Canon A-1 introduced in 1978 and in production until 1985. The A-1 is both an overly complicated and a dead simple SLR.
Appropriate that this is my 25th of a goal of 50 cameras to shoot this year. Finding the A-1 was like running in to an old friend I haven't seen in 30 years. I purchased a new A-1 in about 1979 when I lived in Japan. It came to the US with me to University but "disappeared" during a post university move. Until this project, that was the last time I owned anything close to a legit film camera.
The past owner of this one told me he worked in Saudi Arabia and used the camera there. From the looks of it he had successfully smuggled much of the country home. It remind me how many button the A-1 has and what a pain it is to keep dirt out of the crevices. All the buttons mean load of functionality. Aperture priority - check, shutter priority - check, full manual - check, full auto - check, the A-1 does it all and more. Trying to figure out all the option is overwelming but getting to where you can just use it is simple.
I like this camera. It is versatile but simple when you need it to be. That said it does have some down sides. First it is loud! Especially after some of the quite rangefinder and other cameras I have shot in this project. The shutter on the A-1 will scare you and your subject the first time you use it. It has all the benefits of an SLR when it comes to focus. The A-1 uses the FD mount system that is now an orphaned format. That can be good thing because they can be cheaper but don't plan to buy a new one. This would be a great starter camera for a serious new film user who want all the capability but does not want to spend much. I spent US$40 for the body, lens, strap and very stylish 1980s camera case.
Lens: Canon FD 50mm f1.8
Film: FujiColor 100