Advanced Compact (AF)

The Nikon 28ti and 35ti – a mini-review – By Ahmed Al Shorouqi

don’t understand why sometimes people complain about some missing features on a compact camera. It’s 2019 and digital is yet to give us a small full frame point and shoot the size of a wallet. Those 90s compacts are in today’s digital-world terms, full frame, fixed lens compact cameras; I don’t see any digital full frame compacts that would fit in my pocket. All I want from my compact is to be well built, quiet and have a sharp lens.

The Search

So I was on the hunt for a premium compact camera, and the first options I saw were….? You guessed it. The over priced Contax T2 and T3. $1.8k for a point and shoot. No thanks. There were other options as well, like Fuji Klasse and Minolta TC1. But I was hesitant to put that much money on a point and shoot full of electric components that could die at any moment. 

A couple of days later I came across Nikons offerings. The 35ti. A 1993 titanium body compact for $350! I decided to go for it and after shooting about 5 rolls with it, I liked it so much that I went out and brought it’s twin, the beautiful Nikon 28ti. 

Nikon 28Ti – Ilford HP5+ Pushed to 1600

Usability

In the hand, both cameras feel very solid and have many nice features. Auto focus, auto exposure, aperture priority and that top plate of analog dials that shows aperture, focus scale, compensation dial, and a film counter. 

The cameras will allow you to change aperture, focus distance and exposure compensation. Shutter speed, however, isn’t an option. And you can only shoot a roll at box speed. To get around that you can hack the DX code on your film canister to push a film. 

Nikon 35Ti – Kodak 400TX

Nikon 35Ti – Ilford HP5+ Pushed to 1600

Nikon 28Ti – Ilford HP5+ Pushed to 1600

Nikon 28Ti – Ilford HP5+ Pushed to 1600

Nikon 28Ti – Ilford HP5+ Pushed to 1600

Nikon 28Ti – Kodak 400TX Pushed to 1600

Nikon 28Ti – Kodak Tmax P3200

Using these cameras is a joy for me. I mainly use them in full auto mode. But I sometimes find my self switching aperture priority and sometimes pre focusing for zone focus. For a camera thit size, being able to hyper focus so easily is impressive. Of course, you have to know your numbers. 

For example: if you are at f11, set you focus on 3.7m and the lens will be in focus from 1.9m to infinity on the 35ti. I find my self doing this a lot when I’m pushing a roll of HP5+. In comparison, the 28ti with its wide 28mm lens would cover more at f11. Set it at 2.4m and the in focus area is from 1.2m to infinity. 

Setup & customizations:

Both cameras offer some customizations, such printing the date on each exposure or on the first exposure only. The choice to use spot meter or Nikons famous matrix meter. Switching flash on or off. And choosing frame lines. These customizations can be set through a tiny LCD screen next to the viewfinder. Which is difficult to use without the help of a manual.

Pros:
Sharp lens
Analog display
Aperture priority
Titanium body
The option of matrix or spot meter

Cons:
No shutter priority
No DX code override
Vignetting (28ti only)
Analog display sometime goes out of alignment and need to be reset in the menus.

Conclusion:

These cameras are beautiful to look at and marvellous to use. Keep them in full auto and you’ll never miss a shot. Or take control of aperture and focus and you will be rewarded. However I still find my self wishing that they would have DX Override.  

Ahmed Al Shorouqi

Film photography enthusiast
Thank you for reaching this far and don’t stop shooting.

Check out my work at my main instagram account: instagram.com/shorouqi
And my Darkroom account: www.instagram.com/shorouqi_darkroom

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34 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Pierre Alix Favillier
    March 10, 2019 at 10:28 am

    I have one!

    the number one feature about this camera which I love is the fact you can genuinely put it in your coat pocket and you have a premium point and shoot package will you all the time. Its the rollei 35 of the point and shoot, with a better lens!

    I don’t have the same reservations about the DX coding though, the +2/-2 exposure compensation dial is enough for me when it comes to pushing and pulling!

    Some very nice and pleasing pictures, love the pushing and funnily enough the Ilford looks better than the TX even though I’ve struggled personally to get Ilford to give me the results I’ve wanted

    will keep trying 😉

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Shorouqi
      March 10, 2019 at 12:06 pm

      Thank you very much Pierre I agree with you on pushing film using the compensation dail, but when you turn off the camera it resets to 0. So keep that in mind.
      I prefer HP5 over TX. And I use HC110 and D76 to develop my film.
      If you are not getting the results you want then try other developers. Or play around with dev times. Lately I’ve been over developing my film by about 10-15% the recommended time. That’s the beauty of BW film. It allows you to do that.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Jens
    March 10, 2019 at 11:54 am

    Really striking photography. You have an excellent eye for subject and composition. Congrats and thanks for sharing!

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Shorouqi
      March 10, 2019 at 12:07 pm

      Thank you for your kind words Jens.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Khürt Williams
    March 10, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    “I don’t see any digital full frame compacts that would fit in my pocket.”

    There are no digital full frame compacts that would fit in your pocket because of PHYSICS. But I think you already know that.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Shorouqi
      March 10, 2019 at 4:57 pm

      I don’t think it’s impossible.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Alvaro
      March 10, 2019 at 7:27 pm

      The way physics forbids us to have multifunctional supercomputers a few mm thick, including processor screen and various radios, that we carry around everywhere and rely on every day?

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Brett Soul
    March 10, 2019 at 3:28 pm

    I have the Nikon 35ti, the dial for aperture has a mind of its own, even after the fiddly menu reset, but I realised it’s just a visual aid and if you set aperture in the viewfinder readout it works perfectly, having owned and sold a black Contax T2, I kept the Nikon, Leica Minilux and Ricoh GR1, the Ricoh I believe is the best of the bunch, but that’s a personal opinion all are capable of excellent results .

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Shorouqi
      March 10, 2019 at 4:59 pm

      That’s the thing with old cameras electronics. You never know what could go wrong.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Kodachromeguy
    March 10, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    Wow, great frames! I especially like the dark hallway with the gentlemen in the distance out in the bright light.
    I remember admiring these little Nikons years ago when they were current. But even then, my eyesight was such that I would have needed reading glasses to see the dials and controls. Sigh… (but I need reading glasses to use my Rolleiflex, so that is my lot in life with tiny numbers and letters). Do you have a way to use filters or a hood?

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Shorouqi
      March 10, 2019 at 5:03 pm

      Thank you very much.
      I never felt the need for a hood.
      I don’t think there is a way to mount a filter. If I ever have to use a filter I’d hand hold a larger filter as I take the picture. But then you have to compensate for the filter since the camera doesn’t meter through the lens.

      • Avatar
        Reply
        Kodachromeguy
        March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

        Compensating for a filter is where the 1970s rangefinder cameras were very convenient. Many of them had the selenium cell around the lens or CDS sensor right above it, so they metered through a filter.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    R_kt
    March 10, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    Having a 28ti myself. These are impressive shots. The camera can sometimes be unwieldy slow, but you have used that to your advantage. Your timing on the mural and the foot frozen, is really good! I love it. I need to practice more with it.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Shorouqi
      March 10, 2019 at 5:07 pm

      Thank you. With motion blur I usually close down the aperture to the point where my shutter speed goes as low as 1/8-1/15 for people, and 1/20 – 1/60 for panning

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Cory
    March 11, 2019 at 5:00 am

    Really lovely photos. I’ve long wanted a 28ti. Hoping to find one some day.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    eric
    March 11, 2019 at 5:48 am

    I have also a Nikon 28 TI
    I pair it with a M3, Contax T, Minolta Hi-Matic 7 Sii, FM3a.
    The 28 TI is a marvelous camera.
    The lense is crazy sharp and for me work better in BW … The matrix meter is unbelievable, if you use Velvia (your last stocks …) you will get same results than with a F5 with Nikkor Ais 28/2’8 (without close focus, and vigneting 0%).
    It is a beautiful camera.
    I love it. Contax T and my Minolta seems to give me a more interesting rendering with colors ! = subjective !
    Your image : very very great ! An artistic sensitive eye on the nice places you have immortalised!

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Shorouqi
      March 11, 2019 at 5:52 am

      Thank you. I prefer to use them on Spot meter mode since I don’t shoot slide

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    Reply
    Daniel Morris
    March 12, 2019 at 12:11 am

    The 28 & the 35mm Ti cameras are like men’s high dollar jewels. I can’t even wear a watch or my wedding ring. There is no denying that the photographer’s images are first rate. The tool is so much less important than the eye and creativity of the photographer as we all know. I believe that this photographer could make any image look good.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      eric
      March 12, 2019 at 8:18 am

      I think so. He can make good image with all cameras

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Shorouqi
      March 12, 2019 at 11:09 am

      Thank you Daniel

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Ilya
    March 12, 2019 at 10:43 am

    Beautiful moments and compositions! I’m curious how did you digitize these negatives? They look very smooth and non-grainy. I’ve never had much luck with BW film, it always turns into really grainy scans. But I’ve never developed myself; had them developed by a lab instead. And then scanned them with my Nikon Coolscan IV. I suspect that this scanner isn’t great for BW. The results are always very grainy and it made me stay away from BW completely. More and more I realize that one’s success/satisfaction with film photography depends greatly on scanning, and less so on lenses and cameras. And on specific development for BW film, or on specific color correction for C41 film. The camera and lens I find play a fairly minor role, except for the subjective experience of using the camera to capture the right moment.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Ilya
    March 12, 2019 at 10:56 am

    P.S. maybe the secret to enjoying BW photos on a digital screen (rather than a darkroom print) is to view them on a really small screen, like a smartphone? It tends to make the grain and other imperfections less prominent and helps one concentrate on the overall composition and subject. While viewing the same photos on a 15” laptop tends to reveal a lot more.
    Below are some examples of what I thought were quite grainy scans, but when I view them on my phone they looks much better.
    https://flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157661708988039

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Shorouqi
      March 12, 2019 at 11:20 am

      Thank you Ilya. Those pictures are a bit grainy. But that’s how it is with HP5 and 400tx. Personally grain never bothered me.
      And like you said, when you view them on a large screen it shows the grain more.
      I wouldn’t blame the scanner. It’s the developer (dilution, temperature, time) that plays a major role in grain. I used HC110 dilution B at 20 degrees. With 4-5 agitations.

      To fix those grainy photos you can drop the clarity on Lightroom by 10-15 point and boost the sharpness to over 50. This will smooth out the grain while keeping the detail.

      Or maybe you can try stand developing. I hear great things about it.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Barry Reid
    March 14, 2019 at 8:36 am

    These are some nice images, but that’s more to the photographer’s credit than the camera. That said I love the looks of these brick-like little Nikons. In back they really look like the Rollei 35 re-invented for the 90s.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Gabriel F Bacca
    March 15, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    Really nice images. Composition and timing are great, good job !

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Gabriel F Bacca
    March 15, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    I forgot to mention. The grain is awesome ! Not everything should look like Fui Acros, like a dolphin skin…. grain is a beautiful thing.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Mags
    April 2, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    I wonder how you are finding the noise with operating (turning on, focusing, shutter sound) this camera? I feel like I’m always hesitating in picking up my 28ti as I could never be discreet with it.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Shorouqi
      April 18, 2019 at 5:10 pm

      I can barely hear the camera when I’m on the street. And people around you definitely wouldn’t.
      Compared to SLRs and MFs, this camera is silent.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Karla
    April 18, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Hi, I just got my first two rolls back from my new to me, 28ti. I’m new to using film but was wondering if you knew why/what setting vignetting tends to occur? I found that a handful of my photos were heavily vignetted. Thanks so much!

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Shorouqi
      April 18, 2019 at 5:06 pm

      Hi Karla, strangely all the vignetting that I got was when the camera is at maximum speed. F22, 1/500 or 1/250. Which to me doesn’t make perfect since.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Marc
      June 30, 2019 at 10:38 am

      Hello,
      The 28ti (and possibly the 35ti) is plagued with a central shutter that travels too slow. At high speeds, the corners are significantly less exposed than the center. Since it’s a matter of ration between blade speed and overall exposure time, the slower the speed, the less noticeable the problem. You can figure out when it starts to happen by taking a few shots of a well lit flat scene in A mode, using the aperture to go from 1/500 to maybe 1/200…

      • Avatar
        Reply
        Shorouqi
        June 30, 2019 at 11:07 am

        So that explains the crazy black corners when shooting at f22 1/250s.
        Thank you Marc

  • Avatar
    Reply
    tiffyjoan
    April 18, 2019 at 6:40 pm

    These cameras are on my bucket/white whale camera list. Thank you so much for laying out the features of these cameras. These photos are great. Thanks for the article

  • Avatar
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