I hadn’t shot in a while so, I decided to take out my little Nikon Zoom 310 AF compact scored off eBay for a cool $30 and run two rolls of film through it. With an order of Ilford HP5 and Fuji 400H in the mail, due any time between now and Christmas I thought I’d take a punt on Fuji’s Superia X-TRA 400 for an afternoon. A pack of three set me back $23AUD from my local and I was on my way for an afternoon of loud ass zoom (35mm-70mm oh yeah!), auto film winding and that sweet, sweet optical viewfinder in the little Nikon.
I landed on the Superia to test the camera out because it’s affordable, has a nice tonality and is often said to be the first film many digital shooters should try. I haven’t shot much film and I thought it was good advice to start with a pretty neutral ISO value like 400. It was also a pretty overcast afternoon and light was pretty dodgy so something that could handle varying conditions but produce relatively flat results.
The little $30 Nikon, most of which felt like it was spent on shipping, was a solid little performer. The compact zoom seemed to operate well, at least I didn’t have any major issues during shooting. It’s auto load worked well except for when I tired the second roll, it took three attempts to catch and spool the roll – no big deal as it’s super easy to open and give it another go. The zoom is loud, as is the auto winding of the roll but it’s not a deal breaker. The shutter itself is crazy quiet, it’s the loud ass winding mechanism that’ll give you away in a close up street situation.
Annoyingly, you have to manually turn the flash off each time you power on the camera with two button presses, by far the most annoying feature but totally common for a camera of this style and age. I forgot in some shots, which is why some are obviously filled in with the onboard flash. Again, no deal breaker for me but just annoying to have to remember to turn the flash off each time. I wish so badly that the settings were stored on power on, if they were I’m sure this camera wouldn’t be so unheard of – bummer.
The Nikon Zoom 310 AF is more of a nan-and-pop-afternoon-snapshot-with-the-grandkids shooter than anything else and if you keep that in mind it’s actually kind of nice little compact. It’s totally pocketable and about the same length as an iPhone but the width of about 5-6 taped together. It has great mid-size zoom utility and a perfectly serviceable base focal length of 35mm, the lens is plenty sharp in the right light for an everyday compact. Fully extended to the 70mm it does have a bit of the old film point and shoot “length” (ifyouknowwhatimsayin) it’s not TOO ridiculous. If it weren’t for the louder-than-most winder mechanism and I would say it would be brilliant street shooter. While you CAN shoot street with it I would suggest that you’ll need to do so in or loud place or be fairly subtly due to the noise the tiny box of plastic pumps out after you fire off a shot.
I was able to get the oddly coloured purplely/grey/blue colourway off of eBay with my purchase, which came with a nice little case and hand strap – I believe there’s a black and maybe a silver model out there too if you’re interested.
From the results, overall I’m pretty pleased.
The Superia 400 seemed versatile enough to shoot in Melbourne CBD’s depressing springtime overcast gloom and occasional sunshine. I was on the fence and almost bought the Fuji Color 200 but happy I got the Superia in this instance, it’s no 400H but it’s now a stock I’ll pick up when I’m in a bind. For less than $10 a roll it’s got some nice colours about it and in the right light can be very smooth with minimal grain. The Superia 400 is kinda muted and soft, contrasty and perfect for an overcast day in Melbourne.