The Nikon 35AW AF

Nikon L35AW AF & Lomography Babylon – When it all goes wrong but still goes places – By Marinka Stam

Everyday I scan the internet for nice camera’s or music gear. In Holland we have the online second-hand Walhalla Marktplaats (‘Market place’) and I simply can’t get enough of scrolling through it. From creepy dolls that you can’t imagine people would actually put in their bedrooms to very collectable or weird camera’s: it’s all there.

I’ve been looking for an analog underwater camera for some time now, and I’ve been eying the Nikon 35AW AF. I also looked for the famous Nikonos V, but I actually quite like the fact that the Nikon 35AW AF is also a decent point and shoot camera with auto focus. And of course, way more affordable than the Nikonos V since prices have risen like the **** *****.


Finally, the day came, and during all the Marktplaats scrolling, I saw one in good condition and was lucky enough to purchase it. Once I had received it in the mail, I couldn’t wait to put some film in it, and grabbed the first canister I could find laying around. More concerned with and intrigued by the loading of the film and the ins and outs of the camera, I put the film in without looking twice. I shoot a lot with films like Kodak Tmax 400, Ilford HP5 plus 100 and Ilford delta 3200 and actually haven’t been too experimental with film yet.

We immediately took it to the beach and though underwater filming wasn’t really a good option because Dutch beaches generally have such murky waters, I still loved the fact that I could put half underwater or splash around with it without any big concerns. The camera felt great; sturdy and it’s quite big in comparison to my Olympus OM-1. It’s not very noisy so street photography could be next on my list to try out. It has a flash that you can easily turn off and on with a switch on the front of the cam. I also have a Olympus MJU II point and shoot but the Olympus automatically turns the flash on if you turn on the camera. Many unfortunate times I forgot to push the tiny button 3 times to turn it back off again, feels so much more complicated in comparison to the Nikon 35AW AF, just turn a knob and voila. Flash on/off.

So that was that. We had fun, splashed about, strolled the beach, swam for hours and went home. Patience isn’t a friend of mine so as soon as I got home, I rewound the film and opened the camera.

Oh dear.

While opening the camera, I noticed I had put a Lomography Babylon ISO 13 in it; a film I’m not used to shooting or developing with for starters, and a film that doesn’t have a DX code, which, as you might know, is necessary for the Nikon for setting the right iso. Totally forgot I had ordered the Lomography Babylon iso 13 a while ago for shooting in Norway, when I brought my Olympus OM-1, Zorki 4 and Pentax p30 with me. But on that holiday, I strangely had trouble shooting one film at all so brought most of it home. Thank Norway for the weather, film is always well refrigerated there while we were camping in the mountains. But that’s another story.

Babylon Kino 13

Back to this story; as I held my heart and the film for dear life, I searched the internet for what the Nikon reads when it doesn’t read a DX code. Default mode reads Iso 100. So I unknowingly underexposed the film around 3 stops and I actually had no idea how to develop this type of film with this issue. After some emergency consultation from my online analog-world friend Midtonegrey (Sroyon) and some thinking I just went with developing with Rodinal 1+50 since that was the only developer I had lying around and went with 21 minutes developing instead of the 9 minutes my massive def chart recommended for the film when you expose it at iso 13. I didn’t dare to triple the nine minutes for some reason to push all the stops.

With a heavy heart I started the process of washing and rinsing. Many minutes and a few liters later I believed my film would end up completely useless. But as I opened the reel and carefully removed the film I saw, though very vaguely, some images. The drying seemed to take so much longer as my curiosity had risen after seeing something on the film. Patience will never be a friend of mine. Funny, really, that I ended up shooting analog, but anyway, that is another story as well.

I cut the film, placed it on my V850 scanner at home and started the process of scanning. I opened my images in Lightroom and saw I needed to make everything a lot brighter and that I needed to up the contrast a bit, but there were definitely images on there. Although they were not as I had imagined them, the results were still surprising and I quite like the dark grainy vibe. I left a lot of the dust and watermarks for what they are and let them be a part of this process.


That is something I really love about film photography; it gives me results that sometimes I could not have imagined. You can blame experience or my imagination for that, it still feels like opening Christmas presents when I develop film.





Action shot

Motion Blur

Action shot

I’m a big fan of the Nikon L35AW AF already, though it technically went wrong; I still loved where it took me.

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