How did we ever manage to get those rad photos on the covers of our favorite mags? Before Gopro. Before Canon or Nikon and SPL housings to put them in? How were those famous bits of silver exposed while in the oceans blue?
There was a way. That way came in this awesome little camera called the Nikonos.
The year was 1963. DaVinci’s Mona Lisa came to America; Harvey Gantt enters Clemson University in South Carolina; dealing with Cuba became illegal; Patsy Cline dies in a plane crash; and the Nikonos Calypso is born.
Now, it’s 2017 and the Nikonos camera systems have see a reconnection with photographers of all kinds as people are finding their way back to film photography. A lot of that rejuvenation has come in the way of a project. The Nikonos Project.
A few years back I was lucky enough to use a Nikonos III for a short while before passing it onto a friend who was interested in it. Now, I’ve got in my possession a beautiful Nikonos IV-A 35mm camera. A different set up than the III model but I love it in it’s own way.
What’s the difference you ask? One of the biggest ones being that it is shaped more like a camera you’re use to. The IV-A is more of a traditional rectangular shape with a hand grip,
making it much more comfortable to hold, a shutter locking switch and a nice orange shutter button. The III is squarer, has no grip and the film advancer is your shutter lever. Which is kind of cool when you think about it cause it’s all in one spot. Really though it’s personal preference.
Now the thing that I do wish the IV-A had that the III has…. Shutter speed control.
The IV-A is all automatic. I can choose the ISO speed and the aperture size through the lens, but the rest, the correct shutter speed. That’s set by the camera to make sure you’re exposure is correct. So… to me that’s a bit annoying but for a beginner surf photographer, someone that’s still concentrating on getting closer to the subject, this is a great feature. I don’t have to worry about exposure and shutter. A beautiful relief.
Another big difference that I love, love, love about the IV-A that I didn’t like on the III is…. drum rolls please…… the way you take the film out. In the III camera you’ve got to go in shore. Dry all the way off cause that lens needs to come off, opening the lens port to water and sand, while to whole body frame comes off the camera. Exposing the inards a bit. There you take the film out and put in your new roll. The IV-A replaced this and brought a traditional hinged camera back, allowing you to easily change your films without pretty much disassembling your baby.
This camera works with a few lenses that make it even more fabulous. Theres the 15mm, the 28mm, 35mm, and the close up 80mm lens. The focusing is total range focusing, the view never changing in the view finder you’ve got to really know your distances, but it’s really fun to work with and an complete asset in the water. Generally when I’m out photographing some surfing, I don’t have time to put the camera to my eye, or I’m diving under the water with just my hands up.
Raise the roof. Raise it.
So that’s it. These cameras are a lot of fun, on the land and in the water. If you can buy your own fantastic. If you want to try one first then the Nikonos Project is amazing & Brandon loans out these cameras and sends them all over the world.
Here’s a few shots from a day at 28th Street. Out in the water having a blast.