Point and Shoot (and Put in the Wardrobe)

Published 30 March 2020

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I was talking to my mother-in-law Puloma about photography a couple of months ago. Her older brother Asok is a skilled photographer and she has followed his lead as the self-appointed documentarian for her family events and holidays (annoying her husband Dilip a few times along the way). Turns out she had her old camera tidied away somewhere, so off she went to find it.

One of the things I like about film cameras is the sense of nostalgia that they can bring to people. At one time, using 35mm film was just normal, that’s what you used. Medium format was for the professionals but there are countless old 35mm cameras sitting in drawers and at the back of cupboards - once loved, now unused.

Puloma’s Canon Sure Shot 76 zoom had been sitting in its protective case in the wardrobe for an unknown amount of time. I got a new battery for it and the display was saying ’24’ - so either a fresh(ish) 24 exposure film loaded or some undeveloped and long-forgotten family photos. I took a couple of test shots and the film automatically rewound. Jackpot - there were 24 images on the film.

I dropped the roll off at FilmNeverDie and got the negatives back to scan. The photos were from a trip to Surfer’s Paradise, an Aiburobhat celebration (Bengali bridal shower) and at the Melbourne Airport departure gate before a trip to India. Puloma was excited to see the long-lost photos, and forensic inspection (along with Dia’s haircut) dated the photos at 2008.

This model was released in 2000 at a price of ¥23,000 (around AU$370), so not exactly a cheap option. It features 2x zoom from 38mm to 76mm, with aperture ranging from f/4.2 at the widest angle to a less than ideal f/7.8 when fully zoomed in. There’s no manual ISO selection, so only use film with a DX code on it. Basically any cartridge after 1983 is fine to use... no worries there.

The camera has a bright viewfinder with a small autofocus box in the middle and parallax lines at the top. If the shutter is half pressed then you either get a green light (good to go) or a flashing green light when the shutter speed will lead to a blurry image (fast blinking) or the subject is too close (slow blink). The rest is fully automatic - easy.

I’ve been carrying this camera around for the last few weeks and it’s great for street photography during daylight. It’s small and light enough to keep in my sling bag when I head out and I’ve taken some opportunistic photos this way - like the Cadillac on Sydney Road that I rode past on a quiet Sunday morning. For me it falls down because everything is automatic - ironic as it’s designed this way for total ease of use. If it had manual ISO selection at the very least then you’d have more control over the exposure of an image. Puloma’s camera is a solid and easy-to-use point and shoot but I’ll be putting it away on my nostalgia shelf with my dad’s Yashica MG-1.

If you need me, I’ll be in lockdown at home trying to find the perfect 35mm point and shoot camera to take out when the streets are virus free.

Sample Photos: Canon Sure Shot 76 Zoom and Kodak Ultramax 400 / Ilford HP5+. Developed at FilmNeverDie / scanned at home.

Bonus sample photo with unbranded ISO200 film.

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