The Canon Sure Shot Max

Canon Sure Shot Max Review – Eat Your Liver Yashica T4! – By Mike Caputo

I was recently on the lookout for a point-n-shoot film camera. Actually, I always am. I love point-n-shoot 35mm cameras yet I’ve come to hate the price. It seems just yesterday I sold my Yashica T4 on eBay for $250. That was over a year ago and they are listed at $400 now. Nuts to that! I balk and scoff every time I go on eBay these days. Of course I want a Contax T3, maybe a Nikon 35Ti, the Minolta Tc-1 or a Fuji Klasse S/W, but those prices….forget it. I’ve got a wife and kids, a mortgage, car payments, utility bills, and food of course. That’s why I like the Canon Sure Shot Max.

For the hobby there’s film, chemicals, photographic paper, darkroom supplies; I certainly can’t drop 400 bucks on a pocket camera. With the price of coveted compacts getting higher by the day, I decided I had enough. No more! I’m done with that racket. The days of lusting after a mint Ricoh GR21 are over. So what’s a fella to do after scouring all the garage sales, thrift stores, and neighborhood attics for fancy cameras?

Go cheap, my friends, go real cheap. The Canon Sure Shot Max. That unsung Sure Shot. I don’t want to say it’s a “hero”, cause what’s a hero? The Canon cost me $4 on eBay; if I drop it or lose it at the bar I’m not gonna be heartbroken. I can be as careless as I please handling the Sure Shot which is comforting as I tend to treat cameras pretty rough. 

Canon Sure Shot Max front view
Fujifilm Velvia 50
Kodak 400TX
Kodak 400TX
Canon Sure Shot Max parade photo
Kodak 400TX
Kodak 400TX
Kodak 400TX
Canon Sure Shot Max
Kodak 400TX

I’m after the junk drawer of point-shoots now and I’ll tell you why; as long as there is a prime lens on the camera, there’s hardly any difference in the final product I produce which is the darkroom print. I usually print 35mm snaps on 5×7 paper, it’s an enjoyable size for family photos shot with a compact camera. If I wanted to print larger or more thoughtful photos I’d use my Nikon F3 or Yashicamat 124g.

With all that in mind I put a few rolls of Kodak 400TX in the Canon Sure Shot Max, developed it in some D76, and printed on Ilford Pearl 5×7 paper. The results were great for me. Not a bit of difference between the prints from cameras that cost 400 times as much as the Sure Shot. Eat your liver Yaschia T4! You and me are quits.

Here’s a few prints I made in Ye Olde Darktoilet, that’s what I call my darkroom. I know I used the Canon Sure Shot and Yashica T4 for most of them but I can’t remember what’s from what. A quick shot with the iPhone; I did’t feel like scanning the prints (they look much better in hand).

Canon Sure Shot Max darkroom prints

Aw shoosh, here I am rambling, let me sum it up: The Canon Sure Shot Max is the perfect camera not to care about. It’s terrific for its unremarkable existence. It’s delightful for glancing past while looking at more ascetically pleasing cameras. As far as functionality goes though, it’s dynamite. It takes a picture when you push the button. It reads up to 3200 ASA. There are apertures and f-stops, shutter speeds and switches, and you can even turn the flash off with a thingamabob. It ain’t bad! There’s a doo-hickey on the side for a strap. Who could ask for more?

Okay, enough of that. There’s plenty of cameras I’d rather have. Hell, there’s plenty of other cameras I do have that are far superior, but there’s none I care so little about. That’s unique. No other camera of mine holds that distinction. There’s not a camera I’d rather be carrying if I drank a bottle of Jameson and fell into a swimming pool (purely hypothetical). I’d be delighted I had my Canon Sure Shot Max and not one of those high end compacts.

Kodak 400 TX
Kodak 400TX

man in sunglasses photographed with Canon Sure Shot MaxKodak 400TX

women in halloween costumes photographed with Canon Sure Shot Max

kids in halloween costumes photographed with Canon Sure Shot Max
Kodak 400TX
group of women in costumes photographed with Canon Sure Shot Max
Kodak 400 TX

Then again, maybe it’s me. Maybe my artsy-fartsy eye isn’t the greatest. Maybe I didn’t use a magnifying glass or a computer to try and see the differences. But really, who would bother with all that for a snap of the chums? Just let me hold it in my hand and have a look. Yes sir, that’s good enough for me. I’m a big fan of the Nikon L35AF and the Olympus XA. I consider these my high end point-n-shoots since they cost almost $100 nowadays. Soon they will jump out of my price range. So it goes.

selfie with Canon Sure Shot Max
Kodak 400TX
Kodak 400TX
Kodak 400TX
Kodak 400TX
Kodak 400TX
Kodak 400TX
Kodak 400TX

Welp, that about does her. Wraps her all up as the feller says. And it was pretty good story too. Parts anyways. A decent little point-n-shoot overall. Worth the $4 if you don’t feel like spending $400 for the same result on paper in the darkroom. Just my opinion, but I’m known to have a few.

TMAX3200 Kodak D76
TMAX3200 Kodak D76
TMAX3200 Kodak D76

I organize my Flickr albums by camera, if you’d like to see more hop over to the Flickr or say howdy on Instagram. And if you want to trade your Contax T3 for my Canon Sure Shot Max let me know. I’ll take that deal. I sold all my expensive point-n-shoots on eBay…couldn’t resist the loot.

The Dude Abides,


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47 thoughts on “Canon Sure Shot Max Review – Eat Your Liver Yashica T4! – By Mike Caputo”

  1. Thanks for sharing. I too sold my valuable P&S cameras when the prices went bonkers. I then started shooting the cheapies and noticed they didn’t seem much inferior. Tri-x in d76 is perfect combo for the inaccuracies of the P&S. Sometimes I go to a party and just pass out P&S to friends or guests and collect them later. Do that with your Nikon 35ti, I think not. Darkroom prints 5×7 are a perfect output for such shots, although the pixel peepers don’t know how to cope. Shoot on my friend!

    1. Thank you, Chris! You and I are had the same thought process.

      I almost switched and bought hc110 to give it a try, but 400tx with D76 is so terrific I can’t bring myself to stop haha.

  2. Great piece. We all need to level our heads at times and get of the camera porn train. I have a Contax T5 but can I really tell the difference day to day between that and a £5 point and shoot? NO. The shots are what count.

  3. There’s also something about Canon lenses from the rangefinder era through EOS that likes black and white film. It may be a cheap camera, but the results are anything but. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you, Jim! I was pretty surprised with the results. I wasn’t expecting anything near as crisp and punchy. Kodak 400tx is such a great film. It’s really all I use for BW. I had to give the new TMAX a try, but I’m sticking with tri-x.

  4. Don’t know if there is one, but someone should start a “5 dollar/5 pound camera” Facebook group, where only images from thrift store camera purchases can post.

    These are fantastic shots!

    I Just picked up an Olympus Stylus Epic zoom 170 at the local Deseret thrift store for 5 dollars and can’t wait to try it out.

      1. I love my canon sureshot max but the lens won’t open when I load portra 400 or Kodak gold 400. Do you know what could be causing this? Have you run into this problem before?

  5. Fantastic article! I too love P&S cameras. I will have to get out with some of mine especially one I just picked up. It’s one of the first Minolta AF P&S’s. The very same model of camera I took on my first honeymoon.

  6. Thanks Mike, an entertaining review and some lovely shots too! Oh to have a darkroom, or even a darktoilet. On a similar note I bought an Olympus Mju II at a jumble sale and I don’t think it’s that special. Certainly glad I didn’t pay the 150 GBP that they go for on eBay.

    1. Howdy, Malcolm! I appreciate that. I try to add a touch of humor to everything. And I hope you get Ye Olde Darktoilet soon.
      Nice score on the Mju ii! I wouldn’t mind one again. I’ll trade you my Sure Shot haha.

  7. This camera will get more and more expensive from now on. Well, hope not. It is nice to still find great p&s cameras at reasonable prices.

  8. Thanks for the rarified roundabout where the beauty is ever in the eye of the beholder. Where names of models, and revered photo togs from the past sway the hearts to the tune of a weeks salary, we may all be handing over our costly clickers for a box of Crayola Crayons very soon. Really enjoyed the prose, and the gifted snaps of your daily dotings on the moments capture. Have a very Happy Holidays, one and All!
    Murray Kriner
    Utica, Ohio

  9. The trick is, dude, to get said coveted cameras before they explode to used car prices. Or something. Seems that ship has sailed, but then again, maybe the fad will run its course & people will be left with expensive bricks which will soon or eventually die, as not that many people can fix said doorstop ornaments anymore or the parts no longer exists. Even our friend from p_p_p repairs on the IG no longer fixes Mju II’s for this reason. How some people will cry and gnash teeth in the near future after shelling out the crazy Benjamins for the high end & hyped up stuff. This site is not guilt free of such accusations either. So maybe you were right all along dude. Maybe it’s time to sell up my coveted collection of premium p&s’s and fund my early retirement…hehehe

  10. Thanks Mike for an excellent and enjoyable article, and a reminder that cheap cameras can produce great shots.

  11. This is perfect timing as I just settled on this camera’s sister, the Canon Sure Shot Max Tele for a bit extra versatility. Cost was $25 LNIB. I hate power zooms, but was also intrigued by the notion of a dual focal length point and shoot. From what I can tell it’s the same camera, just with an extra 3 elements that hop in for the extra 70mm f6 focal length. A little more pocket bulge if you will. Might pick up the regular max for grins. Thanks for the article!

  12. My first 35mm camera (in 1994) after 110 one.
    I’ve shoot several slides with it for 6 years until a trip in Florence. A friend of mine bring a T4 and his photos on the same place was way better than mine (same 100asa film). When come back home I wanted to buy a T4 or T5 but at the same price (more or less 150€) I’ve bought a Weber/cosina fx3 type camera with CY mount an a quite good 50mm 1.7
    I still have the canon (prima 5 for Italian market).

  13. If you’re ever searching for high IQ, low $$$$, and leaving the bragging rights behind, have you ever picked up a Samsung or three? Didn’t even know they made them at the time, but Samsung were prolific with film point & shoots, made a butt load for folks like Nikon amongst others, and owned Rollei outright in the 90s (there’s a whole slew of Rollei/Samsung models from that period that are almost identical). Point is, they’re totally like the unsung heroes of the film P&S market – unloved, unhipster, a little geeky. Nearly all the Rollei/Samsung models have sharp to brilliant lenses – My favourites are the AF Slim (shirt pocket sized, breathtaking lens) and the Vega 77i (tiny 2x zoom, beautifully rich, contrasty, sharp lens).

    1. I have heard of that Samsung Slim! I was thinking about picking one up but I’m more into Large Format these days. When I get back on the 35mm compact hunt I’ll have to look for one for sure. Thanks!

  14. Nice review. It is very easy to get G.A.S when in reality lots of incredible shots have been taken with ‘compromised’ cameras. Having a reliable but non-important camera at hand is very liberating.

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  16. That Sure Shot Max takes great photos. The Sure Shot 120 Classic is a dream to shoot as is the Z135/115. It’s a zoom but if you’re shooting 400iso the apertures shouldn’t bother you. You are welcome to drop me a line at my email Mike.

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  18. Right on! I love these inexpensive point & shoots as well. Not going to pay $70 + for an old plastic P&S. I have a Sure Shot Max that I bought for a few dollars on eBay, or maybe it was ShopGoodwill. I still need to finish off my first roll and see the results. I have an Olympus XA that I bought before the prices went crazy, and now I’m afraid I might drop it. I find the XA controls are a little tiny for my meaty fingers anyways. I’m also a sucker for the Olympus Stylus design cameras with the sliding clamshell. The zoom models can be had for very cheap. Maybe the lenses aren’t as sweet as the fixed focal length models, but oh well.

  19. Thanks Mike – really enjoyed this read! Got one today as a Thrift store find and I have the same feelings about the horrendous prices for the High End P&S. I’ve been shooting Olly Trip 35 and XA2 along with a “focus free” Canon Snappy LX2 recently Looking forward to reduced T2 envy now, coupled with a bit of smugness.

  20. For every 100 photos you see of a Contax T2 or T3 you see one or two photos taken with it. I call this the Hipster Camera Inverse Photo Ratio 😉 I’m just jealous of your prints, I really have to set up my own Ye Olde Darkroom and do some printing. I have a beautiful EXONA 6×9 camera on the way, and at least I could do contact prints pretty easily.

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