The Nikon L35AF is a point and shoot camera I love using.
Unlike most reviews, this not meant to be an analytic article on the optical quality of the lens, but rather my subjective take on this particular camera.
I started taking pictures using only SLRs, but the size and weight meant I found myself leaving the camera at home and then seeing scenes I wanted to take pictures of, but of course couldn’t.
Logically I thought of buying a point and shoot camera. I started reading online and came upon lots of buyers’ guides and reviews. They mostly praised cameras like the Contax T2 or T3, Olympus MJU II, Yashica T4, T5 and others. I did quick search on eBay and found out they were and still are selling for ridiculously high prices, considering that they’re between 10 and 20 years old and most can’t even be serviced.
So, I kept on reading until I found a couple of articles praising the build quality and lens of the Nikon L35AF. I searched a bit on eBay and found one in reasonably good condition for a fair price, about a third of the price of beater MJU II.
Film type: 135 (35mm)
Lens: Nikon 35mm 1:2.8-16 (4 elements in 3 groups)
Focal range: 1.3m to infinity in 3 zones
Shutter speeds: 1/8-1/430 aperture-priority automatic
Viewfinder: Reverse-Galilean Albada-type bright-line finder
Exposure meter: CdS
Battery: two AA
ISO range: 25-1600
Film advance: automatic
Body and Build quality
When I got the camera, I was immediately impressed by the build quality. On pictures, it looked a bit plasticky, but when holding it, you realize that it has a sturdy metal frame underneath. The plastic body also helps prevent brassing from scratched paintwork, plus it doesn’t get too cold during the winter months. The grip protrudes slightly from the body and makes it much easier to hold onehanded. It’s not as compact as other point and shoot cameras, but it’s compact and light enough for my needs.
I love shooting with this camera. It just gets out of the way. Loading it is dead simple, just put the film in, place the film tip next to the red mark, close the back and press the shutter. It’s that easy.
The shutter button is a little odd, its travel is quite long and doesn’t have much feel to it. Once you get used to it, it’s fine though. The autofocus is fast and reliable. It’s not DSLR fast though. You’re limited to one autofocus point in the middle of the frame, but if you focus and recompose, it works well enough. The shutter itself is very quiet, but the film advance motor is not. What you can do to avoid drawing attention to you after taking a picture is holding the shutter down even after the shot, the film advance works only after depressing the shutter. And since the lens is small and the camera has some heft to it, you can use slower shutter speed than in SLR. If you regularly shoot indoors, this camera will serve you well.
The lens is a very sharp 35mm with a maximum aperture of f2.8. It renders images with nice contrast and deep, saturated colors. And as a bonus, the ISO speed ranges from ISO 50 to 1000. So unless your shooting in really dim conditions or at night it’ll be fine.
This camera is a real point and shoot camera, meaning that it’s a fully automatic experience. The only adjustment the user can make is to set the ISO and use the exposure compensation lever. At the time this was exactly what I was looking for and it helped me with my creative process by letting me concentrate on the picture instead of fiddling around with all the settings.
One tip when taking pictures is holding the flash down if you don’t want that paparazzi look in your images. By doing this the camera will use slower shutter speeds and still nail the exposure.
If you’re after a true point and shoot experience that won’t break the bank, be sure to check the Nikon L35AF out. The combination of a sharp lens, excellent build quality, and painless user experience set it apart from cameras in the same pries range and lets it compete with hyped compacts that cost twice or even three times as much. I would even recommend it if you just want to try the point and shoot category. A little money goes a long way with this awesome camera.