I recently bought a nice Canon AE 1 which worked fine at all speeds
(apparently) until I got it home and attempted to wind the shutter...it
would only advance about a 1/2 inch. I thought, well, I guess it's
already wound, I must have cocked it one last time after purchasing it
and forgot to trip the shutter. So, I tripped the shutter and nothing
happened...now I couldn't wind the shutter or trip it either. I now
checked the internet and suspected that I had left the battery one
accidentally and ran it down. Went out and bought a new battery for it.
All the lights are working in the meter but no results with the
shutter. When opening the back you can see that the shutter is
Is it just over wound like you can accidentally do to an old (stem wound) wristwatch?
Just now saw your problem.....I can repair this for you. No it's not "overwound" you possible have some small piece of plastic that caused your second curtain to get hung up and thus jam the entire camera. I have probably repaired 500 AE-1's with the same problem. Art www.flcamerarepair.com
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all AE-1's and related models, your camera is gumming up inside as the
internal lubricant films are at least 25 years old and are largely
The fix is to get the camera to a repair specialist
for a CLA service (Clean, Lubricate, Adjust). As a one-off extra cost
also get the foam light seals and foam mirror buffer replaced as they'll
either be absent by now or will still be turning to a sticky goo.
Modern foam is is different material and is will not decay like the old
A CLA and foam replacement definitely costs more than the
residual value of the camera, but they're solidly built and have plenty
of cheap high quality lenses so can still achieve results which compare
well to even the best modern pro dSLR's. Get the work done and your
camera will probably last until 35mm film ceases to be available. Your
camera will also withstand conditions which you'd never dare risk a dSLR
There is a common problem that most A series Canon develop with age. There is a small set of gears that govern the speed of the mirror rising. One gear is brass and becomes dry, (lack of lubrication). You should have the camera serviced by a repair person or there are kits available to DIY. You can find the kits on eBay
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 ).
Remove transport/winding lever and loosen the retaining ring underneeth. Gently lift shutter speed dial and reseat it. Tighten the retaining ring and reattach winding lever. ( the shutter speed dial is not engaging the mechanism inside the camera and you need to establish proper connection ).
Possibly the film did not go through the camera. If it did, the problem may be the 2nd(or closing)curtain magnet on the bottom of the camera.
When the magnet is working the closing curtain of the shutter is held back 1 to 1000 miliseconds-depending on the shutter speed selected by you. 1ms=1/1000 sec. 1000ms=1 sec.
You can tell by 1. removing the lens 2.setting the shutter speed to the "B" setting 3. opening the film door and looking through the camera 4. releasing or firing the camera and keeping pressure on the release button. If the magnet is working, the shutter will stay open as long as the release button is kept pressed down. The closing curtain will close as soon as the release button is released.
When the magnet fails, both curtains travel across the film plane together and no exposure is made. Sometimes there is corrosion on the magnet where the wires connect. Sometimes there is some foreign substance or object that interferes with the face of the metal unit that attaches to the magnet when the camera is wound. Sometimes the magnet just fails and needs to be replaced.
If the magnet checks out OK the problem may be in the circuits that control the release of the magnet. If this is the problem, the camera needs to be looked at by a competent repair shop. Just so you know, new parts are getting hard to come by, but there are tons of used cameras around that parts can taken from. Hope this helps.