Canon Sure Shot 115u
A little history:
As we moved into the digital camera explosion, manufacturers still had to cater to the average consumer, and in 2003, a really good digital point and shoot was still quite expensive. Consumers were caught between buying a point and shoot digicam with about 3 megapixels for around $400, and engaging in the new adventure of digital prints, etc., or buying a film camera that used technology they were familiar with. Canon introduced the Sure Shot 115u in 2003, a stylish, compact camera that also looks a lot like some of the digital cameras of that period. It should be noted that it was expected that the world-wide market for film cameras was diminishing, as it was estimated that 50 MILLION digicams were sold in 2003. That is a lot of cameras, and yet not all consumers wanted a digital camera, some opting for what they were familiar with. My 85-ish mother in-law was thrilled last year when I have her a fairly recent high-end Canon P&S to use, as she really missed "getting prints."
Why bother with late-model P&S cameras, anyway?
As someone that appreciates classic cameras -- and I have definitely had my share of them over the years, a plastic P&S camera must seem like a silly purchase. But remember, these later high-end models have pretty much all the features one might desire in a 35mm pocket camera - a zoom from 38mm to 115mm, various shooting modes, excellent optics, and as much technology as one can pack into such a small space. In addition, a print from one of these cameras, using good technique and low ISO film would have blown away any digicam at that price point. In fact, this Sure Shot can handle 25 - 3200 ISO film. Don't confuse such a camera with the tons of trashy plastic cameras that were available at the time. In my mind, however, this camera would be perfect if it had only a 35mm 2.8 lens. Without the zoom, it would be lighter, faster, and a perfect P&S for snapshots and street photography. The typical f/5.6 aperture is due to the zoom feature. A wider, faster lens with no zoom would be preferable, in my type of use.
I ran a roll of expired Tmax 100 and while I did not use the camera as I normally might have tested a camera, the results are satisfactory. I'll try a 400 ISO color film in it next to see how it does. Don't underestimate these cameras, they can produce some good results. At some point, these newer P&S cameras will become quite "classic." If you see one for less than $20, pick it up, and use it. I think you'll be surprised at just how good they are.
It's true that the "best camera" is the one you have with you, and these compact 35mm and APS point and shoot cameras were easily carried around. It's a shame that they are not more appreciated than they are. While the all-metal classics may have all the retro appeal, some of these plastic wonders are possibly better in terms of features and compactness. However, its obvious that now your phone can probably do a better job, since it's always with you. In 2003, well, that was not the case.