Film Photography Part 2 : Nikon L35AF

I think I finally have enough prints to start describing my second film camera.

The Nikon L35AF was Nikon’s first autofocus compact camera, released in 1983. I was born in 1984, so it’s one year older than me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After miserably failing to focus on several shots with the Samsung SR-4000 that my friend let me borrow, I really wanted an autofocus camera for film. The challenge was to find a wide aperture, compact, autofocus camera that wasn’t too expensive. One camera I really wanted (and still want) is the Contax T3. That camera is so beautiful with its Zeiss lens, sleek design, titanium body, and even synthetic sapphire shutter button! It costs waaayy too much though. So after searching for a cheap alternative, I came across the Nikon L35AF. Ken Rockwell had some good things to say about the camera, so I was expecting it not to be just a cheap crappy camera.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It cost somewhere around $10 on ebay and used two AA batteries (a common issue with older cameras is that they use older Mercury batteries which aren’t used anymore, so it’s difficult to get replacement batteries). It was a very convenient and cheap way to play with film. So after I bought it on ebay I gave it a roll of Fuji Superia and started snapping away so I could make sure there weren’t any light leaks or problems with the lens.

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While I didn’t purchase the extra high resolution prints from my local print shop, I could tell that the lens was plenty sharp based on the above photo. Here’s another example from my second roll, taken at the Grand Canyon.

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Also note the dynamic range, dark shadows in the foreground and brightly lit canyon in the background. Detail is there!

It was a fully auto camera. You half-press the shutter button with your subject in the center focus box, compose the shot, and press the shutter all the way. In low light situations, it’ll automatically pop up its built-in flash unit.

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As you can see, the camera does a pretty good job rendering the shot with flash. Images are sharp, focus is accurate, and exposure is great.

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The camera has a 35mm f/2.8 lens. While this is 1 1/2 stops smaller than the f/1.4 lens I’ve been playing with, it gives me pretty background good separation when necessary.

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You can see the vase is sharp but the background is beginning to blur out. Especially since this is a wider lens than the 50mm, it’s inherently harder to get DOF separation but this thing’s f/2.8 lens is capable.

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Overall, I think this is a great camera to just keep around. It takes AA batteries and only cost dollars on ebay. I’ll be keeping this in the glove compartment of my car for emergency photograph situations.

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After all, the best camera is the one you have with you, right? Maybe it’s ironic that this $10, 30 year old compact camera is capable of taking better photos than my expensive smart phone. Hopefully it’ll be with me enough so that I don’t miss any great photo-moments!

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I’d also like to note that some photo scans have been slightly processed through Adobe Lightroom.

Thank you for reading through this long post! I’ll keep updating my blog with photos from my Nikon as I get more rolls developed.

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4 thoughts on “Film Photography Part 2 : Nikon L35AF

  1. This post is wonderful! It made me take a walk down memory lane as I tried to remember my first camera. I say “tried” because I have been shooting so long and am only a few years older than you, and I can’t remember which one I started out with… 🙂
    The Nikon you chose seems to be a great “glove box” camera. (haha) The quality isn’t bad at all! I am also a fan of Ken Rockwell and value his opinion on most camera-related things.
    Thank you for taking a look at (and liking!) my blog yesterday. I love your blog and am following it now. I look forward to more from you in the future!

    • Thanks for the great comment. You’re lucky to have started earlier than me.. it hasn’t even been a year since I’ve gotten into photography!

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