Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Spotlight: Nikon L35AF

The Nikon L35AF is Nikon's first autofocus point-n-shoot camera. It was first released in 1983. The L35AF features a fixed 35mm f/2.8 prime lens, and fully automatic operation. Unlike most pocket cameras, the L35AF takes common AA batteries (thank God).

There are hardly any controls on the L35AF besides the shutter button, which makes the camera pretty much idiot-proof, and ideal for beginners. The only exposure setting you can manually adjust is the ISO, by twisting a dial that encircles the lens. There is also an exposure compensation (+2 EV) switch and self-timer, but that's pretty much it. With the L35AF, pretty much all control is given up to the camera. You can't even manually pop up the flash for daylight fill! To do this you have to cover the lens with your hand and half-press the shutter to trick the camera into thinking it's dark.

The viewfinder in this camera is pretty great for a point-n-shoot. The finder is nice and large, with clear framelines. The best part of the finder is the little distance scale at the bottom. When you half-press the shutter button to focus, a little pointer on the scale will indicate if the subject is near or far away. This confirms to the user that the camera is focusing on the subject, and not the background or foreground. I wish all viewfinder cameras had this feature, as it takes the guesswork out of autofocus, and allowed me to make exposures with confidence.

I love the small size of the L35AF. The lens barely sticks out at all, which makes the camera easy to stick in a coat pocket. The textured grip allows one to grip and operate the camera easily with one hand. It's pretty inconspicuous, though the film advance is loud. To make up for the noise, the film only advances after the shutter button is released. This means you can make a picture silently, walk away, and then have the camera wind to the next frame.

Below are some photographs I made with the Nikon L35AF. I used Arita EDU Ultra 400 film. My exposures came out okay, if not a tad on the underexposed side. I'm not super impressed with the sharpness of these images, but that could also be because I used cheapo film.