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Film Camera Review, Canon Autoboy 3 35mm AF Compact Film Camera

Film Camera Review: Canon Autoboy 3
An award-winning 35mm compact autofocus film camera with an excellent 38mm F2.8 lens.

The Canon Autoboy 3 (Canon Top Shot in Europe), launched in 1986, is an autofocus 35mm AE film camera with advanced features packed into a very ergonomic package. The camera won the Good Design Award from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry and was also selected as the European Camera of the Year in 1986.

The Autoboy 3 has a slanted handgrip that helps to keep the body flush with the eye while shooting as your fingers and thumbs are not in the way. This also adds to the comfort when using the camera with either one or both hands. An additional feature, a tilting foot on the bottom of the camera, allows the camera to be placed on a flat surface while shooting upwards at an angle.

The camera is fitted with 4 elements in 4-groups of Canon 38mm F2.8 lenses with spectra coating. Exposure is through a programmed electromagnetic shutter, with a range from 1/8sec. at F2.8 to 1/500sec. at F16. A DX-coded sensor will set film speed to ISO 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, or 1600. Active autofocusing is by a triangulation system with a near-infrared beam.

Canon Autoboy 3. Front view

The Canon Autoboy 3, however, does have a couple of annoyances. First is the screwed-down battery compartment which requires the use of a mini-screwdriver to replace the 2CR5 battery pack it uses. The other is the tiny rubber flash disable button located on the bottom of the camera that must be held down for use, a quite difficult function to do quickly.

Canon Autoboy 3. Tilt stand

The automatic film loading, film advance, rewind, and autoexposure with autofocus and autoflash capability camera weighs 318 grams without batteries, and the date imprinting feature on the camera back comes with the QD version.

    Canon Sureshot Supreme AKA Top Shot AKA Autoboy 3 35mm Film Vintage Retro Camera

    Canon Sureshot Supreme AKA Top Shot AKA Autoboy 3 35mm Film Vintage Retro Camera Video by Damian Brown Photography This channel can be supported through Patreon (Recorded with Canon Vixia HF R600) // A 1986 model from Canon's phenomenally successful Sure Shot range, this compact 35mm film camera - known as the Top Shot in continental Europe and Autoboy 3 in Japan - was voted European Camera of the Year for putting some very advanced features into an ergonomic package at a reasonable price.

Basic Camera Features

The Autoboy 3 is complete within its own encapsulated body, with no loose pieces lying around to be misplaced. The lens cover opens with a button switch and closes with a slide switch, both of which are located one above the other on the left of the front panel where the finger grip is.

Canon Autoboy 3. Front

Located below the lens cover panel is a smallish exposure metering Window, next to which is one of the two autofocus triangulation windows. On the top of the front panel, located right to left, are the flash head, viewfinder window, the other autofocus triangulation window, and a small self-timer indicator.

Canon Autoboy 3. Top

The shutter release and 10-second self-timer buttons are on the top panel of the camera.

Canon Autoboy 3. Back

On the top plane of the back panel is the viewfinder, and the frame counter which is integrated with the battery life indicator. The film back has the film load check window, and on the edge, the back cover latch. A Quartz Date version of the Autoboy 3 will have the Day/Date/Time display and setting buttons.

Canon Autoboy 3. Bottom

The bottom plate carries the tripod socket, the camera tilt knob, the film mid-roll rewind button, and the flash-off button.

Canon Autoboy 3. Film box

The film box is a collection of mechanical components including the DX code contacts in the film chamber, film guide tips, the take-up spool, the quick-load mechanism, and the film tip position line.

Viewfinder Readout

Canon Autoboy 3. Viewfinder readout

The reverse Galilean Mark finder is etched with frame lines indicating the autofocus spot, a picture frame line with parallax correction, a green LED at the base of the display for in-focus or too-close warning indicator, and a red flash LED, located on the left side of the frame line, for charge complete or underexposure warning.

Prefocusing is, of course, the technique you will want to use if your main subject is off-center, or is away from the autofocus spot in the final composition. Do this by first centering your main subject in the autofocus spot, half-press the shutter to get the correct exposure and distance reading, and reframe the composition with your finger still on the half-pressed shutter button before releasing the shutter by pressing the button all the way down.


Canon Autoboy 3. Battery chamber location

The Canon Autoboy 3 requires a 2CR5 battery to operate. The Lithium battery has an estimated life of about 5 years or 50 rolls of 24 exposure film and is located in a no-fuss screwed-down compartment on the right side of the camera (the panel where the strap hook is located).

Battery life check is indicated by a 4-segment LCD display located on the back of the camera's top plate.

A battery change, which should be years and years away, is recommended when the power indicator is down to one segment.

Auto Flash

The auto flash feature of the camera will be automatic when the ambient lighting is insufficient for proper exposure, and the flash setting will go into fill-in mode when backlighting is detected. The auto flash feature can be disabled by pressing the small flash-off button on the bottom plate of the camera simultaneously as you release the shutter.

On the other hand, if you want to use the flash in all lighting conditions, you need to block the camera from reading the ambient light level. Do this by blocking the exposure metering window, located below the lens housing opening, with the rubber flash cap which should be together with the camera strap. If this bit is missing from your camera strap, like mine is, try devising your own method.

Close Focus Photography

When doing close-focus photography, where the close-up subject is within 0.55 to 1 meter, make sure that the subjects are within the parallax correction frame and are completely covered by the autofocus spot. If the subject cannot be covered by the autofocus spot, use the prefocusing technique instead.

Film Rewinding

The Autoboy 3 will rewind the film automatically. The mechanism will start once the end of the roll is reached and stops when the rewind is complete.

Early Images

Canon Autoboy 3, Sample image 01
Canon Autoboy 3, Sample image 02

Using The Camera

While the camera was easy to carry around hanging from your shoulder, its curvy and bulbous shape is probably a better bet for the big pocket of your outerwear jacket, or handbag, rather than your pants pocket. I carry mine in a small camera bag together with the other two compacts I normally carry around.

The only constraint I put myself to with the Autoboy 3 is to stick to bright daylight shots as I was not able to disable the auto flash which pops off as soon as the ambient light is low. This may be due to my own ignorance about the camera's operation.

Being an autofocus camera, the Autoboy 3 is a pure point-and-shoot and is a delight to use, aside from setting the auto flash off when you want it to.

Canon Autoboy 3, Sample image 04
Canon Autoboy 3, Sample image 05
Canon Autoboy 3, Sample image 06

Images were scanned and post-processed and cropped to a 16:9 image aspect ratio on Olympus Viewer 3 (OV3). Print sharpening was done on Google NIK Sharpener Pro3.

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  1. Good day , I have just purchased a Canon Autoboy A3 AT A Charity shop , the camera is in excellent condition for the age of the camera , my question , Do I have to unscrew the battery cover to replace the batteries , I do have a good selection of instrument screwdrivers . Brian .

  2. How do I replace the batteries on a Canon Autoboy ? Brian.

    1. The battery compartment for the Canon Autoboy 3 in on the right side of the camera, under the panel cover where the strap hooks are. Remove the two Philip-head screws, one each at the upper and lower part of the panel, to access, thanks.

  3. the parallax correction frame is between 0.55m and 1m, not 0.55 and 1.8m.

  4. Hello I have the NEAR MINT* Canon Autoboy 3 QD 35mm Point & Shoot Film Camera From Japan . I want buy a battery the one you suggested many come up is their exact one I don’t want choose the wrong one or waste money. Please let me know what exact one I should purchase

    1. Yes, the Canon Autoboy requires a '2CR5' Lithium battery pack to operate, thanks.


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