Launched in 2000, it’s fair to say the Canon Sure Shot Z90W doesn’t have a high profile today – not compared to some 35mm film compacts that are popular with enthusiasts. What drew my attention to it was the wide angle zoom lens and the dial on the back, as one of the options is designated ‘Personal’.
This mode will memorise a limited but useful combination of settings, in particular the flash-off mode and exposure compensation. So you set and forget, the flash won’t fire even if you switch the camera off and on. You choose your personal setting using a mode button and the zoom control.
There are a number of Sure Shot cameras in the Z series but as far as I am aware the Sure Shot Z90W is the only one with this handy feature. The flash unit will pop up regardless of your choice, but won’t fire if that’s what you’ve programmed in.
The Sure Shot Z90W is otherwise a well featured model with active/passive hybrid AI/AF, +/-1.5-stop manual exposure compensation, diopter, self-timer, spot focus, and a good selection of the usual settings available, including flash modes, by turning the large dial on the back.
The seven element 28-90mm f/4.5 -9.9 lens includes two aspherical elements, and is capable of close- ups at 1.5ft. It’s protected by a sliding cover similar to the Olympus mju-II and which powers up the camera in the same way. The automatic shutter speeds are from 2 seconds to 1/640. In line with many good compacts of the period, DX code reading is from ISO 25-3200.
I’d wanted to visit the city of Coventry to have another look at the post-war architecture, and thought this camera loaded with Kodak Portra 400 would be good to take along. A while ago I’d casually painted the silver front of mine black to make it less obvious, hence the crappy appearance. I’d last used the camera with Ilford Delta 400 black and white film and was impressed by the sharpness of the lens across the frame.
Coventry was heavily bombed in World War II and the damage was extensive, including the destruction of the cathedral, so when peace arrived the planners got to work. As explained in this article the city is ‘one of the few places outside the new towns where the post-war architectural imagination was given full reign to create a total urban ensemble’. So think optimistic grand designs from the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
It’s also a university city, and the presence of their more recently constructed buildings is obvious to any visitor. Awarded the title ‘UK City of Culture 2021’, the amount of new construction going on right now is unavoidable and you get a sense of another regeneration in progress. However, there’s been concern that some of the less-valued mid-twentieth century buildings might disappear under the bulldozer. The Coventry Society, who are keen to protect this heritage, produce a downloadable guide to post-war buildings and I was glad to be able to use it.
I have to say I am pleased with the Canon Sure Shot Z90W lens. I’ve used quite a few 35mm film compacts of this era and this is one of the best I’ve experienced. If you think these images are contrasty, you’re right. I guess Canon wanted punchy, colourful and contrasty shots out of this camera, and that’s what you get.
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