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“The Canon A1 35mm SLR is a classic camera, surpassed...”

Written on: 17/05/2006 by Ieuanfawr (68 reviews written)

Good Points
The A1 system is totally comprehensive, and at the time of its launch, was arguably the state of the art complete 35mm SLR. Terrific lenses. The aspherical and perspective correcting ones are very expensive.

Bad Points
Relatively slow shutter speed with flash (1/60 sec); camera totally dependent on battery - there is no manual option if the battery fails, so always a have a spare in your bag. Flash sensor is on the flash, not TTL.

General Comments
The Canon A1 35mm SLR is a classic camera, surpassed only by the F1.

I have had mine since about 1980, and have four lenses: 2 zooms and two fixed focal length. I also have the 199 Speedlight which is very powerful, and will work with lenses as wide as 24mm. I did have the motor drive (now sold) which was quite remarkable. It would consume 36 frames of film in about 5 secs, and the batteries didn't last much longer. The Speedlight could keep up for bursts of 4 or 5 frames before needing to recharge.

From being state of the art, it now seems a bit dated, being large and heavy - very heavy with a 300mm lens, motor drive, and flash. However, it was always forgiven for this as the quality of the transparencies or prints was superb. There was never any concern about enlarging Kodachrome64 to 20" 30".

Swapping lenses is a simple one-handed job, and when I dropped my f4 35-70mm zoom, it was reset by a specialist in Liverpool.

Over the years I have it serviced there several times, and only a broken battery door ever needed replacing. It has been frozen in the foothills of Everest, soaked in Snowdonia and fried in the Arizona desert. The leather case has protected it, and even though the case itself is all but wrecked, the camera itself is in good condition. It has never failed despite the testing environments.

It is easy to use in all modes, and I found that metering at normal light levels was very accurate.

My greatest wish is that I could change the back for a an 8 Mega-Pixel digital receptor!

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