If you asked me 6 months ago, I never thought I would want a compact camera. But that was 6 months ago, and now I have a Nikon 35ti.
When I was 16, my uncle gave me his old Canon AE-1. I found it gorgeous and I just wanted to use it. So I bought the battery, put a film in it, and started shooting. This moment changed my perception of photography. For my generation (I’m 19), digital technology has always been so obvious and so easily accessible, that there is just nothing impressive to it. Don’t get me wrong, digital photography is amazing, and I use it almost everyday. But for me, the real “new thing” at that time was to shoot film. That’s how I started off. I read on the web, getting to know the whole thing, read books too. I failed so many rolls of film, tried different cameras. I had two canon AE-1, one Yashica electro 35, and finally got myself a smaller SLR, the Olympus OM-1, with an amazing 50mm 1.4. I had cameras that I like.
Then three months ago one of my friends told me to look at this camera by Nikon, the 35Ti. I got back home, and I read about it. You really need to understand that I didn’t know anything about compact cameras at this time so I wanted one. It was a compact, and I was surprised, because I thought that point and shoot were just not good. After that, I read about the Contax T2, the T3, Ricoh GR1, TC-1, the list is long, and you know how overwhelming it can be to make a choice with all those cameras available. All that to say that I was clearly wrong about point an shoot cameras, so after hesitating a lot on which one I would get, I chose the Nikon, so though I would share my thoughts about it.
What attracted me in the first place was to have a lightweight camera, with a good lens, and an impressive matrix meter. There is another version of the camera, that comes in black and has a 28mm lens, but I personally preferred a 35mm lens. The camera can do just as much, if not more than my OM-1, for 1/4th of the weight. Physically, it’s beautiful, and the analog display is just incredibly nice looking and old school, but quite useless. It’s charming, impressive at first, but you just get to realise how useless it is. I mean, it’s function is not useless because it shows information that you need, but the fact that they chose an analog display to give you information such as aperture, exposure compensation, or focus, is not very user friendly. When you look in the viewfinder, it only gives you the shutter speed (you can also ask for the aperture to be displayed instead, but I find the shutter speed more useful since there’s nowhere else to see it). I mean, it’s pretty intuitive, except that as I said, the analog display is not quite versatile. You get used to it. I enjoy it pretty much anyway.
The menu is really hard to understand and it takes a while to figure out how it works. It’s some kind of binary mid-nineties technology that looks like 1 0 0 1 style. You get to memorise the whole thing don’t worry, and you don’t need to touch it really often. The viewfinder is large, nice and clear. If the focus is not correct (which rarely happens unless you’re too close from your subject), the middle circle flashes. There’s also a scale focus option. It corrects the parallax while you focus, based on the distance of the subject.
The meter in the Nikon 35ti is super accurate, and really I can’t insist more on how great the meter is. It’s pretty much always right. Most of the features are adjustable, and the camera remembers your settings. You can turn off the flash permanently and just press on the flash button in front of the camera to activate it when needed, which is I think the best of both world. I’ve never seen the shutter speed going faster than 1/250th, which makes me wonder why it never uses speed such as the maximum 1/500th. But still, it doesn’t show in the pictures.
I would totally recommend the Nikon 35Ti. It’s in my bag all the time. It doesn’t really fit small pockets, maybe in a coat or something but for me the bag is just fine. Lightweight in a certain extent (probably heavier than most of the cameras of it’s class), reliable, easy to use. The handling feels a little weird at first, since the lens just pops out of it, but you know, human adapts. Also, you’ll have no fun with the buttons: they’re small and not accessible, but again you don’t need them really often. Here are some other shots I took with it
In conclusion, most people say that the Contax t2 is much better, but to be honest, I don’t quite get why. The lens of the Nikon 35Ti is not a Zeiss lens, but is just as nice. The focus is not the fastest, but for what I do it’s perfect, and I mean, there are just so many bad comments on the focus, I cannot imagine that Contax and Ricoh focus are much faster? Probably, but for having used it for the past two months, it’s not so bad. I have to say I thought about the T2, and will clearly try to get it one day or who knows, maybe even the T3, but I got a good deal on a brand new Nikon 35Ti, so I mean, I took a chance. I’m really happy with it.
If you ever want to see more of what the Nikon 35ti can do, I have more coming up on flickr, and if you want to see what I do, you can always go on my tumblr: mogsphotos.tumblr.com or my instagram: @mogsphotos.
Thanks Hamish for having me, and thank you all for reading,