Last autumn a friend sent me a message to say he was moving house and clearing out the final bits of his late father’s camera collection. He said he had a box full of ‘mostly junk’ and I would be welcome to have it.
The box contained a wide and varied range of equipment from (mostly inoperative) Canon 35mm SLRs from the early 1960s to 35mm rangefinder cameras of the same era – Kodak Retina IIIc, Braun Paxette etc – but what caught my attention, packed in a soft case, was a Nikon 28 Ti autofocus 35mm compact camera from the 1990s (released in 1994), a camera that, at the time, had attracted very favourable reviews for the quality of its fixed 28mm f2.8 lens and titanium body.
I decided I’d test the camera with a roll of Kodak Ektar 100 colour negative film on one of the least suitable days of the year – a dull, drab January Saturday. Along with my daughter we made the hours’ journey to Avebury, famous for its Neolithic-era stone circle and the village nestled within it.
I’d been a Nikon shooter from the mid-1980s, using a variety of bodies including the FM2, F2, F3 and F90X. The 28 Ti had passed me by, and I only had a vague recollection of it and the older sibling, the 35 Ti.
At first glance the camera seemed to be style over substance with four analogue dials on the top indicating aperture, frame number, focused distance and exposure compensation but only when viewed from above. The viewfinder LED displays shutter speed, exposure compensation and a flash indicator. There are parallax correction lines too.
Mid-afternoon in January in the UK wasn’t the best time to use a 100 ISO emulsion, so I opted to use a fairly heavy Manfrotto monopod – just as well as shutter speeds were around 1/60 second at f/4, later dropping to 1/30 at f/2.8 with the 100 ISO emulsion. Most of the pictures were taken at the widest aperture, a few at f/4.
I decided to photograph the variety of buildings in the village rather than the stone circle itself. There’s a wide and varied collection of architecture, some of it containing fragments of smashed standing stones from the circle many years ago.
The film was developed and scanned by Ag Photolab in Birmingham, UK and the exposures on the film seemed very accurate. The lens, in my opinion, doesn’t live up to what I was expecting from it given its reputation, but I was shooting at wide apertures on a dull day, so performance might be better when stopped down more.
It was enjoyable to use the Nikon 28TI and shoot a roll of 35mm for the first time in a long while and I’ll certainly use it again, but next time on a brighter, sunnier day.
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