Canon Z85 Overview: A Dive into the 1994 Classic Camera

Last Updated on December 13, 2023

The Canon Z85 Sure Shot, launched in March 1994, represents a specific era in camera technology, marked by the rapid evolution of autofocus systems and the popularization of compact designs. Priced at 54,000 yen (around $400 US), including a case and remote control, this model was part of Canon’s response to the growing demand for easy-to-use, portable cameras that appealed to a broad range of users.

In this overview, we’ll examine the Canon Z85 Sure Shot’s technical aspects, design, and functionalities. The camera was a fully automatic 35mm Lens-Shutter autofocus camera, featuring a zoom lens and designed to offer a balance between simplicity and performance.

Canon Z85

During the early 90s, the photography market was experiencing significant shifts, with autofocus and compactness becoming key selling points for new cameras. The Canon Z85 Sure Shot, fitting into this trend, offered features like a 38-85mm f/3.8-8 lens, a 3-point Smart Autofocus system, and a built-in flash. It was aimed at consumers seeking a straightforward, point and shoot camera for everyday photography.

Canon Z85 Specs

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SpecificationDetails
MarketedMarch 1994
Original Price$400 US
TypeFully automatic 35mm Lens-Shutter autofocus camera with zoom lens
Picture Size24×36 mm, panorama (13x36mm) for Japanese version
AF System3-point Smart Autofocus with near-infrared beam
Lens38-85mm f/3.8-8 (8 elements in 7 groups)
ShutterElectromagnetic programmed shutter and aperture
ViewfinderDirect zoom viewfinder, 0.38x – 1.82x magnification, 84% coverage
EEComposite SPC for full-auto program EE with 3-zone metering
Built-in FlashFixed, variable coverage, Guide No. 8.5 – 11.5 at ISO 100
Autodate FeatureImprints year, month, day, time; selectable captions in four languages
Power SourceTwo 3V CR123A lithium batteries
Film Loading & AdvanceAuto loading, automatic film advance with motor
Frame CounterTwo-digit counter with 7-segment LCD
Film RewindAutomatic rewind with motor, midroll rewind feature
Dimensions & Weight128 x 70 x 64 mm, 310 g (with batteries)

Technical Breakdown of Canon Z85 Autoboy Features

The 38-85mm f/3.8-8 Lens

Canon Z85

The Canon Z85 Autoboy featured a 38-85mm f/3.8-8 zoom lens, composed of 8 elements in 7 groups. This lens configuration was designed to offer versatility in various shooting conditions, though it’s important to note the narrow aperture range, which could limit performance in low light conditions.

Autofocus System

Canon Z85 top view

Equipped with a 3-point Smart Autofocus system using a near-infrared beam, the Z85 Autoboy sought to provide accurate focusing. This autofocus technology was a step forward at the time, although it may not meet the standards of speed and accuracy expected in modern cameras.

Design and Ergonomics

Canon Z85 rear view

The camera’s design featured a direct zoom viewfinder with 0.38x – 1.82x magnification and 84% coverage, offering a clear view of the subject. The body dimensions (128 x 70 x 64 mm) and weight (310 g with batteries) made it relatively portable. Additionally, the camera had auto film loading and advance mechanisms, showcasing the emphasis on user convenience prevalent in camera designs of the era.

Image Quality and Shooting Capabilities

Canon Z85 inside

The Canon Z85 Autoboy’s image quality was influenced by its lens and autofocus system. The 24×36 mm picture size, along with a panorama option (13x36mm for the Japanese version), offered versatility in framing shots. The camera’s electromagnetic programmed shutter and aperture played a role in image exposure, although the limited aperture range may have impacted performance in varied lighting conditions.

Flash System

The built-in flash of the Z85 Autoboy, with a Guide No. of 8.5 – 11.5 at ISO 100, was designed to support photography in low-light scenarios. However, the reliance on flash due to the camera’s narrow aperture range was a notable aspect. The flash’s variable coverage complemented the zoom lens, attempting to provide adequate illumination across different focal lengths.

Comparison with Contemporaries and Successors

When compared to other cameras of its time, the Canon Z85 Sure Shot shared several common features typical of the era’s compact cameras, such as the Autoboy 3 or the Prisma Date Autoboy. However, its 38-85mm lens set it apart from some models. This section will delve into how the Z85 Sure Shot or Autoboy (Japan) stood against its contemporaries and the evolution of camera technology that followed.

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Canon Z85 Photos

Conclusion: The Camera’s Legacy

Despite its limitations by today’s standards, the Canon Z85 Sure Shot holds a place in the history of compact cameras. Today, the Canon Z85 Sure Shot is more than just a photographic tool; it is a nostalgic item that captures the essence of a bygone era in camera technology. Its combination of autofocus technology, zoom lens, and user-friendly features represent the technological aspirations of the early 1990s.


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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