The Canon Sure Shot Sleek, also known as the Prima Mini II, is a small autofocus compact. I’ve had one for a few years, but never got around to using it. It came with a bunch of other cameras in a box I bought at a local auction. I assumed it was probably just another perfectly decent Canon point and shoot from the 1990s but nothing to get too excited about.
That being said, I have a Canon Sure Shot A1/Prima AS 1 waterproof camera which has a fixed 32mm f/3.5 lens specifications and assembly that looks very similar. I wonder if its the same unit but with some modification for the A1 which appears to have an extra element looking like a square sheet of clear plastic or glass attached to the back. As the A1 can produce some good results I decided to load the Sleek with a CR-123 battery and some film to check it out.
The Sure Shot Sleek.
Made from a muted silvery plastic at the front and black plastic at the back, the design does bear a vague resemblance to the famed Olympus mju-II in the sense it is smooth, slightly tapered and can slip in and out of a pocket easily. It also has a sliding lens cover which when opened using the plastic switch below powers up the camera and brings the lens forward. However, unlike the mju II, it was not advertised as weatherproof, doesn’t have the brighter f/2.8, and it’s also a bit bigger. I believe the Sleek was launched a year before the mju II.
What helped me decide to load up with a roll of Ilford HP5 idling in the freezer was the fact it has a manual dial on the top which allows you to disable the flash so it actually stays off. Yes, that’s right, no prodding away at a mode button each time you turn it on just to keep the flash deactivated. The dial has four settings: flash off, flash on, auto and self-timer. It’s fiddly to turn and quite stiff, but on the other hand that means it won’t get jogged out of position.
If you are in the flash off mode it will blink rapidly to warn you when light conditions are low, but you can still operate the shutter. As the slowest shutter speed is 2 seconds you may well need to brace the camera if shooting in dim light. The flash itself seems pretty effective and is accompanied by a red-eye reduction lamp which doubles as a self-timer indicator.
It has to be said the Canon Sure Shot Sleek has the noisiest motorised film winder I’ve ever encountered in a compact. Maybe I’m overstating it but imagine a food blender and you get the idea. The viewfinder is small and, although it never came to my eye quickly and easily, I’ll call it just about satisfactory.
The Canon Sure Shot Sleek has a green LED which illuminates for about one second when you switch the camera on to confirm the battery is OK. When shooting and the subject is in focus this same light it stays on. If it stays off then the subject is too close, but you can still shoot.
The focus system is described as 3 point intelligent autofocus with the usual half-press of the shutter button for focus lock. It also uses Canon’s AiAF (Smart AF) which apparently assesses a wide measuring area.
I’ve been unable to discover what adjustments the aperture can make, but if the waterproof Canon Sure Shot A1 lens is anything to go by then it can go down to f/22. The fastest shutter speed is a somewhat slow 1/250.
The Sleek automatically rewinds when the end of the film is reached although there is a rewind button under the camera if needed.
In general, I found the Canon Sure Shot Sleek easy to carry around, and quite enjoyed using it. What I did find handy was the longer exposure. You will see some of the photos below are interiors and where possible I placed the camera on a flat surface to keep it steady.
If my experience is typical of the camera I wouldn’t shout too loudly about the quality of the Canon Sure Shot Sleek lens. However, I did shoot the Ilford HP5 black and white film on a dull and rainy day, and if I was being fairer I would have chosen a brighter day and good colour film to get the best out of it.
Nevertheless, in my view I would be more likely to get better shots with an Olympus XA2, which is smaller, quieter and can do up to a two second exposure. But it doesn’t have that wider 32mm lens. As I had guessed before I finally used the camera, it seems be a perfectly decent point and shoot from the 1990s and you can usually pick them up for around £10 or less. Maybe someone else can coax a better performance out of it than I did.
I had the film processed in a high street lab but the negatives are a bit scratched. I’ve scanned them myself with an Epson V370. The photos were taken in Oxford during the Oxford Open Day event when many colleges and university buildings not normally accessible to the general public are revealed to anyone with an interest, and at no charge. I can recommend taking advantage of this scheme if you are able to visit the city in September next year.