Rival to the Contax T2, the Nikon 35Ti is a fantastic point and shoot, revered for its sharp lens. So how come you haven't heard of it? Maybe because a celebrity didn't talk about it on TV. Anyway, here is everything you need to know about the Nikon 35Ti and what we think of it.
What is the Nikon 35Ti?
Released in 1993, the Nikon 35Ti is highly regarded as having "one of the best lenses ever put on a 35mm camera by anyone."¹ The name refers to the 35mm lens, and the body of the camera being titanium.
The design of this 35mm film camera is something really to be admired. The top display on the camera was designed by Timex, the watch company.
The Nikon 35Ti has lots of features, particularly those you would find on a SLR camera.
What features does the Nikon 35Ti have?
- 35mm f/2.8 lens - perfect for street photography
- Auto-focus from 0.4m to infinity with 541 auto-focus steps
- Built-in flash with flash selection settings
- Top dial display (more on that later)
- DX coded ASA settings (25-5000 ASA)
- Automatic loading and winding
- Viewfinder display
- Long exposure mode - up to 10 minutes
- Panorama mode
- and more, but these are the main ones that you will care about! (Does anyone else hate reading reviews that are just numbers and facts?!)
How does the Nikon 35Ti top dial work?
The top dial display on the Nikon 35Ti is the thing that captures most people's attention. I haven't seen such a wonderful display on any other film camera.
At first look, the top display seems confusing - a bunch of dials and a bunch of different numbers, but when using the camera, it is actually all very simple.
Here is the rundown of what each dial on the top display of the Nikon 35Ti actually does.
The dial on the left is your autofocus and manual focus adjustment. When you take a photo in autofocus mode, the dial will move to show you where the camera is focusing. Clicking the AF button and using the thumb wheel on the right of the camera body will manually adjust the focus. So if the camera chose infinity, but you wanted it to be closer, you can change it. A lot of point and shoots don't even offer manual focus adjustment, and I think this method of selecting the focus is the best out of the ones that do.
Next up is the little dial at the top. This has several functions, most of which are kind of pointless. In the photograph above, it shows E - this does not mean error, it means empty. If there was film in the camera, the dial would be pointing towards one of the number markers to indicate how many shots you have taken on your roll of film. When the camera is powered on, the LCD display will also show you how many shots you have taken.
This little dial also indicates when you have selected a self-timer mode, long exposure mode, and when the film is rewinding. The hand will move when you have the camera set to the T mode and it counts the seconds that the shutter has been open for.
The semi-dial below this one is your exposure compensation dial. This can be adjusted by selecting the +/- setting and moving the thumb wheel.
The dial to the right is your aperture settings. When the camera is set to P, the aperture is automatic. When you set the camera to A, you can adjust the aperture using the thumb dial.
What is the Nikon 35Ti like to use?
We took this camera out for a quick spin in north Devon. Loaded up with a roll of Portra 400, we are in love with the results. Not only were the images sharp and clear, they were also perfectly exposed.
We thoroughly enjoyed using the Nikon 35Ti. The settings are remarkably easy to use when you get used to them.
The ability to manually manipulate the settings also came in very handy with some difficult lighting situations. There were particular shots that I wanted where the foreground was much darker than the background. The camera coped with this very well.
One thing that was a setback with using the Nikon 35Ti was not being able to see the focus settings in the viewfinder, however this was easily overcome by taking a moment to check the pre-focus on the top of the camera.
Above you can see the beautiful way in which the Nikon 35Ti can meter using its matrix metering, and focus with its many, many focus points.
Overall, I am extremely pleased with the performance of the Nikon 35Ti and how it handled the images. I often challenge the cameras with my composition and metering, but the Nikon 35Ti definitely passed the test.
What are the differences between the Nikon 28Ti and Nikon 35Ti?
These two cameras are essentially siblings. The main difference between the two is that the Nikon 35Ti has a 35mm lens, and the Nikon 28Ti has a 28mm lens. The Nikon 35Ti also has more autofocus points, and buttons instead of a switch for the flash modes (I prefer the Nikon 28Ti's switch).
Our Final Thoughts On The Nikon 35Ti
What more can we say about the Nikon 35Ti? A lot, but we don't want to bore you.
We LOVE this camera - it is super sharp, very well-designed, and has an incredible metering system.
Skip over the Contax T2, and take Ken Rockwell's word for it: "the Nikon 35Ti is the best compact film camera ever made for landscape, nature and fine art photography".²
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