Lomopedia: Nikonos III


The Nikonos III capitalized on the Japanese method of kaizen which means "to change for the better." While other camera makers opted to release new colors and styles for their cameras, Nikon chose to improve on their line of photography gear.

Nikonos III © jelle via Flickr, Image used under Creative Commons license

The Nikonos III is famous for its fully-mechanical design that translated to its reputation of being reliable without having the need for batteries. It's a utilitarian camera that you can take on aquatic adventures without worry. It was an interesting design path that Nikon chose for this particular model as they swam against the current of electronic cameras that were filling up the market during the time.

Nikonos III © Leonidas Konstantinidis via Flickr, Images used under Creative Commons license

The robust Nikonos III was able to take bumps and dings while being used underwater thanks to its robust construction. Design improvements like the addition of a bright-line viewfinder, sprocket on the film spool for better winding, and the relocation of the film counter window to the top part of the camera made shooting with the Nikonos III a more pleasurable experience compared to its predecessor, the Nikonos II. All these changes and some minor ones like the better flash sync connector and hinged pressure plate quite make up for the original 45,000-yen price tag.

Other Nikonos III tidbits:

  • It has a frame that can accommodate 80 mm lenses.
  • It was bigger compared to the earlier Nikonos models due to its sprocket and bright-line window viewfinder.
  • The Nikonos models were derived from the French Calypso camera design by Jean de Wouters which was dubbed as the original underwater 35 mm camera.
  • The Nikkor 35.mm f/2.5 lens, when submerged, yields a field of view equivalent to a ~47 mm lens on land.

Sample Photo Gallery

Credits: scout2017, helena-costa, ugodelcorso, travlpix & kayalva

Technical Specifications:

Film: 35 mm, 24 × 36, winding via single-stroke, combination-action lever; lever also used for shutter release
Shutter: vertical-travel (downward) focal-plane shutter
Mount: Nikonos spring-loaded mount (bayonet-type)
Viewfinder: illuminating window-type bright frame (for use with 35 mm and 80 mm lenses) with approximately x 0.6 magnification, finder coverage is approximately .84%; parallax compensation frames provided
Dimensions: 144 × 99 × 47 mm (body only)
Weight: 620 grams (body only), 780 grams (with 35 mm f/2.5 lens)

All information used in this article was sourced from Nikon, 35mmc, Petapixel, and Butkus Camera Manuals.

written by cheeo on 2021-01-19 #gear #underwater #gear #lomopedia #nikonos-iii

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One Comment

  1. scout2017
    scout2017 ·

    Love my Nik III, but the 80mm lens is hopeless - scale focussing with no depth of field isn't any fun!

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