I’ve been wanting to try out the Nikon 35Ti for a long time, not least for its unique design, but also as this camera has a lot of hype surrounding it. When one of my photography friends suggested a photowalk around Munich including an offer to use this camera I jumped at the chance. Here are my impressions of the Nikon 35Ti.
The Nikon 35Ti is unlike any other 35mm point and shoot camera you will likely come across, mainly due to its eye catching design, sporting what looks like a car speedometer on top. The camera comes equipped with a 35mm f2.8 Nikkor lens, flash, advanced matrix metering capabilities, exposure compensation, and automatic focusing. All of this in a pocket size titanium built body.
Originally released in 1993, this camera was marketed towards the more affluent consumers, selling for a whopping $1,000 at the time. It weighs approximately 350g, which is a tad heavier than the tiny Rollei 35s (my review here), and half the weight of a Leica M camera (body only). It is an extremely pocketable camera, with a cult-like following, hence its current steep prices.
The camera has Aperture priority mode, a ‘P’ program mode and a ‘T’ long exposure mode. I don’t believe it has full manual capabilities, which I suppose makes sense as this was built as a fancy point and shoot camera. It benefits from exposure compensation, which you will also have to use should you want to push/pull film, as the camera automatically reads the film speed (there is no way to set it manually). Shutter speed goes from 1/500 to 2 seconds.
About the shots
The idea was a simple photowalk through the English Garden. My friend has been shooting only Ilford HP5 for quite a long time and was not tempted to try any of the colour film I brought along. Practice makes perfect though, you can see his great work here. I decided to opt for a 24 exposures roll of film and picked up the cheap and cheerful Kodak Ultramax 400 to take the Nikon through its paces.
Minimalistic front part of the camera with retractable lens.
(The 3 shots of the camera were taken handheld with my Hasselblad and needless to say it was freezing, so I didn’t quite nail the focus on these, but you get the idea.)
The famous dials on top. This is a really small camera, easy to fit into a coat pocket.
The funky and really nicely designed top, officially called the ‘Nikon Analogue Display System’, showing focus distance, aperture, exposure compensation dial, and even frame count. As fun as it is to look at, it isn’t overly practical as you don’t look at it when you have the camera up to your eye. It is a nice piece of engineering though.
My first shot and I decided to put the camera through its paces by trying a direct sunlight shot. Plenty of snow in Munich’s Odeonsplatz.
Probably my favourite shot of the roll. Quite a bit of nice contrast here, not bad at all given it was shot on consumer grade film.
One of the many interesting sites in the English Garden, and if you look closer…
…they are quite brave to have a photoshoot in this weather! Nice backdrop though!
The lighting was really bad so was not expecting much from this shot, but decided to post it anyways given I only had 24 overall.
Although a very sharp shot, I was a bit disappointed it didn’t capture the sun rays a bit better. To be fair though, this is a point and shoot camera with some exposure compensation, but I let the camera’s meter do the thinking. With all the snow and high dynamic range in this shot maybe I am a being a bit unfair.
Very sharp but also quite contrasty, that could be the film though.
I always stumble upon the ‘Eisbachwelle’ and am always inclined to take a shot. Nice sharpness in this shot too!
The Chinese Tower in the middle of the English Garden. Much better populated in summer with Bavarian bands and people happily drinking beers.
Busy playing. Some vignetting going on in this shot for some reason, but it doesn’t bother me.
I am a big fan of leading lines, and I like the calmness in this shot.
Very nice colour rendition in this shot, not bad considering a consumer grade film. I could imagine this camera producing very good images with professional film.
The camera has a “panoramic” function, which doesn’t really seem to work and produced some strange looking image. And there I was hoping for smaller brother version of a Hasselblad Xpan type shot…!
A beer garden right in the middle of the English Garden, yes please!
I liked the composition here, I did crop the shot a bit and lost quite a lot of the sharpness.
Anyone hungry? Very good sharpness in this shot.
Iconic English Garden shot.
I think this is a repeat shot, but I didn’t want to end the post with a vertical image.
I was happy to have finally tried out this camera, certainly one of the coolest looking 35mm point and shoot cameras out there.
Here are some pros and cons of this camera in my view:
Well made but still has quite a light feeling to it
Very bright viewfinder
Wonderful design, the top dials are a real conversation starter
Plenty of options for assisted shooting, Aperture priority & Program mode do all the hard work for you
Sharp lens (and I believe even more so in better lighting conditions that I had)
Focusing is fast and accurate
At current prices this camera is simply unaffordable for what it is (remember it is mechanical and will at some point just give up)
The panoramic (landscape) mode is unconvincing
Some of the buttons on the camera are just ridiculously smaller any kind of practical use
As beautiful as this camera is, it may be more about form over function (for example the top dials are fun to look at but not very practical to use
Slight delay when turning on camera as lens has to extend (as opposed to my Nikon L36AF that has a simple slide button to open the lens, so no delay)
I really enjoyed taking this camera out for a spin, but I probably would need to test it for longer to go through all its various functions. I’ve heard the flash is not great, but I didn’t get the chance to test it properly. All in all this is a great pocket size point and shoot camera with more functions than you need and a one of a kind display design. I was impressed by the sharpness of the shots and I bet this camera produces some really great images in the middle of summer and on some professional grade film.
That being said, at today’s prices for “cult and hipster” film cameras like this one, you would be better off investing your money in a better built SLR film camera or even a bigger point and shoot camera, both available for a fraction of the price.
I hope you enjoyed this informal review of the curious and very hyped about Nikon 35Ti, there is certainly few other cameras out there with such a cool design. Oh, and I hope you enjoyed a snowy Munich English Garden…there are plenty more similar shots coming as we still have plenty of snow around.
Thanks for stopping by!