Maxing out the SURE SHOT MAX – Point and shoot review

My Sure Shot Max is a great “soccer mom” camera. It’s designed to be easy to use and trustworthy enough to get the shot, even if you’re not all that experienced with a camera. That being said, it has great features: a configurable flash with red-eye reduction, a 35mm f/3.5 autofocus coated glass lens, auto-loading, auto-winding and a date back. Since I’m so fond of my Canon Sure Shot Owl, and my Canon Sure Shot AF35ML, I didn’t hesitate in buying the $3 point and shoot camera when I spotted it on a thrift store shelf in central Ohio. 

Once I got the pricy CR123A and the Lithium 2025 batteries for the camera and it’s date back installed, I probed those tiny buttons on the back to set the current date: 12/26/19, close to 33 years from it’s default date: 01/01/87. In doing this, I realized that the maximum date that can be set on the camera is 12/31/2019, merely hours away. Luckily my mom, dad, my sister, and her boyfriend were visiting my wife and I in my grandmother’s charming small Ohio hometown. 

I decided that I wasn’t going to let the fresh 3V 2025 battery go to waste in the soon-to-be obsolete date back; I settled on using the whole roll of fresh Fuji 400 in the 120 hours before new year’s day rolled around and reset the date to 1987. 

The MAX is a handsome brick of a camera with green lettering in a plastic, pocketable, worry-free package. I happily carried my new camera around all day during my family’s outing to the Columbus Zoo. I risked this blind shot of the penguins, holding my sure shot over the railing and the water of the penguin enclosure. It’s too bad the center-frame autofocus target was pointed squarely at the rocks behind the adorable penguins.

Most of the other animals were staying warm in the indoor sections of their enclosures, away from the sunlight, where they remained unbothered by my obnoxious flash, which would surely reflect off the plexiglass of their enclosure’s windows anyway. 

Other outings my camera attended included a short ride over to our historic ice cream shop called Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl, which has been the pride of Zanesville since it opened in 1948. The iconic neon sign was nicely captured on my fresh roll of Fuji 400. The Red-eye reduction flash was bright enough to illuminate my family photo and indeed prevented any retinas from flashing back at me.

I trusted our friendly waitress with my camera to preserve the moment we got our peanut butter chocolate, candy cane, coffee, cinnamon bun and sugar-free chocolate ice cream sundaes.

I could have given her a tutorial on how a half- press of the shutter button will focus the camera, but I assumed that with the flash turned on, the sure shot max would choose an aperture that would show the whole group in focus. I felt like it was a already a stretch giving our millennial waitress my artifact to use for our family photo alongside my iPhone. I asked her to frame us in front of the old-fashioned candy counter and neon-bezeled front windows. It is a “soccer mom” camera after all! In our retro surroundings, you would hardly know what year my photo was taken without the orange glowing numbers imprinted into the film where the date back left it. 

One of the many joys of my grandma Mary’s long life is filling a whole pew with family visiting from out of town. We achieved this feat once again and she beamed about it even after we were settled in at her house, back from church and our after-service lunch as evidenced by this photo of her in her favorite chair.

Finally, my last-week-of-the-decade roll of film was appropriately bookended with a photo of my family gathering to watch the Time’s Square ball drop on TV.

Lucky for me, my Canon Sure Shot MAX is capable of recording clock time, not just calendar time, making it useful for other art projects. However, I think that there is something interesting, even special about recording the date on the negative of a film photo. Personally, it brings to mind some of the photos I have seen of my sister and I as children. I appreciated having that same feature available for the special times when the whole family is together while we all enjoy another round of making memories together.

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