How to Repair a Canon AE1 Jam

Written by mark spowart
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How to Repair a Canon AE1 Jam
The Canon AE1 is a manual 35mm film camera. (film-camera on camera-bag image by Andrii Oleksiienko from

The Canon AE1 is a 35mm film camera that was widely used throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The camera came in a variety of versions including the basic AE1 and the AE1 Program. While the camera was manual focus and had the ability to shoot in manual mode, the shutter was electronically controlled. The camera may jam leaving the shutter and mirror in a locked up position. You may be able to fix the camera easily at home, or it may require more advanced work.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Stop using the camera as soon as the camera shutter jams. Don't force it. Unlike digital a camera that has a lot of circuitry in it, the AE1 still uses a lot of mechanical connections. If you try to force the film advance lever you could do more damage to the camera.

  2. 2

    Press the "Film rewind" button on the bottom of the camera and rewind the film back into its canister and remove the film by pulling up on the rewind crank to open the rear film door.

  3. 3

    Inspect the shutter and mirror. Look for any signs of physical damage, or any residue on the shutter blades. If the shutter is completely open, you may not be able to see the blades.

  4. 4

    Remove and replace the batteries in the camera. The Canon AE1 has two battery compartments. One is located on the front of the camera and a second compartment is in the bottom of the camera. Unscrew the second compartment with a coin to open it.

  5. 5

    Close the shutter. If it closes, press the shutter release button with the film door open to see the mirror and shutter activate correctly. If the shutter is still jammed after replacing the battery, it may require advanced repairs to replace the shutter solenoid to drive power to the shutter. Only a camera technician should replace the solenoid.

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