Canon Super Sure Shot/AF35ML/Autoboy Super: A Comprehensive Review

Introduced in 1981, the Canon AF35ML, alternately known as the Super Sure Shot in the US and Autoboy Super in Japan, represents a pivotal point in Canon’s history of compact camera design. Favoured for its proficiency in low-light settings, this model showcases a blend of functionality and design ingenuity, making it a notable choice among photography enthusiasts. The Canon AF35ML is part of Canons successful Sure Shot series.

Design and Features

The Canon AF35ML is distinguished by its intuitive features, tailored to ensure quality shots in various scenarios. One of its standout features is the shutter button, designed to capture images at approximately 1 fps without flash. To assist photographers during challenging light conditions, the camera integrates a beeping mechanism that activates during slow shutter speeds, indicating potential camera shake and emphasizing the need for stability.

Further enhancing its functionality, the AF35ML boasts a CCD-based auto-focus system. The clarity of its focus is relayed to the photographer via the viewfinder, where LED modes – portrait, group, and mountain – illuminate to indicate the auto-focusing mode. This system, however, does come with its quirks. The absence of any illuminated mode signifies potential confusion within the AF system, and consequently, a possible misfocus.

For those mindful of battery life and film usage, the AF35ML doesn’t disappoint. A dedicated battery check mode, signaled by a series of beeps, keeps users informed about battery health. And when it’s time to switch out the film, the rewind mechanism ensures a smooth transition, making the process seamless and efficient.

Film and Film Format

When shooting with the Canon AF35ML, you’ll be working with the classic 35mm film format, a trusted choice for many photographers over the years. If you’re familiar with the conveniences of DX coding, be aware that this camera doesn’t offer that feature. For those of you new to the term, DX coding allows a camera to automatically detect the film’s speed from a barcode on the canister, adjusting its settings to match. Without DX coding, you’ll be setting the film speed manually on the AF35ML, so make sure you’re attentive to this to get the best exposure.

Considering the camera’s strengths, especially its prowess in low-light conditions, I’d recommend you try films like Kodak Portra 400 for vibrant colors or Ilford HP5 Plus if you’re inclined towards black and white shots. For those chasing a vintage feel in their photos, Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 400 might be right up your alley. Whichever film you choose, pairing it with the AF35ML’s features ensures you’re well on your way to capturing some truly memorable shots.

Power Source and Battery life

When it comes to powering your Canon AF35ML, you’ll rely on two common AA batteries. It’s a convenient choice, as AA batteries are easily accessible and can be found at most stores or online. This camera’s efficiency is notable: on a fresh set of batteries, you can expect to shoot up to 30 rolls of film (assuming a standard 36 exposures per roll) without using the flash. However, if you’re frequently making use of the built-in flash with every exposure, the battery life is reduced to about 5 rolls.

It’s essential to keep an eye on the battery’s health, especially if you’re out on a long shoot. Thankfully, the AF35ML has got you covered with its battery check mode. By turning the mode dial to ‘b.c.’, the camera will emit a series of beeps. A rapid sequence of eight beeps per second indicates that the batteries are in good shape. But if the beeping is slower, it’s a sign that you’ll soon need to replace them.

Considering the camera’s capabilities, such as its fast lens and auto-focus system, its power efficiency is impressive. Still, always keep a spare set of AA batteries in your bag, so you’re never caught off guard in the middle of capturing those perfect moments.

Exposure Control and Light Metering

The Canon AF35ML offers a range of features that ensure you have optimal control over the exposure of your shots. At the heart of its exposure system is the electromagnetic programmed shutter, capable of varying both aperture and shutter speed. Its range starts from EV 4 (which corresponds to f/1.9 at 1/4 sec.) and stretches up to EV 17 (f/18 at 1/400 sec.), providing you with a wide berth to capture your desired image, be it in brighter outdoor settings or dimly lit interiors.

One thoughtful feature you’ll appreciate, especially if you’re shooting in challenging light conditions, is the under-exposure warning beep. This auditory alert serves as a timely reminder, ensuring you’re aware of potential exposure issues and can adjust accordingly.

Furthermore, to better suit your chosen film and lighting scenario, the AF35ML provides film speed settings that cater to a broad ISO range. You can set the camera to ISO levels starting from 25, reaching up to 400 or even extending to 1000, giving you the flexibility to choose the right film for the situation at hand. This adjustable ISO range is particularly useful, allowing you to match the camera settings to the film’s sensitivity and achieve optimal exposure consistently.

Size, Weight, and Ergonomics

The Canon AF35ML, with its dimensions of 122 x 73 x 55 mm, strikes a balance between compactness and functionality. It’s a camera that’s easily portable, fitting comfortably in most handbags or even larger pockets. Weighing in at 440g (with batteries), it has a reassuring heft to it without being cumbersome, ensuring it feels sturdy in hand without weighing you down on longer photography outings.

Ergonomically, the AF35ML is designed with the user in mind. The position of the buttons and switches is intuitive, making it straightforward for both beginners and more experienced photographers to operate. Especially notable is the placement of the shutter button and the rewind switch, ensuring they are within easy reach when you’re in the moment.

The viewfinder, a crucial element for any camera, is designed as a reversed Galilean type. This provides you with clear, bright images and features projected frames, aiding in composition. It also offers zone focusing marks for near, medium, and far distances, further assisting in achieving the desired focus for your shots.

Technical Specifications

Lens40mm f/1.9 (5 elements in 5 groups)
Focus SystemPassive triangulation system autofocus (uses CCD) with pre-focus lock
ShutterElectromagnetic programmed shutter. EV 4 (f/1.9 at 1/4 sec.) – 17 (f/18 at 1/400 sec.)
ViewfinderReversed Galilean with projected frames. Features AF frame, zone focusing marks, parallax correction. 0.5x magnification.
Power SourceTwo 1.5 V size-AA batteries
Built-in FlashGuide No. 11 (at ISO 100 in meters). Manual pop-up.
Electronic BeeperAlerts for camera shake, self-timer operation, film end. Different tones for each alert.
Film Loading & AdvanceAutomatic advance and rewind after opening camera back. Continuous shooting at 1 fps.
Film RewindPower rewind with R button and rewind switch.


The Canon AF35ML stands out as a hallmark in the realm of compact cameras. With features like a large 1.9 aperture lens, it has rightfully earned its reputation as the go-to choice for low-light photography, providing photographers with the tools needed to capture sharp, beautifully exposed images even in challenging lighting conditions.

In the timeline of compact cameras, the AF35ML holds a significant spot. Not only did it bring sophisticated features into a compact design, but its continued evolution, such as the introduction of the Quartz Date variant in 1983, speaks volumes of Canon’s dedication to improving and building upon an already outstanding camera system. For both enthusiasts and professionals, the Canon AF35ML remains a testament to innovation, design, and performance in the world of photography.