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ae-1 vs. f-1 (pros and cons)

Ben Bradley , Apr 02, 2006; 10:35 a.m.

hello all,

in the past couple years i have been shooting mainly medium format. however, i still have my first camera-- a canon ae-1-- for walking around or going on a daytrip. recently, my dad's ae-1 went to the great camera resting grounds, and i am thinking of giving him mine, since it works perfectly well. the question is, what to replace it with: another ae-1, or with an f-1? i am a little unclear on what differentiates the one from the other. at the heart of it, is it just that the f-1 is more mechanical? (ie: it does not NEED a battery to work like the ae-1 does)

thanks for your time!


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Dave S , 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.

Mark Wahlster , Apr 02, 2006; 01:07 p.m.

Take a gander at this comparison chart:


Chris Waller , Apr 02, 2006; 01:49 p.m.

As the owner of four F1s (and nearly a fifth, but the bank account couldn't take the hit!) I'd have to say it's the F1 all the way. Yes, it will work without a battery, so you will never be let down due to battery failure and it's as tough as old boots. They don't build 'em like that any more.

Don Farra , Apr 02, 2006; 06:19 p.m.

Like yourself I am a medium format shooter who carries a 35mm for those times where fast action or portablility is a necessity. I own both AE-1 (& AE-1 program) and F-1N, and rarely use either anymore, but instead recommend the T-90 over both. The F-1N is heavy and match the AE-1, requires the AE prism for autoexposure, and a motor drive for full autoexposure capabilites. The T-90 manual and AE operations, and has a built-in motor drive and much lighter and has a higher sync speed for outdoor fill flash operations. The F-1N has 100% viewfinder whereas the others are closer to 95%. The F-1N is built solid and can take professional abuse. The T-90 has been out in the misty rain with me and has continued to operate. The T-90 has various metering patterns built-in, the F-1N requires you to change the focusing screen to get a different metering pattern (they run about $60 a pop). The T-90 also has interchangeable focusing screens should you need to change it. The F-1N shutter is built to last a lifetime, the AE-1 shutter will start to make noises over time, my T-90 make no such noises after many years of heavy use. The T-90 operates off AA batteries (don't use high power AAs) whereas the AE-1 and F-1N uses smaller specialized photo batteries, no difference unless you forget to bring a spare, at which point I dump the flash batteries to keep the T-90 going, the AE-1 and F-1N don't have that option.

Well that is my two cents on this subject.

John Crowe , Apr 02, 2006; 09:35 p.m.

The T-90 is extremely convenient. I had mine for 20 years and because I used it regularly the shutter worked perfectly. If you can find one that is well worn on the body it will likely perform better than one that looks new. If you are going to get an A series camera and risk spending $100 to fix the mirror squeal and seals then get the A-1 for it's flexibility. I would probably choose the latest F-1 over the A series though.

Luis Triguez , Apr 03, 2006; 08:53 a.m.

I sold my T-90 and I cant's sleep sinze then :(

Luis Triguez , Apr 03, 2006; 08:56 a.m.

I sold my T-90 and I can't sleep sinze then :(

T-90 70-210 FD

dirk Dom , Apr 04, 2006; 02:56 a.m.


I'd also recommend a T90 camera.

I own two A - 1's and two F1 - N's, and since I bought the T90 three years ago I didn't use them any more. The T90 is just so much a better camera! also bought the TL 300 dedicated T90 TTL strobe, and a clear viewing screen, without microprisms.



Paul Maslanka , Apr 04, 2006; 12:36 p.m.

A-1, A-1, A-1, A-1...seriously, A-1. Paul

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