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

Discussion in 'Canon FD' started by ben_bradley|1, Apr 2, 2006.

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. awahlster

    awahlster Moderator

    Take a gander at this comparison chart:
  4. 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.
  5. d2f


    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.
  6. 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.
  7. I sold my T-90 and I cant's sleep sinze then :(
  8. I sold my T-90 and I can't sleep sinze then :(
  9. Hi,

    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.


  10. A-1, A-1, A-1, A-1...seriously, A-1. Paul
  11. The T-90 and F1N are both superb cameras, so it really depends on which you prefer. I tend
    to shoot more often with the F1N because the finder is brighter (with the acute laser matte
    screen), and because I like the brick-like feel of it. On the other hand, the T90 has the best
    ergonomics of any camera I have ever used (many, from 35mm, rangefinders and SLRs to
    DSLRs to MF and 4x5). It also has a superb metering system (integral, center weighted, and
    spot (which will actually average up to 5 individual spot readings for you)), speeds to
    1/4000th, an integrated 4fps motor drive and AE, Tv and P built in. It is probably the most
    fully featured manual SLR you can buy. I also use a Leica R9, which is superb, but even it
    doesn't have all the features of the T90 (missing the integrated motor drive).
  12. One of the things that the F1N is known for is brassing, not that it affects your pictures but still for an $800 camera in the early 80's you'd think the paint would stand up to amateur wear at least.<p>

    The F1N had a 97% viewfinder coverage whereas the A series had 93% making the F1N a better choice for shooting slides.<p>

    If you want or need any automation, the F1N would be a better choice.<p>
  13. Jay -- I have heard that 92% is the preferred coverage for slides. I believe that is
    approximately how much the slide mounts cover. I could be wrong of course...
  14. Stuart, you could be right. But my thinking is that the less you see in the viewfinder what will actually be recorded on film, then it will be more difficult to compensate your framing to allow for slide mounts.<p>

    I've had occaisions where branches and weeds I swore were not in my A1's 93% viewfinder but ended up on film. <p>

    I think that's one of the reasons why so many people like the Nikon F3/F3HP for it's 100% viewfinder coverage you see exactly what will be on the slide.<p>

    This all assumes that a person is a purist and refuses to crop or clone out little things that crept into the frame after scanning.
  15. I have a AE1 and a F1N (the last model). The AE1 developed electronic gremlins that were cost prohibitive to fix. Seriously, while I like the AE1, there is nothing wrong with it and its a great consumer camera, in my mind there is little to compare bewteen an F1 and an AE1. The AE is a consumer camera with some advanced features, while th F1's are pro bodies with all that this brings to the table: extensive system of accesories, far more rugged, etc. I really enjoy the F1N, however I wish the mirror lock up from the old F1's was retained. If you want a totally battery independant camera, the F1N is not for you, but it is a reliable,robust camera that retains a great deal of functionality after the battery dies.
    As far as the coverage of the view finder, I think its always preferable to see all that the negative will capture, or as close to it. Its always better to adjust for slide mounts,etc., than not see what is there at all. I find nothing beats the viewfinder of a Nikon F3 - its a thing of beauty, but I find my F1N to be very good indeed. I would invest the money in an F1 - they are very afordible right now, given what they cost when new, and feature for feature, you actually get more for your money than with an AE1. One thing that I would look into is the excellent, and underappreciated Canon EF. Basically a original F1 (minus interchangeable screens and motor drive abiity) body, with a vertical travel shutter, flash hot shoe and high for that time flash synch of 1/125th sec. Its a great and rugged camera that sometimes slips under the radar of the used market.
    I also think that recommending a T90 or A1 to someone concerned with battery-reliance is a bit silly, good cameras though they are.

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