Dave Sims , Apr 02, 2006; 12:38 p.m.
If you're used to the AE-1, I'd suggest the last model (post-1981) F-1, often called an F-1N here. It feels like an AE-1 or AT-1 on steroids-- many of the controls are different, and it's heavier, but it's about the same size and it feels similar in use.
The last model F-1 will work with the battery removed for the high speeds (flash sync or faster). The earlier F-1s will work without a battery at all speeds. Of course, all the meters are battery-dependent, but the last model F-1 has a way better meter (a sensitive silicon photodiode).
I think the F-1N is a 'better' camera than the A series Canons, and it has that satisfying feeling of solidity and precision you'd expect for their professional system camera. Having said that, I still find I take some of my best shots with my AE-1P, because the darn thing is just so easy to use. They're all good cameras-- you can't get around that.