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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Ricoh GR1v Quick Review

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I bought this camera on eBay a few days ago. It cost me £320. I used to have a GR1 but lost it so this is a replacement. The GR1 was a great little camera and I took a lot of photographs that I liked with it.

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Anyway, this one was advertised as being in excellent condition and the price looked good. I did a few quick checks on receiving it and mechanically it seemed okay so I put a roll of Tri-X into to it and quickly finished the film, which I sent off for development at Peak Imaging (An excellent company).

After inspecting this GR1v a little closer, I noticed that the eyepiece was loose. To cut a long story short, I ended up accidentally breaking it off in an attempt to fix it. (The plastic it’s made from is quite brittle.) I fixed it back in place with my mum’s hot glue gun but it’s a temporary repair. I’ll be on the lookout for a GR1 for spares on eBay and replace it soon as possible. For now the bodge looks reasonably secure though:

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The two main things I liked about my old GR1 were its pocketability and the scope for a fair amount of manual control. It also had a great lens. The 1v offers a bit more flexibility but not there’s not a huge difference between the two. The lens is the same except that it has improved coatings. One other thing is that the body is made of magnesium so it’s quite sturdy without being too heavy.

Lens

It’s a 28mm f2.8. Minimum aperture is I think 22. Very sharp and has good contrast. I’ll post some sample results below once I have them.

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Exposure Control

You have a choice of fully automatic or aperture priority. Selection is via a small wheel on the top right-hand side of the camera. The 1v offers exposure bracketing but I doubt I’ll ever use it. You can also override the auto ISO (DX) and set it manually here.

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Flash

There are three flash settings: always on, always off and auto. Flash range with 400 ASA negative film is about 20 feet.

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Focus Modes

There are three modes: full autofocus, infinity and snap (Fixed focus at about 6 feet. The preset distance in Snap mode can be altered but doing so is a bit fiddly. The main advantage of snap mode its that it makes for less lag if you want quicker response at the shutter button).

The Mode button on the top plate controls these options.

Exposure Compensation

You can increase or decrease exposure by two stops using a selector on the left side of the top plate. Very handy and easy to access like all the other controls.

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Other notable features:

  • The film is completely wound out of the canister and onto the take-up spool when you load it into the camera. This means that when you take a photograph, that frame is rewound back into the film canister so that if the camera back is accidentally opened, the exposure isn’t lost.
  • There is a ‘Time’ exposure mode which lets you take long exposures without draining the battery. It doesn’t say in the user guide what the maximum length of exposure is but it’s probably adequate for most scenarios.
  • Mine has a Date Back. The control panel for this is on the side of the camera. The digits in this display are tiny:

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Weaknesses

These cameras are quite old now and Ricoh won’t repair them any more. I don’t know if there are any independent specialists in the UK.

There are a few known problems with them as they age:

  • The eyepiece tends to come loose. It’s held on with only one small screw and is made of a softish plastic which seems to be quite brittle, meaning it can break off as mine did. You’ll need to take one off a defunct camera. I don’t think this part is available separately.
  • The frame lines in the viewfinder can fade or disappear over time.
  • The LCD information panel on top of the panel can malfunction so that the data isn’t displayed properly – chunks go missing.

Summary

I’d recommend this camera to anyone who fancies one, with the caveat that you check for the problems listed above before buying. It’s compact, has a great lens and gives you good control over the main functions.

Update

Having read more about the many known problems with this range of cameras, I can’t really recommend them. Whilst they’re great when they’re working, in my opinion they’re just too fragile to invest a lot of money (£3-500) in.

 

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