexposure indicator in Manual mode.
    A 1_viewfinder_display_448
    A 1_viewfinder_display_448

    Step 3. '"Look through the viewfinder," and very slightly, "press the shutter button

    '"The shutter speed and aperture (either shutter or aperture, or both, or neither could be selected automatically) will be displayed in the viewfinder. If either, shutter speed or aperture blink, it means you've selected a shutter speed that is too fast or too slow for the larger or smaller apertures on your camera, or you've selected an aperture that requires a faster or slower shutter speed than the camera has available. a different aperture or shutter speed, if this is the case.

    Step 4. Focus

    The A-1 provides two useful focusing resources to ensure your shots are sharp. One is a divided image, directly in the center, that separates the images into two pieces, which align as the image is perfectly in focus. The other (even more useful) resource is a ring of microprisms around the outside of the split screen. This will make any blur much more obvious and easy to spot. When an image is out of focus, this area will flicker and show a fairly obvious "diagonal crosshair" pattern. Rotate the focus ring until the divided image is no longer divided, or until the image on the microprism ring is visibly sharp.

    A 1_exposure_compensation_451
    A 1_exposure_compensation_451

    Step 5. '"Set an exposure compensation, if required

    '"This feature of the A-1 forces the camera to underexpose or overexpose the shot to a certain amount of time. You will need this in difficult and inconsistent lighting conditions. Press the button to open the exposure compensation dial and turn it to the desired amount (you can do this in 1/3 pause increments). Turning the knob clockwise will underexpose you, and counterclockwise will overexpose you. In fact, dialing exposure compensation on the A-1 is annoying and difficult to do with one hand, and you may not want to bother with it. The ASA selection dial, on the other hand, can be changed with your fingertip Neither the ASA nor the exposure compensation dial will give you indications (other than by looking at them) that they have been forced to overexpose or underexpose, the difference between them is that the ASA dial has the advantage of being much easier to use..

    Step 6. Press the shutter button

    The viewfinder will temporarily go blank and the shutter will release. If you are using a self-timer, the film will advance itself to the next frame, otherwise you will have to rotate it manually. Keep taking photos until you finish the last frame. Pay no attention to the frame counter; you'll have reached the end of the roll when you can't turn it anymore (don't force it), or when the self-timer (if you're using one) can't turn anymore.

    Method 3 of 3: Download the Movie

    A 1_rewind_release_button_446
    A 1_rewind_release_button_446

    Step 1. '"Press the rewind release button on the base of the camera


    A 1_rewind_838
    A 1_rewind_838

    Step 2. '"Unfold the lever on the rewind button and turn it clockwise to return the film to its container

    '"The frame indicator will go backward as you turn the lever. Keep turning it until the rewind lever binds a little and suddenly turns freely. When this happens, it means that the film is fully inside its container.

    Step 3. Open the back of the camera by pulling the rewind button up

    The back of the camera will open. Remove the roll of film and reveal it. Load up another roll and continue enjoying this great classic camera.


    • A 1_gummed_up_shutter_63
      A 1_gummed_up_shutter_63

      Check that the shutter works before you load a movie. Among other problems, oil sometimes seeps from various mechanisms in the camera causing the shutter curtains to shrink, causing them to not separate when shooting at high speeds. In Tv mode, open the back of the camera, set the shutter speed to 1/500 or 1/1000, point the camera at a very bright light source, and shoot the camera multiple times while looking through the shutter button.. If you don't see (even briefly) light through the shutter curtains, the curtains are glued together. Contact a professional for repair, as the A-1 contains extremely delicate parts.

    • Under certain conditions, decreasing the aperture may cause the camera to jam. Do not panic. To remedy this problem, simply press the double exposure lever, advance one frame, and the camera will release. Many A-1s have been thrown away due to this small design flaw.
    • Before buying a used A-1, shoot it several times. This camera is known for having a "shutter squeak" due to old or lack of lubricants. This can be arranged at an honest camera service center, but it will cost you a considerable amount of money.

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