Canon Sure Shot A-1: The Compact Underwater Marvel

by John Kratz

In the world of compact cameras, finding a model that is equally adept on land and underwater can be a challenge. Canon, a brand synonymous with photographic innovation, introduced the Sure Shot A-1 in April 1994, creating waves in the market. Let’s dive into the details of this camera that redefined versatility.

Design and Features

Canon’s Sure Shot A-1, also known as the Autoboy D5 or Prima AS-1, is part of the renowned Canon Sure Shot/Prima/Autoboy series. When it hit the shelves, it wasn’t just another camera; it was the world’s smallest and lightest underwater camera. Its design is a testament to Canon’s commitment to innovation, being completely weather-sealed, robust, yet compact and lightweight. The camera offers a seamless switch between normal and panorama modes, further broadening its horizons.

Film and Film Format

The Sure Shot A-1 is a fully automatic 35mm Lens-Shutter camera, making it suitable for a wide range of films available in the market. For those looking to explore, here are some recommended films for this camera:

Power Source and Battery Life

Running on a single 3V CR123A lithium battery, the camera ensures long-lasting performance. This kind of battery is renowned for its shelf life, so you can trust your camera to be ready for action whenever you are. If you ever need a replacement, Amazon’s got you covered.

Exposure Control and Light Metering

With its electromagnetic programmed shutter and aperture, this camera does much of the technical heavy lifting for you. The Exposure Evaluation (EE) system is noteworthy, providing a full-auto program with a metering range of EV 3 – 17. Its film speed range is impressive as well, supporting ISO 25 – 3200 with a DX code.

Size Weight and Ergonomics

Measuring a compact 133x88x56 mm and weighing in at 385g (with battery), this camera doesn’t just fit in your hand comfortably, but also in your travel bag. The large Albada viewfinder, designed for an underwater face mask or ski goggles, is a thoughtful touch that underwater and winter sports enthusiasts will appreciate.

Technical Specifications

TypeFully automatic 35mm Lens-Shutter, AF waterproof camera
Picture Size24×36 mm, panorama (13x36mm) enabled
Lens32mm f/3.5 (6 elements in 6 groups)
ShutterElectromagnetic programmed shutter and aperture
ViewfinderAlbada reversed Galilean, 0.42x magnification, 84% coverage
EEa-Si cell for full-auto program, EV 3 – 17
FlashBuilt-in, GN: 7.5m at ISO 100
Power SourceOne 3 V CR123A lithium batteries
Dimensions & Weight133 x 88 x 56 mm, 385 g (with battery)


The Canon Sure Shot A-1, with its impressive features and user-friendly design, stands as a testimony to Canon’s expertise in crafting cameras that cater to a diverse set of needs. Whether you’re exploring coral reefs or capturing memories on a sunny beach, this camera promises to be a reliable companion. Its combination of robustness, versatility, and ease of use makes it a worthy choice for both beginners and seasoned photographers. If underwater and land photography is your domain, the Sure Shot A-1 is a solid pick.