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Canon AV-1 Camera - Index Page

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Canon SLRs are synonymous with shutter speed priority automation in exposure control and it is kind of odd to discuss an aperture priority AE camera. But the AV-1 was a conventional looking, aperture priority automatic exposure (AE), single-lens reflex (SLR) camera just like most SLRs available during the late '70s and mid '80s. All you have to do is:

1) Mount the lens
2) Load and check the battery
3) Select an aperture (the f-number on your lens, which relates to diaphragm opening) best suit your needs on
Depth of Field control and snap, that's all.

"... Depite the fact that most manual focus SLR camera is quite easy to operate, but to avoid wasting good film, it is a good idea to play with the camera a little before loading your first roll. Operate the shutter release button and the film advance lever and practice holding the camera properly until you have mastered all the controls. The AV-1 nearly became the choice as my first ever 35mm SLR camera. Initially, I thought it was the only Canon SLR around until I came upon an advertisement in the local papers during the summer of 1982 - at the height of that year's World Cup '82 soccer championship held at Spain. That advertisement (Canon was the official 35mm camera) showed the whole line-up of the A-series models and the New F-1 pro camera.

From there, I was hooked on to the Canon AE-1 simply because it was touted as the world's best selling 35mm SLR camera, totally ignored the its replacement model, the AE-1 PROGRAM and the more advanced Canon A-1 model. Price differences between the AE-1 and its successor (which was cheaper) ended with me buying the latter. Years later in 1987, I had a chance to test the Canon AV-1 which belonged to a ..... actually, I can't remember whose camera it was but nevertheless, the camera performed superbly in my hands -- the professional photography course I took in New York from 1984-1986 paid off handsomely by enabling me to operate any camera and gets excellent results even when they have their limitations."  
- Kai Pin  -

Although Canon has highlighted the point where it is important to have the appropriate shutter speed to achieve a sharp picture and prevents blurred pictures that will be created due to unsteady camera movements, the Aperture priority AE mode still has its place in Canon's stable. In fact, other than Canon and Minolta which offered both Shutter-priority and Aperture-priority AE in one of their respective models (See Minolta's
XD-7 in within the MIR site), the other major camera manufacturers only have aperture priority AE as the prime automation for exposure control for their models until the mid-80s. Any AV-1 user can guess what the initials stands for - Aperture Value, which were also used by Canon to signify the Aperture-priority AE mode in all its cameras having this mode, including the models in the EOS System.

Even though there were more technicalities involved, the other way around should be more logical - because with electronically-controlled shutter, stepless shutter speeds like 1/189 sec or 1/25 sec can be made possible while mechanical aperture value control can never be made stepless or to such refined values as the shutter spee
d (However, the later Canon EOS System made it possible to do so). Well, that was a fussy remark because most of the time, other than the usage of less tolerance slide film, the printer in any of the numerous one-hour color lab can create more damage to your final print than the little exposure variation we are talking about.

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Just in case, if you don't know much of what this camera can do, reading the following will give you a quick idea. The AV-l:

It can use with Canon FD lenses or;
> with older Canon FL lenses;
> With Canon accessories for getting closer to little things;
> You can handle darkness just as broad day light
> Even with light behind your subject in daylight

All you need to do is turn the aperture ring on the lens to set an aperture, focus and press the shutter button. The camera does all the rest - provided the main control dial has been set to the "A" mark.. When shooting your subject under backlighting condition, you only need to push an extra switch to compensation for the exposure (Add more light to a backlit scene to make sure the eventual photograph won't turn out too dark).

The AV-1 uses Centre-weighted Average as its metering option. For excessive backlit situations, using the backlit compensation button may not be enough to provide the adjustment needed to ensure a correct exposure. In this case, move in closer to the subject until it fills up the frame (or when the brightly-lit area is hidden), press the backlit button, lock in the setting by maintaining finger pressure on the shutter button halfway, move back, recompose and shoot. Alternatively, if you are shooting with a zoom lens, just zoom in and get a close-up meter reading, lock it and zoom back to the focal length where you want to shoot the subject at.

It has a range of dedicated speedlites for you to cover the dark:

- With Canon Speedlite 133A
- With Canon Speedlite 155A
- With Canon Speedlite 177A
- With Canon Speedlite 199A

speedlite300TL8mdm.jpg Speedlite277T1mdm.jpg 199Aflashbmdm.jpg

Various Canon
Speeedlite models.

Just slip one of these flashes onto the AV-1, set an aperture on the flash, and set that same aperture on the lens. The flash would give out just the right amount of light to your subject. You can also shoot continuously at 2 fps (frames-per-second) wiith the Canon Power Winder A or even the newer Power Winder A2.You can use many of the other system accessories within the huge Canon FD photographic system. The AV-1 was one of the few Canon bodies that offered Aperture Priority AE mode instead of the more familiar Shutter Priority AE, an autoexposure feature that the camera manufacturer is very popular with. For those enjoys wuch simplicity of operation, the AV-1 camera is good enough to be used for most of the common photographic applications. I believe the Canon AV-1 is an extremely well made SLR camera and it offered a good performance for its price, but if you are looking for a used SLR body to start your photographic journey, please note that the manual focus Canon FD-mount system has been replaced with the autofocus, fully electronic-type of lens mount in the EOS System. The two system are not compatible with each other. You have to be alert on this if you are putting the AV-1 as one of your primarily consideration when looking for a used SLR camera. I like to ensure that any of the visitors to my site will be well informed on most facts pertaining to the discontinued Canon manual focus models.

There are some strength and weaknesses in the camera design as well, the most noticeable is still the use of the outdated
horizontal travelled fabric shutter curtain design (Contax, Nikon and Yashica have already used vertically-traveled metal-type of focal-plane shutters then), since its usage can affects other specifications such as the maximum sync speed that could be offered. Anyway, if you already bought an AV-1 camera, this site may be helpful for you to understand this camera better (or an orientation for some who doesn't know that the camera they have is the Canon AV-1 all these years..) - don't let what I have mentioned earlier to put you off, either. Sometimes, you tend to use 'modern standard' to measure an old faithful, which is not fair at times, despite my earlier remarks - given the price (below US$120 for a used unit), I would still rate the AV-1 as a very attractive option for entry-level photo enthusiasts.

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A Series: AE-1 | AT-1 | A-1 | AV-1 | AE-1 Program | AL-1
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FL | Canon FDn lenses. | Early versions of FD lenses

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Highly suggestive useful external links/resources created by Mr.Christian Rollinger:

Essentials: - Canon AV-1 Instruction Manual | Determine Years of Made of your Canon
Canon Flash models:- Canon 300TL flash(1.5MB); Macrolite ML-1(HTML); Macrolite ML-2; Macrolite ML-3; Speedlite 133a; Speedlite 155a(HTML); Speedlite 177a; Speedlite 188a(HTML); Speedlite 199a; Speedlite 244t; Speedlite 277t (HTML); Speedlite 533; Speedlite 577

Others:- Canon Auto Bellow Unit Manual; Canon Macro Photography Guide, Canon Slide Duplicator Manual, Canon Angle Finder User's Manual

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