Is This the Weirdest 35mm Camera That Canon Has Ever Made?

For a huge Japanese corporation that’s thought to be incredibly conservative, it’s easy to forget that Canon hasn’t been afraid to try out some radical designs over the years. This one is up there with the best of them: a point-and-shoot that looks like a video camera and featuring a flash where you'd never expect it.

Introduced in 1990, this bizarre device went under a couple of different names: the Epoca in Europe, the Photura in the U.S., and rather wonderfully, the Autoboy Jet over in Japan. Sitting somewhere between a point-and-shoot and a bridge camera, it has a 35-105mm zoom lens and the built-in flash — placed where no other flash has been placed before and probably since — is said to be quite powerful.

As George Muncey of NegativeFeedback explains in this short video, the resulting images are impressive and it seems that Canon didn’t cut too many corners when designing this experimental camera. The lens offers a surprisingly wide f/2.8 when shooting at 35mm, closing down to f/6.6 when zoomed in.

Canon wasn’t being entirely original with this design as the likes of the Chinon Genesis, Yashica Samurai, and Ricoh Mirai all preceded the Photura, though the Photura was the first (and only?) camera to decide on this placement of the flash, and none of the others seem to come close in terms of the lens.

Have you used a Photura? Let us know in the comments below.

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Charles Clark's picture

i never shot with one but my brother once had one...i held it and fiddled around but that was the extent of my experience. I knew though when i saw the picture exactly what it was !

Steve Harwood's picture

I use to sell them and picked up one for my collection a few years back. It is an odd duck, period. If you like photos of folks with a confused look on their face, this is the camera for capturing that! That's what they'll be doing as you point it at them... [grin]

Andy Day's picture

Ha! 😆

Stu Eddins's picture

Another feature of the Photura was the waist level finder under the top black slider. Known as 'The Film Grinder' by the staff in our camera store. The unique S feed of the film could cause problems. Many times I'd sit at the counter picking bits of torn film out of someone's Photura with tweezers!