Nikon 35Ti Quick Review

Nikon 35Ti
Nikon 35Ti

This came in the post last week. I got it on eBay in my ongoing quest to find a decent pocket film camera. I had previously purchased a Ricoh GR1v but it seems a bit fragile, with lots of reports of the LCD breaking amongst other things, so I thought I’d try a 35Ti.

The little Nikon gets good reviews and while I’ve seen a couple for parts on eBay, from what I can make out it’s a lot more robust than the Ricoh.

Lens

It’s a 35mm f2.8. I haven’t had any film developed from it yet but sample images I’ve seen on the internet look sharp and contrasty. Minimum aperture is f22.

It has what looks like a metal cover that retracts when you power the camera up. The lens protrudes a centimetre or so from the body when in use. I prefer a 35mm to the 28mm of the Ricoh, which is just a bit too wide for my liking.

Metering

It uses Nikon’s Matrix system, which is reportedly quite good even in difficult lighting.  You can choose Program or Aperture Priority modes, which are selected from the power On/ Off switch on the top of the camera.

Exposure Compensation

You can vary exposure by plus or minus two stops. You have to hold down a small button and turn the control wheel on the top plate. It’s a bit fiddly compared to the Ricoh.

Flash

The flash is either always on, always off or auto. I never use flash so I can’t say how effective it is. Control is by two tiny buttons on the front left of the body. They’re not easy to operate.

Panorama

It has a switch for panorama mode. All this does is to move a blind into place which blanks of the top and bottom of the frame when you expose the image. Not hugely useful.

The panorama switch is to the right of the viewfinder.
The panorama switch is to the right of the viewfinder.

Construction

The body is made from titanium. It’s reasonably light. The control buttons and wheels look reasonably robust with the exception of the latch which keeps the back shut – this is a flimsy affair and looks like it would be easy to break.

Focusing

Autofocus is controlled by two sensors on the front of the camera, to the left of the viewfinder. The autofocus target in the viewfinder is a small oval. The focus motors are quite noisy.

You can also manually set the focus distance by pressing the ‘AF’ button and turning the control wheel. Again, this is quite fiddly.

Dials

The dials aren't hugely useful
The dials aren’t hugely useful

A small set of analogue dials on the top plate shows you focus distance, exposure compensation, aperture and something else I haven’t figured out yet. It’s not hugely user-friendly and is of limited use since the information displayed here can’t be seen when you’re looking through the viewfinder, which is when it matters. It looks nice though.

Viewfinder

Not a great photograph but you can see the focus target and (Faintly) the parallax marks.
Not a great photograph but you can see the focus target and (Faintly) the parallax marks. The red hue of the lines is due to the viewfinder illumination button being pressed.

The viewfinder has bright lines for framing. It also incorporates:

  • Parallax marks for close focusing
  • Shutter speed (Not displayed elsewhere on the camera)
  • Exposure compensation signifier
  • Autofocus target

There’s a button on top of the camera which illuminates the bright lines and other markings in low light.

Dimensions

118 x 66 x 36mm

Summary

It seems like a good pocket camera. Fairly robust, with a good lens and some control over exposure and focusing. It has a better reputation for reliability than the Ricoh GR1 cameras.

On the down side, it’s not as compact as my GR1 or Olympus XA. I can live with that in exchange for durability though.

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Canon T90 Quick Review

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I got this camera to replace my Leica M6. The Leica was worth too much to have lying around and I didn’t like taking it out and about for the same reason, so I sold it and got this.

The body cost me £90 on eBay. I got a 35mm F2.8 lens for about £40. Both are in pretty good condition.

At about the same time, I bought an A1 and an AE1 body. My reasoning was that I could choose the one of the three which suited me best.

As it turned out, this was the T90, because it works best for metering and shooting on manual. The A1 is mainly designed for automatic exposure and the AE1 doesn’t have as good a choice of metering modes as the T90.

T90 Metering: you can choose between spot, centre-weighted and average. I prefer spot.

Exposure modes: aperture priority, shutter priority, automatic and program (Not sure what the difference is between these last two).

It has a built-in auto winder. Speeds are 4.5 or 2 frames a second. I use it on single-shot though. Shutter speeds range from 30 seconds to 1/4000.

The shutter is notorious for jamming, resulting in an EEE error being displayed in the viewfinder. Apparently this tends to happen if the camera is left unused for long periods of time. Newton Ellis camera repairers (UK) say on their website that they can fix it – no indication what this costs though. I read somewhere that to prevent this problem when the camera is lying unused, you should fire the shutter on B and take the batteries out whilst the shutter is open. I haven’t tried this myself so can’t vouch for it.

The camera takes 4 AA batteries. Reports vary on how long these last but so far mine seems to be getting through them quite quickly.

In short, I really like the T90. I like to meter and make exposures manually and it’s ideal for that. You also get motor wind and it just feels nice in the hand.

FD lenses for it are cheap – much less expensive than comparable Nikon glass.

The only downside is the potential for the EEE shutter error but as I said you can get that repaired, or just buy another functioning body for less than £100.

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Viewfinder display (Not a great photograph I’m afraid).

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Metering & exposure mode controls.

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LCD Display

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Rear panel with On/Off switch & some buttons I never use

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A look inside the door on the right side of the T90. Buttons are for viewfinder information brightness; battery check; rewind and (I think) self-timer. I hardly ever use these.

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Mistakes

I loaded my Hasselblad with some Ilford Delta 400. As it turned out, I didn’t load it very well. The winder became a little reluctant about a third of the way through the roll.

Then, when I was loading the film onto the spiral after shooting it, I couldn’t get it aligned correctly.

End result: three or four wrecked frames.

I subsequently Googled ‘Loading a 501CM correctly’ and discovered that I’d been missing out a crucial step: it appears that you have to slide the film leader under a lip at the top of the magazine, which I didn’t know.

Needless to say, the ruined frames were some of the better ones on this particular roll.

Ignorance was the cause of my errors: I hadn’t taken the time to learn how to load the film into the camera properly. I’d also forgotten how to load film onto a spiral correctly. The cost was a couple of lost photographs. I can always go back and re-take the photographs but they’ll not be quite the same. Some lessons are learned the hard way. It seems age is no protection.

The triangular aberration in the lower right of the frame was caused by incorrect loading onto the film spiral. It's happened before. I need to find a solution or revert to sending my films away for processing.
The triangular aberration in the lower right of the frame was caused by incorrect loading onto the film spiral.

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Mud

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I went out with the camera yesterday and took this photograph. It’s just down the road a bit. It was the first time in a while that I’ve had mud on my boots. Quite pleased with this composition. I see quite a few scenes when I’m out in the car that I would like to photograph but with the roads round here being country ones, there’s nowhere to stop.

Periodically I toy with the idea of getting a little motorbike specifically for camera outings but the thought of another system to feed and maintain puts me off, so for now it’s going to be locations within walking distance or places where I can stop the car.

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Veganism

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Recently I gave up dairy and eggs. I’d been vegetarian for about 25 years and had been thinking about going vegan for a while. My older brother has been vegan for a couple of years and kept on telling me how great he felt, how he had lost weight.

As for me, so far so good. I don’t miss cheese, eggs or milk at all. In fact I don’t think I could go back to eating them. I don’t really have a sweet tooth any more so I didn’t really eat cakes, puddings or ice cream. One less problem.

I’ve lost about 7 kilos over the past couple of months and whilst I’ve been on a weight-loss diet, I think being vegan has made it easier to lose the weight.

I don’t know if I’d say I feel significantly healthier but I certainly don’t feel any worse. (I’ve also been avoiding beer, which has made a difference to how I look and feel though.)

Meat and dairy are primary sources of calcium and B12 for most people, so I’ll be taking supplements for those: a B complex pill for the B12 and soya milk for the calcium. Hopefully that’ll suffice, though I have read about vegans with brittle bones here and there. (Possibly scare stories, I’ll do some research and find out.)

Another aspect to veganism its that it’s easier on the planet: meat and dairy are resource-intensive and they account for a big chunk of CO2 emissions.

One of my main motives for going vegan though, is the fact that I like animals, or, more accurately I hate to think about animal cruelty. I don’t think it’s possible to produce meat, eggs or milk without the animals suffering in some way. It feels good to have a clear conscience about that side of things.

The only other thing I have to think about is leather: only one footwear manufacturer’s shoes fit my fat feet (Geox). Unfortunately, they use leather or suede in all their products, so I’ll be doing a search for an alternative when I run out of trainers (I went on a splurge before I decided to go vegan so I have a couple of years worth of them stocked up).

Anyway, veganism seems to be trendy these days. So much the better. I just hope those experimenting with it for whatever reasons will stick with it.

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Gravure.

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This is just up the road a bit. Taken a few days ago. I thought I had Tri-X in the camera but it turned out to be Delta 400. A nice film all the same.

I’d like to make a gravure print of this. Might happen, might not.

It would be nice to have a press but they’re big, heavy and expensive, bedsides which I don’t have too many negatives that are suited to gravure.

Maybe one day though…

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Oliver Sacks

I’ve read most of Oliver Sacks’ books. I’m not a book critic so I won’t go into detail about why I like his writing but in short, he was humane, learned and interesting.

Yesterday I bought the last book he ever published, “Gratitude”. I got it on my Kindle. It was a great read, if short (It’s only 64 pages). In my opinion it’s one of his best.

I was disappointed to reach the end so soon, but the last lines of the book contained this insight, which was worth the cover price alone: “And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life – achieving a sense of peace within oneself.”

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Bottles

Over quota on this stuff too.
Over quota on this stuff.

I took this photo when I was thinking about doing bottle photography. I’ve since abandoned that particular idea because:
a) I no longer need the money, and
b) I dislike advertising in general and alcohol advertising in particular.
c) I didn’t have a proper studio.

Anyway, if something needs to be advertised in order to sell, I’m not sure I want to help. I’m also generally against consumerism and added to that, I think alcohol is a bad thing for a lot of people and therefore banning alcohol advertising would be a good thing in my opinion.

So whilst I enjoyed (Sort of) trying my hand at product photography, I’m not sorry it didn’t work out.

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Leitz Summicron 35mm F2.0 Quick Owner Review

Since it’s late and I have nothing better to do, I thought I’d just post a quick review of my Summicron 35mm 2.0.

I bought this (Used) lens on eBay about a year ago. I think I paid over the odds for it, in hindsight. The (Cypriot) bloke I bought it from said it was unused but I looked up the date of manufacture a couple of days ago and it’s apparently 2000-2004. It seems to me unlikely that it was sitting in the box for more than 10 years…

Anyway, it’s in mint condition so who knows. I’ve only used it on three rolls of film (All Tri-x) but the results have been fantastic. It’s pin-sharp edge-to-edge; nice and contrasty and I don’t see any distortion, even when using it for portraits from nearest focus.

This is a solid lump of metal and glass. The only piece of plastic on it is the little focus grip, which is unfortunate but nothing’s perfect. It’s quite heavy for such a small lens. I think the barrel’s made from from brass, whereas the black version of this lens is made from aluminium. As I said, it’s quite a diminutive piece of engineering – the filter size is only 39mm. My old Canon 35mm 1.4 L was a monster by comparison.

I recently listed this lens on eBay (I was planning to sell it and my M6 body) but got hardly any interest. It may have been that I’d priced it too high – I’m not sure. Maybe there just isn’t much of a market for this particular model.

At any rate, I’m happy to hold onto it for now. It’s a joy to use and the results are fantastic.

Here are some sample pictures from it:

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Leica M6 Quick Owner Review

I got this camera about a year ago. I’d had one before and only put one roll of (Colour) film through it before selling it but this time I was determined to use it.

However, I found myself looking at the negs from the last roll of Tri-X I put through this one and feeling distinctly underwhelmed (Not that they were lacking in technical quality, just that they were a bit boring). This was only roll number three too. Not exactly heavy use.

So I listed it on eBay, reasoning that it was too expensive to have lying around. I had it on there for about a week before I had a change of heart. This was inspired by looking back at some photos from film numbers one and two, some of which I was very pleased with. Additionally, I had sent a print from it to a Japanese bloke and he had seen fit to frame it, which encouraged me.

It’s a very nice piece of engineering. It’s solid metal, glass and leather. The only plastic bit is the wind-on lever shroud. Everything about this camera is quality. The controls feel silky smooth. It has heft. The ergonomics are perfect. There’s nothing extraneous on it. It feels as though it’ll last a hundred years and it probably will, if looked after.

I took it out in the dusk tonight and shot some pictures of the housemartins wheeling over the garden. Not sure if I got anything but I just got back from posting the film away so I’ll know in a few days.

I hope to hold onto the M6 for the foreseeable future. It’s such a good tool, I really enjoy using it and it yields great results. (The lens I have for it is a Summicron 35mm F2.0, which is as nice a thing as the camera body but I’ll review that in another post.)

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