In the early 1980s camera makers finally figured out how to make loading 35mm film foolproof. Meanwhile, thanks to the 35mm SLR, 35mm film had taken on the aura of quality photography. These two things finally killed the 126 and 110 film formats and opened the floodgates for 30 years of 35mm point-and-shoot cameras from bare bones basic to highly capable and fully featured. When Canon introduced the Snappy S in 1985, it was among the earliest basic 35mm point-and-shoots.

Canon Snappy S

Canon’s rationale was simple: get Canon quality at an attractive price. On the street these could be had for $50-60, which is about $120-150 today. It offered middling specs, starting with a 35mm f/4.5 lens, a classic triplet of three elements in three groups. Everything from 1.5 feet is in focus. Exposure is automatic, but I couldn’t figure out what kind of system it uses. The shutter operates from 1/40 to 1/250 sec. Flash is integrated, and the camera automatically winds and rewinds film. A red light blinks in the viewfinder when there isn’t enough light. Two AAA batteries power everything. You could get your Snappy S in black, red, green, or yellow.

Canon Snappy S

Mine came to me with the flash broken: plastic cover missing, flash unit dangling. The seller disclosed that, but I didn’t notice it in the listing. The flash even flashed, but I didn’t try it more than once because it didn’t seem quite safe. Also, as I used the camera, the auto-winder got weaker and weaker. The batteries were fresh, so I assume this old, cheap camera is just on its last leg. But it wasn’t objectionable to use that way.

Canon Snappy S

This camera sparked no joy, but there was nothing unpleasant about it. Frame, press the button, off you go. I was a teenager when this camera was new and I would have been perfectly happy with one had I been able to afford one then. It would have been a giant step up from the truly lousy 110 camera that was my main camera.

If you like point-and-shoot cameras, also see my reviews of the Kodak VR35 K40 (here), the Yashica T2 (here), the Canon AF35ML (here), the Pentax IQZoom EZY (here), the Olympus Stylus (here), the Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 80 (here), and the Nikon Zoom Touch 400 (here). Or check out all of my camera reviews here.

I loaded some Fujicolor 200 into it and took it out into my shrunken world. We were all still encouraged to stay home, or close to home, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. I spent most of my time in the nearby shopping centers looking for colorful subjects.


The Snappy S drank in the color and asked for more.


Everything’s good and sharp.


The Snappy S weighs essentially nothing. I wrapped its long strap around my right hand and carried it about easily. In its time, I would have been very pleased to have a camera like this.

Don't order here

All was not perfect with the Snappy S, however. You have to look at the viewfinder perfectly straight on or you will misframe. Here, I thought I had the full Cracker Barrel in the frame.

Cracker Barrel

Here, I thought I had the entire awning over the gas pumps in the frame.


Also, the viewfinder is massively inaccurate. I put just the tail end of my car in this frame. Look at how much more the Snappy S actually sees.

VW tail

Also, straight horizontal lines wind up slightly wavy. Notice the line that is the top of this wall.


This photo shows it too, especially on the top sill of the garage on the right. Is this a lens aberration? Or does the camera not hold the film perfectly flat?


To see more from this camera, check out my Canon Snappy S gallery.

The Canon Snappy S was a pretty good inexpensive point-and-shoot camera in its time. It wasn’t perfect, but I’ll bet most people who bought these neither noticed nor cared.

But because mine has two key issues that spell its imminent demise, I’m about to do something I’ve never done before after reviewing a camera. I’m going to put it into the trash.

If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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18 responses to “Canon Snappy S”

  1. J P Avatar

    I think I had one of these as my introduction to 35m photography. As in your test, I remember nothing about it, either good or bad. I don’t even remember what happened to it. But I remember the name and got a lot of serviceable pictures out of it.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You were exactly who Canon was targeting: that first-time 35mm user.

  2. Richard Anthony Morris Avatar

    Some nice shots there, I found a forgotten roll of Kodak 200 today. Can’t wait to pop it into a camera and start shooting!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Enjoy it!

  3. DougD Avatar

    Wow, surprise ending on that review, didn’t see that coming!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m a man of mystery!

  4. fishyfisharcade Avatar

    Do you feel bad about trashing it? I have a Samsung Fino 60S sat on my desk. It has an unfixable light-leak in the telephoto-lens assembly which means you have to crop a lot of shots where you get an arc of foil-like brightness from the defect. It’s been on my desk for months now. Although I’ll never put another roll of film through it, and it cost me nothing other than a battery, I feel strangely guilty about throwing away a camera that still kinda works. I hate throwing stuff out that might still have a use. My wife hates that I hate this. :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I feel a little bit bad. If this camera were rare, I might have sold it on or kept it. But they made these Snappys by the bazillion. The world will not miss this one!

  5. Sam Avatar

    Surprising sharpness from this thing! Nice camera and great shots!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Except for the distortion, this isn’t a bad little lens.

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  7. Kent Teffeteller Avatar
    Kent Teffeteller

    My first 35 mm camera (though I wanted the trade in Canonet G III, 1.7) in the same camera shop. Enjoyed the Snappy S, for two years and change. That Christmas, did get enough money to buy a second camera, a 1958 or so Yashica-Mat (which I wish I still had).

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s a decent little point and shoot!

  8. tiff Avatar

    if my auto winder stopped moving, is there a chance that it could be fixed?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Sadly, it’s unlikely. Your best bet is to buy another one off eBay.

      1. tiff Avatar

        thank you!

    2. Ronna Davis Avatar
      Ronna Davis

      This was my mother’s camera and she loved it. It took very nice photos, especially the flash photos. She had to stop using it because the rewind mechanism broke down.

      1. Jim Grey Avatar

        Seems like that’s this camera’s common fault.

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