A lot of 35mm film cameras are claimed to be the best point and shoot film camera to exist, but I believe we may have found it. Introducing, the Nikon 28Ti - a sleek and sophisticated camera with an impeccably sharp lens.
We go through everything you need to know about the Nikon 28Ti and include examples of images created with the camera on our recent trip to Edinburgh.
What is the Nikon 28Ti?
The Nikon 28Ti has definitely not had the same hipster-Instagram-celebrity treatment that the Contax T2 has. This is good news for you, because it means not many people know about how great this camera is.
For those of you who have not encountered the Nikon 28Ti - here is everything you need to know.
The Nikon 28Ti was manufactured in 1994, making it one of the latest 35mm film cameras to be produced. Cameras, like the Canon AE-1 Program, were manufactured in the 1970s. This means it benefits from a lot of the latest and best 35mm film photography technology.
What features does the Nikon 28Ti have?
Here is a quick summary of the features that the Nikon 28Ti has:
- 28mm 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?!)
What does the top display on the Nikon 28Ti do?
The top dial display on the Nikon 28Ti is the thing that captures most people's attention. I haven't seen such a wonderful display on any other film camera. The display was actually designed by the team at the Timex watch company (although I cannot remember where I read this information).
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 28Ti 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.
Using the Nikon 28Ti
I thoroughly enjoyed using the Nikon 28Ti for a number of reasons, and it will be one of my top picks for travelling again.
Firstly, I really liked the interface of the camera. I am never in a rush when I am taking 35mm film photographs, so checking my exposure, focus, and aperture outside of the viewfinder was no problem to me. Viewing the shutter speed inside the viewfinder was enough settings for me to be able to get the right shot every time.
As I used the camera, I became more proficient with every use, and was able to adjust the top dial without having to look at it.
Some people complain that the buttons and controls are too small, but I did not struggle with this. Albeit, I do have small hands, but the thumb wheel is big enough for any hand, and you don't need to adjust the flash setting on the front very often.
We used Kodak Colorplus 35mm film in the Nikon 28Ti during our stay in Edinburgh. We would usually use Ektar 100 for Edinburgh as the red and brown tones of Ektar look fabulous with the colours of Edinburgh's architecture, however we opted for Colorplus as it was the freshest stock we had, to give the Nikon 28Ti a fair test.
Sample images from the Nikon 28Ti, taken with Kodak Colorplus
One thing that was a pleasant surprise with the Nikon 28Ti, although it shouldn't have been a surprise because of the advanced matrix metering that the camera has, was how the camera handled highlights and shadows.
The intelligent metering meant that the highlights and shadows were exposed correctly in the following two images, whereas other point and shoots I have used would have either underexposed the shadows or overexposed the highlights.
Sample images showing the highlights and shadows from the Nikon 28Ti, taken with Kodak Colorplus
What I was expecting from my test roll in the Nikon 28Ti was sharp photos, and it delivered on that expectation.
Check out how sharp these two images are! These are also heavily compressed for this blog post, so they are even sharper straight from the high resolution scans.
The Nikon 28Ti also didn't lose all of the detail of the sky. Most point and shoots would wash out the sky to almost completely white. Gosh, I love this camera.
How does the Nikon 28Ti compare to the Olympus Mju II?
Another high quality point and shoot film camera that gets a lot of press is the Olympus Mju II. We happened to also take this camera with us to Edinburgh and took a couple of photographs from the same angle with both cameras, so that we could compare how the Nikon 28Ti performed against the Olympus Mju II.
The image to the left is the Nikon 28Ti and the image to the right is the Olympus Mju II. The Nikon handled the shadows and overall exposure better than the Olympus Mju II and the details of the photograph are sharper. The difference in colour is due to the film stock used.
Here is another clear comparison between the two cameras. Again, the Nikon 28Ti image is on the left and seems to capture the depth of the image in a much more satisfying way. You may have a different opinion to me, but looking at the details of the doors on the staircase, you can see that the Nikon 28Ti has captured far more detail than the Olympus Mju II.
If we had a Contax T2 in stock, this is the camera that we would have compared it to, but sadly the T2 is getting harder and harder to find.
What are some alternatives to the Nikon 28Ti?
Not convinced by our blog about the Nikon 28Ti? Here are some alternative cameras.
What is the difference between the Nikon 35Ti and Nikon 28Ti?
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 28Ti
There are clear reasons as to why photography enthusiasts such as Ken Rockwell dub this camera as the best point and shoot 35mm film camera. The lens is sharp, the interface is nice to use, the autofocus is always spot-on, and the metering makes for perfect exposures.
The functionality of the camera and the ability to change almost every setting manually is enviable in a point and shoot film camera. You've essentially got the functionality of a professional SLR camera packed into the small, sleek body of a point and shoot camera with razor sharp focus.
If you're looking for a high-end point and shoot film camera to be your everyday and travelling companion, look no further than the Nikon 28Ti.
Still stuck on which film camera to buy?
Try our film camera quiz. All you have to do is answer a few questions, and then you will get a list of personalised camera recommendations.
Read some more of our blog posts here.
If you like what we do, but can't buy a camera from us, please consider buying us a cup of coffee! It helps us to keep these resources free, consistent, and accessible.