Testing the Nikon Zf has made me rethink if I want a digital Canon AE-1

Canon AE-1 Program
(Image credit: Gareth Bevan)

I have been testing the Nikon Zf over the past week (full review coming soon), and I have fallen head-over-heels for the design of the camera. I love the vintage camera aesthetic, and I have had previous (and ongoing) love affairs with Olympus and Fujifilm cameras for the exact same reason.

As the first full-frame camera that also looks this damn good, the Nikon Zf ticks so many boxes for me – all except one big one, and it's one that makes me worry that any future film-inspired digital Canon AE-1 might fall at the same hurdle.

The issue? Having the classic-looking lenses to back up the camera’s vintage style. Now I know for some people this isn’t as big of a deal – and I envy you. If you have already read my Nikon Zf hands-on review, you will have read my whinging about this. But for me, completing the aesthetic is important.

Canon is in the same boat as Nikon here. Canon RF lenses are minimalist and modern masterpieces, but have no place on a camera styled right out of the Seventies. Fujifilm and Olympus came out of the gates with a vintage look as standard, and their lenses followed suit with metal barrels, engraved markings, and manual aperture rings. Dropping a Canon RF on a vintage body, to me, just looks odd. If you don’t agree, maybe the image below will change your mind:

The Canon AE-1 Program with an RF 24-70 f/2.8 lens. Does this look good? (Image credit: Future)

The solution? Well, Canon also has the world's best-ever selling camera in its archive – the Canonet G-III QL17. A digital remake of this vintage little rangefinder could be absolute magic for Canon, and with its fixed lens (which is optically superb on the Eighties original) this could be the solution to the vintage lens issue.

If you need any proof that vintage-inspired rangefinders are hot property, look no further than demand for the Fujifilm X100V, which is still off the charts with over six months waiting lists to get a copy. Canon could definitely swoop in here and piggyback off the X100V’s success.

This is all just rumor and speculation right now but, with the vintage camera craze in full swing, I think it is only a matter of time until we see something from Canon. I just hope it makes the right choices.

Want that vintage aesthetic, why not check out our guide to the best retro camera. Or if you want the real deal, then check out our top picks for the best film camera.

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Gareth Bevan
Reviews Editor

Gareth is a photographer based in London, working as a freelance photographer and videographer for the past several years, having the privilege to shoot for some household names. With work focusing on fashion, portrait and lifestyle content creation, he has developed a range of skills covering everything from editorial shoots to social media videos. Outside of work, he has a personal passion for travel and nature photography, with a devotion to sustainability and environmental causes.