Nikon L35AF camera review

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)

Weight: 320g

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

Self-timer: 10s

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.

Shooting experience

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.

5 Frames with the Olympus XA3

Ever since my brother gave me my first camera, a Canon A-1 for all of those wondering, I`ve fallen in love with film photography.

At first, I shot exclusively on SLR’s, such as the aforementioned Canon A-1. I didn’t really feel the need to try other cameras, let alone carry a second one around with me.

As I went to Shanghai for an exchange semester, I quickly notice everyday scenes that grabbed my attention, but I rarely had my trusty SLR with me. I suddenly needed a small, pocketable and fast shooting camera to carry with me everywhere.

After reading everything I could about compact cameras I found an Olympus XA3 in pretty good shape. I originally set out to find an XA, but since I don’t speak mandarin and I wanted to get a camera as fast as possible I settled for what I could find.

The Olympus XA3 is a tiny black brick. The only pops of color come from the white Olympus logo and the orange shutter button.  It doesn’t get more discrete than this. The shutter is electronically controlled and very quiet. Add a super shallow shutter button and you get a camera feels faster than it really is. Even the film advance wheel helps it pass unnoticed. I took countless street shots, nobody even noticed and when they did, they assumed that I was using a toy camera.

After I got my first film back, I was blown away by the sharpness of the lens. Granted a 35mm focal length with a max aperture of 3.5 doesn’t sound sexy, but this lens is very sharp and renders images in a lovely way.

It took me a while to get used to the zone focusing system, but after trying different speed film, I settled on 400 and 800 ISO  film for maximum depth of field and high shutter speeds, which ensured I could pull the camera out my pocket and take the shot as fast as possible without having to worry about blurry images.

I love this little camera. It the perfect take everywhere camera. Sure, it’s not the most technical and doesn’t have the best optics, but it’s perfect for those everyday moments worth capturing.

Olympus XA3 review


As the fourth iteration of the XA line, this little camera upped the ante to was already a very capable and discrete camera. Unlike the original XA which had a proper rangefinder, aperture priority shooting mode, a 35mm lens with a max aperture of 2.8 and was built mostly out of metal, the XA3 was redesigned with a more user-friendly experience in mind. Its body is mostly plastic, and the shooting mode is purely automatic, just set the focus distance to one of the three predefined distances and press the shutter.  It’s basically an XA2 with an extended ISO range and DX coding.


  • Film type: 135 (35mm)
  • Weight: 200g
  • Lens: D.Zuiko 35mm 1:3.5-22 (4 elements in 3 groups)
  • Focal range: 1.3m to infinity in 3 zones
  • Shutter speeds: 2s-1/750 aperture-priority automatic
  • Viewfinder: Albada-type bright-line finder
  • Exposure meter: CdS
  • Battery: two SR44 / S76 silver oxide button
  • ISO range: 25-1600
  • Self-timer: 10s
  • Film advance: Thumb-wheel winder


The Olympus XA3 is a tiny black brick. The only pops of color come from the white Olympus logo and the orange shutter button. It doesn’t get more discrete than this. Its film advance is handled by a thumbwheel winder, which gives it a disposable camera feel, but at the same time makes it that much more discrete. The lens and ISO settings are placed behind a sliding lens cover. The ISO range is set in full-stop increments from ISO 25 all the way to 1600 and the camera also has DX coding. If the film used has a DX code, the ISO will automatically default to it and ignore the setting on the front. One way to get around that is to cover the pins in the film compartment with electrical tape. Not the most sophisticated hack, but it’s quick and easy. One feature the XA3 has that the XA2 doesn’t is the exposure compensation lever. Much like the XA, the XA3 has one more setting in the battery check lever that overexposes the shot by 1.5 stops, giving you an easy workaround for backlight scenes.

Shooting experience

If you’re into street shooting, I highly recommend getting one. It’s the most discrete camera I know and the layout of the controls and features lets you shoot faster than with most cameras.
Thanks to its super sneaky shutter, compact size, and clam-shell design, you can take the camera out of a coat pocket, compose and take the shot and put it away without drawing attention. Thanks to its program shooting mode and lean and mean shooting philosophy, it lets you get in the moment and really concentrate on the details. I would even go as far as calling it a Zen camera, one that gets out of the way and lets you capture that decisive moment.


If candid street shots are your thing then go and buy one ASAP, plus their still reasonably cheap. I would recommend this camera for anyone looking for a carry anywhere and take candid shots without all the fuss and bulk of a manual or aperture priority camera. Or even as a second camera to load another film stock and carry it as a backup. It weighs next to nothing and complements a proper manual camera nicely.

Developing B&W Film at home

Your ultimate guide to developing your own 35mm or 120 film photos at home. No darkroom or photo lab needed.

Film is a somewhat obscure medium to take pictures with, at least by today’s standards. Much of the tradition and know-how of analog photography has lost its mainstream appeal, but thanks to the wonder of the internet and a passionate film community, not all is lost. I’ve been shooting film for 12 years now, and I have to say that the experience couldn’t be more different than digital photography. Granted, the learning curve is steeper and the cost of buying and developing film might deter new users, but the feeling you get from framing an image and being surprised by the result a couple of days/weeks later is something special. If you’re looking to take the experience to another level, then developing your own film at home is the next logical step.

This step by step guide will focus only on Black and White development since it’s the most forgiving and simple. Other types of development, such as C-41 (color negative) and E-6 (color reversal or slide film) require more equipment and need a very specific working temperature for the results to resemble those of photography lab. B&W development is also cheaper, and the chemicals tend to have a much longer shelve life.

The equipment you’ll need for Development

  • Chemicals: B&W developer, stop bath and fixer.
  • A changing bag (think of it as lightproof bag to spool your film into the film reels)
  • A developing tank and film reel.
  • A thermometer (optional, but highly recommended).
  • A timer
  • A film leader retriever.
  • Containers, for measuring the volume of chemistry correctly.
  • Bottles, for storing your chemistry.
  • Film Clips
  • A sink, bath or anywhere with access to water supply.

Choosing your chemicals

When it comes to choosing your B&W chemicals, the range of product and the sheer amount of information can be intimidating. Don’t worry, I’ll explain the differences as simply as possible.
First things first, the Developer. There are both liquid and powder developers available, the difference being powder can be stored for longer and liquid is easier to mix in smaller batches.
The more important difference is “solvent” (fine grain) and “non-solvent” (high acutance) developers. Deciding between these two types of developers is a matter of taste.
In a nutshell, solvent developers provide fine grain and are more forgiving when comes to exposure, meaning your negatives can be slightly over- or underexposed and the result will still look pleasing. ID-11, D76, Perceptol, Microphen, and XTOL are examples of solvent developers.
Non-solvent developers give sharper results at the cost of a more pronounced grain structure. Rodinal, HC-110, FX-1, and PMK are some examples of solvent developers
Personally, I use Rodinal, since it can be diluted at different strengths and works with virtually every film out there. I´ve used other developers, but they tend to be less flexible than Rodinal when it comes to trying different brands of film and pushing and pulling them.
The second chemical is the stop bath which, as its name implies, stops the development process, giving you more control over development time. Using a stop bath is not necessary, but I highly recommend it. When it comes to which one to buy, I just recommend Acetic Acid which is just good old white vinegar. If you just hate the smell of vinegar, citric acid is also an option.
The third and last chemical needed is the fixer, which fixes the image and makes the negative lightproof. The fixers you can buy differ mainly on how fast they are and how strong they smell. Any which one you pick will be fine. I haven´t had any problems with any of the brands I’ve used.
The last chemical I recommend using is a wetting agent. Depending on where you live, water can have chloride, limestone, chalk, and can leave a spot on your negatives. I use Photo-flow to avoid these imperfections.

Mixing the Chemicals

Before you can develop your priceless pictures, you first need to mix your chemicals. Depending on what specific brands and type of developer you bought, follow the instructions to get a working solution. Some liquid developers are one-shot solutions, meaning they’re meant to be used once and then discarded. So, do yourself a favor and read the instructions carefully. Measurements for chemistry required for different film types are usually located on the bottom of the developing tank.

Loading the film for development

Once all working solutions are mixed and measured, you’ll need to load the film to the reels and place them in the tank.
First, use the film leader retriever and cut the end of the film as shown. These cuts help the film slide smoothly into the reel. Spool the film into the reel, cut the end of the film to separate the empty film canister and place the reel in the tank. These steps all take place within the changing bag. Take your time and make sure the film is properly loaded.

Develop your film

Make sure the chemicals are roughly at the same temperature and compensate for the development times by measuring the temperature of the developer. I recommend using either the massive Development chart app or their website, where most film development information is accessible and easy to use. The App also doubles as a timer, so it saves you time and streamlines the process.
First, pour the developer into the tank and agitate. I recommend agitating constantly for the first minute and then 10 seconds every minute. After agitating lift the tank and tap it down firmly onto a hard surface. This ensures there are no bubbles on the negative surface, giving more consistent results. Pour the developer out and either dispose of it or put it in another container for storage.
Pour the stop bath in and agitate for one minute, then pour it out.
Finally, pour the fixer in. As with the developer, agitate constantly for the first minute, then 10 seconds every minute and tap after each agitation cycle.
By now your film is light-proof, but still has trace chemicals on it so give it a good rinse. Some manuals call for 10 min under running water, but I do it a little differently. I fill the tank with water an agitate constantly for at least a minute and dump the water out, then I repeat the cycle for a total of three.
As the last step, I dunk the film in a wetting agent solution. Personally, I use Kodak photo-flow, it cheap and a bottle lasts for ages. After a 30 sec immersion, the films are ready for hanging and drying.

After drying your negatives are ready for storage, scanning or darkroom work. Hope you have fun developing and don´t forget that film photography is supposed to be fun. Don´t sweat the details, just enjoy the process!

About the Author

Hi, my name is Martin. I’m a product designer and I’ve been shooting film for the last 12 years.

Unlike most of my friends I started taking pictures on film. Why you ask? Simple, I always like the idea of taking photography as a hobby, but never really took the leap.

One day my Older brother told me he had taken a film photography course and then showed me the basics. Since I was so interested he even got me my first camera, a Canon A-1. I was instantly hooked. The haptics of old film cameras are something to behold and couldn’t be more different than their digital counterparts.

Since then I’ve used several different cameras and tried a wide range of emulsions and development techniques, which I’ll hopefully be able to share through this blog.