Nikon One Touch L35AF2 Film Camera Review by Katya Rowny

The Nikon One Touch L35AF2 35mm Film Camera
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Written by Katya Rowny

Nothing screams film shooter more than bringing an unknown camera with you on your family vacation. Which is exactly what I did earlier this year when we traveled to Belize.

I acquired the Nikon One Touch L35AF2 in a small bundle of point and shoot cameras from an online auction. The condition was unknown, as the camera had not been tested. It sat on my shelf, collecting dust, until I decided to bring it on vacation and see what the hype was all about.

Find the Nikon One Touch L35AF2 at KEH Camera or on eBay.

The Nikon One Touch L35AF2 35mm Film Camera

History of the Nikon L35AF2

Initially, when the camera arrived, I was elated, thinking it was the infamous Nikon L35AF (find on eBay). Alas, my luck is not so great, but the camera is in the same series as the L35AF, and has a lot of the same great features.

In the six years following the surge in popularity of point and shoot cameras, the consumer market was flooded with autofocus (AF) compact cameras.

In 1983, following meticulous preparation, Nikon unveiled the AF compact camera, L35AF, christened “Pikaichi,” which translates to “top-notch” in Japanese. The choice of the trade name Pikaichi reflected the aspiration that the camera would capture the finest images and dominate sales in the industry.

There are three cameras in this line: the Nikon L35AF, the L35AF2 and L35AF3. All are similar, with subtle differences.

The One Touch L35AF2 was released in 1985, an update to their 1983 Nikon L35AF. There are a few variations to this series as well, such as the L35AD (which has a date back panel to automatically add a date to each image). Also, there is an underwater version of this camera.

35mm film image with the Nikon L35AF2 - Nikon One Touch L35AF2 Review by Katya Rowny on Shoot It With Film
35mm film image with the Nikon L35AF2 - Nikon One Touch L35AF2 Review by Katya Rowny on Shoot It With Film
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Testing Out the Nikon One Touch

As far as cameras go, the Nikon One Touch (find on eBay) is quite nondescript. There are no extra letters on the top or the back to help identify the camera. There’s no way to adjust the aperture, shutter speed or zoom. When they called it one touch, they weren’t kidding.

Overall, the camera is compact and square. It could probably fit in your front breast pocket, or even in a small clutch if you’re a lady like me. I found a strap from another camera and wrapped it around my wrist as a backup in case I dropped the camera.

While we packed for our trip, I put in fresh batteries and tested out the basic functions. The flash popped up and the shutter advanced when I pressed the button.

Although later when I loaded film (expired Kodak Max 400), the frame counter was off and not resetting to “S.” After some googling and Macgyvering, I was able to get the frame counter to 1. This meant that by the time I loaded the film and fired the shutter, my frame count was off by 2 or 3 frames, which made it a bit tricky when I finished my roll.

The Nikon One Touch L35AF2 35mm Film Camera
35mm film image with the Nikon L35AF2 - Nikon One Touch L35AF2 Review by Katya Rowny on Shoot It With Film

Lens and Controls

The Nikon One Touch L35AF2 is simple enough to operate. On the front under the lens is a sliding lever that turns the camera on and off.

The lens itself is a 2.8 with four elements in three groups. The lens has an autofocus system built into it with the viewfinder showing icons for the focused distance (rather than a distance scale). To active the autofocus system (0.7m—infinity), press shutter button lightly to lock focus.

This camera is as basic as it gets for a point and shoot while also boasting a sharp lens and ease of usability. The only controls on the camera include the sliding lever to open the lens cover, the shutter button, a timed-release lever on the front for self portraits, a lever to release the back of the camera and the ability to press the flash back down when it pops up.

The self timer lever is a 10 second delay flashing red until the shutter fires.

35mm film image with the Nikon L35AF2 - Nikon One Touch L35AF2 Review by Katya Rowny on Shoot It With Film
35mm film image with the Nikon L35AF2 - Nikon One Touch L35AF2 Review by Katya Rowny on Shoot It With Film

This is the ultimate point and shoot because there’s not much else you can control. There’s no exposure compensation, no fancy bells and whistles, no exposure modes, and no way to set film ISO level. What you see is what you get with this guy.

Only DX-coded 35mm film from ISO 50 to ISO 1600 is read by the camera, and non-DX-coded is defaulted to ISO 100 film.

35mm film image with the Nikon L35AF2 - Nikon One Touch L35AF2 Review by Katya Rowny on Shoot It With Film
35mm film image with the Nikon L35AF2 - Nikon One Touch L35AF2 Review by Katya Rowny on Shoot It With Film

The Flash

When the Nikon One Touch detects that the environment is dark and needs extra light with the flash, it pops up automatically.

You can press it back down and take a picture without it, thankfully. It can be irritating to do this every time you want to override the flash, but since I was using expired film already, I let the camera decide.

It helps that the camera is restrained with popping up the flash, only popping up when it’s really needed. The 2.8 lens allows the camera to shoot in much darker environments without the flash than some other fixed-focus pocket cameras.

Once we were in Belize, I mostly shot the camera in the daylight and some evenings, not giving much thought to the flash. (I was more worried about what frame number I was on.)

35mm film image with the Nikon L35AF2 - Nikon One Touch L35AF2 Review by Katya Rowny on Shoot It With Film
35mm film image with the Nikon L35AF2 - Nikon One Touch L35AF2 Review by Katya Rowny on Shoot It With Film

Usability of the Nikon One Touch L35AF2

I enjoyed the ease of use with the L35AF2 (find on eBay). Since it turns on fairly quickly, you can pull the One Touch out and get your shot quickly. This was great for our spur-of-the-moment vacation shots.

Overall, I enjoyed using this camera and will be keeping it to use again. I think also because this wasn’t my main shooter and this first roll was my test roll, I didn’t feel pressured to shoot only Instagram worthy shots, but random things that caught my eye. For me, this is the real benefit of a point-and-shoot: it’s a relaxed way to take pictures without worrying about all of my settings.

I’ve read that users have had a myriad of issues with these old point and shoots, which is to be expected when working with old technology.

I recommend loading fresh batteries (check voltage) when using this camera and bringing a backup set, as this camera eats batteries when sitting unused. Here is the manual for further reading enjoyment.

35mm film image with the Nikon L35AF2 - Nikon One Touch L35AF2 Review by Katya Rowny on Shoot It With Film
35mm film image with the Nikon L35AF2 - Nikon One Touch L35AF2 Review by Katya Rowny on Shoot It With Film

Image Results

When we got home and I developed my film, the sharpness of the images was mixed. When everything is in focus, it looks great, but the shallow depth of field and the basic AF system can be fooled.

For landscapes, it does the job well, but the Nikon One Touch struggled with getting people and small objects in focus. I did notice some dust specs on some of my images and need to further investigate as they randomly appear on a few images.

35mm film image with the Nikon L35AF2 - Nikon One Touch L35AF2 Review by Katya Rowny on Shoot It With Film
35mm film image with the Nikon L35AF2 - Nikon One Touch L35AF2 Review by Katya Rowny on Shoot It With Film

Final Thoughts

I am not surprised by the cult following garnered by the Nikon One Touch. It’s easy to learn, easy to use, and extremely portable.

While the optics aren’t particularly impressive, there’s also a lot of nostalgia that comes when using it. As time passes, the price on them seems to get higher as they gain traction as a cheaper alternative to the more popular models.

If you are looking for an easy to use, inexpensive, fun camera, I would highly suggest the Nikon One Touch L35AF2!

Find the Nikon One Touch L35AF2 on eBay here.

35mm film image with the Nikon L35AF2 - Nikon One Touch L35AF2 Review by Katya Rowny on Shoot It With Film
35mm film image with the Nikon L35AF2 - Nikon One Touch L35AF2 Review by Katya Rowny on Shoot It With Film

Thank you so much, Katya! Katya is a regular contributor for Shoot It With Film, and you can check out her other articles here, such as the Learn to Shoot Film: 5 Tips to Get You Started and Pentax Auto 110 Review.

You can also find more of Katya’s work on her website and Instagram.

Leave your questions about the Nikon One Touch L35AF2 35mm film camera below in the comments, and you can pick one up for yourself at KEH Camera or on eBay.

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Katya Rowny

Katya Rowny is a travel photographer and a regular contributor for Shoot It With Film. Find her other articles here, such as Olympus XA2 Point & Shoot Film Camera Review and Elektra 100 Film Review.

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Blog Comments

I got one of these cameras for my girlfriend back around 1984 when they were very new… and we both used it heavily for years, especially after we married and had kids. I always thought it was a nearly perfectly designed early-tech point & shoot camera, and we got hundreds of great shots with ours.

I’m surprised that you’re not more impressed with the lens, I always thought it was excellent. I made nice sharp 8x10s from b/w negatives. A better lens than, for example, the same-spec 35/2.8 in the much later, insanely overpraised Olympus Stylus Epic (yeah, I’ve got one of those too.)

I always thought the simplicity of its controls and design was brilliant. Compared to other clunky early p&s cameras (e.g., the original Canon SureShot, which my parents had), its minimalism was elegant. And its use of cheap, find-them-anywhere AA batteries was another plus.

I never had any major complaints with the performance of its autofocus or autoexposure systems… whereas I do with the Stylus Epic (especially with how its programming prefers wider apertures vs. slower speeds, often yielding unexpectedly poor depth of field).

Yes, it’s an early, relatively unsophisticated p&s… but it’s one of the best!

Hi! Thanks for your comment! I do agree it’s a pretty great point and shoot! It’s very user friendly and can take great images. I guess I was feeling more frustrated with the fact that mine seemed to eat batteries and I couldn’t finish a roll without having to replace them and maybe using expired film didn’t help me fall in love with the camera. Guess that means I should give it another go with fresh batteries and film 🙂

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