Celebrating 50 years of NIKONOS and Underwater Photography

Posted by ed oboyle on Sat, Feb 21, 2009 @ 10:17 AM
For decades nikonos 1, a camera first developed by a French offshore machinery company in 1961 and later evolved by Nikon for nearly half a century - NIKONOS - has been synonymous with underwater photography.  From the beginning, the NIKONOS cameras were huge hits around the world.  Sales soared through the 70s and 80s because the camera filled a niche in which it had no equals.   The initial iteration of the camera, simply branded "NIKONOS" was the first compact, easy to operate 35mm, affordable camera rated water pressure resistant to 50m. Its successor  nikonos 11NIKONOS II, debuted in 1968 and included improvements for film handling and included the II logo next to the viewfinder window to brand the refined model. By the 70s, the camera was rapidly growing legions of devotees in academic research, underwater photography, oceanic research, civil engineering and construction. NIKONOS III, introduced in 1975, continued the model with a slightly changed shape and further modifications to the film mechanisms.  This model proved easier to operate with improved durability over the NIKONOS II model.  While the first three models were transformed versions of the original French "Calypso" camera, the next version was a completely new camera designed by Nikon and included some of the company's proprietary know-how.  nikonos 13 Released in 1980, the IV-A featured TTL exposure meter, aperture-priority AE control, electronically controlled shutter and other improvements that significantly improved the camera's versatility. The AE control set the IV-A apart for a special purpose underwater camera, but the aperture priority AE left some wanting for more control.  Enter the NIKONOS V, perhaps the camera that marked the peak in the NIKONOS revolution. The NIKONON V added a manual mode for shutter speed selection, giving photographers a much needed degree of flexibility and utility. So starting in April of 1984, professionals adopting the V had a much improved, highly functional underwater camera.  This camera extended the NIKONOS brand to legendary status.  Among professionals and enthusiasts, the NIKONOS V was, and with many still is, the standard tool of choice underwater. Odds are, most of the dramatic underwater photographs seen today - whether it be online, in print or other media venues owe their capture to a dedicated professional with a NIKONOS camera.orang nikonos 71 Throughout the decades that NIKONOS dominated the underwater niche, no other camera came close.  It's waterproof capability and comprehensive integration of lens, speedlight and accessories added up to a system that could not be beat. Many top, world renowned underwater photographers built careers around the creative and technically proficient use of the NIKONOS system.

Today, underwater photography has largely moved on - despite a lingering and loyal following, the NIKONOS V was discontinued in October of 2001. It's legacy is millions upon millions of outstanding underwater photographs - published and unpublished.  Much like other photogrpahic platforms, the digital revolution has transformed underwater photography in a NY minute when compared to the rein of the NIKONOS.  The preferred approach to capturing images underwater today has come full cycle. Prior to NIKONOS, water-proofed housings for land cameras were the only option underwater.  Now, after the NIKONOS era, housing based digital SLR photography is heralded as the logic next step. No doubt, it has supplanted the domain dominated by NIKONOS for oh so many years.

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