Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Little AF from Nikon

Last week I picked up a nice little Nikon One-Touch (known outside the USA as the L35AF2) at a local shop for $15 - with the box and instructions. Normally, that’s more than I would want to pay for a recent-vintage 35mm P&S camera, but I remember having a similar camera long ago, and thought the results were pretty good then. Of course, back in the 80s I was not doing real photography. Pretty much snapshots at the time. This time around, I thought it might be fun to see what the One-Touch could do. For starters, it has a 35mm f/2.8 lens (four elements in three groups), and is purported to be of good quality. Having a single focal length in such a camera is a key. In my opinion, P&S zooms are too slow and noisy. 35mm is a great overall focal length, as well. The camera has a built-in pop-up flash, which can be over-ridden by pushing it back down after it pops up, allowing for exposures up to 1/8 sec. It operates with 2 AA batteries, easily obtainable, rather than those CR-2 batteries that are so common in many compact cameras. The One-Touch has DX-code sensing, and if any film cassette lacks the code, the camera defaults to ISO 100. ISO ranges are from 50 to 1600. It dates from 1983-85, and I suspect was a popular compact camera when it was sold.

Impressions and Results

I like the overall feel of this camera, and the zone-style AF seems to be accurate. The motor drive means easy shooting, and as such, could be a good “street camera.” With a 35mm field of view, the slightly wider than 50mm is a good choice. The viewfinder is nice and bright, and the final images pretty well matched what I recall framing in the vf. The self-timer is easy to use, and of course, a tripod socket will allow for better low-light photos.

I shot a roll of good old reliable Kodak Gold 100 and had it processed at my local Walgreens (develop only, and scan to a CD). The scans look good, and the camera handled the window light at Marjorie and Stephs’ Marquette apartment quite well.

Vanishing Point
Lower Harbor, Marquette

25 cents per hour
25 cents an hour.

Thill's Fish Market
Some duct tape needed

Should You Buy One?

A quick check on the great big auction site reveals a good many L35AF2/One-Touch cameras. Many are listed as “buy it now” for about what I paid for mine. It’s certainly a better camera than the pieces of junk that have the letters LC-A on them, and will give consistent results. It would not be a bad camera to carry around with a few rolls of film on a city stroll, and as it’s not a digicam, battery life won’t be a big issue, so it can sit in a bag for a few months and be ready to shoot. I recommend buying one and shooting some Kodak TCN-400 b&w C-41 film and you’ll be happy.


LucM said...

I've got a similar Nikon TW (tele-wide or L35TWAF) with selectable focal lengths (38 or 65). The rest is as on yours: pop-up flash, AA batteries, motor drive, autofocus... But I don't like mine. Why? Don't know, I just don't like it and will sell it for any price. Not really big or heavy but in that category I like my little Canon MC much, much better. And since I can do without AF and motor drive, I even prefer the stealth silent operation of my Olympus XA and XA2. Now if my L35TWAF (who was responsible at Nikon for choosing this name?) doesn't sell, your post almost convinced me to put a new roll in it and give it another go...

Anonymous said...

We just picked one of these up at a local goodwill. Having some major problems getting it to work. The film winds in if you smack it on the side but we are still unable to get the thing to take a picture. The shutter release seems stuck or just locked up somehow.

Any advice?

nova said...

We just picked one of these up at a goodwill. For some reason we cant get the shutter release to work properly. It seems stuck and only after striking the camera will it wind film.

Any advice?

mfophotos said...

The battery contacts probably need to be cleaned, as that could be the cause of the erratic operation.

trevor said...

bought one at value village tonight. i was a bit hesitant at first, but i think i will be quite happy with it i think. its the best $4 i have spent in a while.

i may have to take you up on your recommendation of shooting B&W film.