Canon Sure Shot Z90W: A first impression

Canon Sure Shot Z90W circa 2000, almost twenty years later

Can you hear baby-Ginnie screaming with joy? I finally got my own Canon Autoboy, only many years later and I guess all my childhood wishes have been fulfilled.

Ok, so maybe this wasn’t all I wanted when I was six but I distinctly remember when I was in elementary school some of the other children would have the Canon Sure Shot point-and-shoot cameras and bring them onto school field trips and field days, also known as sports days, and I wanted one too. I never asked my parents for it because I knew they wouldn’t be able to get me one.

Retrospectively, I can’t believe some of the other six year-olds had the Canon Sure Shot point-and-shoots considering they retailed for around $500 when they were released back in the early-2000s.

Screen capture from Canon’s virtual camera museum

Fast forward almost two decades, I was browsing through my local Craigslist and saw the camera listed. I picked it up for $10 and two rolls of very expired 35mm Polaroid 100 film (more on that later).

Buying older cameras second-hand is always nerve racking but I put three rolls of film through this camera and after almost three weeks I think I can finally give you my first impressions.

First thing I love about the camera is the portability. This camera and a roll of Kodak Gold 200 are always in my bag or in the pocket of my winter coat. It’s light. It’s small and it looks like a toy that nobody seems to be too bothered by me pulling it out on the streets.

So sleek
Control dial, zoom and film window

Also because the lens fully retracts into the body of the camera, it makes sticking it into a pocket or swinging it around on a wrist strap very easy. This is a feature that is often overlooked but a lens in a point-and-shoot camera that fully retracts into the body makes it easier for me not to knock the lens into something.

The back LCD with a fancy-shmancy settings dial complete with a custom setting

I love having a cheaper roll of film with me at all times, just in case.

Another thing I love about the camera is the max focal length. The Sure Shot Z90W has a focal length of 28mm to 90mm, which on 35mm film is the equivalent of 28mm to 90mm. There’s no crop factor so there’s nothing to convert. If you didn’t know already, I played with the Fujifilm X70 for a few hours and for me, it was just too wide. I had said multiple times that I was looking for a digital point-and-shoot camera for an everyday-cary and I’m definitely going to be looking for anywhere between a 23 to a 35mm (full frame equivalent). I don’t use the zoom on the camera just because I want to have the aperture as wide open as possible but I like the option of having it.

Because the camera is relatively newer, it has a lot of other great features that one might take for granted if you didn’t have experience with other film cameras. For one, the frame counter is always displayed on the rear LCD which is great for if you want to know how many exposures you have left.

Film advancement is automatic which is a huge plus for me because sometimes I forget to advance and then I’m left with an unintentional double exposure. Unfortunately because the film advance is automatic, you can’t take double exposures using this camera if you’re into double exposures.

This last feature might be contentious but, this is a fully automatic point-and-shoot. You cannot set the ISO of your film, which means you can’t push or pull film. The ISO is actually read from the DX code on your film canister by the camera. You cannot control shutter speed, or aperture. In a compact point-and-shoot camera, I like this because it lets me focus on one thing: composition. Being fully automatic is a limiting quality but also, a good quality in a point-and-shoot camera.

The viewfinder is not the best quality of this camera.

I have two gripes with this camera, one of which is the viewfinder. The viewfinder is essentially only there to be a guide on how to frame your exposure. It’s plastic and there is a lot of distortion around the edges. I was initially worried that the lens and ultimately my images would be oddly distorted around the edges but I was happy to find out that it was just the viewfinder. The images I got from the camera didn’t have any weird distortion in the corners.

The last thing I want to mention is the camera’s autofocus in low light. The autofocus, for the majority of the time, works very well. I’ve only experienced some missed photos during overcast days.

Overall, I’m very happy with the camera and I’m excited to shoot it. I don’t think you need this camera but it’s an excellent camera if you have one. For myself, I had a sentimental value to it and was in need of a point-and-shoot film camera.

Canon Sure Shot Z90W with a 35mm film canister next to it for size comparison

Sample images

I know you’re probably here to see sample images. I have a few favourites but I feel like they deserve some TLC to make them the best they can be. I’ll do a follow up post.

No weird curved edges at 28mm. Kodak Gold 200
Flash works too.

Thank you so much for reading.

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