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The usual cause of excessive battery drain is water damage. However, make sure you are using the right batteries. Classic Silver Age cameras like the Canon AE-1 were designed for the more expensive silver oxide batteries. The much more prevelant alkaline batteries will only last maybe 1/5th the time.
cant say anything else with camera make and model number
The Canon AE-1 was a technically advanced camera when it first came out the "E" in AE stands for electronic. The whole camera depends entirely on a battery. The short answer to this question is No it will not function.
The most obvious cause is a failing battery. Your camera has a magnetic shutter release which needs a good battery to work. A tired battery will have a marginal voltage which might not always be adequate to release the shutter. Change the battery to see if there is an improvement, you should use 1 x 4SR44 cell.
If that fails, you may have a dirty shutter magnet but it's rare on the AE-1. If the battery doesn't fix your fault then please report back for guidance regarding shutter magnet maintenance.
You should press and hold AE button and Shift button at the same time. While still holding the AE button keep pressing the shift button to scroll through the available mode. Refer to page 40 of the manual below for more info http://www.lensinc.net/manuals/T70_user.pdf
The camera may have tricked itself into thinking the film is at the end. I know that's not likely in an older manual focus SLR, but just fer grins, try pushing in the little pin on the bottom. It could just be that the camera mechanism has jammed. When was the last time it was in to a repair guy for Clean, Lube, Adjust? Those AE-1 cameras are getting to that age where they need maintenance. I had to get a couple of my manual focus SLRs in for CLA service too.
To open the back pull on the rewind knob ( pulling up ) until back opens. Check that your 6 volt battery is ok ( ae -1 has an electronic shutter so will not work without a battery ): battery situated on the left hand side of the camera ( if it is facing you ) underneath small flip up door ( lock is at the bottom on the left of the small door ) . Check the battery by pressing the shutter release gently and seeing if your light meter needle moves. No movement ? replace battery.
You have two modes for taking pictures : auto which is actually AV ( aperture priority) or full manual : both are set by moving the shutter speed dial on the top right hand side ( underneath film winding lever ).
This happened to me to both the Canon's I had. I found out it was a dead battery. Once I replaced those it worked fine. The battery is hidden under the hand grip which can be taken off using a coin in the screw slot.