The Nikon Zoom Touch 400 sucks.

Nikon Zoom Touch 400

My mom used this awful camera for about 20 years to record family events. Mom, I’m really sorry you suffered with this piece of crap for so long.

Nikon introduced the Zoom Touch 400, known as the TW Zoom 35-70 in some markets, in 1990 to attract buyers who wanted features like autofocus, zoom, and red-eye reduction in a point-and-shoot camera from a respected maker. The Zoom Touch 400 packs a f/4-7.6 35-70mm zoom lens. It’s powered by one shockingly expensive CR-P2 battery.

Unfortunately, Nikon totally phoned this one in. Let’s start with the rubbery, blubbery shutter button. You press it, and at some point the camera realizes it and fires, but there’s little correlation between those two actions. I always felt like I was fighting with the camera to get the picture.

There are far better point-and-shoot cameras out there. Kodak made one – the VR35 K40 (review here). Also check out the Canon AF35ML, Minolta AF-Sv, Olympus Stylus, and Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 80. Or check out all of my camera reviews here.

This camera’s lens is simply unimpressive. At 35mm, there’s tons of distortion and softness around the edges.


This shot of my neighbor’s house shows the distortion and edge softness too. Plus, the autofocus system couldn’t figure out what to focus on.

Blurry house

Even when the scene is simple, the autofocus system sometimes decides that nothing is the subject. A quarter of the photos I took with this camera turned out entirely blurry like this.

Blurry bush

I had better luck when I zoomed in. This flamingo is in my neighbor’s front yard, and it’s pretty sharp in this photo.


The moral of this story is always to zoom in a little with the Zoom Touch 400. I did that when I shot this gravestone, which is in the cemetery across from Bethel United Methodist Church near my home. The foreground detail is good and the background is pleasingly out of focus.


The best part of using this camera was finishing the roll of film that Mom left in it. I didn’t find that film until I opened the camera, and so unfortunately I fogged a few frames. But this photo turned out. It tells me that the last time Mom used this camera was on a visit to my house in about 2008, before Sugar, the Rottweiler, passed away.


See more photos, if you dare, in my Nikon Zoom Touch 400 gallery.

If you come upon one of these in a junk store for a dollar, forget it.

If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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18 responses to “Nikon Zoom Touch 400”

  1. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    Somehow, I bypassed this entire phase of film photography. I call these “plastic pods.” Nikon, Pentax, Canon and Olympus cranked out zillions of these. I recall seeing most of them dangling from strollers when I used to take my children to Disneyland. If anyone can coax a decent photo out of one of these, you can Jim.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      If I were to shoot with it again — and I’m not going to, mind you — I’d always zoom it in considerably and favor close shots rather than landscapes.

  2. Denny Gibson Avatar

    Is this a hint that there are better places for my Nikon Lite-Touch Zoom 105 QD than in my “Jim Bag”?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yeah, I’m coming to realize that I just don’t enjoy 1990s point-and-shoot cameras.

  3. dehk Avatar

    I tested out the original Yashica T Af from 1984 the other day. That 8 Steps autofocus simple just doesn’t cut it… Least your nikon has A LOT more steps than that.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Steps, schmeps – it still doesn’t focus right on 1 out of 4 shots! I can’t believe Nikon released such a stinker.

      1. dehk Avatar

        Try 0 on 16 shots, lol. It focus, just never at the right place that i wanted it to be.

  4. cozyteacup Avatar

    I like the gravestone pic, even with this camera, it came out very good. You know, now I reading this blog, I remembered I had an old pocket camera (cheap,cheap stuff, but I still have it) oh my! I found, I will buy film and use it, see I what I get. See now you got me into this lovely hobby. I still have to find time and look at all of your cameras! I truly want to have time to enjoy it. When are you showing more pics of your home? like… kitchen..dining room.. :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks! There may be a few more photos from inside my home in some of my other camera reviews.

  5. Kaitlin Avatar

    super cute flamingo!!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      :-) Yes, I admit it – I included this photo with you in mind!

      1. Kaitlin Avatar

        Aw thanks! :)

  6. David Ralston Avatar

    Hi Jim is it well my friend my dad started out in the world war two days learning how to use cameras and Wally talky he went on to chathlic TV then too channel 38 Boston mass my dad was not a dum guy but he always said one who puts something down in this world is one who putting down god well he was religus yes good guy too always talking my point Jim is why spend so much time putting down something when t as lkkng about something nice does the world better he had bought that Nikon tw zoom for mom see he new my mom didn’t handle stuff very nice and dad had all sorts of cameras trust me he was the head of the film dept for 38 when he left see its a csmrera for the right person understand Jim my mom always used hers keep it up it worked fine and she was happy so see I’m shore there are more people like my mom there a saying in the flee markets everything has a home no matter what it is junk to u is gold to someone else’s I hope hu dont think I’m trying to teach you how to be nice guy no I’m just sayingy mom had something you call a piece off junk she thought it was gold my dads cameras all of them lasted a life time have a good day my friend dave crocket

  7. Diego Avatar

    Sorry for throwing back to a five year old post :)
    I must say your experience with the ZT 400 does not mirror mine. I had this camera for a solid 7 or 8 years in the 90’s and … for its time of course… I was always happy with the quality of landscape, portrait (esp @ 70mm) and even macro. (and flash modes!)
    As your Mom’s camera was a good 20 or so years old when you were testing it (loaded with gulp six year old film in the back), I think there are a number of variables at play here. Could it be that you were shooting in macro mode (which would explain in part why your close-ups worked out and your landscapes were blurry)? Otherwise, there’s no question that the autofocus sensors (all three of em ;) ) aren’t fully functional. Agree with the distortion. Some of that is nature of geometry but another consideration is that the film may also have warped, causing a change in the FFD (…or whatever you’d term it in a camera of this ilk!)
    Neat piece. Thanks for the memories!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      No worries, and thank you for the good info on what might have been wrong with my copy of this camera! All I can say is that the performance I got wasn’t very different from the performance my mom got all the years she used it. Maybe she just got a bad one.


    I actually stumbled across an old camera bag that had a panasonic palm cam mini & all the orig accessories. But inside that bag I found my old Nikon zoom touch 470 AF. I forget its quality in comparison to other point & shoot cameras in the 90’s. Are you familiar with it?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Sadly I’ve not used one of those. Sorry!

  9. […] 9. Nikon Zoom Touch 400 : Down the Road – Jim Grey […]

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