James's Camera Collection: Canon AV-1

Canon AV-1 Japan Other Canon Cameras 35mm cameras
Canon AV-1
Camera type: Single Lens Reflex (SLR)
Lens Mount: FD bayonet/breech
Format: 35mm film
Battery: one PX28 or equivalent
Approx. dates of manufacture: 1980 - 1987
Approx. original price: $200
Approx. street value: $20

My collecting nightmare is over. I have an AV-1.

This is a camera I've never wanted. It's the low end of Canon's A series and it's the least capable. It was made in the early 1980s when 35mm SLRs were at their height of consumer popularity. Automatic exposure had made them attractive to people who enjoyed photography and wanted better quality than Instamatic and Polaroid cameras were giving, but they didn't want to be bothered by shutter speeds and apertures and such. Yet cameras like the AE-1 still looked complicated.

So they came out with this thing, which is almost the opposite of the AE-1; whereas the AE-1 was shutter priority, this was aperture priority. But where the AE-1 has shutter speed controls so you can shoot full-manual if you want, this one does not. It's aperture priorty, full auto, or nothing.

One nice thing I noticed is that they revised the battery door (left side on photo). On the other A-series cameras there's a little latch you have to push sideways to open the door. If you had the little plastic slide cover that fits in the hot shoe, it was the tool you used to pop the door open. Unfortunately nearly anyone who bought a flash lost that cover 10 minutes later. I know I did, and I was careful not to lose it. So thereafter if you wanted to open the door, you had to use a screwdriver or a car key or a longer fingernail, and a lot of these door latches broke.

click for larger ad This one has a little up slide switch that can be pushed by a fingertip. Nice.

This brings me to the nature of collecting, and I'm really on the fence about this. Part of me wanted this camera because it represents a hole in my collection. I have many holes in my collection, but with this I can say "I have all of the Canon A series." Another part of me wonders why this is important. I'll never run a roll of film through the AV-1 unless I want to test it. Most of the cameras I get are interesting or they offer something that I don't already have. But this AV-1? It's the same reason I was slow to acqure a Canon TX, an FP, various Rebels or most of the sundry Sure Shots and Snappies that fill the back shelves in thrift shops.

So I got it, along with a bag and a couple lenses and flashes. And sooner or later I'll get the sundry Rebels, etc. I'll find one that's broken or unwanted for $10 or so, or it'll come in a lot with another other body or a lens that I do want. I'll get it and it'll fill a gap in the collection and I'll sleep a little easier, for reasons I don't really understand.

For more information: Canon Camera Museum

Camera manual: Orphan Cameras.com

©opyright by James Ollinger. All Rights Reserved.