Point & Shoot

The Canon Sprint (or AF35j, Jet or Autoboy Lite)

Canon Sprint

I spent a couple of weeks taking snaps with a little Canon Sprint. It wasn’t a camera I chose for its merits, nor did I know what the roll of film contained within it was. This might sound slightly unusual circumstances to shoot a camera, but actually it made what turned out to be an interesting camera all the more enjoyable to shoot.

Bad Beagle Camera

The Canon sprint in question was the Bad Beagle Photography Traveling Canon Sprint. Inspired – to some degree I believe – by the Travels of the Yashica T5, Michael has added a couple of twists to the story. The first is that you load the camera with a roll of 400iso film for the next person, without necessarily telling them what it is. The second is that the Sprint isn’t quite the sought after camera that the Yashica is. For me this gives it a bit of an edge in terms of enjoyment. There is no expectation with this camera – it is just an average looking unheard of point & shoot. And if your anything like me, you’ll find taking the time to shoot an average point & poke once in a while a very enjoyable experience. The Sprint was no exception – in fact, once I realised a few facts about its function, I quickly became very intrigued by its potential!

By any other name (or colour)

In true Canon style the Sprint has a whole bunch of completely different names. The one I had for a week or so is labeled ‘Sprint’ but you might find them under the name of ‘Canon AF35J Jet’ or ‘Canon  Autoboy lite’. They also apparently come in red as well as black.

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Canon Sprint Features

For something they gave three names and two colours you might be expecting a long feature list. If that’s the case, you should definitely set those expectations to one side. In fact, there’s really only a couple of modes, and beyond that it is very much a case of point & shoot. But – and as many readers of this blog will know, this is a big “but” – all point & shoots are not equal, and in the case of the Canon Sprint it has a few tricks up its sleeve that almost always gets praised by me…

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Macro flash

Before I get into the features I really like, it’s worth highlighting the macro flash. The camera strap has a little measuring marker on it at 45cm from the camera. By holding the strap out in front of the camera you can determine the closest focus distance. Apparently the When the macro flash is activated the Canon Sprint focuses to 0.69m. It must then rely on a smaller aperture and the power of the flash to accurately expose and focus at 45cm. How useful this is really depends on how strong your desire to take close up photos with a flash. Thanks to the smaller aperture though, the ones I took were pretty sharp.

Canon Sprint and Tmax400

The flash

With that out of the way, I can get to what actually interests me about this camera. There are a couple of features, but actually it all starts with the fact that the flash is not automatic. Yes, you read that right! The flash on this cameras default state is off – and it doesn’t flash unless you specifically ask it to! In fact, it doesn’t have an automatic flash at all.

It will tell you when it’s off, and it thinks it needs to be on by blinking a little light at you, but there is nothing forcing you to act on that blinking. If you ignore the flash warning, it simply doesn’t fire.

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Exposure

With many point & shoot cameras, not using the flash can be somewhat of a disaster. Many more fancy point & shoot cameras have no way to control the shutter speed. This means that when the flash is switched off, in lower light the camera will automatically select a shutter speed that’s far too low to be handheld.

This is far from unreasonable either. Choosing a shutter speed that equates to correct exposure is pretty much what you would hope an automatic camera would do, right? The problem is, if the light is low and you really don’t want to use the flash this sort of function limits the use of those sorts of cameras where the use of slow shutter speeds isn’t an issue. And unfortunately, even with some very nice-lensed cameras, there is very little way around this.

This is why I have a bit of a penchant for Cameras like the Canon AF35J. Unlike many point & shoot cameras it doesn’t do slow shutter speeds. Like the Olympus AF-10 super (another favourite of mine for the same reasons) it’s meter only works down to ev9 (100iso). Ev9 (100iso) in a camera with a lens with a f/3.5 maximum aperture gives a slowest shutter speed of around 1/45th. In short it doesn’t matter how dark it is, the camera is limited to 1/45, f/3.5 and the ISO of whatever film you put in.

Canon Sprint and Tmax400

Shot in too little light, handheld – the latitude of the film took the strain

DX coding

…And, just like the Olympus AF-10 this Canon Sprint has a DX code reader that is limited to only 100 and 400 ISO film. This again might seem like a limitation but if you want to use this camera for low light shooting, it actually becomes the final piece in the slightly shitty puzzle.

For example, if you put 3200iso film in the camera it will default to 100iso. This might sound bad, but all it really means is that when you are out shooting your 3200iso film in lower light, the camera just defaults to that 1/45th shutter speed and uses its f/3.5 widest aperture.

This is exactly the reason I liked the Olympus AF-10 super so much – especially after I modified it to not default to auto flash. But of course the Canon doesn’t have automatic flash straight out of the box… Which for me just makes this Camera the almost perfect combination of crappy features for a point & shoot. At least in theory. In practice it all comes down to the quality of the lens

The lens

Fortunately, the lens in the Canon Sprint pretty good too. Unfortunately, I’m not really able to say if it is any better or worse than the Olympus I’ve compared it to, as I only shoot one roll of film in it before I had to pass it on to the next person. Not only that, but the film was Kodak 400 tmax which is a film I’m not sure I’ve ever shot before, so find myself on shaky ground when trying to rate the lens in comparative terms.

That being said, it looks pretty good in terms of sharpness, distortions and doesn’t seem to vignette too heavily. You can judge for yourself, but my gut feeling is that it’s not going to be up there with the likes of the mju-ii, but it’s going to give most people perfectly a acceptable outcome.

Canon Sprint and Tmax400

Canon Sprint and Tmax400

Canon Sprint and Tmax400

Canon Sprint and Tmax400

Canon Sprint and Tmax400

Conclusions

So that’s that, a single roll of film through a very basic point & shoot. The joy of it all of course is that whilst the Canon Sprint an undoubtably basic camera, sometimes these basic cameras are designed be so basic that that they become abundantly useable.

It takes perfectly decent photos in good light, and whilst I perhaps wouldn’t hold it up next to the likes of the mju-ii in terms of lens quality, I often ask myself questions about how important that final ounce of lens quality actually is…?

And then of course, what makes a camera like this all the more facilitating is that if your interested in shooting in lower light – as you’ll read in even more depth in my my Olympus AF-10 review – these cameras make a perfectly viable option. In fact there is very little between the Olympus and Canon, they even both have active focusing which is arguably better for lower light shooting than some much more expensive passive AF cameras would be.

Really though, the best thing about these camera is that they can both be picked up for next to no money off eBay. They were never designed to be high end, high quality cameras, so the likelihood is, they will never demand good money on the second hand market. Yet in terms of there usability in a wide range of shooting circumstances – because of how crap they are – they can actually make a better choice than some significant more expensive cameras.

This is why – just like the AF-10 – the Canon Sprint is perfectly representative of the joy I get from shooting a point & shoot camera!

If you want to have a go with this camera get over to Bad Beagle and get in touch with Michael.


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Thanks,

Hamish

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15 Comments

  • Reply
    Blinx
    September 24, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    Good review, and my kind of camera for exactly the reasons you gave, Hamish.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      September 24, 2016 at 7:31 pm

      There’s lots of reasons to like lots of different cameras, but sometimes I think these sorts reasons aren’t acknowledged nearly as much as they could be

  • Reply
    George Appletre
    September 25, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Interesting photographs, Hamish.
    And actually amazed about the big bunch of different cameras you handle.
    There’s something very nice in discovering camera features, like how that will work… and they do in some times exciting manners

  • Reply
    Michael Rennie
    September 26, 2016 at 8:28 am

    Some great shots Hamish, I especially like all the different reflections and the portrait of your daughter.

    Seems like you got on well with it, I wonder if your glowing review will lead to prices rocketing on eBay??

    This particular camera was only £8, the next custodian was having trouble with Swiss customs not believing a camera could be worth that little!

    Thanks again for getting involved!

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      September 26, 2016 at 10:08 am

      Bloody customs! Has he got it yet … I think I put £8 on the box coincidentally … Maybe you told me £8…?
      It might see the price go up a bit, but not much I doubt – it’s still a very basic camera, and to some that’s just not good enough!
      Started writing my bit for you this morning!

  • Reply
    Dan James
    September 26, 2016 at 11:16 am

    This post is exactly the kind of writing and subject I read your blog for Hamish – semi-obscure and super cheap plastic cameras from 25+ years ago that can be great fun to use and produce very respectable results still today. Coincidentally I just one a batch of such cameras from eBay, which on closer inspections includes one of these Canons.

    More posts like these please (and less about Leicas 🙂 )…

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      September 26, 2016 at 3:14 pm

      Haha, I dunno about less Leica… Well short of the fact that I’m running out of them to talk about… There will always be these though!!
      What else was in that box?!? 🙂

      • Reply
        Dan James
        September 27, 2016 at 12:58 pm

        The camera that caught my eye in the “Joblot of camera’s” (sic) I won was one I’ve been interested in for a while, the Konica MT11. I have a C35 EF3 with 35/2.8 lens which is amazing. The MT11 is a slightly later AF compact, but I’m hoping it has a similarly sparkling lens, it’s also 35/2.8.

        There’s also one of the Canon Sprints like you’ve reviewed here, as I said, and a Ricoh with a 35/3.9 lens which looks mildly interesting. I’ve had very good experiences with Ricoh compacts, especially the FF-3 and TF-900.

        Of less interest are a Canon Sure Shot Caption Zoom, a focus free Fuji DL-something, a Vivitar 300Z and a Halina 110 camera.

        If a couple of them work (hopefully the MT11 and Canon Sprint) I’ll be happy given the price I paid. I’ll let you know in a few days!

        Ps/ Just off to read your latest post, written by Torsten. Oh, hang on, another Leica!!

        • Reply
          Hamish Gill
          September 27, 2016 at 3:05 pm

          oooo is the Ricoh a MF1 or 35R? If it is – I wouldn’t mind buying or borrowing it…?

          Thorsten’s post is a Leica … but its a shit Leica, so it doesn’t count! 😉

          • Dan James
            October 3, 2016 at 11:38 am

            Hamish, my job lot arrived, and I really like the Canon Sprint, possibly more than any other Canon P&S I’ve ever used. It really does seem well designed and for me the handling and ergonomics are excellent. Like you’ve highlighted, the limitations are in some ways its strengths, for example with 1/45s as the maximum shutter speed you never have to worry about having blurred images due to camera shake. I shot a roll in it yesterday and hope to get it processed in the next couple of weeks.

            The Ricoh wasn’t either of those you mentioned, and was a very basic model that turned out not to fully work anyway. I did get an FF-9 the other week though which I’ve also just put a test roll through. The 35/3.5 4 element lens should be pretty capable, and I’ve had very good experiences with other Ricohs like the FF-3 and TF-900.

  • Reply
    Ken Hindle-May
    September 26, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    Nice idea about low light shooting with Delta 3200 in something like this. Out of interest, how would you go about developing it? Would you just dev as if shot at box, or push it a bit? Or even pull it? I might have to buy a roll or two and see what the trusty Miranda makes of it!

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      September 26, 2016 at 3:22 pm

      Just dev it as usual, or push it a bit if you like … The idea is that you are basically just shooting at a fixed exposure value. 1/45th, 3.5 and 3200 is about 4ev – with a bunch of latitude that’ll see you right for a lot of low light shooting situations.
      I prefer hp5 – same deal, just shoot away then push +3

  • Reply
    anil mistry
    September 29, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    love the shots..I think I have one of these but the flash doesn’t work. Must give it a try!

  • Reply
    Michael Rennie
    October 5, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    Hamish, I just posted up your thoughts on the Sprint on my blog, thanks again for getting involved! I’m looking to write some more for 35mmc.com soon!

    http://www.badbeaglephotography.com/blog/2016/10/3/the-travelling-canon-af35-project-custodian-3

  • Reply
    Zoltan
    September 18, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    I got this camera from a lot of untested cameras. I took it on vacation along with other cameras of course. I put an expired Superia 100 in it and started shooting photos on the beach. The results were awesome! Very sharp lens! And the feeling is very nice too. I enjoy the open-close lid, it makes it very fast and easy ot use. The colors were great but I don´t know what % is for the camera and what % is for the film. The flash doesn´t work so I couldn´t test it. One of my favorites point & shoot along with the Olympus AF-1 super.

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