Canon Autoboy Point & Shoot Series

by Sam Attwood

The 35mm Canon Autoboy Series

The Canon Autoboy series (Japan), also referred to as the Sureshot (USA) and Prima series (Europe), make up a large portion of Canon's most popular Point & Shoot models. For the sake of continuity, the use of the Autoboy (Japan) label will remain consistent throughout this piece. Generally speaking, the Autoboy label is most popular in Asian countries and also most familiar in Australia. The original Autoboy (which is also known as the AF35M) was released in 1979 and featured a 38mm f2.8 lens and a durable, appealing exterior. The combination of its ease-of-use, functionality and aesthetic appeal rendered it instantly popular across a variety of markets. More importantly, the camera featured CAFS, a new acronym referencing the Canon Auto Focus System technology, part of the camera that would end up becoming integral to its ongoing success. It immediately placed the Autoboy as the most advanced autofocus P&S of its time, edging out the Konica C35 AF, which used a passive autofocus mechanism deemed inferior by experts and the general public.

As the key selling point of the camera, Canon highlighted the mechanics behind the camera's autofocus system heavily. On their Canon Camera Museum website, they explain the process in detail. "The active AF system had the IRED emit a near-infrared beam so its reflection was received by a pin photo diode," they explain. Expanding on this, "When the shutter button is pressed halfway, the IRED emits a near-infrared beam on the subject. The beam reflected by the subject was received by the pin photo diode. A triangulation was thereby created in the same way as with an optical coincidence rangefinder. The lens draw is adjusted automatically to match the subject distance for focusing. The near-infrared beam also enabled focusing under low-light conditions, making the camera a hit product. The name “Autoboy” became synonymous with AF compact cameras." Technical jargon aside, for those who have used the original Autoboy - understanding its release date and the technological precedent that sets - it is surprisingly capable in achieving accurate focus in a variety of situations.

1981 marked the 2nd iteration of the Autoboy series, with the release of the Autoboy Super, known also as the AF35ML. The primary upgrade in the Autoboy Super (AF35ML) was the 40mm, f1.9 lens. The wider aperture allowed it greater lowlight performance and it was a quick and general consensus that the lens was a noteworthy upgrade from the original, giving the series a two-from-two strike rate and establishing the Autoboy series as one to watch as it continued to evolve. With a solid foundation, the next step in the series spread slightly wider without making any significant leaps forward. The camera reached the market in 1983, referred to as the Autoboy II (AF35M II) which showed an increasingly impressive ergonomic overlay and aesthetic, coupled with a 38mm f2.8 lens. Canon released auxiliary lenses for the Autoboy II, with boy tele and and close up options available. In addition to these improvements, Canon made advancements to the AF system of the camera, setting a final precedent for the significant number of Autoboy models that would follow, eventually ending with the Autoboy N130 II in 2005, almost unrecognisable when compared to the models the came before it.

Below is a brief history of the Autoboy, a fantastic point & shoot camera that's both durable and fun to use. We've included bold versions of the models we find most significant with brief summaries of them at the bottom of the page. Should you wish to hunt down a specific item amongst the Autoboy seas. Don't forget, if you're looking, we might have something for you!
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1985: Autoboy LITE (AF35J).
1986: Autoboy 3 and Autoboy Tele (Top Shot/Top Twin).
1988: Autoboy Tele 6, Autoboy Zoom, Autoboy Prisma, Autoboy Lite 2.
1989: Autoboy Zoom Super, New Autoboy.
1990: Autoboy WT28 (World Traveler), Autoboy Jet.
1991: Autoboy Zoom 105, Autoboy Zoom 76, Autoboy Mini T, Autoboy Mini.
1992: Jet 135, Autoboy A (Ace).
1993: Canon Autoboy A, Autoboy S (Super), Autoboy F.
1994: Autoboy J (Jack), Autoboy D5, Autoboy Luna.
1995: Autoboy SE (world's first mass-produced solar-powered camera).
1995: Autoboy Juno (and Date function model), Autoboy Luna 35, Autoboy BF80.
1996: Autoboy S (Super) II, Autoboy F XL.
1997: Autoboy Luna 105.
1998: Autoboy Luna 85.
1999: Autoboy Luna XL, S XL, Autoboy SII XL (Auto S Platinum), Autoboy 120, Juno 76.
2000: Autoboy EPO.
2001: Autoboy Luna 105 S.
2002: Autoboy 155, Autoboy N130.
2003: Autoboy N115, Autoboy N105, Autoboy N80.
2004: Autoboy N150, Autoboy 180 (38-180mm zoom).
2005: Autoboy N130 II.
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The Best of the Autoboy: Here are a few of our top picks from the Autoboy range. Granted, the list could be upward of 10 without giving out participation trophies, however this is a pretty good cross-section of the gems you want your hands on (if you can manage to find them. Happy hunting, and don't be afraid to hit us up!).

1992: Autoboy A (Ace) - Beyond the Autoboy A (Ace)'s clean exterior (sleek black lines, flush retractable components and a durable outer shell) you will find plenty of reasons to give this little gem the nod. The camera offers a Panorama mode built into its 38-76mm f3.8-7.2 lens, giving the user a nice array of options. With a capable built-in flash, autodate functionality and a nice set of additional features, the Autoboy A (Ace)'s features might not blow you away, but inside the nice exterior package sits mechanics that do everything just the way you want. A great camera for someone wanting to dive into film.

1994: Autoboy Luna - Along with the Juno (coming up next), the Autoboy Luna is arguably one of the most suited cameras in the entire Autoboy range when it comes to general travel. Sporting a 28-70mm f5.6-7.8 zoom lens and a 100% automatic body to take care of the rest, it's everything you want when you're not fussed on having all that much. One particularly interesting aspect of the Autoboy Luna is the way the autofocus adjusts to the focal length set by the camera. In short, the 3-point Smart Autofocus system features high-precision Ai-AF which adjusts the near-infrared beam angle pending the focal length of the camera, increasing the accuracy of the autofocus (meaning less 'damn it' moments when reviewing your final images). The technology is by no means exclusive to the Luna, however it's a large selling point for the camera and a key focal point in the Canon Camera Museum, accompanied by additional focus specs that include pre-focus and close-up warning functions. All in all, most of the Autoboy range will hit focus with relative consistency, though it seems Canon really honed in on the bits and pieces to make sure everything was covered in the Luna release. Sharp shooter, indeed.

1995: Autoboy Juno - With a 38-60mm f/4.5-6.7 lens, the primary selling point of the Autoboy Juno is found in the ergonomics. Like most of the range, it does everything with relative ease, doesn't let you down (not very often, at least) and it has more than enough functions for the average user. The kicker with the Juno is the nice protective casing, just how easy it can slide into your pocket, and the fact it is undoubtedly one of the best travel cameras in the Autoboy range. The lens is great and will fit a variety of applications, despite the fact it doesn't have the depth of zoom that some Autoboy models do. Meh; it's wide, and that's what you want for travel photography anyway. Trust us on this one.

1996: Autoboy F XL - This little gem is great because it's one of the few Autoboy models that has a prime lens. As great as zoom is, there's merit in a strong prime, and the wide-angle glass on this silver bullet is exactly what you want if you're comfortable in your focal length. Utilising a 32mm f3.5 lens - which is arguably a pretty ideal setup for a camera of this sought - the Autoboy F XL adds in all the automation that's standard across the range, multiple flash modes (red-eye reduction, suppressed and slow-synch), DX-code reading and automatic film advance and rewind. In short, it's a in-and-out camera, always ready to go and capable of consistently getting the shot. If you can give up zoom (which most of us can), look long and hard at this little gem.

1999: Autoboy 120 - Feature-packed is the easiest way to describe this bad boy. It doesn't look conventional (especially not for a camera released pre-2000s) and it might weird some people out, but from a technical standpoint it's got a whole lot to give for anyone willing to give it a run. First, the huge depth in the 38-120mm f4.5-10.9 lens (which includes panorama functionality) gives the user a whole heap to play with when wielding the silver compact. With a close-up mode allowing a focusing distance of 0.43m, the spread from under half a meter right through to infinity is just as impressive. The autofocus runs of one-shot AF and servo AF modes, with a bright green light telling you when you've hit the money (and a somewhat worrying, flashing light telling you when you haven't). The list goes on, and the Canon Museum is proud to tout every last bit of it, so if you want to know more, this might be the way.

2000: Autoboy EPO - There is no doubt the Autoboy EPO is in the highest tier when compared to the rest of the Autoboy range. From its wide 28mm focal length, right through to its 90mm tele (with an aperture variable of f4.5-9.9), it's extremely dynamic from the get go. From heavily protruded to fully retracted and tucked behind a beautiful and clean clamshell cover (following in the Olympus XA and Olympus MJU footsteps), the lens is sharp and dependable across the board. The 'pop up' style flash can be momentarily disabled simply by closing it, meaning that when the lens is retracted the the flash is down, the camera is a fairly sturdy mechanical turtle. Beyond that, the rear of the camera plays host to an LCD screen adorned with a large selection wheel that helps the user toggle between a number of operational modes: auto, spot, focus/metering, night shot, portrait, macro, real-time shutter and personal. All of them provide a unique function, though one could argue that a degree of excess is present whenever you glance at the camera from behind. All of the mode specific functions can be read about here, though we will say the combination of everything above, combined with all the Autoboy trimmings we've come to love, the Autoboy EPO brings a huge amount to the table and sets it out well.

And that brings an end to our Autoboy dissection. Hope you enjoyed!To make your blog an effective sales machine, integrate your product into your content in a way that doesn’t scream BUY, BUY, BUY. Here are five steps to provide relevant information and eye-candy to lure readers in and help convert blog posts to sales receipts.

Canon Autoboy SII XL