Retro chic – Canon AE-1 (1976)

What’s the story?The Canon AE-1 caused something of an “iPod moment” in the world of SLRs. In tech terms it was no groundbreaker – it still used film

What’s the story?The Canon AE-1 caused something of an “iPod moment” in the world of SLRs. In tech terms it was no groundbreaker – it still used film and had interchangeable lenses – but the AE-1 made a few subtle changes to the SLR blueprint that meant it sold like cheddar cocktails during happy hour at a mouse disco. It was aimed at amateur snappers looking for a little more power, and by using fewer parts and injection-moulded plastic rather than metal, Canon created an auto-SLR for the masses, not the massively rich.Why should I want one?Rather than big clunky mechanical elements, the AE-1 used a built-in CPU to control all its actions. Darkroom-dwelling purists bemoaned the over-automation of the picture-taking process, but features such as auto-exposure helped to entice amateur snappers even more. Over five million were sold, which makes finding second-hand ones simple.What to look foreBay is flooded with pre-owned AE-1s. Most show wear and tear, but aside from a dead battery here or a dirty viewfinder there they tend to be in decent working order. Even if you do end up with a duff one, spare parts are easy to come by. There’s even a decent selection of cases, accessories and extra lenses up for grabs too.

Price on eBayYou can pick up an AE-1 from around £35.

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