Canon Sure Shot Supreme Review: Or Autoboy 3

Last Updated on February 10, 2023

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The Canon Sure Shot Supreme is a very unique camera, with functions that at first seem like a mystery to be discovered. But they are very interesting and are the cause of good conversation among friends.

The 80s marked an important transition for photography with the arrival of electronics, paving the way for a new wave of increasingly younger enthusiasts. Many of us discovered our passion at home, with a camera very similar to this one.

The Sure Shot Supreme was also known as “Autoboy 3” in Japan and “Top Shot” in Europe. Names that definitely show its growth in confidence as it arrives in America.

Canon Sure Shot Supreme front

Sure Shot Supreme Full Specs

Year Release1986
Camera typeCompact point and shoot film camera
Film type35mm
FocusFully automatic, triangulation system w/ prefocussing
Lens38mm f/2.8, 4 elements in 4 groups
Aperture rangef/2.8 to f/16
Minimum focus distance0.8 meters
ShutterElectronic shutter/aperture
Shutter speeds1/8 sec to 1/500, EV 6 to 17
ISODX, ISO 50, 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600
Self-timer10 seconds delay, blinks last 2 seconds
ViewfinderWindowed, 0.45x magnification
Built-in Flash powerGN 8
Battery2CR5, 6v lithium battery
Dimensions132 x 71 x 50 mm
Weight315 g (with battery)

General aspects

The Canon Sure Shot Supreme is the third version of the Sure Shot line, also known as “Autoboy” in Japan. It was released in 1986 with a series of distinctive features that set it apart not only from the previous models in the line, but also from other point and shoot cameras.

The most notable change is in design, with its rounded and curved lines, it seems more like a camera manufactured in the 90s than in the 80s.

Autoboy 3 top and back

It is interesting to note that the previous model, the Sure Shot AF35 II, is very similar in design and performance to the Nikon AF35. However, the contemporary version of this new model in the Nikon line (the Nikon AF35 II) barely changes except for some details.

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I make this comparison because both point and shoot lines are direct rivals, at least commercially. A more worthy rival would be the legendary Yashica T3, but this did not come out until 2 years later.

Let’s take a look at some interesting features right away.

Features

1. Flash capabilities

The flash functions on this camera are crazy, not because they’re particularly noteworthy, which they actually are, but because of the unconventional way they are implemented. You can do without knowing them and never really use them.

You just point and shoot, and if the flash fires, great, and if not, that’s fine too. But if you want to achieve specific things or avoid them, it’s best to master them.

Forced flash Off

Canon Sure Shot Supreme flash off button

To force the flash to go off, the camera has a small button on the bottom that serves as a flash release lock, it requires you to hold it down while taking the picture. This can result in an uncomfortable and poorly ergonomic posture. Your photos might even turn out shaky, so make sure you haven’t had too much coffee before.

Forced flash On

Sure Shot Supreme force the flash to turn on

To force the flash to turn on, Canon includes a small device on the strap of the Sure Shot Supreme that functions as a plug, which must be fitted into the flash sensor hole, which is responsible for signaling to the camera that the scene lacks light and the flash needs to be fired.

However, simply covering the sensor with your finger will achieve the same result. It may be helpful to use the device for a complete session, so that you don’t have to put your finger on the sensor for each shot.

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2. Lens

Canon Sure Shot Supreme lens

The lens of this camera is one of its strongest aspects, not only because it has a large aperture for its class (f/2.8), but also because it offers quite good results. There is no vignetting in the photos, it has good contrast, and there is no noticeable distortion.

3. Design

Despite some button placement issues on the Canon Sure Shot Supreme, it can’t be denied that it’s a visually striking camera, especially considering that it was manufactured in the mid-80s.

The Yashica T3 looks quite “outdated” in comparison. The curves, grip ergonomics, and other details make the Sure Shot Supreme ahead of its time in this aspect.

4. Tilt knob

Canon Sure Shot Supreme tilt knob

Another crazy and unjustly undervalued design idea is the “tilt knob” on the bottom of the camera. What it does is offer a slight upward tilt for those photos that use the timer, that is, for selfies and group photos.

It may seem silly but how many of us haven’t placed something under the camera to focus the frame on the upper body… I usually use the lens cap for this purpose, for example. It’s a subtle and very useful idea.

5. Lens cover open button

Canon Sure Shot Supreme open/close cover

The way to open and close the lens cover can also seem lacking in design, and this may be true. It uses a button to open and a slider to close the cover, something that could easily have been done in the classic way, with a slider for both stages.

Obviously this design experiment didn’t work out, as the more modern Sure Shot models only include a slider.

6. Battery replacement

A feature that may be annoying (for some) is the battery replacement issue with this camera, as to do so you have to use nothing less than a screwdriver.

Yes, you have to remove two screws to access the camera compartment located underneath the grip. The truth is that it’s not something you’ll change frequently, as the battery can easily last for an entire year.

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Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Fast and reliable
  • Long battery life
  • Flash firing control

Cons

  • Non-intuitive functions
  • Complicated battery change process
  • Somewhat heavy for its type

Focus/metering considerations

The Sure Shot Supreme is fully automatic when it comes to exposure, focus, and ISO film speed reading. So there are certain considerations for each of these.

The ISO is obtained by reading the DX code of the film roll, with which it will be able to calculate the appropriate exposure/aperture for each scene. However, it only understands ISOs with integer values between 50 and 1600.

That is, it cannot read film rolls of ISO 160, nor rolls smaller than ISO 50 or larger than 1600. Instead, it will consider these rolls as ISO 100.

The measurement is center-weighted, as is the focus. So when shooting, it will only focus on what is in the center of the frame. And like all automatic cameras, it is possible to pre-focus before shooting (just by pressing the shutter button). So it comes in handy when framing and taking advantage of the good “bokeh” that this lens produces.

Price and buying guide

Depending on the state, the Canon Sure Shot Supreme can cost between $30-100. Some can even be more expensive if they come in their original box (which is very rare). But in general, it is a very affordable camera.

It’s important to note that these cameras tend to hold up well over time and don’t usually break down. However, sometimes they are stored with the battery inside the compartment, and the battery can leak and corrode the interior.

Many people keep the battery inside because they don’t want to have to unscrew the camera to remove it.

On the other hand, make sure the lens is in good condition. Another common practice is to leave the camera with the lens cover open and the lens unprotected. This can result in scratches and moisture damage to the optics.

See prices on Amazon

Photos samples

Some photographs taken with a Canon Sure Shot Supreme.

Final thoughts

The Canon Sure Shot Supreme is a camera with certain unique features that make it special, but even more so, it offers notable features that make it an affordable and high-quality camera.

It is solid in construction and reliable. It is not a camera that you can go wrong with.

Camera manual: https://www.cameramanuals.org/canon_pdf/canon_sureshot_supreme_topshot.pdf


Author: Jorge Ferrufino

Written by Jorge Ferrufino

I am a fashion photographer and an analog photography enthusiast since the beginning of my career (15 years ago). I have had the opportunity and honor of showcasing my work in various galleries and publications around the world.


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