Delving into the Canon Sure Shot Z135: Features & Specs

by Russell McNeil

In the photographic world, several cameras have made a lasting impression. Released in 1996, the Canon Prima Super 135—also known as the Sure Shot Z135 in America and the Autoboy S II in Japan—is one such standout. Noted for its user-friendly interface paired with advanced features, it was emblematic of the era’s transition into more sophisticated, yet accessible, compact cameras. In this article, we dive deep into its design, features, and technical specifications.

Design and Features

The Canon Prima Super 135 was an advanced compact autofocus camera that heralded Canon’s commitment to combining functionality with style. Equipped with a versatile zoom lens that spanned from a 38 mm wide angle to a 135 mm telephoto, it catered to a range of photographic needs. It served as the successor to the Sure Shot Z115/Prima Super 115, further refining the user experience.

The camera’s back features a mode dial reminiscent of the 90s SLRs—a nod to its roots while embracing modernity. This dial allowed users to navigate through scene modes such as macro, portraits, moving objects, night scenes, and even two auto modes and a spot metering mode. A unique fold-down panel hid additional controls, from flash modes and the date back to exposure adjustments. Notably, this camera also supported remote control operation, enhancing its versatility. Plus, the Super 135’s “caption” edition added a nostalgic touch, enabling users to imprint selected greetings onto their negatives.

Film and Film Format

The Prima Super 135 utilized the standard 35mm film format, giving users the freedom to experiment with a variety of films. Given the camera’s specs, here are a few recommended films for optimal performance:

  • Kodak Portra 400: Renowned for its fine grain and natural color reproduction, suitable for portraits.
  • Ilford HP5 Plus 400: A classic black and white film, known for its wide exposure latitude.
  • Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 400: Vibrant color reproduction, making it ideal for landscapes and outdoor photography.

The Japanese version, Autoboy S II, also boasted a panorama mode, giving a more elongated aspect ratio for capturing wider scenes.

Power Source and Battery Life

Powering the Prima Super 135 are 2x CR123A 3V lithium batteries. These batteries are known for their longevity and reliability. For those interested in purchasing, Amazon offers a variety of choices.

Exposure Control and Light Metering

Exposure and light metering are crucial in capturing a well-balanced photograph. The Prima Super 135 doesn’t disappoint. It’s equipped with an electromagnetic programmed shutter/aperture system, ensuring precise exposures. Depending on the ISO, mode, and lens width, it can meter a wide range of environments. From dimly lit interiors to sunlit exteriors, this camera ensures you get a shot that’s just right, without over or under-exposing.

Size, Weight and Ergonomics

Designed for portability without compromising functionality, the camera measures 133 x 70 x 65 mm. Weighing in at 375 g with batteries, it’s relatively lightweight. The ergonomics are reflective of Canon’s commitment to user-friendliness—compact yet comfortable to handle.

Technical Specifications

TypeFully automatic 35mm autofocus lens shutter camera with built-in zoom lens and flash
Picture SizeStandard: 24×36 mm; Panorama (Japanese version only): 13x36mm
Lens38–135mm f/3.6–8.9 (10 elements in 9 groups)
AF System3-point AiAF (Smart Autofocus)
AF RangeStandard: 0.6 m – infinity; Close-up mode: 0.4 m – infinity
ShutterElectromagnetic programmed shutter/aperture
ViewfinderReal-image zoom viewfinder, 0.46x (at 38mm) – 1.44x (at 135mm) with 84% coverage
Viewfinder InformationObject, AF frame, close-up AF frame, panorama frame (Japanese version only)
LED IndicatorsGreen LED (AF focus, close-range warning, flash charging); Orange LED (flash ready, camera-shake warning)
Exposure Control (EE)SPC light receptor element for full-auto program with 3-zone metering
Film Speed RangeISO 25 – 3200 (with DX code)
Built-in FlashRetractable flash, Guide No. 15.3 (at ISO 100/m), red-eye reduction
Autodate Feature“Caption” model (overseas models) can imprint date and selectable captions in five languages
Power SourceTwo 3V lithium batteries (CR123A)
Film Loading & AdvanceAutomatic loading and advance with built-in motor
Frame CounterTwo-digit, 7-segment indicator on LCD panel
Film RewindAutomatic with built-in motor; Midroll rewind possible
Dimensions & Weight133 x 70 x 65 mm, 375 g (with batteries)
Original Release DateMarch 1996
Original Price62,000 yen (with case)


The Canon Prima Super 135 stands as a testament to a time when cameras were transitioning into a realm of advanced compactness, without compromising on quality. While the world has moved towards digital, it’s essential to look back and appreciate these trailblazers in film photography. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned professional, the Prima Super 135’s blend of simplicity and advanced features ensures it remains a classic worth revisiting.