Is a Canon RE-1 retro camera on the way?

A vintage Canon AE-1 with Canon FD 50mm f/1.8
(Image credit: James Artaius)

Is a Canon RE-1 retro camera on the way? Or a similar vintage-inspired Canon camera like it? It feels like a genuine possibility, even a probability, following recent comments from a Canon exec. 

We all know how successful the retro-inspired Nikon Z fc has been. (It's been so successful, in fact, that the imminent full-frame Nikon Zf is currently the worst-kept secret in the industry.) 

Nikon struck gold with its modern reimagining of the classic Nikon F film camera (via the Nikon Df), and Fujifilm and OM System / Olympus have made their names with some of the best retro cameras. So it seems an obvious open goal for Canon to do likewise, and make a mirrorless update of something like the Canon AE-1 – another of the best film cameras ever made. 

And, while the company won't confirm that it's making one, Canon is aware of the customer appetite for such a product – and reminds us that it listens to its customers. 

In an interview with Camera Beta (translated by Asobinet), the director of optical development at the company's R&D center, Junichi Murakami, was directly asked, "Canon has a lot of historic bodies, but do you have any plans or ideas to release a retro camera?"

While the answer seems noncommittal, it doesn't take much reading between the lines to see that Canon has given this far more than just a second thought. 

"In conclusion, I can't say yes or no, but as you say, some consumers are particularly fond of some of the best-selling models of the past, their design and appearance.

"In addition, you can see that our EOS body, whether in appearance or operability, has been improved by listening to customer feedback and requests. We attach great importance to the fact that there is a consumer base that wants a retro body, but it is a pity that we do not have more information to tell you."

Canon has made plenty of classic film cameras, but the AE-1 is probably its best known – which is why, to my mind, that would be the obvious model to update in mirrorless form. And I can't help but think that a Canon RE-1 would be just as big a hit as the Z fc has been for Nikon. 

(Image credit: James Artaius)

You might also be interested in the best Canon cameras on the market right now, along with the best Canon DSLR lenses and the best Canon RF lenses for mirrorless cameras. 

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.