Now, I’m not saying the Canon AE-1 is THE best first camera, but from the big bright viewfinder to the “pew” sound of the shutter, it’s a pleasure to shoot with. The Canon AE-1 is a 35mm film SLR that made its debut in 1976. This camera features only 12 different shutter speeds going from 1 second to 1/1000 of a second. It is usually paired with a FD mount 50mm 1.8 and it is lovely.
1. It’s aperture priority
This simply means that you set the shutter speed and the camera will meter the appropriate f stop to set the lens to. By shooting on aperture priority as opposed to an automatic mode, you can start to see the relationship between shutter speed and aperture.
The majority of the body on this workhorse is made out of metal. It slightly heavy but feels great in the hand. It is usually paired with a FD mount 50mm 1.8 offering shallow depth of field and sturdy build quality. No matter how many times you bang, ding or drop this camera, it will still shoot. So got out and shoot fearlessly!
3. Film slows you down
Shooting on a roll of film limits you to 24 or 36 shots. This really forces you to be selective about the pictures take. From what you are shooting to the composition of the frame, everything comes into account. It is incredibly important for any beginner photographer to learn correct composition.
4. They look beautiful
Feeling confident when first getting into photography is essential. The AE-1 has the classic metal SLR look to it. Recent cameras such as the Fujifilm XT-1 or the Nikon Df have tried to emulate this stylish look. This camera is a joy to hang around your neck.
You can find them online for around $80, but a relative who used to be into photography probably has one, as they were one of the most popular film SLRs ever made. The Canon AE-1 is a great camera for people who are just getting into photography. I learned more looking through the viewfinder of this camera than years of shooting digital.