Canon Snappy Q Review - Photo Jottings

Canon Snappy Q Review

Introducing the Canon Snappy ‘Q,’ it’s ‘Quirky and Queer,’ it’s Quintessential 1980s Qool!

The Canon Snappy Q (or Sketchbook) is sort of a ho-hum fixed lens camera, except that Canon made the lens cover double as a ‘foggy corner filter’ for those goofy 1980s Cokin moments that we all fondly remember.  BTW, I had a bunch of Cokin filters, including one similar to our foggy filter, except it was green!  The Snappy Q’s filter doesn’t really give you foggy corners, rather, it’s a fog filter with a clean central area, and will totally ruin your images if you use it for normal snaps; that’s why Canon made it so you have to hold a button on the front with one finger, while pressing the shutter button with the other when the filter is in place.

Even though it’s a run-of-the-mill focus free camera, there are a few surprises worth mentioning; for starters, I like the effect of the filter, it really makes the subject stand out, and I’ve included a couple of samples below.  Also, the 35mm F/4.5 lens gives good results when set to ISO 400.  The last surprise, and useful one too is the camera will give you 27 images on a roll of 24, even with automatic daylight loading!!  So I’m guessing 40 images on a roll of 36; the only way I’ve been able to do that before is load the camera in a darkroom, so way to go Canon!!

You can tell this camera was made specifically for taking pictures of people; the tripod socket and flash are on the side for portrait orientation shooting, the prominent self-timer is on the front, and of course the ‘foggy corner’ filter that doubles as a lens cover.

So are you ready to take a trip back to the late 1980s, and take some snaps with the snappy Q?  Let’s go!

Name; Canon ‘Snappy Q’ in the Americas, or ‘Sketchbook’ in Europe and Asia.

Manufactured by; Canon Inc, Tokyo, Japan.

Date of manufacture; ca1989?  Made in Taiwan.

Price; Not sure, but I’ll guess in the neighborhood of $59.95.  Current eBay prices range anywhere from $10 to $25 and even less at garage sales.

Build material; appears to be mostly plastic, with a build quality slightly better than a disposable camera.

Box contents; Most likely a blisterpak model, with camera, manual, cheap pouch, neck strap, film and two AA batteries.

Weight; 10.5oz (299g), with batteries.

Dimensions;  4.7″ (119mm) wide, 3.5″ (90mm) tall, and 1.8″ (46mm) deep.

Focal length; 35mm.

Aperture;  F/4.5 maximum.  Two aperture settings; ISO 100/200, and ISO 400, which is probably about F/11.

ISO; Canon recommends ISO 100, 200 and 400 speed film, I use ISO 800 for best results at the ISO 400 setting.

Focusing distance; I’d stay about 8′ from the subject for best results.  Fixed focused at about 10′ (3.5m).

Viewfinder; reverse galilean type, 0.4 magnification, 84% coverage; no frame lines; about the same as a disposable camera.

Approximate resolution; will make excellent 4×6″ prints at all settings, and good 8×10 pictures with 800 speed film set at ISO 400.  See sample images farther down the page.

Lens; 35mm, F/4.5 focus free Canon glass three element in three groups design.

Shutter speed; Canon says 1/70s, mine measured about 1/50+.

Features; 10 second self timer, sliding lens cover, ‘foggy corner’ filter, decent focus free F/4.5 three-element glass lens, mid-roll rewind, tripod socket, and electronic flash.

Film; all 35mm cartridges, go here for a complete list of available film.

Flash; recharges in about 5 seconds; Guide number of 9 with ISO 100 film.  Can use fill flash in bright daylight by covering the flash meter with your finger and tricking the camera into popping up the flash.

Power; uses two ‘AA’ batteries, and are required for using the camera, even without the flash.

Accessories for this model;  none.

Crippling features and omissions; none, very simple camera for snaps.

Good features; flash, two aperture settings to choose from, a self timer, and a neat filter.

Other versions;  at least one; a white faced body with red ‘Snappy Q’ lettering, probably more under the ‘Sketchbook’ name.

Product shots with descriptions. Click pictures for larger versions.

The camera front features a sliding lens cover that doubles as a ‘foggy corner filter,’ a flash, two ISO settings via a switch beside the lens, (click pic for larger view), and a viewfinder that’s actually pretty bright and easy to see through.  The little dark circle at the left of the viewfinder is the flash meter; put your finger over this and you can get the flash to fire in bright daylight for filling shadows.

The large lever on the top left is a self-timer; move it over to the right until is stays, then push the shutter button and get yourself in the picture.  The little sliding lever on the  bottom right is for using the foggy corner filter, you slide this over and hold with one finger, then take the snap; doing this basically over-rides the lens cover closed/locked switch.

The red pop-up flash indicator is on the left, then the additive type shot counter in the middle, and on the right is the big shutter button.

With the back opened, you can see the film pressure plate, a light seal around the reminder window, and the film compartment.  There is no DX coding, so you have to set the ISO manually from a switch along side the lens on the front of the camera.

Odd shaped aperture when set to ISO 400.  The red device is a cartridge spool holder with a spring inside so it lowers and you can easily insert your film cartridge.

The only thing on the bottom is the rewind lever, you can do a mid-roll rewind if you want, but it rolls it all the way inside the cartridge, so you’ll have to pull it out (with one of these) if you want to use the film in another camera.

nothing much on the back except for the film type window, back opening button, and viewfinder.

Here the flash indicator is popped up and lit; and the flash fires!  On the right side of the camera by the female strap lugs is a plastic ¼-20 tripod socket, and the battery compartment along the bottom.


I used the Nikon Super Coolscan 9000 ED for all images here; with cropping and leveling, you’ll wind up with approximately 3000×2000 sharp images.  Film used; Fuji X-tra Superia 800.  Click pictures for larger size.

The clock tower, ISO 400 setting.

Stairway to heaven;  ISO 400 setting.

Massive rainbow flare when sun is inside the frame.

Notice the slightly wavy type distortion along the line at the very top of the image; it dips gently in the middle, the rises, and dips sharply at the corners.

Here I was composing through the viewfinder just inside the two brick walls and upper beam, so the actual image is wider than what the viewfinder shows.

Soft image at F/4.5, ISO 100/200.

This shot was at ISO 400, and is much sharper than the ISO 100/200 setting.

The foggy corner filter in use; ISO 100/200 setting.  When the aperture is wide like this (F/4.5), the effect is not so good, especially along the left upper area.

Mr. Coffee™ looks pretty cool here using the foggy filter at ISO 400.  The effect here is much more pronounced with a smaller aperture, and consequently, will ruin your picture if you don’t have an interesting central subject.  I probably should’ve been a little closer, and picked a less distracting background for this shot.

The same picture as above, but no foggy filter.  I actually like the filter effect for this type of picture.


I like the Canon Snappy ‘Q,’ she turned in a good review, and was fun to take for a spin.  The brief ‘date’ reminded me of my picture taking fun with cokin filters back in the 1980s with my trusty Canon A-1.  Even though the Snappy Q is very much the same as all the other focus free, three element cameras out there, it does have a unique feature of a foggy filter, which add a bit of ‘zing’ to your pictures in certain cases, just don’t get carried away!  A quick thought here; you could simply get a cokin center spot filter and hold it over a normal camera lens while taking the shot and get the same basic effect, although they may be more expensive than buying the Snappy Q.

As always with these types of cameras, I find the following information to be helpful: for best results when making large prints, or scanning and viewing on a computer screen, use inexpensive ISO 800 film, and set the ISO switch to 400; doing that stops down the aperture and makes the image sharper.  Don’t worry about over-exposure with 800 speed film in bright light; color print film will be able to handle the additional stop of light.  Also, don’t worry about using expensive film like Kodak Portra 800; the lackluster lens performance won’t show any benefits of good quality film.

So two thumbs up for the Canon Snappy ‘Q,’ it’s ‘Quirky and Queer,’ it’s Quintessential 1980s Qool!

That’s it for this review, thanks for reading!

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