Canon Sure Shot 130u II Date: One of Canon’s Last Film Cameras

By Azriel Knight

The Sure Shot 130u II Date was one of three point and shoot cameras released in March 2005 and represents the last film camera release of any kind from Canon. The other two, the 115u II date and 90u II date were released the next month. Even for a point and shoot, it’s incredibly small at just 4.2 x 2.3 x 1.8 in./107 x 59 x 44.5mm.

When you load film, it goes into the right-hand side, so while the numbering on your film strips will be accurate, all the images will be flipped upside down.

The Sure Shot 130u II lens is a 38-130mm zoom, and I have to say, extending the zoom to 130mm is nothing short of offensive. The max aperture is not printed, but after using it I suspected it was f5.6 and I checked the specs online and was partially correct, it’s f5.6 to f12.5 depending on the level of zoom.

Sure Shot 130u II lens extended

The Sure Shot 130u II takes a single CR2 battery, and is easily installed without the need for a screwdriver, or coin, or anything but a fingernail to open the compartment door. The viewfinder is not through the lens but will zoom with you. The max shutter speed is 1/500th when wide, and 1/340th when zoomed. It has the usual shooting modes like sport, portrait and macro, and it gives you four different options for date stamping. You will not be able to determine shutter or aperture in your photos and have little control over them outside the presets.

Sure Shot 130u II top

Field Test

I knew the Sure Shot 130u II would work just fine in daylight, or with the flash because that is what it was designed for. What I wanted to see was how it responded when pushed to its limits, so I plugged a roll of Acros II 100 into it and set out to take some nature photos at sunrise. I know, I’m setting myself up for failure and many of my shots didn’t turn out, for sure, but if I had simply gone out mid-day and took photos of well-lit subjects I’d have nothing to say about this camera but “it works fine”. In hindsight though, I would have brought a light meter to keep track of when it failed and by how much.

I went to a nature reserve right in the middle of the city called Nose Hill Park, and set off on a 5KM hike at dawn.

I was able to test the flash in the parking lot with this abandoned unicorn. Probably my sharpest photo of the day.

I would say my first dozen frames were all garbage. It could neither focus, nor expose.

I chose this hike because my All Trails app said there was a lake about half way through, what I ended up reaching was a puddle.

I find this camera just doesn’t know where to focus when it needs to get to infinity. You’ll also note that my lens is very soft on the right when wide.

I took the opportunity to test each of the four date stamping types and each one came out clear in funky retro dots.

This was probably my best shot of the roll. The sun was up and I came across a teepee and managed to get a focused, well-exposed image, other then the soft right-side (top) edge.

If it isn’t obvious, the Sure Shot 130u II wasn’t designed for the professional or even enthusiast. This was your grandma’s camera and in 2005 it was for the casual user who refused to go digital. In 2023, this is nothing more than a toy in my opinion. For parties and casual snapping. If you’re looking for a camera with little weight that you can just grab-and-go, this isn’t it. It tries to be too much in terms of zoom. Even if you popped in some 800 iso film, the shutter is still going to max at 1/500th…200 or 400 ISO is about all that should be used here and honestly, the only reason I went with Acros II 100 is an unrelated commitment to myself to stick with one film for the foreseeable future. I would have pushed it to 400, if the camera allowed that.

I was going to sell this but knowing mine is soft on the one side, likely do to being bumped at some point, I may just send it off to the thrift store where I found it.

You might accuse me of having high expectations, and I would agree, but the solutions to my gripes with this camera are all software based. Even exposure compensation would go a long way. All Canon had to do was what Fujifilm has done with Instax and list it as “darker” and “lighter”. The technology was all there in 2005.

Recommendations

  • The Sure Shot 130u II does its best work at close to mid-range shooting, in strong light or with the flash.
  • If I were to use this on a regular basis I would likely date stamp my first and last image with the time to keep track of things, despite the loss of two frames, because it’s likely the type of camera I’d pick up, take a few snaps then toss in a drawer.
  • If you’re turning the power on and off as you go, it’s four clicks of the mode button to disable the flash.
  • While it does have a half press function, I would not rely on it to do its job unless the subject is clearly separate from the background.

I’d like to read your point and shoot recommendations in the comments.

Check out my You Tube channel where I make videos on the history of photography.

Stay Classic!

 

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About The Author

By Azriel Knight
Calgary resident and film photography enthusiast.
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Comments

Bill Brown on Canon Sure Shot 130u II Date: One of Canon’s Last Film Cameras

Comment posted: 30/09/2023

I had a Sure Shot Z115 from the 90's till it passed away in 2007. The zoom lens became stuck at 35 for the last several years of it's life so that was actually a good composition learning time for me. I think I used practically every feature that camera had at one time or another. Even titled some photos of my niece's graduation day. Had some focus issues on occasion when using the self-timer but very happy with how it functioned in everyday use. When our daughter was born in 2001 it became my everyday companion. I still shot special moments with my F1-n but the Z115 was better suited for fast moving and changing action.

One Christmas in the early 2000's saw us in very tight financial circumstances as my 25 year business as an analogue retoucher was tanking. I crafted my daughter a replica of the Z115 using an empty cereal box as the construction material. The inside of the box was similar to the grey color of the camera and I gave it a working viewfinder. She "used" her camera to photograph her stuffed animals and toys just like her daddo.(correct spelling) Her daddy could do whatever she asked of him. Anyway, that homemade Z115 is now a special keepsake of hers.

In 2020 as she graduated high school I produced a special photo print project of her life that I posted on her door each week till graduation day. I scanned the 4x6 optical prints from her early childhood shot with that camera and I was very pleased with the quality of those images in all lighting situations. I personally liked the date stamp. Remember I'm a retoucher so removing that info, if I desire, is all in a days work.

The P&S that took it's place in 2008 was a Rollei Prego 90. It is still part of my everyday camera kit and once I learned it's idiosyncrasies I have gotten many pleasing shots over the years. The other camera in my carry around kit is a Contax G2 and there have been times I have preferred the matching shot from the Rollei.

So sorry your experience was a downer. The Z115 existed before digital so maybe that impacted it's design and function. I looked at early digital P&S cameras but the shutter lag and file quality just couldn't match my Z115. Now all these years later I've still never made the switch and I don't have a smart phone so I'm one of those people.
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Kodachromeguy replied:

Comment posted: 30/09/2023

What a sweet story about the cereal box and your later photo print project. We need more reminiscances like this during these times of troubles.

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Huss on Canon Sure Shot 130u II Date: One of Canon’s Last Film Cameras

Comment posted: 30/09/2023

The photo of Batman dropping his pizza and drink while looking up in shock is hysterical! Well done!
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shawn granton on Canon Sure Shot 130u II Date: One of Canon’s Last Film Cameras

Comment posted: 30/09/2023

Hey Azriel, sorry to hear about your bad luck with this camera. It would be nice if it had a few more features to deal with the issues that came up, but I'm guessing by that point Canon saw the writing on the wall and didn't want to invest much into it.

If you're looking for something similar, I've had good luck with the Pentax IQZoom 170SL which was release a few years before the Canon. It's pretty small and has both infinity and spot focusing settings. An earlier model, the 928, was bulkier but had infinity lock and exposure compensation that stayed on until you turned it off or roll was done, whichever came first. So those might be worth exploring, especially since they still can be found for cheap.

But in any case, using 100 speed film in these cameras is definitely pushing it, as they work best with 400, or even 800 speed film.
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Tom Perry on Canon Sure Shot 130u II Date: One of Canon’s Last Film Cameras

Comment posted: 01/10/2023

Unlucky on the decentred lens, Azriel. I've handled some of the final U II series, and it is fair to say they don't seem built to last. Their value has risen way above their worth, and they aren't as good the Z series from the 90's which have sharper lenses and better specs (Z115/135).

If I was going to make a recommendation on purchasing from this series, I would say go for the 90. Although there's not a huge amount in it, the aperture is brighter (f/4.7-10.5), so portrait mode should theoretically be able to give you slightly more separation, and the focal length will force you to get closer to the subject.
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Jim Melcher on Canon Sure Shot 130u II Date: One of Canon’s Last Film Cameras

Comment posted: 02/10/2023

I used on of these as a backup camera on a trip to New York City a decade ago. My main camera that trip was a Fed 5. I have as many faves from the Sureshot that trip as from the Fed. It’s a pretty sneaky street camera, as it turns out. It was really handy on the above-ground ‘subways’ in Queens—beautiful candid street shots. I consider these to be overlooked gems.
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Felipe Chaves on Canon Sure Shot 130u II Date: One of Canon’s Last Film Cameras

Comment posted: 27/02/2024

This is my daily camera, always in my pocket. I understand is not a fit for everyone. Also a big fan of the little dots dates. IG: @chaaaaves if anyone wants to see more examples of its little gem
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