[Camera Review] Nikon AF600 (Lite Touch AF)

MARCH 24, 2024
5

Photography

[Camera Review] Nikon AF600 (Lite Touch AF)

This is probably the first-ever camera review from me. I have always been reviewing old lenses before, but not old cameras. I’ll be reviewing a point-and-shoot camera from 1993, the Nikon AF600 as it is called here in Japan, also known as Nikon Lite Touch AF outside Japan.

A while ago, I found the AF600 in my local camera store in Sendai. Now that the ‘retro’ film craze is stronger than ever, more and more the price of old cameras & lenses goes up, especially those of photographer’s darlings like Contax T2. However, at the time AF600 was priced at a decent sum of under $60. Since I wanted to have a small point-and-shoot film camera, I promptly added this little camera to my collection.

Table of Contents

Spec and Operations

Spec-wise, this camera offers nothing spectacular. The build is plasticky and feels a bit cheap compared to other more capable cameras of its generation. The 28mm lens is of course made of plastic with the widest aperture of 3.5. It sets film with DX code automatically to either 100, 200, 400, or 1000 ISO. If the film DX code is not recognized, it defaults to ISO 100.

Did I mention how small it is yet? Look at these numbers and tell me otherwise.

  • Dimension: 108mm x 62mm x 32mm
  • Weight: 155g

If that’s not tiny I don’t know what. It will slip right into your jeans or jacket pocket easily, or wherever you want to carry it.

But its compact size is also one of its inconveniences. I have relatively small hands, and even then, sometimes I have trouble operating this camera due to the small buttons. I can imagine it will be such a hassle for someone with bigger hands. And since the buttons are made of rubber, sometimes they don’t give enough tactile feedback, so you might press them more than once to make sure.

The viewfinder is nothing but an unbelievably tiny window, in which you have to squint to take a proper composition. In addition, when shooting, you may sometimes end up obstructing the lens without realizing it because the viewfinder does not go through the lens. For example, the included strap could fall off in front of the lens so it’s best to pay attention before taking a shot.

Due to its blocky shape, this camera is not ergonomic. It feels a bit hard to hold as you have to put your thumb behind and other fingers in front to securely hold it even though how small it is.

One last thing I want to highlight is how moderately noisy the camera is during operation. Pressing the shutter does not give the satisfying ‘click’ sound of SLR cameras, but instead, it lets out a sound that is akin to a prolonged high-pitched animal shriek, of which I’m not a fan. Some would argue such is the retro appeal, but I think it attracts too much attention. By contrast, the automatic winding sound when the film is finished is more bearable.

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Functionality

Functions in Nikon AF600 are quite simple. Using the buttons you can set the usage of flash, set the timer, or change the date format should you wish to show the taken date on your photos.

The first thing to remember is to turn off the flash when you don’t need it because by default it wants to shine a blinding light on everyone under the sun. Unfortunately, it’s not a one-push operation. The button for flash settings cycles through auto flash (default), flash off, red-eye reduction, and slow sync, so you need two pushes.

And it’s even more unfortunate since the camera will not remember the mode you choose when you turn it on and off again. So always check. I got a verbal warning in a museum in Tokyo just because I forgot to turn the flash off in a flash-forbidden exhibition.

At the back, just below the buttons, you will find a panorama mode slider, which I think is not that useful. Panorama mode is more like a gimmick. It creates a panorama photo by cutting the top and bottom of your photo so you get the aspect ratio for the panorama. Fair to say that you essentially end up getting a photo in half as you can see in the below images.

Image Quality

It’s safe to say that Nikon AF600 is not an exceptional performer when it comes to producing high-quality photos. The lens is not very sharp when you zoom in. Still, the images that come out from it are good-looking and have their characters. It mostly works wonders in well-light scenes as the lens itself is not suitable in low-light situations given its small maximum aperture (albeit remediable with higher ISO film stock).

In bright daylight though, you will see the dark fallout in the corners as vignetting is inseparable from this camera. Fortunately, as far as I know, there is no noticeable camera lens distortion.

The autofocus is pretty decent. I probably only missed the focus a few times so far. Once you lock the focus by half-pressing the shutter, the camera does the work for you without a hitch. You can also use the focus and recompose technique with this camera.

My Impression

Despite a rough start, I have to admit, I love this little camera. It’s not a high-performing point-and-shoot camera, but despite its apparent flaws, Nikon AF600 is one of the cameras you come to love after using it for a while. The good things about it outweigh the bad by a mile.

Now it’s only fair to say that I don’t use Nikon AF600 as my main camera during outings or holidays. Still, I designated this camera as a side-B shooter, using it along with a more capable camera. More often than not, I didn’t finish the whole roll immediately after loading the film, as I might finish the roll a few months later on a completely different occasion than the one I started on.

All in all, this camera will serve you well if you can get your hands on it.

More Sample Photos

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About the Author

Jerfareza Daviano | Photographer in Sendai, Japan
Jerfareza Daviano

Jerfareza is a freelance photographer from Indonesia currently based in Sendai, Japan, offering wide range of photography service especially profile portraits, couple or family photos, and wedding photography. Should you wish to hire him you can check here for more details.

Visit his website for articles about travel in Japan especially Tohoku area and interesting bits about photography.

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