Who uses a Nikonos?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by ragc, Jan 20, 2010.

  1. ragc

    ragc Member

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    I recently bought a Nikonos II and several lenses, strobe, etc. The little camera is very inexpensive and I find the 35mm f2.5 Nikkor an excellent lens. Only the 35mm and the 80mm f4.5 can be used out of the water, but the 28mm is inexpensive and worth it if occasionally using the camera underwater. The 80mm is great with the close-up lens as a macro setup.

    Other than the very inexpensive body and lenses, I love this little film camera for the following reasons:

    1) Built like a tank! Cast aluminum body, no leather to peel, built to take pressure at 160' depth. The I and II have cast aluminum tops and are more durable than the II, which (I have read) has a plastic top. A perfect take-along / leave in the car / camping / beach camera. Can take the knocks, including the lens mount (it was all designed to take much more pressure than you can create by banging it).

    2) No rangefinder with moving parts and couplers: scale focuser with moving DOF brackets in the lens itself - you cannot go wrong with hyperfocal focusing! You can set up the shot without putting the camera to your face and alerting your candid subjects.

    3) O-rings can be found very cheap, once you determine the right sizes. Buna rings for the body and lens can be had for $9.00 (50 o-rings) at several merchants online.

    4) No batteries (for the I,II, and II), no electronics.

    5) No need for a lens cap: the lenses are sealed behind uncoated glass.

    6) Small, with heavy knurled texture - easy to grip if used without a strap.

    7) The stainless steel shutter is tough and hardy and will last a lifetime, even if left pointing at the sun!

    8) Great for IR (takes a 58mm filter).

    9) Obviously waterproof, snowproof, mudproof, sandproof... can take it all without worry!

    10) Unusual-looking enough to be cool.


    Weaknesses/things to watch out for:

    1) The II has a rather weak rewind crank. Many are cracked (the core is metal, but very thin). I have milled a replacement crank out of 1/8" aluminum bar easily, with a household file, as a replacement.

    2) The viewfinder is commonly a little fogged. I have tried cleaning one by removing the rear gasket and cleaning the interior without success. I have another (rare) body with a clear viewfinder. The accessory shoe is positioned for underwater supplementary finders, so any Leica or other 35mm and 80mm external finders will work well.

    3) Squeeze film advance/shutter is unusual, but since the camera has no speeds below 1/30th second (except for 'B') this is not a problem. The simple 'safety' works very well.

    4) Loading, rewinding, and unloading is 'different', but easy to get used to. It is not fast.

    5) Some cameras may be missing the flash port cap because they may have been in use with a strobe. The cap is is essential for waterproofness. On the I and II this cap has the tripod threads. Nikon never changed the design of the threads/o-ring for this cap, so the caps for the I,II,III, IV, and V are interchangeable, and somewhat easy to find.

    So... I am curious: does anyone else use an old Nikonos for general photography?
     
  2. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Nice to know they are inexpensive now. I wanted one in the 80s but they cost too much (for a non-scuba diver :smile: )
     
  3. dynachrome

    dynachrome Member

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    I thought Nikon made a 28mm lens for above the water use too. I'd like to have one with just the 35 for bad weather shooting. Until then I can always use my Minolta Weathermatic As.
     
  4. ragc

    ragc Member

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    I have bought four Nikonos II bodies recently, two as presents for my kids, and none cost more than $50.00. I have seen some for sale for three times as much, but the supply is so good that those can be skipped. The 35mm f2.5 Nikkor lens can be had from $35.00 to $75.00. There are silver body older ones with smaller knobs and newer black body ones. I cannot tell an optical difference: the little lens is sweet!


    I have heard that the 28mm can be used out of the water without much distortion. It has a curved glass port instead of the flat glass of the 35 and 80, but apparently the curvature is not much. I have yet to try mine out of water.
     
  5. ragc

    ragc Member

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    [​IMG]
    Taken with the 35mm f2.5 Nikkor and the close-up lens





    [​IMG]
    Taken with the 35mm f2.5 Nikkor
     
  6. Phil

    Phil Member

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    I have two - a I and a III that I've had for several years. I use them when I'm canoeing - I got tired of opening and closing a dry bag evey time I wanted to shoot - I just tie them to a thwart and paddle away. The 35mm lens is excellent and focusing isn't a problem as it has good DOF when stopped down a bit. My son and nephew used to have a great time with them in the pool. They are a bit quirky changing film, but once you get the hang of it, it's not a problem.
     
  7. Muihlinn

    Muihlinn Member

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    I have one (II) and I use it quite a bit, also my daughter.
     
  8. donrenfroe

    donrenfroe Member

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    I have one for the nearby beach. It can handle the surf and sand.
     
  9. Erik Petersson

    Erik Petersson Subscriber

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    I am interested to hear where one could buy a Nikonos at such a low price. Here in Sweden they usually go for the equivalent of over 150 USD on internet auctions.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 21, 2010
  10. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Nikonos V since 1984, paid for it the first day I had it, shooting a soccer game in a Boston downpour. Kodacolor 1000.

    Don't leave home without it.

    .
     
  11. fotch

    fotch Member

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    I have a III and love it. Owned since new, I though I would try some underwater (never did) and use when it rains. However, not much for going out in the rain either, I have used as a everyday camera. The slowness of loading and unloading usually translate into using it every few years.

    Love it, will keep forever, and try using it more.:smile:
     
  12. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    I use a Nikonos III with a 35mm lens and a 80mm lens when I am shooting in a hostile environment. However, I do not use it for general photography and I have never used it for underwater photography.
     
  13. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I love my Nikonos V, which I got in a partial trade for a guitar I never used. The guitar was worth maybe $500 tops, and I got the Nikonos and 35mm lens, never used from the original owner, and $300 cash for it. The thing was literally new, sans box. I take it out shooting in the rain, sometimes hiking for shooting in water in the mountains, and, of course, in pools. They are built like a brick shithouse, for sure. Probably the most solidly built camera I have ever held. I really want to get some underwater flashes for it to expand the possibilities...
     
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  15. ragc

    ragc Member

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    Erik, I am not sure if APUG's policies will allow me to mention specific merchants. A well-known used camera dealer from Atlanta, Georgia, US, had two 'bargain grade' Nikonos IIs for less than $50.00. They are sold out of IIs now ( I bought both), but may have some again soon. A giant auction website, very well known, has had them on occasion for similar amounts. I just received a "parts" body with the 35mm Nikkor from an auction there. It cost me $38.00 US because the seller described it as an "as is" sale and no one bid. There is nothing other than some paint scratches wrong with it, in fact, it has a crystal clear viewfinder. The seller just didn't know you remove the lens before being able to open it, and apparently could not open it... it had an exposed roll inside! Yes, a lot of sellers do offer them for $150.00. None of the ones I have bought have been that expensive!
     
  16. Erik Petersson

    Erik Petersson Subscriber

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    Thank you for these tips! I rarely visit auction sites based in other countries, as shipping would be rather expensive, but you are right, Nikonos's can be found for the prices you mentioned. Thanks again!
     
  17. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I'm reviving this thread because I just got a Nikonos V with 28mm underwater lens. I hope to post some needed info about it on this thread.

    First off is a focus scale compensation for above water shooting with the UW 28mm. I'll have to fine tune these results but it looks like infinity focus is around 3-5 feet on the focus indicator.

    Second thing needed is a list of the location and size of all the o-rings. The service manual does not give the sizes, and it does not even group the o-rings together. Here is a picture of the collection of 19 o-rings:
    2.jpg
     
  18. snaggs

    snaggs Member

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    The only reason I havn't bought one if the $250 servicing fee required every couple of years to change the O'Rings. If someone could work out how hard it is to do yourself, I'd get one in a snap.

    Daniel.
     
  19. Muihlinn

    Muihlinn Member

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    Very easy, you only need the o-rings and a bit of grease, which comes with the rings kit
     
  20. Alan Klein

    Alan Klein Member

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  21. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I don't think the complete ring set comes as a kit. The only kits I see contain only 4 o-rings. I think they all need to be ordered individually (I have an email into Nikon to see what they have). Some rings, like the ones around the viewfinder and the frame counter look somewhat challenging to change and I'll probably leave those alone. That still leaves about 15 to measure, source and replace.
     
  22. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    I may be wrong, but I thought the o-ring kits for all but the latest Nikonos were discontinued. At one time the IVa kit came with all of the rings. The round ones can easily be matched at a good plumbing shop, and the grease is a generic silicone grease... which also can be foiund at plumbing shops. The grease is just as important as the o-rings for sealing.
     
  23. Muihlinn

    Muihlinn Member

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    I have had a nikonos ii since the 70s, it has seen saltwater and freshwater often all this time and all the rings are still fine. No leaks at all, ever. Everyone is free to freak about issues with the rings or just using it till there is a real reason to start worrying.

    About the ring kits, I have seen them often for various models is that place you all know.
     
  24. Muihlinn

    Muihlinn Member

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    The V has a lot of moving parts, and more potential leaks, but I won't care much of factory sealed parts and will do it a little more with the back, flash and battery: the user ones. I would really worry if the depth of dives are deeper than 10 meters.
     
  25. rthomas

    rthomas Member

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    My wife's aunt is a former dive master, she made a living for some twenty years in Belize, taking tourists out on cruises, and teaching snorkeling and SCUBA (what a lifestyle that must have been!). She gave me her Nikonos V last Christmas. It had been stored for several years in Belize and was not in great shape. It smelled like the ocean! The lens especially had a lot of fungus and some sort of coating on an interior lens element. But the camera works! I cleaned it up, ran a roll of film through it, and found that the lens was too far gone to use. So, I took it all apart and left it sitting in a dry place. A couple weeks back I went to a "tent sale" at Biggs Camera here in Charlotte. They had boxes of stuff to sell off, basically in the "make an offer" category. So I got a working Nikonos III with a much cleaner 35mm lens for $10 even. Now that I have a working lens on the V, I'm itching to go to the beach and take photos in the surf, or at least get a decent rainstorm and go out in that. In ddition to being a great-handling, tough little camera, the Nikonos V is also VERY quiet. I love it. Looking for an 80mm for the III so I'll have a nice all-weather kit.
     
  26. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Where would that be? I just looked through 500 3bay listings, keyword = Nikonos, and only saw a couple for the Nikonos V and a few for SB-105 strobe. I'd love to find a kit for Nikonos IV.