Canon AF35ML (Super Sure Shot)

Canon AF35ML

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This is the perfect garage sale or thrift store find. Looks like a junky old compact from the early 80s, tossed in the box with the crappy Time-Life cameras and random AC adapters, yet turns out to be a classic semi-collectible early compact with a nice, fast, 5-element multicoated Canon lens.

The Super Sure Shot or AF35ML was the high-end followup to Canon’s first autofocus 35mm lens-shutter camera, the very popular Sure Shot or Autoboy. This camera, aka ‘Autoboy Super’ outside the US, keeps the basic features of its predecessor — autofocus, motor wind, on-camera flash — but trims it down into a sexier package and upgrades the lens to a nice f1.9 40mm. It may well be the fastest glass ever found on an automatic compact. For some reason, the active IR autofocus system has been temporarily replaced with a CCD (charged-couple device) triangulation system. Active IR reappeared in the popular restyled Autoboy 2.

Glass this big probably could use a small hood, at the very least you’ll need a lens cap. It is threaded for filters, happily, making me think that this was aimed a bit higher than your average autofocus compact. Probably as professional as they got back then (1981).

It’s a good size for a camera, comfortable to hold. Like on all modern SLRs the autowinder gives the camera a nice handgrip. Makes it easier to shoot one-handed if you need to. I also like that it runs on AA batteries rather than those overpriced and short-lived CR2 lithium batteries all the new cameras seem to take these days. A switch on the back turns the camera on. The same rotating dial switch allows you to select BC for ‘battery check’ (it beeps if the batteries are OK) or self-timer. Flash pops up and begins charging when you click the ‘flash on’ button on the back.

PS I’ve had a few reports of AF35MLs that have a 25-1000 ASA range, I suspect that maybe near the end of the camera’s run Canon bumped up the range to make it more attractive to its intended semipro audience. My example is in line with the official info on Canon’s website and has 25-400.


The battery contacts were a bit green with corrosion, I cleaned them with a fiberglass scratch brush. Other than that, it just needed a light cleaning.

Tips & Tricks

A bit on the, er, loud side with the autowinder. Kind of yikes! loud. To wit, this is not a stealth camera. You want stealth, get a Yashica Electro.

Truth in Advertising

I’ve since sold this camera. Despite being a Canon and despite the soft spot many people have in their hearts for it, in the end I didn’t think the image quality of my example was on a par with the other cameras I have in my collection and so had to let it go. Certainly the optics don’t compare with the Sure Shot Classic 120 I use all the time, and for available light work I prefer a nice rangefinder or SLR.

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