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M90 is a battery independent setting - it requires no battery power to function. If it won't advance until put on M90 from other settings, then either you're not allowing for proper exposure, have the settings incorrectly set (film speed, etc), or you have shutter issues. The shutter is electronically controlled on all settings except M90. In the auto setting, your lense MUST be set to the smallest aperture (biggest number). On any other setting, you can use it however you'd like. I'd suggest unloading any film, setting the shutter speed dial to 1/125 or so, opening the back and looking thru and firing the shutter. If it's not snapping open and immediately closed, theres an issue and you need to consult a repair technician either locally, through Nikon, or through KEH Camera online.
This camera is somewhere between fifteen and thirty years old. It is highly unlikely that spares would be available, and it would be extremely expensive to have it repaired in any case, most artificers familiar with the internal layout having probably retired years ago. Maybe the camera should be retired too ?
The magnets that control the shutter are the likely suspect. Dirt and debris can cause them not to hold properly. Hence, it fires the shutter when you advance the film. It is something you can repair yourself. ............or. you can also try....
i'm not an expert on the AE-1. It is a camera I've never had any desire to own. But on most older slr camera the rewind knob will turn when the film is advanced. But only after the slack has been taken out of the film still in the canister. Since you've already taken a few shot the film shot be very secure on the take up spool. To check that it is, slowly crank the film rewind crank clockwise. After a few turns the film should become tight in the canister, and you will feel the tension. If this happens then the film was loaded properly. If after quite a few turns you still feel nothing, then the film was not properly inserted into the take up spoll. If the film was not loaded correctly the film leader will go inside the canister as you crank. But that is not a problem. Any photo lab can pull the leader back out. Just make sure they know what happened.
Taken from manual: SETTING THE TIME AND DATE You can set the time and date on the camera as long as the battery stays in the camera. Once the battery is removed the time and date settings will be lost: Symbol on LCD Screen Function When you see "dAt" on the screen, press SHUTTER button to set the time and date. Press POWER/MODE button to toggle from Y09 (2009) to Y30 (2030). Press SHUTTER to advance to next date setting. Press POWER/MODE button to toggle from 01 (January) to 12 (December). Press SHUTTER to advance to next date setting. Press POWER/MODE button to toggle from d01 (1st day of month) to d31 (31st day of month). Press SHUTTER to advance to next date setting. Press POWER/MODE button to toggle from H00 (12 a.m. military time) to H23 (11 p.m. military time). Press SHUTTER to advance to next date setting. Press POWER/MODE button to toggle from 00 (zero minutes) to 59 (59 minutes). Press SHUTTER to advance to next date setting. 1. Once you select the "minutes" setting and press the SHUTTER button, you will return to the SEt entrance for the settings menu. EXITING THE SETTINGS MENU When you see ESC on the screen, press the SHUTTER button to exit the SETTINGS MENU.
Camera has a bad magnet, the A series were plagued by this. Repairs will cost more than probably what it's worth. The AE-1's used an electromagnet system to activate the shutter for a smoother press and less shake from the camera system.
I got lucky and recently purchased an AE-1 program that doesn't have this problem, it seems to be a hit and miss with these.
This is likely because the shutter has not been cocked all the way. Return the lens to the fully locked position and advance the film with the lever all the way down to reset the shutter. If it still doesn't work, move the lever to M for multiple exposure, make sure the back is aligned and trip the shutter release. Then fully **** the shutter again by pressing the advance lever down fully and again until it is reset. Then try to remove the lens again.