Any Nikonos users out there?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by nyoung, Feb 21, 2007.

  1. nyoung

    nyoung Member

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    20+ years ago I shot some water related assignments with a borrowed Nikonos II. Since then I have held the notion that I would like to have (not need) one of my own for really bad weather and the occasional water hazard work - canoe trips, fly fishing etc. Any one have any tips about advantages and or defects of the various models and or lenses?
     
  2. Muihlinn

    Muihlinn Member

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    I have a nikonos II for nostalgic reasons. It's strong, works fine and I prefer it to most other models for the same nostalgia that made me buy one again. From the convenience's point of view I'd go with a III or a V, depending what you want.
     
  3. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    I have two Nikonos V cameras that I've used mostly for canoe and rafting trips. Lenses are limited to 35mm and 85mm for topside work. The 28, 20, 15mm lenses can only be used underwater.

    Good solid camera. I use an Ikelite handheld light meter, over the meter in the camera when I can.
     
  4. Mackinaw

    Mackinaw Member

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    I have a Nikonos V that I throw in my Klepper sea kayak whenever I go for a paddle. Nice camera, very sturdy and I love the way the shutter sounds when fired.

    Jim Bielecki
     
  5. Helen B

    Helen B Member

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    I have a Nikonos V for bad weather and sailing. I used to use a Nikon all weather P&S - the AWAF 35, I think it is called. I used it underwater, but only down to the recommended 10 ft / 3 m. That stopped working after a very hard life, probably because of seawater getting past the neglected battery cover o-ring. It worked amazingly well when it did work, and it took a lot of hard knocks. I could put it over my shoulder and forget about it until I wanted to use it. I often used it one-handed, in full autofocus and autoexposure, with Kodachrome 64. An example of such an exposure, from back in the last days of the USSR:

    [​IMG]

    Here is a link to a couple of other snaps taken with the AWAF.

    The Nikonos needs a big lens hood to keep the rain and snow off the front of the lens, and that interferes with the view through the finder. You get used to it though. I don't have many of my bad weather snaps on the web. here's one of them, taken with the Nikonos:

    [​IMG]

    Best,
    Helen
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 21, 2007
  6. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I took my V out in the last Hurricane. (Just a heavy downpour and moderate winds by the time it got to this latitude). It is very liberating to walk around shooting in weather that you would never take your regular cameras out in.

    The 35mm lens gives beautiful, crisp results above water. I don't know about trying to scale focus an 85mm on a rainy, heavily overcast day, though. Never tried it but it seems that you would have to be pretty skilled at estimating distances.
     
  7. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Nikonos III, nice for rainy or damp days, or dusty conditions. I have never used underwater. Nice specialty camera.
     
  8. Phil

    Phil Member

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  9. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    When the weather is too severe for my automatic/electronic cameras and my manual/mechanical cameras, I use a Nikonos III underwater camera with the 35mm and 80mm lenses. The body and lenses are well sealed against sand, dirt, and moisture.

    I carry my Nikonos, light meter, and film in a small waterproof Pelican case that I think floats if accidentally dropped in water. I have not yet used my Nikonos for SCUBA diving.
     
  10. gr82bart

    gr82bart Member

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    I have a Nikonos and I just bought a Sea and Sea camera as well. It never dawned on me to use the camera 'above' water - dang! All that effort I have put into keeping my Nikons dry and the solution was there all the time!

    Regards, Art.
     
  11. nyoung

    nyoung Member

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    Thanks for all the feed back. I'm wondering why no one seems to advoacte the IV. Every one seems to use the III and the V.
     
  12. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    Heya,

    the III was the last all-mechanical. It is the most reliable. The I and the II have some quirks that make them less user friendly.

    The IV--if I recall correctly--doesn't allow manual exposures (well, it does allow 1/90s as a backup if the battery dies). That's why the V is the most popular.

    Compare the images here:
    http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/companies/nikon/htmls/models/htmls/nikonos45.htm

    the top of the IV doesn't have the shutter speed control.

    I have used my V down to 150', in the pool, on a canoe, fly fishing...it is a nice toy. The 35mm lens is really nice. I have heard that this was based on the nikon RF 35mm, but I have no evidence to prove that.

    Matt
     
  13. DBP

    DBP Member

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    I have, and like the Nik IV, which I mostly use either underwater or in the water - though for a variety of reasons I have not been scuba-diving with it yet. I also use a Nikon Action Touch when I know I am not going down more than a few feet, and have a second one that travels the world with friends. It has been to Tahiti and Hawaii.
     
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  15. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    I should add--the III being all mechanical is more flood-resistant. No electronics to fry when the salt water gets in.

    Matt
     
  16. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Why Nikon never made a d-Nikonos is a mystery to me. Pros abandoned the series when they realized they could get 600 shots without having to surface. Putting a 1D into a proper housing is a lot of mass&bulk to be moving around underwater though :sad:

    I used to have a III, now use a 35mm Sea&Sea "Underwater Toy Camera" that I bought for $30 new

    [​IMG]
     
  17. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    Bjorke,

    It isn't just surfacing. With a digital you can keep the camera (or housing) closed all day. You don't have to open the camera to change film between dives. Sitting in a small boat with a bunch of other divers trying to keep the camera and seals clean is a major hassle.

    Another "advantage" I have seen listed is the small sensor size. This has been touted as an advantage since you can get more DOF. However, you need to get even wider lenses.

    Nikon may have decided that a digital Nikonos would have to be based on the RS--which was not a very successful platform. You can get a Nikon d-SLR and a housing for less.

    Also, the Hanimex Amphibian is basically a generation-1 Sea and Sea. About $30.

    Matt
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 25, 2007
  18. Marco Gilardetti

    Marco Gilardetti Member

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    As I recently took the "open water" diver lincense, I was truly on the road to open a topic similar to this one.

    I was wondering - as these nice cameras now tend to have 20 years of age - if there are some known quirks or weak points in some models. I guess that water-seals were made with rubber (only a guess). In case: what about the durability of such rubbers?

    I see that model I and II are mostly to be left to collectors.

    What about III, IV and V? Are they prone to fail at such a time lag from their production?

    Or are they always reliable and thus the choice can be kept on personal taste and requirements only? (mechanical / electric / auto exposure etc.)
     
  19. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    These days, yes. The seals are questionable. Check out ebay Nikonos listings, the seals are ALWAYS a big deal.

    Matt, I meant "surfacing" not as "coming to the surface" but the whole megillah. One thing is sure, nobody changes rolls underwater. Guess that's why I've never seen any underwater large format.
     
  20. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    Hey Bjorke,

    OK--I figured you were talking about the fact that with Digital you wouldn't have to call a dive short due to lack of film. As in, "darned, 36 exposures gone, dive's over". That's one attraction to Digital--but I have to say that I rarely shot through 36 exposures at a time, especially on deep (i.e. short) dives. I still swapped out film--no point going down with 5 or 10 shots.

    So, there is the "I can stay down this dive" thing and there is the "I don't have to open my camera or housing on the boat" thing for digital.

    However, as I was just ranting in another thread--Nikonos cameras are so cheap that I would probably just get a second (or third) Nikonos before a digital. Come to the surface, swap the strobes while blowing off nitrogen, and go back down.

    Matt
     
  21. Steve Bellayr

    Steve Bellayr Member

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    nikonos users out there

    I have the V. Somewhere on the net there is an article about the Nikonos series. The reviewer recommends the V as the best. Without disagreeing or agreeing with him, it is the last model and readily available. A used model should be cla'd (and serviced more often than a reg. camera due to the rough treatment and seals) and there is only one person that I know of...Southern Nikonos. They have a website. As for its use: good backup camera for all those wet rugged sports, beach, etc. It will work with a dead battery. Not being digital you are limited to 24 or 36 shots. Under water the 35mm lens is magnified by the water and appears to be almost 50mm.
     
  22. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

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    I started with a Nikonos 1, very strong camera, I dropped off a pier and it fell about 15ft to the rocks. A ding on one side( only small) and the counter no longer functioned.
    I now have a 111 but rarely dive these days so it gets little use, stillnice to have when going to the beach etc.
    One thing to remember is that the 28mm is only for UW use where the more commonly found 35mm will work for both above and under water.
    The 28mm obviously the go if you plan to do a lot of UW work, sharper and better contrast, mor DOF too.
    Tony
     
  23. Marco Gilardetti

    Marco Gilardetti Member

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    That's okay but, more specifically, did anyone ever had problems with water leaks into the body (or the lenses perhaps)? Are there series or details of construction to double check before buying?
     
  24. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

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    Hi Marco, never had a leak problem with my 1 or 111, just check that the rubber O rings are still pliable and that they are kept well greased with O ring grease. I actually use fishing reel grease as it is the same but much cheaper.
    The models 1 through to 111 actually seal better the deeper you go, it's a great design, very rugged. I have no experience with the 1V or V, they are a total redesign.
    Tony
     
  25. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    Marco,

    here are some tips on floods--
    http://subaquaticcamera.com/flood.html

    This is good because it includes an indication of when a camera needs a CLA--
    "Your best indicator of need for annual service is the equipment itself; does your Nikonos III or V have a slow return on the film advance?"

    If you can test the camera yourself--i.e. you aren't mail ordering--bring an ice-chest with you. Fill it with water and gently dump the camera in. Check for bubbles.

    As to the causes of floods, Dan lists "lack of CLA" first and "maintanence" as second. I would reverse Dan Blodget's list. Probably the #1 cause of floods is maintanence.

    Note that many (many) Nikonos cameras have a CLA much more rarely than they annual suggestion. I know of one pro who basically doesn't do it--or does it more like every 5 years.

    If you are using the camera in salt water, maintanence is key. You must make sure the camera is cleaned every day. If you are doing multiple dives in a day, keep the camera wet (in a bucket) or at least damp (wrap in a wet towel) between dives. You do not want salt crystals forming on sealing-surfaces.

    When you change film, be manic about keeping the O-rings clean.

    At night, soak the camera to leach out the salt. Clean the seals you can get to. Use lint-free cloths and q-tips (I use cleanroom quality stuff). If not, be sure you look for those fibers the cloth or q-tip can leave behind.

    As to doing a CLA on a recent purchase or annually--currently, an annual CLA is about $140. A used camera is about $200-250 (eBay). I have to imagine that Dan isn't getting as many Nikonos cameras in as in the past. At some point, you are better off risking the camera another year or two than doing a CLA. Of course, this doesn't take into account losing the film roll on a dive and the camera for a whole trip.

    Here is my experience with my camera--

    I purchased a used NikV a long while back. It was 5-10 years old and had never seen a CLA (I know this because I was there when Dan Blodget took it apart and it still had the factory grease). It had a bit of corrosion on the wind mechanism--there was a tiny leak in that O-ring. So, the CLA was a good thing. The wind mechanism was going to break in the next year or so.

    I later flooded a camera by using the wrong O-ring grease. This was a bad-maintanance issue on my part. This left me without a camera on a week long trip--possibly my last to Chuuk.

    As you get into more wide angle stuff, it is the lens, not the camera, that is the major risk in a flood. A 35mm lens might be $50, but a 20mm is more like $400. A 15mm is more like $1,000.

    By the way, the third cause of flooding is jumping into the water with your camera--be gentle! The shock of hitting the water can bump the seals and cause a leak.

    If you are worried about a used camera, check Backscatter in Monterey
    http://www.backscatter.com

    they have a NikV FOR $350--Ii was probably serviced by Subaquatic. Add a 35mm lens for $50 and you have a start. Or, the NikIV is even cheaper. ($300). With the IV, you lose some manual capability.

    Or, you can go eBay for $200-250 and add a CLA (and possible repairs).

    Start asking why you want the camera. If you want a camera for above water (bad weather, near ocean, etc.), there are only 2 lenses: 35mm and 80mm. I have never seen the 80mm except in a glass case in a camera shop. Underwater, add a factor of 1.5 to the focal length. The 28mm, 20mm and 15mm are only for underwater use. Because of this, they are likely better corrected.

    Keep in mind that the Nikonos is a viewfinder camera--not a rangefinder. You guess at distance and set the focus. Because of this, wide angle is your friend. Wide angle buys you more DOF. The number of keepers goes up dramatically when you go from a 35mm to a 20mm lens, just based on focus.

    Matt
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 2, 2007
  26. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    Check the Subaquatic site--there is an issue with the III (and possibly the I and II as well).

    http://subaquaticcamera.com/opennikIII.html

    The way the case is opened on the III can stress the body of the camera and crack it. The IV and V have a door for film loading, so this isn't an issue there.

    In looking for a V, I would open the battery and sync port covers to look for leaks. As I recall, these are a weak point. Bring some junk rolls of film and put them through the camera--just to check the transport. Winding and rewinding will give you some idea of whether there have been leaks in those seals (which you can't easily check).

    Take the lens off and look inside for any water spots.

    Work the focus and f-stop mechanisms on the lens. Look through the lens for any evidence of water in the past. Since it is a viewfinder camera, you need to take the lens off for this, and you won't see it through the viewfinder (I know that is obvious, but it is exactly the kind of mistake I would make).

    If you can, test the strobe--plug in a strobe to the socket and see that the camera fires it.

    If you can do a water-dunk test, do this with the strobe in place. One sign of a small leak is that the strobe fires on its own. I.e. you will see the strobe flash at random times due to the water.

    Last suggestion--send an email to the guys at Subaquatic. Ask them for advice. They have been great guys to me in the past. Also, they used to do a training class at Backscatter in Monterey. If you get a chance to do that, it is worth it. If not, ask them for the maintanence instructions. It is worth it.

    Matt