Point & Shoot Uncategorized

The Canon Sure Shot Sleek/Prima Mini II – Guest review by Charles Higham

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.

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A comparison of the lens units between the Canon Sure Shot waterproof A1 camera (top) and the Sleek.

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.

Flash control

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.

The flash

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.

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Function

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.

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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.

Conclusion

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.

My Photos

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.

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Police officers on horses near the railway station.

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Brasenose College

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Keble College Hall

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Side Chapel at Keble College with Holman Hunt’s ‘Light of the World’.

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Christ Church Cathedral with photographer.

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Real Tennis Court, Merton College.

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Bowler-hatted porter, Christ Church College

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8 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Christos Theofilogiannakos
    November 19, 2016 at 5:05 am

    Very nice pic that last one with the hatted gentleman. As you’ve already mentioned, any Sureshot from the 90’s can give a decent photo.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Charles Higham
    November 21, 2016 at 7:37 am

    Thanks Christos.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Tarjei
    March 18, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    Are you sure the lense was clean? I think all the photos looks kind of smudged. From what I can see there is not a single point of light that is sharp, everything is just slightly soft or out of focus.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Charles Higham
      March 20, 2017 at 9:32 pm

      Could be the case. The lens looked clear though. I think it may be the combination of a grainy black and white film and dull light.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Joy
    May 25, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    Hi, I just bought a Canon Prima Mini II online and it makes a motor sound when I load in the battery, shows numbers when I choose different modes. However, it isn’t auto-loading the film I put in and when I slide the plastic in front to reveal the lens, it does not come forward and the camera does not switch on? Is it possible for you to let me know if there’s something I’m missing or is the camera just broken? :’)

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Charles Higham
      May 25, 2017 at 5:19 pm

      Sorry to hear that. Well, it doesn’t sound like a power problem as you hear the motor sound. The lens should come forward when sliding the switch even if there is no film loaded. Does it do this? If not, then I think you have a faulty camera. If that’s the case it’s not worth trying to fix it as its much cheaper just to buy another for a few pounds/dollars. It should auto-load the film too so that’s another problem. Difficult to know with certainty without checking the camera myself but I think you have just been unlucky with the one you have.

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    Reply
    Gordie
    December 1, 2018 at 5:05 pm

    Got the prima i a few months ago (they’ve certainly gone up in a year by the sounds of it!), the lens carried over to the prima ii, and ran a roll of portra 800 through it to give it a decent shot – Liked the clarity, but just not as squeaky sharp as a Samsung Vega 77i that was being shot in parallel. Saying that, just got the Sleek because of the better handling, a loose battery door (sticky tape to the rescue) knocked £15 off the usual going rate. Going to run a lomography 400 colour film (contrasty and saturated) through it and see what it can produce. I’ve seen an online comparison between the prima i and the mju i (another 3.5 prime) and the Canon scores better, so it’s no pushover.

  • Reply
    5 Frames With a Canon Sure Shot Sleek - By Charlie Thom - 35mmc
    April 2, 2019 at 10:15 am

    […] You can find a fuller review about the Canon Sure Shot Sleek here […]

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