The 1990s were such a strange time in 35mm point-and-shoot cameras. The major manufacturers puked them out by the squintillions, and a lot of them just looked weird, bulbous and plasticky. Canon avoided that for the most part with its Snappy line, aimed at beginners. The 1997 Canon Snappy QT looks like a normal camera.
The simplest point-and-shoot cameras were essentially modern box cameras, with fixed focus and aperture. The Snappy QT fixed the focus, but had a simple autoexposure system that operated in steps from 1/60 sec. at f/6.2 to 1/250 sec. at f/8. These exposure settings were perfect to let in enough light while keeping the field in focus. Canon says this camera is focused from 5 feet.
Canon went with an unusual focal length choice in the Snappy QT’s lens: 32mm. At least the lens was built with 3 elements in 3 groups. Sounds like Cooke triplet territory to me.
The Snappy QT reads the film’s DX coding to set ISO to 100, 200, or 400. In the 1990s, these were the most common consumer color film speeds, so this probably worked fine. But you couldn’t override this if you wanted to use ISO 800 film. I don’t know what ISO the camera chooses when you load films of ISOs beyond 400, but it might not matter much as color films handle overexposure well.
The Snappy QT’s best feature is its large, central viewfinder. It makes framing easy. The camera also offers automatic film loading, winding, and rewinding, as well as an electronically controlled self-timer with a 10-second delay. There’s also an integrated lens cover with an open-close switch below the lens.
The Snappy QT’s flash operates from 1.5 to 2 meters at ISO 100, and from 1.5 to 3 meters at ISO 400. Flash is automatic, but you can force it on or off by pressing the Flash On or Flash Off button on the front of the camera while making the photograph. The camera also offers red-eye reduction. Hold the shutter button halfway until the green light in the viewfinder has been on for about a second. That activates the red light that reduces red eye. Then press the shutter button the rest of the way to make the photo. The subject must be 5-6 feet from the camera.
Two AA batteries power the camera.
By the way, this was an export-only camera with no Japanese version. In Europe, this camera was called the Prima BF-80.
If you like simple 35mm point-and-shoot cameras, also check out my reviews of Canon’s Snappy 50 (here) and Snappy S (here), as well as the Kodak VR35 K12 (here), Kodak VR35 K40 (here), and Nikon Zoom-Touch 400 (here). Or check out all of my camera reviews here.
This camera has the strangest how-I-came-to-shoot-it story. It just appeared in the house one day. I have no idea where it came from. My wife assumed it was mine and stuck it with some of my other stuff. When a camera finds its way into my hands, I shoot it. And here we are.
I loaded a roll of Fujifilm 400 and went shooting around the neighborhood. Right away I discovered what is, to me, this camera’s fatal flaw: the shutter button is uncertain. You have to press it just right to get it to work.
When you manage to press the shutter button right, the camera clicks and winds, making a noise that is a cross between grinding gears and a fart.
When you press the shutter button down halfway, a green light appears in the viewfinder to show that the camera is operating properly and the flash is charged. Other than that, the camera does what you expect it to do. Images suffer from slight vignetting.
Things closer to the lens are sharper than things farther away. But the 32mm lens does capture a lot of context.
32mm should be perfect for big group family shots, although I never had my whole big family home for one while I had film in this camera. I photographed a lot of suburban landscapes instead.
I also moved in close to colorful subjects, like these lawn tractors on display.
When I framed this image, the tower was in the middle of the viewfinder and the lines extended perfectly into the upper corners of the frame. Inaccurate viewfinders are a pet peeve, but I’m sure that in this camera’s target audience, nobody cared.
Other than that, the Snappy QT performed well enough. It would have been a good-enough camera in its day for someone looking for easy snapshots.
I tested the flash around the house. It lit my kitchen evenly.
Not surprisingly, at closer range it washed out the center a little and left the edges darker.
I didn’t bother to run a roll of black-and-white film through the Snappy QT — let’s be real, nobody who bought one ever did. This camera was meant for snapshots on fast color film.
To see more from this camera, check out my Canon Snappy QT gallery.
This camera’s blubbery shutter button is enough for me to never shoot it again. There are simply too many other choices in 35 point-and-shoot cameras with better usability and equal or better results.