Personally I think the “A” series which started in 1976 with the AE-1 body, are a greatly undervalued series of Canon cameras. Especially if like me you enjoy shooting film.
Equipped with the 50mm f/1.8 “kit” lens, v1 or v2, any of the “A” bodies will give you a really pleasurable, light in the hand and easy to use film shooting experience and here I explore the differences.
Sales of the AE-1 started in 1976 until 1984
Started selling in 1977 for the export market and not sold locally in Japan as a “cheaper” option to the AE-1.
Selling from 1978 to 1985 and historically was a key moment in SLR cameras in that It was the first SLR to offer an electronically controlled programmed auto exposure mode.
Started selling in 1976 The AV-1 is very similar to the 1976 AE-1 but provides aperture priority auto exposure rather than the AE-1’s shutter speed priority. The AV-1 does not allow full manual mode.
In 1981 we were able t buy what some rightly call one of the very best in the “A” range of Canon Cameras. Very clever programing off the onboard electronics gave you full “Program” mode which really should be called “Professional” mode. Excellent pictures each time with the lens set to “A” and the body to “Program” means you hold in your hands a ready to go Professional grade point, focus, shoot camera and no wonder it is highly sort after today in the 2020’s.
In 1982 we were given what some call the “lower end” “A” body camera but for me this is my favorite, with the A-1 a close second. Here we see the first use of “Focus Assist” which later on became full auto focus we are used to today. On focusing you are given 2 red arrows one right one left and a green light between them to help you focus and take a shot when you get the green light. I have written a lot about this camera here but in short, use the Sunny 16 rule, focus with a little confirmation from the camera and shoot. Great shots all the time and it is why I own 2 for street photography.