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  1. #1
    ragc's Avatar
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    Who uses a Nikonos?

    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. #2
    ic-racer's Avatar
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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 )

  3. #3

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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. #4
    ragc's Avatar
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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. #5
    ragc's Avatar
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    Taken with the 35mm f2.5 Nikkor and the close-up lens






    Taken with the 35mm f2.5 Nikkor

  6. #6
    Phil's Avatar
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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. #7
    Muihlinn's Avatar
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    I have one (II) and I use it quite a bit, also my daughter.
    Luis Miguel Castañeda Navas
    http://imaginarymagnitude.net/

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragc View Post
    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?
    I have one for the nearby beach. It can handle the surf and sand.

  9. #9
    Erik Petersson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ragc View Post
    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.
    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 Erik Petersson; 01-21-2010 at 10:54 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  10. #10
    df cardwell's Avatar
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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.

    .
    "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
    and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"

    -Bertrand Russell

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