Modern Classic SLR Series
Canon A-1 - Camera Operation
- Part III


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Normal Procedures Loading the Battery


Usable Batteties

Silver Oxide
Battery (6V)
Eveready (UCAR) No. 544
JIS 4G13
Mallory PX 28
Alkaline Manganese
Battery (6V)
Eveready (UCAR)
No. 537

This camera will not function unless a battery is loaded. Use one brand-new silver oxide or alkaline manganese battery as specified in the table below or an equivalent brand.

It can be loaded and unloaded more easily before the lens is mounted, and of course if the action grip is attached, it must be removed while loading.

Note: You should always wipe the battery poles with a dry cloth before insertion to prevent any corrosion and damage to the camera due to dirt or fingerprints.

To load the battery:
1. Apply either a fingernail or the eyepiece protective cover, which is inserted into the accessory shoe of the camera, into the groove of the battery chamber cover and lift lightly so that the cover flips up.

2. Following the diagram on the inside of the battery chamber, load the battery negative pole first, pushing it downwards in the chamber.

Make sure the poles are facing in the correct directions. bacorrect loading can lead to possible corrosion and damage to the battery terminals besides causing the battery to discharge very quickly To unload the battery, simply tip the positive end forwards and pull it out from the top. The battery should be removed if the camera is not to be used for an excessively long period of time.

Checking the Battery Life of the battery in normal use is approximately one year. Using the camera frequently at low shutter speeds, at the "B" setting or in extremely cold conditions takes more attery power and requires rep aciny the battery more often. The battery requires checking under the following circumstances:

    1. When a new battery is loaded.
    2. If the shutter will not function when the main switch is at "A".
    3. When long exposures are frequently made.
    4. When the camera is used very frequently.
    5. When the camera is used after it has been stored for an excessively long period of time.
    6. When the camera is used in extremely cold conditions.

To check the power level of the battery, first set the main switch to the "A" position. It cannot be checked in the "L" position. Then press the battery check button on the top of the camera for two to three seconds.

If, while pressing the battery check button the LED on the top of the camera blinks on and off rapidly, battery power is sufficient. If it blinks only slowly, twice per second, for instance, or not at all, the power level is insufficient and the battery should be replaced. It should also be replaced if the flashing frequency changes during the few seconds the check button is depressed, indicating the battery is near exhaustion.

It is a good idea to carry a spare battery when you expect to use the camera continuously for a long time, such as on a vacation, when you plan to take a number of time exposures on bulb, or when the camera is to be used in very cold conditions.

Note: Other than it is used for checking battery condition, the battery check button has a few other functions - It is also serves to cancel the self-timer or to cancel the shutter in long exposures.

The circuit is cancelled the moment you press the button, and the second shutter curtain will close when your finger is removed from the button. The shutter will not be released if you press the shutter button while pressing the battery check button.

Getting a Feel for Your A-1 Now that the battery is loaded, your A-1 will function. Before loading the film or doing anything else, play with it a little. Operate the shutter button and the Slm advance lever until they feel like natural extensions of your fingers. Shoot and develop at least one roll of film with a new camera before using it on a shooting expedition or on a trip to make sure you know how to operate it properly and that everything is in proper operation.

Film Advance and Shutter Release At the base of the film advance lever is the main switch of the camera. When it is at the "L" (LOCK) setting, all active circuits are turned off and the shutter button is locked to prevent unintentional shutter release.

This switch should always be in the "L" position to prevent atterV consumption and film wastage when the camera is not in use, such as when it iS in a camera case.

When the main switch is set at "A", the shutter button can be operated. The shutter button serves to activate both the AE meter and shutter operation. Since it is electromagnetic, it requires only gentle pressure for both a very smooth shutter release as well as immediate meter response when shooting in quick succession. Pressing the shutter button lightly only halfway gives a meter reading preview inside the viewfinder. When you press it gently all the way, the mirror flips up, the diaphragm closes down and the shutter releases. After shutter release, the mirror and diaphragm automatically reset and the film advance lever is ready to be advanced. With the tip of your thumb, lightly push the film advance lever away from the camera body to its 30 stand-off position. Now it can be easily operated with the tip of your thumb. Push it all the way to the right in a single, short 120° throw to wind the film cock the shutter and prepare the diaphragm and mirror for the next shutter release all in one motion.

Or you can advance the lever in several short strokes. Each winding will also advance the number in the frame counter indicating the number of pictures taken.

Attaching a Cable Release A cable release is a device which, used in conjunction with a tripod, allows the shutter to be held open for long exposures without your ever having to touch either camera or shutter button directly.

This is especially useful for reducing the chances of blurred images in copy work, photomacrography and photomicrography.

The A-1 is provided with a socket for a cable release in the center of the shutter button. The cable release simply screws into this socket.

Note: The main switch must also be at the "A" setting.

Holding the Camera The best precaution in preventing camera shake is to press the shutter button gently. Never punch it. It is also helpful to hold the camera properly, not only for good image results but also for comfort and ease in handling. It is always advisable to lean against a steady support, such as a wall or a tree, if any is available. Use a tripod and a cable release with a telephoto lens or when shooting at a shutter speed of 1/30 sec. or slower. Warning: If the tripod screw of your tripod is quite long, be especially careful not to forcefully screw it aD the wav in beyond the limit of the camera's tripod socket.

Film Loading The Canon A-1 accepts color or black and white film in standard 35mm cartridges. When loading and unloading film, avoid direct sunlight and take care not to touch the shutter curtain, the film rails or the pressure plate.

To load the film, first fold out the rewind crank and sharply pull up the rewind knob. The camera's back cover will pop open. Put the cartridge into the film cartridge chamber so that the protruding part of the spool is on the bottom and push down and rotate the rewind knob until it drops into its fullyseated position.

Now pull the film leader across the camera and insert the tip up to at least the first perforation of the film into any slot of the multi-slot take-up spool.Advance the film once, making sure the film sprocket holes are engaged with the teeth of the film transport sprocket.

Check to see that the cartridge is in a fully-seated position and that the film is taut. If there is film slack, gently turn the rewind crank clockwise until it stops. Snap the back cover shut. Gently turn the rewind crank in the direction of the arrow to take up film slack and then fold the rewind crank back in.

Switch the AE mode selector to Tv and turn the AT dial to a fast shutter speed. Now make two blank shots, turning the film advance lever and releasing the shutter, so that the frame counter advances from "S" to "0". While doing this, keep an eye on the rewind knob. If it rotates, the film is properly loaded. If it does not rotate, chances are that the film is sagging or the film perforations are not properly engaged in the take-up spool and film transport sprocket. If the rewind knob still does not rotate once you have gently turned the rewind crank clockwise to take up film slack, open the back cover and reload the film.

Note: The A-1 can also be loaded with bulk film in which case the tip of the film should be trimmed as illustrated below before it is loaded into the camera.

Setting the ASA Film Speed

The ASA is a numerical rating of a film's sensitivity to light. The higher the ASA rating, the faster the film and the more sensitive it is to a given amount of light as compared to a film of a lower ASA rating. In other words, the higher the ASA rating, the less light you need to expose the film. When buying film, choose one with an ASA rating appropriate for the lighting conditions. The film manufacturer's recommended ASA rating can be found on the film packaging or data sheet.

Since the ASA film speed is one of the essential factors in determining proper exposure for any non-auto
DX-coded SLR camera, it is very important that it be correctly set on the camera. The table above shows the ASA ratings which can be set on the A-1. Figures in parentheses are intermediate film speeds which are indicated by dots on the ASA dial.

To set the ASA, press in the ASA film speed dial lock button with your fingernail and turn the outer knurled edge of the dial until the desired film speed rating is aligned with the film speed index. The dial cannot be turned lower than ASA 6 or higher than ASA12800.

There is an exposure compensation scale on the ASA film speed setting dial. The function of this scale will be explained later, but at this point, please note that this scale
should be set at "1" for normal AE photography (A).

Note: The choice of film is an important part of photography, and you have a wide uariety to choose from. Films differ in a number of ways including ASA rating, exposure latitude, color rendition and color temperature among other variables. Some, such as infrared film', require the use of certain filters. Depending on the type of film, a color temperature conversion filter may be necessary under certain lighting conditions. And, of course, you have the basic choice between two types of color film: color negative film (for prints) and color reversal (slide) film. Film can be purchased either in cartridge form with varying numbers of frames or in bulk form. Either type can be loaded in the A-l. Although bulk film is a little more complicated to handle since it must be cut to the desired number of frames and handled in complete darkness, there are simple devices for this purpose on the market and it is cheaper than cartridge film. For more information concerning film, please refer to a book on photography or ask your local film dealer, and please pay careful attention to the film data sheet. For photography that requires a filter attachement, since the A-1 has a through-the-lens meter, there is no need to make any exposure correction with filter factors when a filter is attached.

Memo Holder

The back cover of this camera is provided with a memo holder. Once you have loaded the film and set the ASA, it is very useful to tear off the end of the film box and insert it into this memo holder as a constant reminder of the type of film in use. Add other information as you like.

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