Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom – Compact Zooming

Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom

The Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom is a camera made in the midst of the plastic compact frenzy called the 1990’s.  This period sure gave us some gems but also a lot of capable every day snap shooters.  These were aimed at capturing moments in people’s lives, taken on travel and just being convenient.  That is also the reason why there are so many with zoom lenses and not just the high quality primes.

The Sure Shot 70 is one of these zoom cameras. Pocketable (biggish pocket), easy to use, fully automatic, 2x optical zoom and shiny black, what more convenience could you ask for?

Sleeping headless man, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Tri-X 400 @ EI 800
Sleeping headless man, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Tri-X 400 @ EI 800

This particular camera is one I have had since new. As such, it has captured some very important memories for my family and me. This includes capturing the moments soon after my first son’s entry into this world.  I only wish I had not switched to digital by the time my second son was born to have physical film of the occasion.

The Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom goes by a few names depending where in the world it was sold.  It was called by this name in the Americas, the Autoboy Luna 35 in Japan and Prima Zoom 70 in Europe, Asia and Oceania.  Considering I bought it in Australia, I am not sure why I have the American version.

A similar design in compact cameras, the Nikon Lite.Touch 140 Zoomhas been reviewed on this site as well as a clam shell Olympus XA3. Another Sure Shot has been reviewed here, the amazing waterproof Sure Shot A1.  

Standing in sunlight, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Ultramax 400
Standing in sunlight, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Ultramax 400

History

The Sure Shot range by Canon was started with the original Sure Shot in 1979.  It was also called the Canon AF35M.  It was Canon’s first autofocus 35mm compact camera.  Canon continued with the Sure Shot range through to 2005.

During this period Canon became a key player in the compact camera market, releasing many models.  Each model had key features, some with very high quality prime lenses, some with convenient zoom lenses.  Even waterproof and tough construction models exist.

Crossing street, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Tri-X 400 @ EI 800
Crossing street, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Tri-X 400 @ EI 800

Cameras with a sliding lens cover were all the rage during this period, as it allowed the camera to protect its lens, but as the same time turn on and off very quickly.  It only made sense that Canon follow the design.

In April 1995 Canon released the Sure Shot 70 Zoom.  It was not aimed at anything other than the consumer “family” market, but even so it sold for AUD $499.  That translates to roughly AUD $850 in 2019.  For USD that is $350 and $600 respectively.  With that price it falls into the higher end compact market.

Camera Specifics

The Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom is a 35mm compact camera produced in 1995.  It is constructed in black plastic with a clamshell sliding lens cover design.  The sliding cover also turns the camera on and off. Most of the camera’s functionality is automatic, including auto focus, exposure and film advancing.

Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom

It has a 35-70mm f/4.2-7.8 zoom lens.  The zoom is controlled by a rocker lever at the back of the camera.  The lens retracts when closed and automatically pops out when the camera is opened. Autofocus is achieved through a Canon named 3-point Smart Autofocus system.  Canon calls this AI-AF autofocus, with AI meaning Artificial Intelligence Focus.  Basically, it means the camera decides which focus point to use for you, but you can pre-focus by half pressing the shutter release.

The shutter release is at the top of the camera which does not have a remote release thread.  Also on top is the automatic pop up flash.  It always rises when the camera is turned on but can be overridden by holding it down.

Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom

The back of the camera has an LCD which counts the frames and shows you the various modes.  A button to the left of under the LCD allows selection of the various flash modes, which include flash off, on and flash with red-eye reduction.  The button to the right enables the self timer. A third button rewinds the film and requires the sharp nib on the camera strap attachment to depress it.  A film reminder window is also at the back of the camera.

The viewfinder has 84% coverage and 0.72x magnification when the zoom is at the widest.  This reduces as the lens and viewfinder both zoom in, to 0.36x magnification.  There is a green LED to the right of the viewfinder which notifies the user that the camera is ready to fire. This is controlled by the full program mode metering which has sensitivity of EV 5 through to 17.  

It automatically reads the DX code for the film speed with a range of ISO 25 through to 3200.  The only way override it to hack the DX code as can be shown here; Film DX Coding – A photographer’s life hack.

Native mural/Dog Photographer, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Ultramax 400
Native mural/Dog Photographer, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Ultramax 400

The Experience

As I mentioned above, I have had this Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom since new, so for 24 years.  It has been with me all over the world, especially in my younger years.  I have captured some important moments in my life then and afterwards later in my family’s life.  For this review I wanted a fresh look at the camera as I had not used it properly in years.   So I loaded it up with some new film and took it with me sporadically over a few months.

For the Black and White photos, I used Kodak Tri-X, but I wanted to push it one stop to EI 800.  This is one of the drawbacks in my shooting that I hit early on, as the camera reads the DX codes off the film canister and does not give you a choice.  I hacked the DX code and off I went.

St. Mary’s Cathedral, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Tri-X 400 at EI 800
St. Mary’s Cathedral, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Tri-X 400 at EI 800

Using a compact camera is sometimes really refreshing.  Auto everything, just concentrate on framing and shoot.  This was no exception, I loved being able to just capture a picture easily without any fuss.  Pulling the camera out and sliding the cover back is a nice fluid motion.  

Overall the useability is quite straight forward and no fuss.  The zoom is a little slow and loud to zoom in and out, but nothing alarming.  The flash always turns itself into a ready mode after the camera has been off, which is annoying.  Easy to just hold it down when making a photograph, but it does impact the usability.  You need to have both hands to do this which takes the convenience away.

Matt, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Tri-X 400 at EI 800
Matt, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Tri-X 400 at EI 800

The results are of a decent quality. Vignetting is visible at all but the widest zoom settings, but not overly so until the fully extended zoom is used.  Contrast is not as snappy as it could be. I have found that from this camera I have needed to bump it up a little in post compared to some of my other lenses.

Sharpness is good, but being a slow zoom, it is not something that would earn accolades in the lens department.

Exposure has been very good though.  Apart from some photos with lots of sky, it has been quite accurate.  I did not have many photos which were either over or under exposed.  In that sense it is exactly what you want out of this camera, just press the button.

Hands, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Tri-X 400 at EI 800
Hands, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Tri-X 400 at EI 800

After a quarter of a century, this little compact camera has continued to perform.  It is nothing fancy, but it is very capable and will produce exactly what it was designed to do, capture memories with enough quality to appreciate the results. The Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom can be picked up for very little these days.  If you are looking for an easy to use compact, this is definitely worth a consideration.

Old monorail station, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Tri-X 400 at EI 800
Old monorail station, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Tri-X 400 at EI 800
Statue and tower, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Tri-X 400 at EI 800
Statue and tower, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Tri-X 400 at EI 800
Reflections, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Ultramax 400
Reflections, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Ultramax 400
Oscar, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Tri-X 400 at EI 800
Oscar, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Tri-X 400 at EI 800
Alec, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Tri-X 400 at EI 800
Alec, Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, Kodak Tri-X 400 at EI 800

Related Links

Alan Duncan at Canny Cameras has a good write up of a sibling to this camera, the Canon Sure Shot 60 Zoom, showing what you can get with a very small investment with these cameras.  Canon Sure Shot 60 Zoom Review – Poundland Challenge Camera No 7.

Hamish Gill of 35mmc writes how his experience panned out with the Canon Prima 120, which is the a longer zoom variant of Sure Shot range.  Canon Prima 120 – My Current Telephoto Lens of Choice!

10 Comments

  • Jim Grey May 4, 2019 at 11:23 pm

    Any 90s point and shoot is a gamble, because so many even from the major makers were crap. Nice to know this one is so capable!

    Reply
  • Theo May 4, 2019 at 11:30 pm

    Fully agree Jim. Even within the Sure Shot line there is quite a variance in quality!

    Reply
  • Jim Grey May 5, 2019 at 4:06 am

    Test comment

    Reply
  • The Analogue Week 3 - Good Evening Mr Bond. we've been expecting you - Canny Cameras May 5, 2019 at 8:04 am

    […] more standard AF Zoom compact fare you could do worse than the Canon Sure Shot 70. Theo at Photo Thinking has had his for almost a quarter of century and tells us why it’s a […]

    Reply
  • knitnatterfamilyfun May 5, 2019 at 10:34 am

    Great article

    Reply
  • Jim Grey May 5, 2019 at 11:45 pm

    That’s what’s maddening. Fortunately, the Internet is now littered with great reviews like yours to help us sort it out!

    Reply
  • Mike Eckman May 6, 2019 at 11:13 pm

    Testing your test.

    Reply
  • beowulf May 7, 2019 at 8:44 am

    Ha, those point and shoots from the 1990s. Brings back good memories. Felt like the future back then. 🙂

    Reply
    • Theo May 7, 2019 at 1:17 pm

      Sure did. I remember buying this and amazed at what it could do automatically!

      Reply
  • Nikon L35AF – Pikaichi - Photo Thinking - Camera Review September 8, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    […] compacts which have been reviewed here include the Nikon Lite.Touch 140 Zoom, the Canon Sure Shot 70 Zoom, and the Canon Sure Shot […]

    Reply

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