Canon AE-1 Troubleshooting

The Canon AE-1 is a 35mm single-lens reflex film camera. Canon released the AE-1 in 1976. The Canon AE-1 uses a electromagnetic focal plane shutter with a speed from 1/1000 to 2 seconds.

Battery Needle Will Not Move ¶ 

"The camera has no power.''

Battery is Not in Correctly ¶ 

The Canon Ae-1 runs on a single 4LR44 or PX-28 battery. It is possible that the battery was put in incorrectly. Open the battery hatch on the front of the camera. Check to see that the positive and negative nodes on the battery align correctly and that the battery is in all the way.

Battery is Dead ¶ 

It may be that the battery is dead. This can be check using a voltage meter to check the battery's charge or by simple replacing the battery with a fresh one.

Corroded Terminals ¶ 

It is possible with the age of the Canon Ae-1 that the terminals for the battery have been corroded. If this is the case try to remove some of the rust off of the terminals. A good way to remove the rust is to soak just the terminals in coke.

Shutter Will Not Function Properly ¶ 

"Shutter does not cycle correctly with the film."

Replace the Battery ¶ 

One of the main reasons that this happens is that the battery in the camera is almost dead. The function that cycles the film take a significantly less amount of power, then it does to make the shutter function. Simple replace the battery.

Clean the Electromagnet ¶ 

The shutter in the Canon Ae-1 funtions with an electromagnet. As the camera gets older the camera can accumulate metal particles on the electromagnet. These particles will cause the electromagnet to not have enough power to function the shutter. To fix this you will need to remove the bottom and spray pressurized air into the small plastic container that houses the electromagnet.

Cleaning Inner Mirror and Lens ¶ 

"Looking through the view finder the lens appears dirty''

Clean with Pressurized Air ¶ 

The simplest way to fix this problem is to remove the SLR lense. This will expose the inner mirror and lens. Take a canister of pressurized air and spray it on the mirror and lense. This will remove dust and dirty without the risk of scratching either the lens or mirror.

Replace the Mirror and/or Lens ¶ 

It is possilbe the the inner mirror and/or the lens have been scratched or cracked. If this is the case they will need to be replaced.

Light Exposure on Film ¶ 

"There is light exposure on the pictures after they have been developed."

Rewind Film Fully ¶ 

This may be because the film was not completely rewind before being taken out of the camera. Be sure to rewind the fill fully before opening the film compartment.

Check Foam Seals ¶ 

There is a foam light seal inside the film compartment that can go bad. This is often the case with light exposure problems becasue the Canon Ae-1 is over 20 years old. Replace the strip of foam with a new piece and the problem should be fixed.

Nothing Worked ¶ 

The solutions above didn't work or you have a different problem not listed.

The full user manual can be found for free at


If you use pressuized air in mirror box you seriously risk dust/hairs in the viewfinder, use only a single duck feather dipped and flicked vigoursly in 91% alcohol to remove dust on mirror. It is a front surfaced mirror and easily scratched. You may use this same feather on bottom of fresnel is plastic and also easily scratched or milked white if using too much alcohol.....honestly best left to someone very experienced as you can easily create permanent damage. Mark Mather master technician

Mark Mather - Reply

MY CANON AE-1 REcently had its plastic rivets break and wedge into the gears and stuck. cleaned her out and it works great. but now have another issue. when i go to take a photo shutter opens but i need to press the battery check button to close. so shutter button doesn open and close like it should it only opens. and battery check to clse. ? weird... never experienced this before.

aaron - Reply

hey, did you figure out what is the issue with your camera because i have the same issue, please let me know if you figured out anything : )

shady.a.adwan -

My film advance lever isn't making the noise it's supposed to when you advance it. What's wrong with it? Is it just broke?

Sebastian Aguirre - Reply

How do you know when your done with the film and ready to take out

mbecerra1027 - Reply

You should click the link to see the PDF of the manual above.

If the camera is working properly, the film advance lever will give you significant resistance when you reach the end of the film. Don’t force it. The counter near the advance lever should read about 24 or 36 depending on your film.

To take the film out, you have to press the film rewind release button. It’s on in a slight recessed area on the bottom of the camera. Then flip up the rewind crank (on the left side) and wind the film back into the film canister.

If you never feel any resistance, it’s possible that the film wasn’t attached to the take-up reel properly and the film has not been advancing. If the film is advancing properly, you will see the top of the rewind knob turning as you advance the film. If the film has not been advancing, all the shots you took were all for nothing, but you still have plenty of unexposed film to shoot.

If you’re not sure, you can open the back and check it, but you’ll have to do that in complete darkness.

Frank -

Hello friends, I have a Canon AE-1 and it is not triggering ..... when turning the crank to rebubinate the film the solenoid does not hold .... someone has knowledge and can guide me? I'm an electronics technician but I'm not used to dealing with cameras. I searched her electrical and electronic layout on the internet and did not find ... I'm waiting. Grateful, Celsus.

Ola Amigos, tenho uma Canon AE-1 e ela não esta engatilhando ..... quando giro a manivela de rebubinar o filme o solenoide não segura.... alguem tem conhecimento e pode me orientar? Sou tecnico em eletronica mas não estou acostumado a lidar com camera. Procurei o esquema eletrico e eletronico dela na internet e não achei... Fico aguardando. grato, Celso

Celso - Reply

Hi there

I have a canon ae 1 with a number of diferrent lenses however the lenses with silver breach lock seals will not connect to the body. Can anyone help please?

Caolan - Reply

HI there

I have a canon ae 1 with a number of diferrent lenses however the lenses with silver breach lock seals will not connect to the body. Can anyone help please?

Caolan - Reply


My guess is that those lenses are for a different camera/brand. See this SLR Lens Mount Identification Guide by Rick Oleson.

Frank -

I noticed that on my Canon AE-1 the film rewind crank is a bit uneven. Is this normal and if not, then can it be fixed?

Christian Gonzalez - Reply

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