Reviews: Canon Prima Super 135 – Party On!

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The Canon Prima Super 135, also known as the Sureshot Z135 in North America, is a pre-loved film camera that one of my relatives gave me last year. Here’s my take on this camera.

Last year I started to shoot film again. When one of my relatives learnt about this, he told me that he had an old compact point-and-shoot film camera and will be happy to give it to me if I wanted it. How could I say no?

A couple of weeks later, I got it in my hands. It was a Canon Prima Super 135. A quick inspection showed that it still had batteries (CR123A) in it and I could fire it up!

First impressions were mixed. Big but light and relatively comfortable to hold, had a quick mode dial at the back of the camera and a zoom length from 38 to 135mm. What’s more, it had an exposure compensation, self-timer, flash mode, film rewind and caption buttons hidden by a switch cover.

The negative aspects are its small view finder, which I felt was awkwardly located off centre to the right. It’s auto-DX coded, which means that I can’t select my ISO speed. Also, as someone who doesn’t like to use flash that much, switching the flash off can be fiddly. What’s more, the flash pops up whenever the camera is switch on.

I found a manual online but after a quick glance, I decided to just go out and shoot! Here’s what I found about the camera after shooting a couple rolls of film.

Because of the way the strap is looped, I initially thought that it would make a great shoot from the hip camera. I thought that I could just hang it as shown below and press the shutter with my left thumb.

I loaded it with a roll of ISO 800 film and went shooting from the hip. It so happened that there was a traveling night market near my place and decided to test out my theory there. Well, my idea didn’t work out as planned.

You have to keep the camera steady to shoot from the hip.

But used normally, then you will get rather decent photos as seen in my stories:
1. “Discovering a Historic World War II Site”: http://www.lomography.com/magazine/locations/2011/12/08/discovering-a-historic-world-war-ii-site
2. “Sculptured He(art)s”: http://www.lomography.com/magazine/locations/2012/01/24/sculptured-he-art-s.

My thoughts about this camera are mixed. But I know that this will be the camera I’ll use at parties. It’s so simple to use. Just point and shoot.

But here’s the kicker. A couple of weeks later, the same relative gave me another film camera. It was the Canon Prima Super 135 with a date function, creatively called Canon Prima Super 135N. N for New? Still, I am thankful for these cameras and I have learnt how to leverage their strengths.

written by uncle_jay on 2012-10-08 in #reviews #singapore #hip-shot #mistakes #35mm #npz-800 #night-market #canon

3 Comments

  1. jaszee
    jaszee ·

    Saw this model over at our local photography forum. tempted to buy too, but heard the noise of the film transport is unbearable tho. but looks like your model is a great set

  2. uncle_jay
    uncle_jay ·

    @jazee: Thanks. So far so good. But I use it outdoors so I don't really notice the film advance noise.

  3. mcneil
    mcneil ·

    @jazee as the manual describes (one ought to read manuals :)) the S-auto mode actually suppresses the transport and rewind noise for near silent shooting!

    This camera retailed for around $300 US when introduced in 1996. It was not intended as a throw away point and shoot. Of course you can use it as a point and shoot with an impressive range of features that can be harnessed for SLR results. It accepts up to 3200 ISO film, has shutter speeds down to 1/1,200 sec, and a relatively fast maximum aperture of 3.6. The X3.6 zoom range (38-135mm) is more than adequate for most normal photographic projects.

    This camera is very versatile and can be used creatively. It features seven programmed settings: auto, action (biased to fastest shutter speed), night (biased to maximum aperture which can be used to optimize bokeh effects if you suppress the flash), portrait (the camera automatically zooms in in the top half of the subject and the flash fires to add sparkle to the subject's eyes), macro (focal length is fixed to 94mm minimum distance 1.3 feet), spot (normal three spot focus is replaced with centre spot), S-auto (same as auto but camera runs silent).

    The camera offers +1.5 and -1.5 exposure compensation - a feature that allows the user to compensate for a back lit (+1.5) or a spot lit (-1,5) subject. The camera has a date display function and five optional display captions in four languages:

    I love you
    Thank you!
    Happy Birthday
    Season's Greeting
    Congratulations

    If you want to approach this camera with an SLR-mindset you need to intervene by actively turning the flash off at every setting. This will enable natural lighting and maximum aperture and a minimum depth of field (except for action mode) in the night mode. Alternatively you can just leave it in auto and trust the camera to give you the best results for the lighting available.

    I picked the camera up - in near mint condition - at a Thrift store for $2.99 on June 13, 2015. I installed two new lithium batteries ($20). I'll be posting images soon.

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