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


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Multiple Exposures

The Canon A-1 has the most convenient multiple exposure operation among all A and T series camera models. It also permits single hand operation. Making two or more exposures on the same frame is an exciting technique. After making the first exposure, do not turn the film advance lever but return it to its retracted position close to the camera body. Switch the multiple exposure lever underneath the film advance lever to the left. A red dot will appear indicating that the camera is set for a multiple exposure. Now turn the film advance lever.

The film will remain stationary, holding its exact position. At the same time the shutter will be recocked, and the multiple exposure lever will automatically return to its original position over the red dot. When you press the shutter button, your second shot will be in exact registration over the first. If you turn the film advance lever, the camera will be set for the next frame.

You can make any number of exposures on the same frame simply by repeating the above procedure before turning the film advance lever. There is a possibility of a slight movement of the frame if you make an excessive number of exposures on the same frame, if you turn the film advance lever too forcefully or if there is film slack. The frame counter is stopped until you actually advance the film to the next frame.

Once you have set the camera for a multiple exposure, there is no way to cancel the process before actually making it. If you suddenly decide you don't want a multiple exposure but still want to preserve the one or several shots you have already made on the frame, you have the best chance of doing that if you manually set the lens aperture ring to the minimum aperture, the shutter speed to 1/1000 sec., cover the lens with the lens cap and then release the shutter.

Warning: Multiple exposures are not possible when the Motor Drive MA or Power Winder A (or A2) is mounted on the A-1 and in operation. They are possible only when these accessories are mounted if you switch them off and advance the film manually. There are some situations which seem to call for a multiple exposure but which are better handled in another way. One of these is recording multiple bursts of fireworks on the same frame. Rather than using the multiple exposure lever, mount the camera on a tripod, set the shutter speed at "B", and set the aperture ring manually to the appropriate f/stop according to the following table. Ilold the shutter open with a cable release until seueral bursts are registered on the frame.













Exposure (Compensation) in Multiple Exposures For best results in multiDle exposures it is necessary to decrease the exposure for each shot. Depending on the situation, there are several ways to do this. One way is to change the ASA to a higher value as described earlier. ln this method, you must first decide how many exposures you want to make on the same frame. If a double exposure, make both exposures at twice the normal ASA; if a triple exposure, make all three exposures at three times the normalASA;if a quadruple exposure, make all four exposures at four times the normal ASA, etc. Another way to correct exposure is to use the exposure compensation dial at the settings outlined in the table below.

Number of Multiple Exposures

Exposure Compensation Scale


1/2 (- 1 f/stop)


Between 1/2 and 1/4


1/4 (- 2 f/stops)

The method when using the exposure compensation dial for this purpose is the same as that of changing the ASA. That is, for a double exposure, the dial should be set to 1/2 for both exposures and so on. Actually, both methods described above are only general guidelines, and your technique will benefit greatly from experience.

It is not Film Plane Indicator This mark is engraved on the top of the camera beside the film rewind knob, just to the left of the pentaprism, to indicate the exact position of the film plane. used in general photography, but it is helpful m close-up photography and photomacrographv for obtaining the exact shooting distance from film to subject.

Distance Scale The distances on the scale are calibrated from the film plane indicating the focused distance from subject to film plane. The scale is not generally used except when confirming depth of field, performins: guide number calculations in flash photography, or using infrared film Read one-digit distances in the middle of the number marked on the scale. Two-digit distances should be read at the point between the two digits.

Infrared Index Mark Since infrared light rays have longer wavelengths which focus on a plane slightly behind that of ordinary visible light rays, it is necessary to slightly adjust the focus of the lens when using black and white infrared film. The infrared index mark engraved on the lens barrel is used for this purpose.

After focusing the same as usual, note the tiny red dot engraved on the lens barrel just to the right of the distance index, and turn the focusing ring to align the focused distance with this red dot.

For instance, if the focus is at 10m on the distance scale, turn the focusing ring to align the 10m mark with the red dot. After that focusing correction, you can release the shutter. When using infrared black and white film, visible light rays must be kept out by means of a deep red filter (Rl) over the lens. When using infrared color film, there is no need to make a focusing correction. Follow the detailed instructions of the film manufacturer. Note: The position of the infrared index mark has been computed for the use of infrared film with peak sensitivity at 800nm (such as Kodak fR 135) and a red filter such as Wratten 87.

Checking the Depth of Field There are two ways to find out what the depth of field is. One is by using the dentin of field scale which is a series of f/stops repeated on each side of the distance index mark on the lens barrel. The scale differs according to the lens. First focus your subject. Find the two f/stops on the depth of field scale which correspond to the aperture you or the camera have set for the exposure.

Draw imaginary lines from these two f/stops to the distance scale. The effective depth of field extends between those two distances.

For example, using a standard 50mm lens focused at 3m with the aperture set at f/8, depth of field extends from 2.4m to 4.5m. Any subject between 2.4m to 4.5m away will be in reasonably sharp focus in the image.

You can also visually check the depth of field looking at the image through the viewfinder by pushing in the stop-down lever just as in stopped-down AE photography and setting the lens to the working aperture.
This will probably be one of those occasions when you will release the stop-down lever and return the lens to "A" before taking a shot. You will have to operate the multiple exposure lever as explained earlier before the camera will properly operate.
Lens Signal Coupling

A older version of the FD lens is used here for illustration. "older" FD lenses has a chrome ring for turn and lock the lens with the camera body. Newer series of FD optics were introduced in 1979 and were generally referred as FDn lenses or New FD lenses. It has a new type of FD bayonet. The chrome ring no longer adorns the rear of these lenses, it can be easily distinguish by its complete black with a large chrome release latch button on the rear ring of each lens. It can mount directly onto camera but are locked in place by turning the entire lens. The chrome release latch must be depressed to remove any lens from the camera. There are several levers and pins at the rear of a FD lens which transmit signals between the lens and the camera body. Usually it is not necessary to know what they are, but sometimes, when you must operate the aperture manually for non-coupled accessories for instance, it is.

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1. Aperture Signal Lever: With an FD lens, exposure metering is performed through the lens at full aperture. This is nice for you since you have a bright viewfinder to focus and compose, but to determine correct exposure, the camera must know the effective aperture. For most cameras, such as the Canon F-1, this lever transmits the preset aperture on the lens aperture ring to the exposure meter. It is coupled to the lens aperture ring and moves in proportion to its rotation. In AE photography, however, the exposure meter receives a signal directly from the camera. 2. Automatic Aperture Lever: This lever couples to the camera body to stop the diaphragm down to the preset aperture just before the shutter releases. This is the lever that must be locked for manual aperture setting with a non-coupled accessory.

3. Full Aperture Signal Pin:
This pin transmits the maximum aperture of the lens to the exposure meter to set the meter coupling range automatically.
4. EE Switch Pin: When the "A" mark of the aj~ure ring is set to the aperture index, the EE switch pin comes out to insure that the lens, at this setting, can be mounted only on cameras designed for AE photography.
5. Reserved Pin: This pin is designed for use with additions to Canon's camera system that may be developed in the future.

New FD.jpg

A New FD lens or "FDn".

Seeing the Lens in Action

Older FD lenses incorporate a safety feature to prevent the Breech-Lock bayonet ring and diaphragm blades from moving when the lens is dismounted. If you want to check the diaphragm's operation, press the lock pin in the top recess of the Breech-Lock mount while turing the bayonet ring and lock the automatic aperture lever. Then turn the aperture ring and watch the diaphragm blades.

Be sure to reset the automatic aperture lever to its normal position before using the lens once more in direct contact with the camera body.

Automatic Aperture Control

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When the A-1 is directly coupled with an FD lens, aperture control is totally automatic. Exposure metering is performed at full aperture whether the lens aperture ring is at the "A" mark or set to a specific aperture. At shutter release, the diaphragm automatically closes down to the aperture set by the camera or by you with the AT dial or the aperture ring.

Following shutter release, the lens automatically returns to maximum aperture.

Manual Aperture Control

The insertion of non-automatic accessories between the camera body and lens may call for manual aperture control. The instructions for these accessories will tell you whether or not this is necessary.

lenspins4.jpg  lenspins5.jpg
    1. Before attaching the lens, push the automatic aperture lever to the right where it locks.
    2. Mount the lens onto the accessory and secure the Breech-Lock bayonet ring. The aperture ring will now act directly on the diaphragm.

A few FD lenses have an additional lock lever which holds the automatic aperture lever in the "automatic" position. With these particular lenses, the automatic aperture lever must be pushed fully to the right while pushing the lock lever to the "L" position.

Be sure to reset the automatic aperture lever to its normal position before using the lens once more in direct contact with the camera body. In the case of a lens with a lock lever switch it back to the position of the white dot Manual aperture control will also be necessary if you wish to mount the lens in reverse with the aid of a macrophoto coupler. This is supplied with a macro hood allowing the Breech-Lock ring to be unlocked and turned fully to its "closed" position after the automatic aperture lever is pushed all the way to the right.

In order to stop down the lens once these accessories are attached, use the stopped-down AE procedure.

Unusable Lenses

Out of the several series of Canon lenses there are a few individual lenses which cannot be used on the A-1. Do not attempt to mount the following four lenses: FL 19mm f/3.5 FL 58mm f/1 2 R 58mm f/1.2 R 100mm f/3.5

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