Canon A-1 with 50mm f1.4 FD Lens

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The Canon A-1 might just be the greatest camera ever made. At the very least, it was the first SLR to offer an electronically controlled programmed autoexposure mode. It’ll take any lens with the Canon FD breech lock mount (introduced in 1971) or Canon New FD pseudo-bayonet mount (sometimes called the FDn mount, introduced 1979), and it can also use most earlier FL lenses and some even older R (or Canomatic) series lenses, albeit with reduced functionality. That’s a whole lotta of great, fantastically cheap glass!

It’s gorgeous too. Look at it. Look at that angular 1970’s SLR styling. Molto bene. Where was I? Oh yeah. The thing to note about the A-1’s program mode, is that you could choose to ignore it and instead party like it's 1954 and have fully manual exposure; turn the lens off "A" and to your preferred aperture and set the shutter speed in Tv mode. There. You weirdo.

The A-1 has centre-weighted through-the-lens metering, which is dead-on accurate. Pick your spot, focus, lock exposure using the top little button located to the lest of the lens, frame and fire away. The whole thing runs on one A544 cell, AKA 4LR44 and while the camera won't work at all without a battery, these cost next to nothing to replace and fit in your car's ashtray.

The viewfinder is a huge, bright SLR pentaprism and this one is super clean, making focusing a joyous thing. While we’re in the viewfinder, it bears mentioning that there’s an integrated viewfinder blind. Flick a switch and a little shutter will block out the viewfinder at the eyepiece, which is useful if you're doing long exposures. Neat.

Of course, the FD mount is now obsolete. Canon completely broke backwards-compatibility when they introduced the Canon EOS autofocus system in 1987. Canon FD lenses will not work on an EOS camera. This is a good thing. You can get some superb lenses for tiny money, making this the best camera, pound for pound, that you can buy today. It would have typically been sold with a 50mm f/1.8 when it was new but we very recently came across a beautiful f/1.4 that I’ve paired with this body and it’s…stunning.


  • Sensitivity range: ISO 6-12,800
  • Mount: FD mount
  • Winding film: lever
  • Rewind film formula: crank
  • Shutter: Priority AE (AutoExposure) mode, exposure compensation
  • Shutter speed: range 2 sec to 1/1000 plus B
  • Flash sync at 1/60
  • Battery: 1 x 4LR44 or PX-28 
  • Weight: 620g
  • Dimensions: 92x141x48mm


This is a Canon A-1 with 50mm f/1.4 lens, in very good cosmetic, mechanical and optical condition. Shutter is healthy, meter is spot on, viewfinder is clearest we've seen in many a year, lens is clear, fungus-free and spotless.  Some signs of wear to baseplate, standard for a black-bodied camera of this age.

Fully tested and guaranteed for 6 months

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