Canon AE-1 Program

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The AE-1 Program is a 35mm SLR camera made by Canon in 1981. Canon describes it as a successor to the enormously successful AE-1, released five years earlier.[1] though in some ways it is also accurate to call it a budget version of the more upmarket A-1. Many users wanted an entry-level SLR with the 'Program' (auto exposure) mode found on the A-1, whereas the earlier AE-1 has only shutter-priority AE (and metered-manual exposure). For this reason, when designing its successor, Canon added a program AE mode to the specification, and the AE-1 Program became even more popular than the AE-1.

Canon also upgraded the available power winder (winder A2 replacing the A1), and the camera can also be used with Motor Drive MA.[1] The camera also has the A-1's 'Action Grip', the detachable (and so frequently lost) grip on the front right of the body, which lets the user more securely and comfortably hold the camera one-handed (with the right hand only.) The camera looks very similar to the original AE-1, but is internally quite different.[2]

The A-series SLRs were built using some plastic parts (including metallised plastics for top and bottom covers, not always recognised as plastic) to a varying extent (the A-1 has less plastics than the AE-1P, including metal top and bottom covers; the AV-1 has more). This has sometimes been criticised as simple cost-cutting, but probably contributed as much to reducing the weight of the cameras, in a period when several Japanese makers were already doing this (as in, for example, the Pentax ME and Olympus OM-1).

Like all the A-series cameras, the Program can develop a 'squealing' fault of the mirror brake. This can be remedied by re-lubricating the mechanism. Failure to correct the fault can eventually lead to irreparable damage. Like the A-1 and AE-1, the Program's battery compartment door (a plastic part, even on the A-1) fails rather easily.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 AE-1 Program at the Canon Camera Museum,
  2. Tomosy, Thomas (1999) Camera Maintenance and Repair, Book 1, revised edition, 1999. Amherst Media Inc., Buffalo NY. ISBN0-936262-86-9. p97, primarily about the AE-1.
  3. As at January 2016, a replacement battery door for the AE-1 (which may fit other models) is offered by


Canon Cameras