For those of you not familiar with the type, the Nikonos was the Nikon 35 mm underwater camera. This one is a model ‘V’ from the period 1984 – 2001. These were intended for specialist use by divers and as a result were very expensive at the time. As a result of the mass flight from film, these cameras are now ridiculously cheap.
What is it like to use? I borrowed one from Gold Coast enthusiast John Clark to find out. This particular camera – with a 35 mm f2.5 lens – is in good condition with all the seals intact. This is important, as the camera cannot be used underwater unless the seals are in good condition. This camera also looks clean when I open it up to put in a roll of ISO 400 film.
I also put in new batteries (to power the shutter and LED viewfinder display), which go in a separate o-ring sealed compartment. Inside, there is a pressure plate which one lifts up to load the film. Otherwise, it loads like any other manual film camera. It is with mentioning here that to rewind the film the shutter speed dial has to be placed in the ‘R’ position seen in the photo below. This will not be a familiar feature for F3 users.
Anyway, I loaded some film and took 36 shots around the local area. We shall see how I managed. Focus is achieved by estimating distance – it uses a scale focus system. Distance is set by the silver knob on the lens. Aperture (controlled by the black knob on the lens) and shutter speed are easier to get right as there is exposure metering. So, perhaps my shots will be correctly exposed, but out of focus. We shall see.
Well the good news is I managed to estimate distance reasonably well. Here’s a few photos from Sydney’s Inner West.
Generally I was pretty happy. Remember, this is a lens with no focus ring (or autofocus), on a camera designed to be used underwater.