Retro Review: Canon’s Sure Shot Zoom Max Camera

by Gilles Peris

When it comes to vintage cameras, the Canon Sure Shot Zoom Max, also known as the Prima Zoom Mini in Europe and Autoboy A (Ace) in Japan, is a classic worth revisiting. Released in September 1992, this camera offers a blend of features that, even by today’s standards, remains quite impressive. The Sure Shot Zoom Max is part of Canons well known Sure Shot Series. Let’s dive deep into what this retro gadget offers.

Design and Features

The Canon Sure Shot Zoom Max is compact and user-friendly, perfect for both casual photography and more involved shoots. Its ability to switch between normal and panorama modes (though the panorama feature is exclusive to the Japanese version) sets it apart. This feature broadens the photographic landscape, allowing photographers to capture wide, breathtaking scenes.

The built-in electronic self-timer is an added bonus, giving users the flexibility to join group shots or time their captures perfectly. Moreover, the Autodate feature is neat for those wanting to imprint dates or select captions in four languages.

Film and Film Format

This camera stands out as a fully automatic 35mm Lens-Shutter autofocus camera with a zoom lens. It boasts a standard picture size of 24×36 mm, with an exclusive panorama enabled feature for the Japanese version.

Given that this is a film camera, it’s crucial to pair it with the right film. For vibrant colors and sharpness, films like Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 400 or Kodak Portra 400 come highly recommended. Those looking for a classic black and white feel might opt for the Ilford HP5 Plus.

The Canon Sure Shot Zoom Max offers a comprehensive film speed range of ISO 25 – 3200 with a DX code, ensuring flexibility in various lighting conditions.

Power Source and Battery Life

Powered by two 3 V CR123A lithium batteries, it provides reliable performance. These batteries are still widely available today and can be purchased from Amazon.

Exposure Control and Light Metering

The camera’s electromagnetic programmed shutter and aperture system ensure that each shot is optimally exposed. This system ranges from slow-speed sync to flash-off mode, accommodating various scenarios and lighting conditions.

Size, Weight and Ergonomics

With dimensions of 128 x 69 x 56 mm and a weight of 310g (including batteries), this camera is fairly compact and portable, making it ideal for on-the-go photography.

Technical Specifications

TypeFully automatic 35mm Lens-Shutter autofocus camera with zoom lens
Picture Size24×36 mm, panorama enabled (Japanese version only)
AF System3-point Smart Autofocus with near-infrared beam, Prefocus enabled, 0.6 m to infinity, Macro down to 0.45 m
Lens38-76mm f/3.8-7.2 (7 elements in 7 groups)
ShutterVaried based on mode and focal length
ViewfinderDirect zoom viewfinder, 0.43x – 0.75x magnification, 84% coverage
EEComposite SPC, Metering range of EV 3 – 17, ISO 25 – 3200 (with DX code)
Built-in FlashFixed, variable coverage, Guide No. 8.5 – 11 (ISO 100)
Power SourceTwo 3 V CR123A lithium batteries
Dimensions & Weight128 x 69 x 56 mm, 310


The Canon Sure Shot Zoom Max, or Prima Zoom Mini, is a testament to Canon’s commitment to quality, even back in the 90s. While it might not hold all the advanced features of modern cameras, its simplicity, combined with its unique features, make it a notable piece in the world of photography. Whether you’re a beginner wanting a straightforward shooting experience or a veteran looking to revisit the past, this camera is worth the shot.