Canon Sure Shot Tele

Functional…sturdy…these are words that could describe this camera.

Name dropping

Canon Sure Shot Tele
Camera: £0.99
Postage: £4.99
Total: £5.98

The Canon Sureshot, or as it is variously-known the Top Twin or Autoboy Tele would have cost you about £140 in 1987, back before all the cameras had zooms, instead opting for two switchable lenses – one regular and one telephoto (zoomed-in, but not adjustable).  That’s about £375 in today’s money, so it was not a cheap option, however these days you can get them for 99p.  I guess there are a lot of them and similar cameras around, it’s not great-looking and there have been a whole range of cameras called the Canon Sure Shot since, so it’s not always clear which are more desirable.  People write articles about the Canon AF35ML which is basically an older version of this camera and suddenly the price goes crazy.  The same is true of the Nikon L35, the Yashica T3 and the Leica AF-C1 and it won’t surprise you to learn that I have ~99p cameras which are very similar to those.

It just works

It is not identical to the sought-after AF35ML, as the design of the 40mm lens prevents it from opening as wide, limiting it to f2.8 instead of f1.9, but you get a 70mm/f4.9 lens thrown in without having to use screw-on telephoto lenses – those always reduce the quality a bit.  It reads the film’s DX code across what was a very wide range for the time from 50 to 1600 ISO.

It has centre-spot autofocus so you just point it at what you want and press the shutter – it’ll flash lights at you in the viewfinder if something is wrong.  It will adjust the shutter between 1/3″ and 1/500″ and fire the flash if it needs to.  It’s a pretty standard flash but is about the right intensity as the camera uses standard batteries still available today and can produce a nice vignette effect if used in complete dark.

It has some neat functions like a half-shutter-press prefocus, a self-timer, exposure compenensation for brightly-backlit scenes.  Less-useful is a multiple-exposure option to overlay pictures on top of each other – this was a popular option back in the day but you’re better off using Photoshop these days.  Totally useless was a multi-image adapter and and a soft-focus lens overlay.

Pics here

Kodak T-Max 400
Cost: £5.95
Postage: £1.24
Expired: New film
ISO: 400
Format/Type: Black and White
Exposures: 36
Processing: £0.41
Full Total: £7.60
Cost per shot: £0.21
My Rating: 10

To say I am pleased with the pictures from this camera is an understatement.  More than a couple of these are among the best pictures I’ve ever taken, and I’ve taken a lot of pictures using cameras which cost a lot more than this one both now and when they were new.

It’s delivered some sharp results I’m really proud of – almost as sharp as a digital camera in some shots, but with a proper film grain to show it’s real film.  The film I used helped too, using new stock instead of expired, and at 400 ISO was quite fast, but the grain which is normally more evident with faster films seemed to magically know where to show itself – it left the detailed areas alone and saved itself for the big areas with little constrast lending some great character and atmosphere.

I’ll be putting a colour film though this camera as well as a few more black and white ones, I’m sure.  I have somewhere in the region of 90 cameras, but this one would certainly make it into the bag of my favourite ones and while not the smallest is a pretty convenient size to grab and go.

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