Camera Review: Nikon 35Ti In The Hands Of A Street Photographer

Let me start this review with an apology for not having the best photographs of my Nikon 35ti. I sold it before I could make a proper review of it so I had to take some last minute photos of it before I hand it to the next owner. Hence the awful lighting and some blurry actual shots of the camera. Yikes! Why I sold it? Well, you’ll find out as you read through.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s start with the review!

When I planned on purchasing the Nikon 35TI, my intention was to use it as my everyday point and shoot camera. And when I say everyday, I meant literally a film camera that’s gonna be living inside my bag 24/7 ready to take photos when I need it. I've given it a designated duty which is to accompany me on days that I’m not really in the mood to photograph but will snap a few when I find an interesting scene. In other words, it’s my camera when I’m feeling lazy. 

The camera exceeded my expectations. I use it on my way to work, when I leave the office and in between breaks. I have it as my second camera until, in a short period of time, my 35Ti became my main camera It's an efficient piece of gem. The size, the quick autofocus (for my taste, that is), the automatic mode, and the built in the flash made this quite a superior point and shoot camera among its peers.  The features kind of fitted a style of shooting that I was slowly gravitating towards to which I would describe as more spontaneous and sort of snap-shot kinda style. Perhaps this camera was the reason I changed to a different camera systems with automatic features: Voigtlander Bessa R2a, Contax G1, and Olympus Om-4Ti which are all capable of shooting with aperture priority. G1 being the more advanced of them all. Much like the 35TI but kinda much better. 

Aesthetics

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The version I had was the champagne colored, 35mm f2.8 lens. This is probably on top of the list for the most attractive P&S film camera of its era and probably until this time of writing. Anyone who’s into analog watches will appreciate this machine. Wish there was a black version of the 35mm as the black version only comes in 28mm. Still gorgeous nonetheless.

I’ve heard people say that the analog dials are more for show than being functional, I thought it was both. It’s fun to look at and it does the job when you need it too. Not complaining here.

TMV’s Rating 5/5

Ergonomics, Size, and Weight

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The camera is small but big enough to grip with my hands and heavy enough for me to feel it's made out of durable materials. The only problem when holding it is sometimes my fingers get in the way of the lens when I turn on the camera. It’s quite a deal for me because of the risk of my fingers or nails hitting the lens.  The layout is pretty standard for most point and shoot cameras. I guess my two biggest irk would be the flash button and the illumination window for the viewfinder. The Flash button is tiny and almost flush with the camera body which lacks tactility. There are two buttons where the flash is so imagined the struggle of pressing the right button. While the illumination window is placed on top. This may not be a huge deal for some, but for people who wear caps most of the day, like me, the light gets blocked hence limiting the light which illuminates the viewfinder.

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Another irk, which isn’t too big of a deal is setting up the camera. I had my camera configured where the flash will only fire when I press the flash button. I don’t know the right term but configuring the settings involves what I think is binary codes, the ones, and zeros. It’s hard to explain and definitely harder to troubleshoot without the camera manual. But once you dialed everything to your liking, you're set for a wonderful shooting experience. 

When it comes to its size, it’s compact enough to fit small bags or your jacket pocket. It’s a little bulky for your jean’s pocket but it’s doable. It’s also small enough that’s it’s not intimidating when your subject catches you taking a snap of them. It's too small people don't take it seriously.

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TMV’s Rating 3/5

Cost

I bought mine used around 260-300 USD. For my intended use, it’s expensive. For the performance, I guess the price is just about right compared to its rivals, the Contax T2/ T3 or the Ricoh Gr1. Sadly these P&S cameras' prices had blown out of proportion after the use of film has increased in the past few years.  I don’t know how I would feel about it but I guess I’m happy because the film is getting more and stronger and getting a lot of attention lately but at the same time I’m sad about the ridiculous price hike of the film cameras, especially the cult ones.

TMV’s Rating 2/5

Performance

 That's me testing the TI's.

That's me testing the TI's.

Whatever flaws I have mentioned above, the performance of this camera makes up for all of that. The autofocus is fast enough for my taste, and if I feel like working more for the result I want, I can manually set the focus distance. Although it's not as fast specially for photographers like say, Bruce Gilden, It's good enough. Theoretically you can set the focus manually, set the aperture to f8-16 to get most of the scene in focus, but I've read or heard somewhere that shooting in aperture priority only gives you a maximum 250 shutter speed. I've not proven this though.

Also, keep in mind that there is no exposure lock. The meter will just keep on reading the scene when you are recomposing. But on that note, the meter is one of the best ones of the time.

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The lens is also sharp and contrasty. Both color and black and white render very well which I really love.  With an f2.8 35mm lens, It does a pretty good job especially for me who prefer to shoot with a lot of light. It can be challenging if you’re under the shades or with little light but I found that the camera still handles it very well. Just keep a steady hand.

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Originally, my plan was to use the aperture priority but I end up using the program mode most of the time. I just find it better faster, and overall more laid back shoot-and-go feel.

TMV’s Rating 4/5

 Pros:

1. Compact

2. Sharp 35mm lens

3. Exposure compensation

4. Flash at will feature

5. Manual feature 

6. Metering is superb

Cons:

1. Setting the camera is quite confusing

2. Fake Panorama mode

3. ASA cannot be selected manually

4. No exposure lock

Conclusion

I think that the 35TI could fit every street photographers who just want to get things done. It’s compact, quick and always ready. I can definitely see the appeal with this as a fun everyday street shooter. Either use it as your main or secondary camera, it will work.  It’s a tool to make things easier.

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The only reason why I sold this is that I had a pretty good deal with another camera and I have this 3-film-camera-only rule that I try to follow that time. Stupid rule, I know.

Would I get another 35TI? I would love too but I find it too expensive for my intended use and I would rather get an Olympus MJU since it’s a lot cheaper. And I would probably try the Contax T2/ T3 first before I go back to the 35TI. Also, I have a Contax G1 which is like an upgraded version of the Nikon 35TI. Interchangeable lens and the manual ISO override to name a few.

 Fake panorama where the frame are just cut off to imitate what a panorama looks like. 

Fake panorama where the frame are just cut off to imitate what a panorama looks like. 

There you go! I hope you find this review helpful, and I apologize if this has gotten all over the place as reviewing stuff isn’t my best. Let me know what you think!

If you’re looking for one, check out this link I found on Amazon.

More photos: