I do like ambition from a camera manufacturer. And when you’re one of the top players in the game you can afford to be confident. But when you call your camera the ‘Sure Shot Supreme’ or ‘Top Shot’ you’re really setting out your stall and putting your head above the parapet!
But what brought me to this little lump of 80’s plastic certainly wasn’t its legend. It’s not the camera that everyone talks about. In fact I’d never heard of it.
I had specific requirements I wanted to fulfil for an upcoming self sufficient European bike trip and looking on my shelf, although close, nothing in my collection fully fit the bill. Worth too much, too temperamental, too heavy, too bulky, too precious. This is what brought me to the idea of a compact.
After doing a lot of reading and listening to photography podcasts I knew that the prices for compacts had gone mad recently. In fact I’m way late to the party. Any chance of getting a cheap Yashica T4, Olympus Mju ii or Contax T2 are long gone. But, I thought there must be something out there still that had a nice fixed focal length, a wide f2.8 max aperture wrapped in a tough plastic shell. After all, these seem to be the characteristics people are looking for in a compact of a certain vintage.
So after a few nights looking on auction sites I came across this little beauty. There were numerous examples going around the £20 mark which I thought was a steal. I needed something that was tough, reasonably compact, easy and quick to use and wouldn’t make me cry if I dropped it on my week long trip. This example looked really clean, had a fresh battery, it’s original neck strap and leather hip pouch. Plus the owner had lovingly written a long and detailed description. I was sold.
Ok so it’s probably not considered to be a design classic. But then again, it does have a real 80’s charm about it. And being an 80’s child, that definitely has a certain appeal. It’s solid with its tough plastic exterior (shiny scratchy plastic) and a rubberised hand grip on the right that has perfect ergonomics. The lens has a nice door which flicks open with the push of a button on the front and powers up the camera. And a sliding button closes it again. It feels like a quality piece, and it’s lovely to hold.
It’s not light at around 350g. But for me the obsession with lightness doesn’t interest me. For something to feel like quality and be comfortable to use, I like a bit of weight and this with its massive 2CR5 battery this delivers.
I took a walk with the camera in the industrial areas around where I live purely to put a test roll through as quickly as possible (I am known for taking weeks or months finishing film) and overall I did enjoy using the Sure Shot. Of late I’ve mostly been using and Olympus OM2 SLR and a Zorki 4K rangefinder so to have something you have to put zero thought into using is a joy. Just line up the shot, half press to focus, recompose and fully press to take the shot.
But my experience of the Canon Sure Shot Supreme wasn’t perfect in the real world. You see it does have its quirks. Firstly, whenever you read anything about this camera you’ll see that you can override the flash. This is great for when you want to be a bit more conspicuous or you think the camera might have got the situation a bit wrong. The problem is, to do this you need to press the smallest button known to man situated on the base of the camera. A finger nail will do it but a simple press isn’t enough. You have to press and hold while you focus, compose and then take the shot. And this is a little tricky. You see some of the shots I got back where I’d overridden the flash weren’t the sharpest. I suspect this isn’t anything to do with the camera but is instead due to the fact I was trying to contort my hand around the body in order to hold this button while trying to keep the camera steady for the shot.
Secondly, and this is my biggest issue with the Canon Sure Shot Supreme. The shutter button is very numb. To focus on a subject requires the button to be half pressed and this isn’t too bad. but to then fully press the button to take the shot takes a lot of pressure and sometimes you miss the shot because of it. It’s a real shame. It just has no feel to it.
Don’t get me wrong though, I’ve only shot one roll with this thing and it has grown on me. I suspect with a little more use I will get used to its quirks and for £20 I didn’t expect the ultimate in analogue picture taking. Overall I do think this is a very solid performer.
So why is it then that the Canon Sure Shot Supreme isn’t commanding mega money? It has that sharp 35mm wide aperture lens. It’s quite nice to use. It’s tough. I haven’t heard any reliability horror stories. Well, I don’t really know. Maybe I’ve just discovered something the rest of the world hasn’t latched on to yet. Or maybe it’s that there are hundreds of the things out there flooding the market. To be honest, I don’t really care. I spent very little money on it. If I drop it and kill it it’s not the end of the world. If I’m ahead of the curve the value will only go up. Either way, I have a simple to use and reliable performer I really quite like that should serve me well while riding on the continent. That, I think is a win / win situation.
Deandent1 – my website is very much ‘under development’ so find me on Instagram as deandent1