Question: Canon date code with Omega

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by craigd, Aug 18, 2012.

  1. Yesterday I received a Canon AE-1 from KEH. They rated it as EX+ condition, and I have to say the thing looks and acts like it's fresh out of the box (aside from the missing black plastic hot shoe cover, which doubles as a key to open the battery compartment -- I imagine most used AE-1's are missing that part, and it's no big deal because a fingernail is adequate to get the battery compartment open). I took it out shooting this morning with a Vivitar Series 1 28-90 f/2.8-3.5 and a roll of no-name 100 ASA B&W negative film; pix forthcoming once I get the film developed.
    Anyway, the reason I'm posting at the moment is that I find the date code printed in the film compartment rather puzzling. It consists of a Greek capital Omega (Ω) followed by U 1250 (with a gap after the U). I read this as December 1980 (or January 1980 if the final character is a letter O, indicating that the camera was made at Canon's Oita factory, rather than a zero). This is a reasonable date for an AE-1, but the Omega puzzles me. A quick Google search turned up a couple of references to other AE-1's with Omegas (not all made in the same year), but no explanation of what Canon meant by it. Interestingly, I have not found any reference to an Omega in the date code of any other model; only the AE-1 seems to have it, and only some AE-1's at that.
    Because Omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet, it often is used to mean "final" or "the end" or "the ultimate"; for example, in the Christian Bible, Revelation 22:13 says, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." If this were a professional-grade camera, it might be argued that Canon was showing some hubris by claiming that the AE-1 is the ultimate camera, but this seems unlikely since (1) not all AE-1's seem to have the Omega, and (2) the AE-1 wasn't Canon's top of the line model (by 1980, it wasn't even the top A-series camera). Another idea I had was that it indicated the final year of AE-1 production, but the AE-1 wasn't discontinued until 1984, and there are other Omega AE-1's made in different years.

    Does anyone have an explanation for this mysterious Omega?
  2. Interesting question. Somebody like Mark Wahlster will know the answer.
    I have a similar peculiarity with an AE-1P. It has the date code X1231, so I assume it's from Dec 1983. All fine, except the X is preceded by two widely spaced parallel bars, like an equals sign, so it looks something like =X1231. I actually got out a magnifier to look at it-- it's not just an ink smear.
    Who knows. Sunny Saturday, time to get out and shoot. T90, Portra 160 I guess. You guys have a good weekend.
  3. I don't see such markings in the AE-1 Program I have.
    I'd suspect however, that the Ω is more a matter of how many of these things they made, rather than symbolic of "end" times.
    It is not true that a Japanese department store celebrated Xmas by having a Santa figure on a cross, but I am guessing that Christian/Greek symbolism is not foremost in most minds there.

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