The Nikon L35 AF Review: Everything You Need To Know

I’ve worked with many Nikon L35 AF, AF2 and AF3 cameras over the years and I’ve discovered the quality of this retro beauty. It’s a mixed bag, with some common issues and amazing shots, it’s well worth finding out if it’s worth trying one out.

The Nikon L35AF is one of the best 35mm Point and Shoot cameras available. Housing a 5-element F 2.8 Lens with an incredibly high standard of autofocus. It shows the focusing distance through the viewfinder which allows you to see if you’re in focus as you’re shooting, a real rarity for point-and-shoot photography. The pop-up flash is reliable and exposes accurately, it can be held down to stop it from firing. The Nikon L35AF is perhaps one of the best point-and-shoot cameras available, but it does have some common issues that are certainly worth considering before purchasing this retro beast.

If you’re looking at the L35AF (Or AF2, AF3/One Touch) then it’s worth carrying on with the rest of this article, I’ll compare this with a similar, cheaper camera to see who comes out on top and I’ll also cover all of your potential questions!

The Nikon L35AF VS The Olympus MJU II

To put things into perspective I thought I’d compare which camera is better for shooting in the present day. Although there are many different things that we might compare, I thought this would be fair, the MJU II has a fixed focal length, it’s similar in standard to the L35AF but it’s a much more sleek design, and until recently these cameras were also very similar in value.

Size345g – Bulky135g – Small
Weather ProofingGood –Perfect +
Chance Of IssuesMedium +Low/Medium
LensF2.8 – Very GoodF2.8 – Very Good
Price (2022)$250-300$300+
BuildGood –Great +
Ease Of UseEasyEasy
AestheticsPerfectGood –
Flash RechargeSlow – MediumFast
Nikon L35 AF vs Olympus MJU II

There isn’t too much that separates the two cameras, some of the key issues are the size of the L35AF and the potential for some common issues, having worked with quite a few L35AFs, it seems that there are a number of issues that are common and I’ll cover that further along.

When Was The Nikon L35 AF Released?

The Nikon L35AF was released in 1983, making it one of the earliest and greatest autofocus cameras. The Nikon L35AF2 (Or One Touch) was released in 1985 and was an equally brilliant camera. The Nikon L35AF3 was released in 1987 and is slightly less desirable than the first two.

What Kind Of Photography Is The Nikon L35AF Best For?

The L35AF is best for travel, daily life and street photography styles. This isn’t great for nightlife as it’s quite bulky and it’s not ideal for portrait photography as the lens is a prime 35mm. This camera could produce pretty high-quality documentary images and street stills.

Obviously, everyone becomes comfortable with different kinds of cameras for different kinds of photography so it’s completely about personal preference. I prefer a high-quality SLR camera or medium format for things like portrait or landscape photography.

What Kind Of Film Stock Is Best For The Nikon L35AF?

The best film stocks for the L35AF would be Kodak Portra 800, Kodak Portra 400, Kodak Gold or Ilford HP5 for black and white film. Most L35AFs can shoot up to 1000 ISO so it’s worth trying some high-ISO film stocks out.

If you want to find out about other film stocks and what they’re good for, take a look here!

How Much Is The Nikon L35AF Worth In 2024?

The Nikon L35AF is $250-300 at the time of writing, it seems to have risen dramatically in the last year alone. You would benefit from purchasing your camera from a reputable seller or from eBay to ensure that you are able to return it if you have any problems.

The L35AF2 (One Touch) is $225-$250 and the L35 AF3 is $180-200.

The price and value of vintage cameras can be a worrying topic, in the last 10 years, prices have risen dramatically due to popularity and scarcity. Hopefully, if knowledge and enthusiasm continue it may help to keep the cameras alive due to more people understanding how to fix them. Only time will tell though.

How To Use The L35AF?

To use the L35AF you first need to install some AA batteries, then flip the switch on top to turn it on. You’ll be able to take pictures with the big button on the top of the camera, if it is low light then the lens will pop up and start to load, and a small orange light will appear on the back when the flash is ready to be used.

To change the ISO

To change the ISO there is a small ring around the lens which you have to rotate, you will see the ISO number change in a small window as you rotate it, some L35AFs go to 400 and some go to 1000, the 1000 ISO camera is slightly more desirable.

To load the Nikon L35AF with film

To load the L35AF with camera film you must open the back of the camera, put your canister into the left-hand side and pull your film across to wear the red tab indicates. When you close the back of your camera you can then take an image which should roll your film on. If you’re unsure if the camera has caught its film on then you can open the back up straight after loading your film just to be sure, this will only cause you to lose one photo and it may be worth it just for peace of mind, you can then close it and start shooting your new roll!

To Unload the Nikon L35 AF

To unload the L35AF of film you need to do it manually, on the bottom of the camera there are two switches, one to press in and one to push sideways, do this and hold the buttons until the camera rewinds the whole way, I usually wait around 30 seconds to feel happy that it is fully done.

Using self-timer

To use the self-timer, located on the front top left corner, you just need to wind the lever down and then shoot.

If you want to get better pictures with your film camera, I made this great resource right here!

What Are The Common Faults Of The Nikon L35AF Camera?

Broken Battery door on the Nikon L35AF

The most common issue that arises with the Nikon L35AF camera is that the battery door becomes loose, this actually seems to happen with every series of L35AF cameras, One Touch and the AF3 in different forms. It can be very frustrating with the L35AF as there is a very small part near the door that can easily become damaged, it may sometimes need to be glued together but because it’s so close to the door hinge it’s a real annoyance.

It’s not unusual for the plastic part around this small screw in the picture above to break and that can contribute to the issue with the battery door.

I have seen a self-made add-on to hold the door closed which did seem to work. This is an issue you want to be aware of, especially for the AF and AF2, the AF3 can be taped down quite easily so isn’t usually such an issue.

A broken shutter button on the Nikon L35AF

Another common issue is that the shooting button seems to become stiff as if something beneath it has become completely dislodged, this makes it impossible to shoot and renders the camera useless, it may be fixable by a professional but it’s not a simple job. If you take the L35 AF apart then you have to be aware that the flash can still hold a charge and could be very dangerous.

Lastly, sometimes the camera can just be completely dead or the flash can be rendered useless, these would both have to be fixed by a professional if you wanted to get them sorted.

My Opinion On The L35AF

The L35AF is a phenomenal camera with a beautifully retro aesthetic, many tried to replicate the look but they all failed. I have always loved shooting with this camera and my main reservations are the size, price and potential faults it may have.

The price of this camera seems to have risen dramatically in the last year and it no longer seems to be reasonable by any stretch. I also try to make photography as easy as possible, which means that I think you should be able to carry your camera at all times, the L35AF is a little bulky and I know it would stop me from shooting with it quite as often as I might like.

This being said it’s hard to condemn such a wonderful camera that was made nearly 40 years ago. It still produces incredible images and I honestly think that if it wasn’t for its build and faults then it’d be in the top 5 point-and-shoots ever made, it probably still makes the top 10.

If you’re considering buying this camera, just be aware of the common issues and try to get it for a good price, it really is one of a kind and everyone would benefit from shooting with it at some point.

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