THE L35AF 35MM POINT & SHOOT CAMERA
Nikon's first auto-focus 35mm P&S camera
The Nikon L35AF cameras design and build quality is excellent, its metal chassis and robust plastic black skin add weight and a quality feel to the camera.
The L35AF is very easy to use, a great first camera for any newcomer to 35mm film photography. Loading film is quick and easy, turn on your camera and place the 35mm film cartridge into the film chamber, draw the film leader out until it lines up with a red mark next to the take-up spool. Then close the film door, the film will automatically advance to the first frame.
There are a few quirky features on this camera. You may notice after pressing the shutter button a slight delay before the film advance kicks in. This is unique, I have not experienced this on another point & shoot camera of this period. With most P&S cameras of this period, the motor-drive is loud. The loudest camera by far was the "Canon AF35M II or Autoboy 2 camera" another great little camera that came out at the same time as the Nikon.
If you intend using this camera for street photography here is a little tip. Once you take the photo to keep the shunter button pressed down, the film will not advance until you release the button, doing this will not alert your subject with the loud motor-drive, another nice feature of this camera.
The cameras lens is a 35mm f/2.8 Sonnar-type lens made up of five elements in four groups. This gem of a lens produces beautiful images with no distortion and minimal fall off and very little lens flare. This camera is my owned L35AF which I have owned for 8 years. It never fails to amaze me producing beautiful images.
A Real Success
The camera's viewfinder is a reasonable size, when framing your subject make sure you dead centre the subject in the yellow centre brackets. The camera will focus passed your intended subject if you don't. When taking group images make sure the subjects are fairly close together, with minimal gaps.
Looking through the viewfinder you will see a simple focusing distance marker that slides along between four icons. A single figure (close-up) two figures ( short-range ) three figures ( mid-range) and mountain icon ( infinity) This feature always reminds me what I love about these cameras, with its mix of moving mechanical parts sadly lost in today's digital world.
The autofocus system on the L35AF is fairly reliable and perform well, as long as you use quality batteries. One thing you will quickly learn about the L35AF its heavy on batteries. There is no auto-power save function on this camera, power is constantly flowing while the camera is turned on. Get into the habit of switching off once done.
Constant power flow is critical to the performance of this camera, here is what to look for if your purchasing or having problems
Flip open the battery compartment lid and look for signs of spent battery acid. It is a white powdery substance that leaks out of spent batteries over long periods. Look into the compartment with a torch, you will see two silver battery terminals. These terminals must be clean and intact, the slightest discolouring corrosion or spent acid can restrict or even prevent power flowing into the camera.
TIP: Use a cotton bud and some vinegar dab the terminals lightly, the vinegar will help dissolve away acid or verdigris, repeat this several times. Then place fresh batteries back into the camera and try powering up.
The battery compartment lid is another weak point on the L35AF over time the plastic lid wears, so losing its ability to latch down correctly. When this happens its time to source a replacement battery lid. This will not be a cheap repair as spares and repair cameras sell for about £60 at present. The repair is possible if you loosen off the base plate screws and film compartment screws, therefore allowing enough clearance to swap over the lids.
The self-timer can be selected by switching down a toggle switch position just below the shutter button. Flick the switch down and press the shutter button to activate, you will notice a red light counting down the seconds before shutter release. The self-timer is another weak point, for some reason the timer permanently lock its self in mode. Tip:- Try switching on and off a few times to trip the function, this has worked a few times for me. Failing this open up the camera and check the internal switch cam mechanism. This is a strange one, I have experienced this with a few times, one such camera was working fine and in near-mint condition. I put the camera away for 6 months and then got the camera out for listing only to find it was stuck in self-timer mode