June 3, 2010

Finally - I found what I have been looking for, the Nikon L35AF



UPDATE: Here are the proper specifications. Essay follows:
Lens: 35mm F2.8-17.5 (5 elements in 4 groups - Sonnar type)
Filter thread: 46mm
Shutter: 1/8 to 1/430 sec


NOTE: personal experience has shown the camera is capable of 2 sec exposures IF you push the flash head down and keep it down after the camera takes a light reading until exposure. Some people tape it down.


Focus range: 0.8 metres to infinity
ISO Range: 50 to 1000 ASA on later models. Set manually. Early 1984 models only went up to 400 ASA.
Power: Two AA batteries


I had this camera. I gave it as a gift and then went on a hunt to find a replacement.

I love the Nikon L35AF. It feels like a real rangefinder, though in fact its just an auto focus. It was Nikon's first AF camera actually. Still, when I carry it around, I imagine I'm Henri Cartier-Bresson, if HCB used a super noisy machine with no manual controls besides picking the ISO, and if HCB liked wider lens like the L35's 35mm focal length. I think he called that particular focal length "shrill."

Oh well, irregardless, the lens is crazy good and big. I prefer it to using my Olympus Infinity Stylus Epic -- would you believe. The good old Olympus, tack sharp and all, needs to fire the lens out of the body to get in focus. I sometimes find it very alarming. The L35 keeps the lens movement within the barrel.

It has a metal frame. And there are a series of ways to make the camera shoot as if you had aperture control .... kind of...
If you are new to the camera or curious about its performance, please visit the flickr group: www.flickr.com/groups/l35af/


It's populated by a dedicated group of Nikon L35AF shooters who have tried to get the most out of the camera and its limitations.

There you will find in the discussion topics ways to manipulate the camera so it will shoot with no flash (this requires a photographer/behaviourial hack) and how to force a wider aperture.

Plus you'll learn how to take street photos with it suffering the grinding sound of the motor - at least for one shot.

If you're curious or in pure wonderment about the lens, check out Nikon's story of the Sonnar-type lens design behind the L35AF.

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8 comments:

  1. I just purchased the "Pikaichi". It has a nice feel when shooting, feels solid.

    I take the photo and continue to hold the shutter button. Then I can release 5, 10, or even 30 seconds later to advance the film.

    Thanks for writing your blog. People do appreciate it.

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  2. That's great to hear. I appreciate you reading it. Happy shooting!

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  3. JJ,

    An update. Through some type of Pikaichi karma, I now own 3 of these cameras. But I tested only one of them. I'm partial to its dazzling photos. Each one of them was $5.

    Richard
    Chicago, IL USA

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  4. hi, i just finished my 1st roll on olympus stylus epic but unfortunately i found its images not as sharp as nikon. is this true or my stylus epic got some problem?

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  5. Hi Huzaifa, I would say normally the Olympus Infinity Stylus Epic should offer sharper pictures or equally so. And only if you mean by Nikon you mean the L35AF. I'd have to see the photographs.

    One thing to note is these cameras don't have intelligent AF. You have to keep the principal subject in the middle or prefocus by half-depressing the shutter lease to lock the AF and then re-composing. Of course, if you know all this, there could be other factors at play before consider your Infinity Stylus Epic (mju-II, right?) a dud.

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  6. Hi Huzaifa: I had a look at some of your flickr images:

    1. Kodak 100 Ektar comes across as grainy in digital. Apparently they make very smooth optical prints but just scan grainy - not sure why.

    2. Because you don't have any principal subjects in your images if is hard to evaluate sharpness of the lens. Graininess is never caused by a lense. Softness of focus and aberrations like ghosting or chroma are characteristic of lens flaws. I see nothing like that in your images.

    3. Consider taking pictures of subjects within ten feet of you to really give the Olympus Infinity Stylus Epic. The program autoexposure was optimized for taking pictures of PEOPLE. The lense nearly always want to go wide in aperture. so that's something to consider. The mju-ii is a tiny little camera that wants to be a portrait camera. Really, that's how the AE works.

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  7. JJ,

    Yup, I use spot metering for off center subject. However, a little movement can ruin the focus.

    When u said about Ektar 100 and its the grain from a scan, I think that's what cause me to believe L35AF is sharper than stylus epic. I've been using a lot of DNP Centuria 200 and Fuji Reala 100 and earlier I used Fuji Pro400h.

    I'll try with a Reala 100 to see how the image sharpness compare with Nikon L35AF.

    After a while, I would say it's not that bad. Some photos are clean and some was not. When viewed in a smaller size, as if it's less sharp than L35AF. But if viewed at 100% there's not much difference unless for the grain.

    L35AF
    photo L35AF 1
    photo L35AF 2

    mju II
    photo from mju II 1
    photo from mju II 2

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