|A New Generation - Canon AE-1 and Canon AT-1 on Popular Photography, February 1978.|
In 1976 Canon started to produce the Canon AE-1 35mm SLR cameras. It was the first SLR with an electronically-controlled electromagnet horizontal focal plane shutter. The shutter is capable of producing a shutter time from 2 seconds to 1/1000 of a second speeds. It was the first SLR to be produced for the amateur and not for pro’s. The low price because of cheaper materials like, plastic instead of metal for the most part of the body and a great ad campaign made the AE-1 the first SLR to be produced in mass.
You can still find a lot of them online and they are mostly in pretty good condition. You can use this camera as a full manual one, because you set the aperture on the lens and the shutterspeed on the camera. When a certain shutterspeed is set, in the viewfinder a needle points to the appropriate aperture for that speed. The camera takes FD or FDn lenses. The name comes from the Aperture Exposure, but the camera is a build for shutter priority. The camera got discontinued in 1981 and was replaced by the AE-1 program which is in essence the same as the AE-1 but with the extra function of automatically setting the shutter speed and aperture.
The Canon AT-1 is a 35mm FD-mount single-lens reflex camera manufactured by Canon from December 1976. It was produced purely for export and was never sold in the home Japanese market. It was a version of the popular AE-1 but without the shutter-speed priority auto-exposure mode of that camera. The AT-1 featured manual exposure only. This made the camera cheaper, as some consumers did not desire or require autoexposure and did not want to pay for it.
|A New Generation - Canon AV-1 on Popular Photography, June 1979.|
In 1979 Canon brought another flavor of the AE-1 on the market, which is the Canon AV-1. It’s an aperture priority camera that is not capable of full manual control. The camera was a direct answer to the increasingly growing popularity of similar cameras of other brands. The simplicity made it possible to reach into a totally different market of amateur photographers. On this camera you can only select the aperture and the asa, the shutter speed is set automatically by the camera.
(Information from Wikipedia and Tales on Film; Images via db)