I want to say a few things here about my recently acquired Canon SureShot. It’s a camera that I was given by my dad that he had picked up from his work. My 35mm SLR recently died and so when he presented me with this camera, I was practically ecstatic. It doesn’t have the same quality of features or build as an SLR, but it is still a decent camera and can be had on Amazon for as little as $10-$15 when they formerly cost around $300 new. It is a fairly light camera, but still feels sturdy and while it relies on automatic exposure and focusing, it still makes a good “walking around camera.” I ran a roll of Kodak Ultramax 400 (dreadful stuff, but I should have better film soon) through it during the local Hickok Days event, and while it forced me to work in a slightly different way than usual, it was a completely positive experience.
The first useful thing about the camera is the exposure compensation button. This allows me to properly expose for a backlit scene. However, I would like a button that allows me to adjust the exposure down and not just up. Also, my preferred method is to fill the viewfinder with a scene that should give the correct exposure, half-press the shutter button, and recompose. Experimentation will show if this method works.
Another feature I like is the multi-exposure button. This makes it easy to do double exposures without too much hassle. By “too much,” I mean that the button is tricky to depress, and it took some experimenting to depress the ME (multi-exposure) button, then half-depress the shutter and take the picture. Once I got the hang of it, though, the frame advance disengages, and the camera resets to superimpose a second image onto the film, allowing for more creative control. This is an improvement over my ME Super, which does not have a dedicated feature and instead relied on the “three-finger method.” This wasn’t bad, except for the film not advancing fully.
As for the rest of the camera, it’s a mixed bag. The flash seems to work well, although it’s strange how the range at the
WIDE zoom setting is 16ft and the range at the TELE setting is 10ft. I’m not sure why this would be. There are three settings on the flash: On, Auto, and Off. This allows for both fill-in flash when set to On and long exposures when set to Off. Interestingly, the 40-70mm 1:2.8-4.9 lens is not a true zoom but a “dual-lens.” In other words, it has only two settings and no inbetween focal lengths. Supposedly, this avoids the quality issues inherent in zooms. There is a built-in soft-focus filter that flips down over the lens for giving a nice diffusion effect to images. I believe that other filters can also be screwed on to the lens.
My two peeves (that aren’t all that major) are encountered after finishing a roll or replacing the battery. In order to rewind the film, there is a pin-sized button on the bottom of the camera. I would very much like to not have to get a pen or some other small, pointy object every time I need to retrieve the film. A larger button that is able to be pushed in by a fingertip or edge of a fingernail is common, so why not this camera?
The Canon SureShot Tele does have a few drawbacks, but it is still a good camera for taking snapshots. It is not something I would recommend for serious photography, but for more casual shooting, it is worthwhile to try to find one of the deals available for this little nugget.