Nikon L35AD2 (L35AF2) Point-and-Shoot Camera Review
a.k.a. Nikon One Touch9 min read by
Nikon L35AD2 (L35AF2)/Nikon One Touch is a relatively compact and easy-to-use camera. It’s one of the first Nikon’s auto-everything point-and-shoots (following the L35AF) with a fantastic 35mm 𝒇2.8 lens and all-metal chassis that conveniently uses the easy-to-find AA batteries.
Today it’s a sought-after yet relatively affordable film camera that fetches around $200 a piece. While there are still plenty of choices costing less, L35AD2 remains a good pick — even a bargain — despite its age and plasticky ‘80s-chic outer shell design.
In this review, I’ll outline all of its key features/quirks and share a few tips on how to take better photos with this camera.
✪ Note: Nikon L35AD2 is identical to Nikon L35AF2; the only difference is the date back on AD2. Nikon One Touch is identical to L35AF2 (no date back) — the only difference is the name, intended for export from Japan.
Nikon L35AD2 build quality.
I struggle to call L35AD2 “pocketable.” At 320g/.7lb it may slip into some jacket pockets, but the weight will certainly feel present. The heft is due to the metal chassis that hold the camera together firmly under its black plastic exterior.
In many ways, this camera looks and feels like Minolta AF-S: a little trashy. But I wouldn’t let that deceive you — L35AD2 is a well-made, and expertly thought-out point-and-shoot with a slightly shabby-looking shell.
Though it may not look or feel as good as Olympus Mju II, L35AD2 can still provide plenty of comfort with its built-in hand grip and loads of confidence with its interactive viewfinder (more on that later).
Perhaps the least-discussed and one of the most delightful features of this camera is a small window with black and blue stripes that move/scroll as if they were animated when the film is properly loaded and advancing.
Nikon took the film-advance stripes straight out of Canon Canonet QL17 GIII’s design book and paired it with motorized film transport. Unnecessary yet amusing.
In short, L35AD2 is a camera with a deceiving appearance; though it may look the part, it is not a toy camera. Neither was it priced as such during its debut in the mid-80s: costing about $210 or nearly $600 in 2023 dollars.
Nikon L35AD2 controls and ergonomics.
The hardest part to get going on L35AD2 is installing the CR2032 battery to power its mostly useless date feature that would burn digits into your photos. It only shows years up to 2019, thus if you really want that on your film, it may make the most sense to just show the day of the month and time. My copy also had all of that in Japanese.
Loading film into Nikon L35AD2/One Touch is easy. All there’s to do is open the door by pushing down the toggle on the back next to the window to the left of the date back, placing your roll into the chamber, and stretching its leader to fit into the “Film Tip” marker on the opposite side. The camera will read the DX code on your canister and set the ISO value automatically; it will accept films rated between ISO 60-1600.
Oddly, the camera won’t automatically take up the film until you make the first shot. This can be annoying if the film wasn’t loaded properly leading to the fumbling action of opening the door, re-aligning the leader, and closing it — instead of taking a picture.
Powering Nikon L35AD2 on is fun. The lever below the lens will open the plastic doors covering the lens like a ladybug’s wings, which will get your system ready and the optics exposed. It’s recommended to power the camera off when it’s not in use — as it will continue drawing power from your AA batteries (I always advise getting a rechargeable type — not only to save money but also to divert some waste).
Speaking of the batteries, they are a pain to eject from the camera. The cover under which they’re hosted (at the bottom) is not well-made. It’s identical to that of the Pentax PC35AF — another great point-and-shoot with limited flaws — which comes with flimsiness but also requires you to shake your Nikon violently until the first one pops out. This was my experience; I hope yours isn’t as bad.
The flash — powered by the same AA batteries — is quite good. I found it to be powerful enough for most of my shots. But mainly, I liked how easy it was to get out of the way. Nikon’s lens is fast enough not to need flash for most of the day-lit scenes, even if the camera suggests using the flash in a form of it popping up. Pushing it down to its place is all that’s needed to inform the camera that you don’t need one. This is vastly better than going through settings each time as is the case with most ‘90s point-and-shoot film cameras.
My only (minor) problem with the flash is that it takes a few seconds longer than expected to recharge.
The autofocus experience on Nikon L35AD2 is almost identical to Pentax PC35AF — and that’s a good thing. Whereas most point-and-shoot cameras of the era will keep you in the dark on whether they’ve focused on the thing you intended, L35AD2 will display a focus scale in the viewfinder and an arrow pointing to the metered distance. Thus if you’re taking a close-up portrait, you can rest assured that your lens will have your figure in focus and not the background by just looking and that information.
Focus lock works by picking something you’d like to appear sharp and half-pressing the button. You can then reframe and depress the button fully to take the picture.
That said, I wouldn’t recommend photographing anyone or anything closer than just under 1m/3’ away: the camera will claim to have what you need in focus, but it may in fact not be. The closest focus distance of L35AD2 is .7m or 2’3⅝”.
The finder, in addition to the focus slider, displays the frame borders via bright lines but shows no parallax markings — it’s best to place whatever you hope to be in the frame a little lower to make sure that the top part of it won’t get cut-off when taking pictures closer than 2m/6’. The finder window is a decent size and usable with glasses.
And finally, a feature for the readers developing film at home: once you’re done with the roll, you can rewind it by unlocking the ⏮ button with a small switch next to it (at the bottom of the camera), which will get all the film back into the canister while leaving a small tip of the leader out. This is very helpful as you don’t have to crack the canister open or use a tricky film retriever tool to do so.
Nikon 35mm 𝒇2.8 lens and image quality.
The lens is the best part of this camera. It’s very sharp in the center and can resolve a lot of detail when the aperture is stopped down in bright light or with flash.
The lens is well-corrected for chromatic aberrations although it can produce noticeably-soft corners at wider apertures. This, along with its very noticeable comatic aberration/comma gives some results taken on this glass a “glowing” aura, especially with close focus.
You typically won’t find these kinds of distortions (combined) on modern lenses, and they are also fairly rare on point-and-shoot cameras. They can understandably shun some photographers, but if you like the (not necessarily soft but) unique look of a vintage lens in a compact, easy-to-use package, this camera is a good choice.
A good alternative for the Nikon L35AD2 character lens in a point-and-shoot body with slightly less-prominent but recognizable lens distortions is Olympus Mju I/Olympus LT-1 (same camera in different package options). Mju I/LT-1 does not render comma distortions; instead, it favours wider apertures which give a greater ratio of images with prominent bokeh.
Once there’s dim light to force the camera to close down the aperture, soft corners and comma distortions disappear.
Nikon’s 35mm 𝒇2.8 lens has a decent coating and can resist flaring reasonably well — unless you point it toward the sun — in which case, you’ll notice some loss of contrast and see some blue lens flares (below). Other than that, this lens will render medium-high contrast.
How much does Nikon L35AD2 cost, and where to find one.
While $200 for something that looks a bit like a potato may seem much, Nikon L35AD2 is an excellent deal, if you’re looking to make great-looking images with minimal effort. Of course, it’s up to you, your needs, and your preferences to define “great.” Hopefully, my explanation of this camera’s glass characteristics and the sample images above gave you a good idea of what’s possible.
❤ By the way: Please consider making your Nikon L35AD2 (L35AF2)/Nikon One Touch camera purchase using this link so that this website may get a small percentage of that sale — at no extra charge for you — thanks!