February 10, 2014

Unkind rewind of the Nikon L35AF series

Last week I purchased a Nikon  L35 AW AF aka Action Touch. It is the underwater version of the L35AF Pikaichi.

I love the series but it has a consistent problem that pops up: malfunctioning rewinds and frame counters.

A good part of the discussion at Flickr's L35AF group focuses on jams.

Well, my latest L35 indeed have a related problem. The film advanced and rewound BUT the film counter remained at 36 and would not reset back to 1 or "S."

Good news, and this is a consistent part of how to bring an L35AF back to life, I was able to fiddle with it to get the gear back into good order.

There are important pointers on how to get the L35AF back into alignment.

Film advance won't work, shutter release stuck, rewind button jammed, counter not counting??? Fear not. An L35AF CAN BE FIXED through simply fiddling without opening up the camera OR sending in for repair.

You only need three things to get started:

  • good batteries
  • a roll of film which you are able to pull out of the cassette
  • a paper clip to push down some of the sensor pins in the film chamber (I didn't need to this time but it's good to have)
  • patience

Like many point and shoots, good functioning relies on a number operations to take place in the correct order. WHEN you turn on a camera, when you put in the batteries, whether you put the film in the camera when it is ON or OFF, can sometimes have an impact on the start up of your camera. Often, jams occur when it falls out of sequence as was the case in my stuck film counter.

I'm happy to say it is fixed.

What I did but note film rewinding can't occur without film in the camera:

  1. Started with the camera off.
  2. Removed the batteries.
  3. With the camera OFF, put the batteries back in.
  4. Turned ON the camera.
  5. Loaded the camera with the back door open but with the pressure plate down (this is unique to the L35 AW AF).
  6. Exposed frames with the film door open. This prevented the film counter from advancing.
  7. Closed the film door.
  8. Rewound the film, the counter counted down to 1 but would not go to "S".
  9. Pulled out the film from the cassette to get some lead and put it in the camera.
  10. Turned the camera OFF.
  11. Rewound the film again. It rolled to "S."
All this to say, don't give up on your camera in a jam. The camera just has to reset and will simply function again. It's just a matter of undoing all the dry fires and misuse the camera suffers while in the hands of less caring individuals.

I've done this three times with three different models of the L35 series (original L35, the One Touch, and the Action Touch aka L35 AW AF) and have brought all the cameras back to life.

So keep trying.

They're worth it...

February 9, 2014

Nikon L35 AW AF is the point and shoot that the Nikon L35 AF wanted to be

People who know this site know that I shoot with the Nikon L35AF a lot.

Along with the Konica TC-X with a 40mm F1.8 Hexanon, the Yashica 635 twin lens reflex, and the Nikon D40 with a whole slew of lenses, the L35AF (aka the Pikaichi) is one of my go-to cameras for a lot of endearing reasons.

Also, I'm superstitious. If a camera tends to take the pictures I like best, for whatever reason, I tend to go back to it. Well, that's the Nikon L35AF for me.

But one should note, it's not a perfect camera: the flash pops up on its own if it deems there's not enough light; like most point and shoots you don't get to pick the aperture; uh, really freaking noisy (lovably so).

There are work-arounds amply discussed at the Flickr discussion group. The reason to put up with all the fuss and muss is because of the lens. It is charming and has a je ne sais quoi. It just has it.

So, I've put up with its quirks and go out of my way to collect versions and models of the L35 mark.

Until this week, I had never found a Nikon L35 AW AF in decent enough condition. Now that I have my hands on one, I believe this version of the L35 (called the Nikon ActionTouch in the US), with its all-weather/ underwater design, does away with some of the more irky quirks of the original L35.

1. The L35 AW AF is not NOISY. This is because of all the heavy rubber gaskets. The film advance screech is mellowed to a gentle whir.

2. Underwater cameras can't use the auto focus. With this model one can pre-set the focus with the dial on the top.

3. The flash doesn't pop-up unless you want it to. This allows a user to take advantage of the lovely f2.8 aperture and the slowest shutter time of 2 seconds (despite what the manual specs say - which say 1/8 sec).

4. And, you can do the opposite, if you like force flashing. Just  flip the switch and it's on no matter how bright it is outside. I used to have to trigger the flash by sticking it inside a bag and take a light reading.

There are a few problems though with this version too: can't manually set the ASA though one can circumvent the encoder with a bit of tape on the film cassette in which case the camera defaults to 100 ASA providing two-stops over-exposure on a roll of 400 ASA black and white;

...there is no lens filter thread while on the original L35AF  offers a 46mm thread on which I usually slap on a YK2 when shooting black and white.

These are just initial thoughts on the camera. Loading it soon and will let you know how it does.

If you need the manual, kiss my BUTKUS.