How to Rewind and Remove Film from the Canon AT-1

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: April 1, 2021
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Canon AT-1 Unload Film

This page will cover the steps needed to rewind and remove a roll of 35mm film from the Canon AT-1. If you need help with loading film into the camera see this step-by-step guide on how to load film into the Canon AT-1.

While the Canon AT-1 needs a 4LR44 battery to work, it does not need a battery to be able to rewind and unload the film.

How to Rewind Film

Time needed: 1 minute.

Here are the steps you need to follow to rewind and remove the film from your Canon AT-1. These steps can also be used to remove a roll of film before all of the exposures have been used. For demonstration purposes, I am using a roll of film that was left in a used camera and exposed.

  1. Push the take-up spool unlock button on the bottom of the AT-1.

    Push the small black button on the bottom of the camera. It is located near the motor drive connection cover. This will unlock the take-up spool and allow you to wind the film back into the 35mm canister.
    Canon AT-1 Unlock Take-up Spool

  2. Fold out the lever on the rewind knob and turn clockwise.

    Turning the rewind lever in the direction of the arrow (clockwise) will wind the film back into the 35mm film canister. You will feel the resistance lessen when all of the film has been wound off the take-up spool and back into the canister. Give it a few more turns after that and all the film will be in the canister.
    Canon AT-1 Rewind Lever

  3. Open the film door.

    Pull up on the film rewind knob to open the film door. It will pop open. Leave the rewind knob raised.
    Canon AT-1 Open Film Back

  4. Remove the film canister from the Canon AT-1.

    The easiest way to remove the film canister is to let gravity do the work. Tilt the entire camera and the film canister should just fall out. If it doesn't, pull the film rewind knob up further.
    Canon AT-1 Unload 35mm Film Canister

  5. Load another roll of film.

    Now is the best time to load another roll of film into the camera. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to load film into a Canon AT-1.

    If you don't have another roll of film, you can just close the back of the camera. For long-term storage, remove the battery so it does not leak and corrode the battery contacts, which can ruin the camera.

Where to get your film developed?

There are 3 different ways you can get your film developed.

Develop the Film Yourself

The least expensive and most involved way to develop your film is to do it yourself at home. This is what I prefer to do.

You will need some inexpensive equipment and a way to scan your negatives or slides.

Developing film yourself is definitely worthwhile as long as you are consistently shooting film. If you are only going to occasionally shoot film, mailing it to a lab is going to be less expensive.

Mail Your Film to a Professional Lab

There are many photo labs that offer mail in developing and scanning services. What's nice is that you'll get your film scanned using a high-end scanner. This is a big time saver.

Another important aspect is that you'll get your negatives or slides back from the lab. This will allow you to make prints in a darkroom or re-scan them in the future. Plus they act as a physical back-up.

Depending on the lab you choose, you can have the ability to select the machine that does the scanning and any profiles/corrections that get used.

You can also indicate if film has been pushed or pulled so that it can be processed correctly.

Here is a list of US photo labs that offer mail developing services. I have no affiliation with them and I have not used any of their services.

Find a Local Lab

A local lab is a good option as long as it is an independent professional photo lab. These are likely going to be limited to large cities.

The labs located in pharmacies or big box stores are the worst option as they no longer develop the film on location.

What happens is that the pharmacy or big box store will mail the film off to get developed by a third party. You will only receive digital copies of your images. You will not get your negatives or slides back.

Canon AT-1 Resources

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