Canon AV-1

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Canon AV-1

In the late 1970s, camera makers tried to be all things to everybody. The high-end, pro models were partially stripped down to cater to prosumer buyers. The low-end, mass market had models designed just for that, whereas camera makers relied on brand recognition and the prestigious SLR hump looks. The only stumbling block was the controls plethora on the camera bodies that required the amateur to navigate through too many confusing choices.

With light meters now embedded in all models, camera makers offered idiot-proof cameras, going the extra mile to simplify it, from film loading to exposure setting. Pentax ME, Yashica FRII, Cosina CT-10 and Nikon EM all subscribed to this dogma.

The AV-1 is Canon’s contribution to this trend. A smallish, lightweight body with few self-explanatory controls. All you need is found on the top fascia. On one side, an off/on lock around the trigger and a mode dial with four options: A for auto, 60, marked with a lighting symbol, for flash gun use, B, and self-timer options, available with or without firing the flash. A red light at the top front flashes with the self-timer. On the other side of the top is a prominent film speed dial, press the button to change the value; and a little black button for battery check. A backlight compensation lever is at the left of the lens barrel base, adding 1.5 stops when needed.   This model does not have a QL loading assist. Perhaps to keep costs at bay.

Set the main dial to A, select the preferred aperture value, and the camera will do the rest, with the needle in the viewer showing the selected shutter speed, 2 to 1000. Note that the shutter is stepless, so the displayed shutter speeds are simulated, closest to the actual.

A downside is that while other models can still shoot without a battery, the AV-1 is dead without power. The battery is set in the finger grip at the front, under the logo. The battery is aptly named 4LR44, which is just what it is. If you do not have one, tape together four LR44 batteries, and you are good to go. The slotted cover and contacts at the bottom are for connecting a power handle.

List number 1521
Brand Canon
Model AV-1
Manual Buktus
Value AV-1 chrome
AV-1 black
Format 35mm
Introduced 1979
Country Japan
Qty made
Initial price 5700
Currency Yen
Type Compact SLR
Body material Metal
Mode Auto, AP
Weight 490 gr,  Body only
Class average weight 620 gr,  Body only
ASA range 25-1600
Kit lens 1,8/50
Lens make Canon
Filter size 55 mm
Lens mount Bayonet
Mount size FD Mount
Shutter Focal plane cloth horizontal
Shutter make
Light meter TTL, CdS
Winder Lever
Lock Yes
Speeds B, 2-1000
Mirror Auto return
Viewer Fixed eye-level prism
DOF preview No
Exposure lock No
Exposure compensation For backlight
Shoe Hot
External sync No
Sync speed 60
Timer No
Battery, original 4LR 44
Battery, replacement 4LR 44
Battery voltage 6
Integral flash None
Service / repair links See
More Mike Eckman

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