Canon Sure Shot Classic 120: A Compact Film Camera Review

by E Magnuson

Canon has a rich history of producing reliable cameras that appeal to both hobbyists and professionals. Among its extensive lineup, the Canon Sure Shot Classic 120 stands out as a compact 35mm film camera loaded with features. Also known as the Prima Super 120 in continental Europe and Autoboy 120 in Japan, it has become a popular choice for many. In this review, we’ll take an in-depth look at this camera’s design, features, and more.

Design and Features

Canon Sure Shot Classic 120 exhibits a traditional camera design encased in a sleek aluminum exterior. The camera isn’t just about looks; it’s compact and easy to handle, which makes it ideal for on-the-go photography. Its Mode Dial and built-in eyepiece dioptric adjustment offer ease of use.

Film and Film Format

The camera uses a DX-coded 35mm film with an ISO range of 25-3200. For those who are new to film photography, the ISO number refers to the film’s sensitivity to light. The DX-coding means the camera can automatically sense the film’s speed. For those looking to experiment with different films, consider trying:

  • Kodak Portra: Known for its natural color reproduction.
  • Fujifilm Superia: Provides vibrant colors, making it ideal for various settings.
  • Ilford HP5 Plus: For those who prefer black and white photography, this film offers a wide tonal range.

For Japanese models, there’s an additional panorama feature, which gives a wider aspect ratio for your shots, translating to a picture size of 13 x 36mm.

Power Source and Battery Life

The Canon Sure Shot Classic 120 runs on 2x CR2 lithium batteries. These batteries are reliable, but to ensure you don’t run out of juice during crucial moments, it’s always a good idea to carry spares. You can find the CR2 lithium batteries on Amazon.

Exposure Control and Light Metering

With its auto-exposure feature, the camera can adjust shutter speed from 1/770s-2s in daylight modes and up to 4s in night mode. Exposure compensation of +-1.5EV provides flexibility in challenging lighting conditions. The inclusion of spot-metering is beneficial for scenes where precision is essential.

Size, Weight, and Ergonomics

Given its dimensions of 115x63x45mm and weighing in at just 250g, this camera is undeniably portable. Its compact nature doesn’t compromise its functionality, but it’s essential to get a feel of the camera first. Some might find it too small, while others might appreciate its pocket-friendly size.

Technical Specifications

Lens38-120mm f/4.5-10.9, 7 elements in 6 groups
FocusThree-point AI active autofocus, 0.6m to infinity
ViewfinderReal image zooming, 84% coverage
Auto-exposure1/770s-2s in daylight, 4s in night mode
FilmDX-coded 35mm (25-3200 ISO)
FlashAuto-flash, 4.1m range at ISO 100, 3s recharge
Power2x CR2 lithium batteries
Additional FeaturesDate/Caption function, Panorama mask (Japanese model)

Notable Info

Every camera has its quirks, and the Canon Sure Shot Classic 120 is no exception. The battery cover, crafted from soft plastic, can deteriorate if mishandled. So, using the special plastic “key” on the neck-strap is advisable. The pop-out flash, though handy, might take some getting used to due to its position. Users should also be aware of the slight pin cushion distortion at the lens’s wide end.


The Canon Sure Shot Classic 120 delivers on many fronts. It combines a blend of useful features with a straightforward design, making it a solid choice for film photography enthusiasts. While it has a few quirks, its overall performance and reliability make it worth considering for your next photographic venture.