Canon Sure Shot Owl: A Detailed Review

by Steve Harwood

For those with a passion for vintage photography, the Canon Sure Shot Owl, also known as the Prima AF-7, is a throwback to simpler times. A member of Canon’s acclaimed Sure Shot range, this 1994 model remains a favorite among film enthusiasts. In this in-depth review, we dive deep into the design, features, and specifications of this compact 35mm film camera.

Design and Features

The Canon Sure Shot Owl is a testament to 90s camera engineering. With a minimalistic design, the camera stands out for its large and bright viewfinder, an invaluable asset for framing shots perfectly. Similar to the Canon Prima Mini and Mini II, the Sure Shot Owl differentiates itself with a mode dial, replacing the previous flash and timer buttons.

One unique quirk? In America, both the AF-7 and its sibling AF-8 are referred to as “Owl.” The primary distinction lies in their mode dials. Also worth mentioning is the fixed-focus variant of this camera, the BF-7.

Film and Film Format

Canon Sure Shot Owl is a 35mm film camera. This film format has been cherished by photographers for its versatility, sharpness, and rich color depth. For those new to the film world, popular 35mm film recommendations include:

An improvement that stands out is the reduction in film rewind noise, slashed by about half. This makes for a quieter user experience, especially crucial in discreet shooting environments. Moreover, the battery life now supports around 20 percent more rolls, maximizing your shooting time.

Power Source and Battery Life

Powering this camera requires 2x 1.5V AA batteries. Easy to find and replace, this was a logical choice for Canon, ensuring that photographers could readily source them. For longevity and reliability, consider opting for high-quality AA batteries available on Amazon.

Exposure Control and Light Metering

The electromagnetic four-speed programmed shutter and aperture offer flexibility in different lighting conditions. With the flash off, the camera won’t exceed EV 10.5, providing consistent shots. It also features an in-built electronic self-timer which can be canceled midway, adding to its functionality.

The built-in flash is another feature worth mentioning. It’s equipped with both an auto mode and an on/off switch. The auto mode ensures the flash fires in low-light conditions, while the manual switch provides control when flash is undesired.

Size, Weight and Ergonomics

Compact and lightweight at 250g, its dimensions stand at 123 x 76 x 48 mm. Its design ensures it fits snugly in hand, making it an ideal travel companion. The Reversed Galilean viewfinder boasts a 0.68x magnification and 84% coverage, aiding in precise framing.

Technical Specifications

Lens35mm f/4.5 (3 elements in 3 groups)
FocusThree-step AF with near-infrared beam. 0.8 m to infinity.
ShutterElectromagnetic four-speed programmed shutter and aperture.
ViewfinderReversed Galilean, 0.68x magnification, 84% coverage.
EECdS cell for full-auto simple program EE.
Built-in FlashGuide No. 9 (at ISO 100 in meters).
Power SourceTwo 1.5 V size-AA batteries
Film Loading & AdvanceAutomatic with built-in motor.
Frame CounterCounts up, auto-reset.
Film RewindAutomatic rewind with built-in motor.
Dimensions & Weight123 x 76 x 48 mm, 250 g


Canon’s Sure Shot Owl or Prima AF-7, irrespective of what you call it, stands as a classic representation of 90s camera craftsmanship. While it might not be the first choice for professionals, it offers an authentic film photography experience, making it an excellent choice for enthusiasts and beginners. Simplicity in design, coupled with reliability, ensures that this Canon classic will remain in the hearts of film aficionados for years to come.