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Johnny Wilson
  • Johnny Wilson

Canon Snappy EL - first shots with my Lockdown impulse buy

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

Ever since I picked up my Canon G7XII way, way back in 2018, I've been casually on the market for a Canon point and shoot film camera, but because I tend to like picking them up in charity shops or secondhand shops, and because I never really stumbled on one (except for almost that one time - and blog post to eventually follow on this, one day) I didn't really end up getting one. And then in March of this year, pretty much everything, everywhere was closed down for almost forever. However, I had a bit of birthday money left over and found myself scrolling through eBay whilst "working from home" one afternoon in May and came across the Canon Snappy EL, an American branded Prima Junior DX and I really liked it. So I ended up buying it. Didn't really need any more point and shoot film cameras to be honest. I have so many but I wanted a Canon one, and I have a bit of a problem, so here we are.

At first impression, it was actually a bit bigger and chunkier than I had led to believe. Thinking it would be on par size-wise with my Olympus mju-II it's actually closer in size to my Olympus Trip 35, but it's still just compact and light enough to box inside the Compact Camera Club weight class although if you have tight jeans pockets it might be a struggle to fit this chonky boy inside. In operation, the camera is dead simple. Everything is automatic. You just drop the film inside, power it with x2 AA batteries and the camera does the rest. It supports DX coded film up to ISO400 and calculates aperture with a built in light meter. Shutter speed is fixed at 1/125 and a built in flash fires automatically when the camera calculates that the available light is too low to create an exposure, although that auto flash can be disabled or forced on with 2 buttons on the front of the camera that I found worked about 60% of the time... maybe I was doing something wrong but that flash fired off so many times when I thought I'd disabled it... El Snappy does have a very generously semi-wide angle 32mm lens and a nice big viewfinder to work with that I generally found to be pretty accurate, although I still managed to mess up a few shots.

I had a few things going on that I wanted to finish first, and all my photography plans had gone up in smoke this year anyway, so I didn't really start shooting proper with it until around August time, and I was in no rush to burn through a whole roll of test film just to see if it worked, so I took my time with it, but over the course of a few months I took it around with me to give it a test drive.

Right off the bat, once I got over how many shots I messed up, I was impressed with how sharp the images looked. I was shooting with Kodak Proimage 100 which I really like for it's colour and contrast re-production, and is generally such a good film, so grain was already at a minimum, but the clarity and the sharpness of the lens is outstanding. These could easily nearly almost pass off as photos from an old digital camera to the unsuspecting eye. And most of the images have a shadowy vignette going on that seems to be more obvious with lower light exposures, again something I really like, but I guess your tastes may vary?

But regrettably I also managed to mess up a handful of shots. Maybe it was because I wasn't holding the camera steady enough, and there is a little bit of movement when pushing the shutter button, but a handful of my shots came out wonky. And another small handful came out with blurry foreground detail. This is a fixed focus camera, I assume from 1m to infinity, which I didn't actually know until now so where I've gotten too close it's not gone right which works in some instances, but not always others. Here's a few photos I scrapped because of my errors:

But I'm actually a good photographer sometimes... honest... ! And that's what shooting a test film is all about I guess, to get familiar with the camera and figure out what works and what doesn't. So after initial testing I still like the Snappy EL and will definitely be using it some more. I don't think it quite dethrones the Olympus mju (Blog post one day, honest) as the best film Compact I own, and doesn't dethrone the Olympus Trip 500 as my favourite, but it's still a nice camera, and one I intend to mix into my pool of film compacts to pick from! Here's the rest of the photos:

You can check out any future photos I shoot with this camera by taking a look at the Flickr album!


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