Nikon equivalent to Canon AE-1?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by rick_hensil, Jul 14, 2005.

  1. I love my Canon AE-1. Superb build quality, all-metal feel, but not
    too heavy, and beautiful manual focus lenses.

    However, I'd like to find the equivalent in Nikon--a solidly built
    manual-focus camera with some sort of autoexposure capabilities, and
    electronic shutter (My Canon F-1 is just too heavy).

    This way, as I expand my manual focus lens system, I can always slap
    the lens onto a D1x if I need some digital photos and then go on using
    the old camera as usual. I'd like to invest in some nice primes and
    don't want to be buying obsolete stuff.

    Man, if only Canon would make a one-off FD compatible DSLR...

  2. Try an FE or FE2. Slightly smaller than AE-1 (I think).
    Even with the MD12, it is still well-balanced. Each one has his own preferences. I'm sure you'll get a lot of suggestions. Feel the camera and see if it sits well in your hand.
  3. F3 or FM3a would fit the bill. The FM3a is current, so it's easy to service. The F3 is built like a tank, there are plenty around with some cosmetic wear but in perfect working order. Both are all-metal, and light compared with a pro-DSLR.
  4. Rick its hard to give a real "equivalent". So I will try to get something with a similar "feel" - not in the way it looks but better: in the way it operates. I liked my AE-1 a lot many years back.

    What you might want to do is to step up a little in terms of newer but reliable electronics. Look for a used F90X (is it 90s in the US?). These are cheap today and offer more than you asked for. These can be used as a semi-manual body. If you want to improve a lot with "ah" and "ohh" go for a used F100. These are tremendous values and are thrown on the market because everyone is going digital. Both bodies are good for older "AIS" (=MF) lenses and good for ASF lenses. Both bodies offer a good compromise of MF and AF function and work well in aperture and shutter priority. The F90 has no metal feel but is much better than it looks in stabilty. I would call it the "poor man" F100. Many older MF lenses can be a bargain e.g. at . There are many other choices ( like FM EM etc. ) and many will be posted below in no time :)

    A good source for info on the lenses you will ask about in your next post ^^ is this:

    You got a lot to catch up to .-) but its fun.
  5. The Nikon FG seems to have been fairly equivalent.
  6. Nikon's direct competition to the AE-1 was the FE2. If you want a new camera get the FM3a. If you want a small grip on the front and shutter prefered AE, like AE-1, get a used FA.
  7. Not that it's important, but just to set the record straight, the AE-1 was no more metal
    than an EM. That silver chrome look is just paint on plastic. Agreed that a shutter priority
    camera like an FG or FA are going to be the most similar.
  8. The direct competitor would surely have been the FE, and then later the FG. The FE-2 has a 1/4000 speed shutter that synced at 1/250th, and TTL flash. Those features are much more sophisticated than an AE-1.
  9. I had an AE-1. I bought it the 50 1.8 and a nice zoom and a flash for a hundred bucks. It was
    a very fun camera to use. I gave it to a young girl taking a photography class and she enjoys
    it too. The shutter priority was a strange choice vs. aperture priority but a really neat camera.
  10. I second the 90s but even the old N8008s was more advanced than the old AE and can now be bought for less than $150US - TTL even with extension tubes + enlarging lenses, 250 flash sync, auto focus - apert/shutter priority.
  11. The AE-1 didn't have a silver painted top cover. It was chrome plated the same as the FA, FG and a number of other cameras. Until plastic was accepted by buyers, makers wanted the cameras to look the same. Silver paint came years later.
  12. I sold cameras at the retail level off and on between 1979 and 1985 (college years for me). My personal bodies were FEs and FMs with MD-12s. In 1979, my brother bought an AE-1. I remember it well, as I went in the store with him as his 'expert', and I ended up talking to the manager afterwards and talked myself into a job. This was JAFCO, a 'catalog showroom' sort of place, and they had parked a gal hired as a cashier in the camera department, well beyond her skill set.

    Anyway, in those days, Nikon was still very much trading on its 'pro' cachet and just breaking in the 'consumer' plastic cameras. An FE was a brass-skinned body that sold for at least $100 more than the AE-1. We sold a *lot* of AE-1's. Nikon had the EM, which was a little cheaper than the AE-1, but the only real thing it had going for it was access to the Nikon system. The AE-1 was a better camera than the EM, and significantly cheaper than the FE.

    Fast forward to 1982 (when I was behind the counter in camera stores again): Nikon brought out the FG, which was a 'fair fight' with the AE-1 Program. Roughly the same price, they both offered the newfangled 'program' mode, and the FG added TTL flash capability. TTL flash was a tough sale at the beginner level these cameras were aimed at, but I probably sold at least as many FG's as AE-1P's. The cheaper Nikons felt more 'plasticky' than the equivalent Canons (probably in part due to Nikon choosing to market a black 'plastic' finish while Canon stuck with only 'chrome plate' for most of those years); we spent a lot of time convincing folks that they were equivalently built in 'toughness'.

    A year or so later (1983), Nikon brought out the FE-2. Arguably a 'pro' camera with the brass skins and all, it had the TTL flash from the FG and the killer shutter that had come up through the FM2 line (though now 'electrified' with automation). Still didn't sell as many of these as the Canon stuff, because the price reflected the additional 'value' (build quality) of the camera.

    The FA came out about the same time as the FE-2, and we always had trouble selling it. It seemed to be all about 'more bells and whistles, less rugged'. At a premium price, we couldn't move it.

    So much for the history lesson (from one guy's perspective). FE or FE2 if you want that 'all metal' feel in a compact and light camera. Maybe an F3 if you want a feel closer to your F1. I have not compared size / weight of F3 to F1, but I would not be surprised to find the F3 to be smaller, lighter, and 'rounder' than the equivalent Canon. May be worth a look.
  13. many thanks, everyone! I am going to try out an FG and an FE2 and get one of those.
  14. What about the Nikon FA? It seems pretty cheap, and even better than the AE-1??

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