THE Nikonos Buyers Guide

**UPDATED OCTOBER 2018**

Hey all.. So I've been talking about this post for months now..  So much to say and not enough words to say it..  First off, I'm no expert.  What i have to say isn't guaranteed to produce a functioning camera it just might increase your odds of getting a good one the first time around. 


A few general things you'll want to look for.   Lens' should have two turnable knobs, and a large O-ring on the mounting end.  Viewfinder should be clear, free from corrosion.  Some sellers offer pressure testing. this is a big plus as you know the camera is water safe.  


The Nikonos I /Calypso.  (if you find a Calypso for less than 500$ stop everything and tell me)

The I is a great manual camera.  

If you are buying one the main points to look for / ask the seller:  

a) does the shutter assembly advance & lock after depressing.  

b) does the shutter speed knob turn freely? 

c) does the film rewind knob lift and turn?

d) is there corrosion in the flash port? and is there a flash plug? 

The Nikonos I is a solid all manual beast.


Nikonos II

Nikonos II is an improved version of the Nikonos I with just a few minor but helpful changes. 

You'll want to ask the seller the above listed questions.  In addition have them perform a small test for you.   Have them open the camera, Take off the lens and remove the camera body from the casing.   Wind the shutter as if they are taking a photo, but have them open the film backing plate and look thorough it.  point at a light as they depress the shutter.  If they report seeing light, Buy it.  If they don't keep shopping.   simple enough? 


Nikonos III 

As everything, later models are always being improved upon.  The Nikonos III is no exception. the above questions apply to this camera as well.  In addition to these questions you are going to want to have the seller show you images of the camera assembled, pay close attention to the seam where the camera meets the housing.  This camera has a plastic top and breaks.  if it appears warped at all pass and move on.   

Be extra careful with the film Pressure plate, the small plastic pieces that hold it on are extra delicate.


Nikonos IV-a

I feel like the IV-a has gotten a bad reputation.  I admit i am partially to blame for this as i don't like the camera.  BUT, there are a bunch of people capturing killer images with this specific camera.   

The IV-a is the first Nikonos that relies on batteries to function.  often times sellers will not have batteries to test the electronics.  

a) Ask them to carefully take out the battery plug and send a picture.   does it look clean in there?  any corrosion?  Salt?  Broken plastic?   any of the above pass.. 

b) Turn the speed adjustment knob.  Does it turn freely?  if not move on. 

c) crank the film advance and push the shutter,  Does it fire?  if so.. have them turn the knob to "B" and try again.  Does the shutter stay open until you let go of the shutter?  

d) Does the film rewind lift and turn?  Does the ISO selector turn? 


Nikonos V

a) Ask them to carefully take out the battery plug and send a picture.   does it look clean in there?  any corrosion?  Salt?  Broken plastic?   any of the above pass.. 

b) Turn the speed adjustment knob.  Does it turn freely?  if not move on. 

c) crank the film advance and push the shutter,  Does it fire?  if so.. have them turn the knob to "B" and try again.  Does the shutter stay open until you let go of the shutter?  

d) Does the film rewind lift and turn?  Does the ISO selector turn? 


Comments and questions are appreciated.    I'll change / add / revise as i feel is needed.  

Lets try to keep questions here on the blog's comment section.  So everyone can learn from each others questions. 

C-41 Thoughts...

First things first my disclaimer, I have no real knowledge of what i'm about to present other than a few hours in the tub.  If something here isn't correct please let me know so all of us can learn together

 

This guide is much more inclusive check it out

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Mix the chemicals as directed on the instructions.  Mix at approx. 105-110 degrees.  To develop c-41 Chemicals need to be at 102 Degrees 

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Once the Developer is at 102 degrees you pour into your loaded film tank for 3.30 minutes.  My routine is five rotations per minute while developing.  Rotate five times then put the tank back in the bathwater.  Each minute rotate and then put back in the hot bath. 

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At 3.20 minutes start pouring the developer back into the container (yes you can re-use the chemicals) 

Pour the blix solution into the tank, rotate 5 times and pace in the hot water.   Film sits in the Blix solution for 6.30 minutes.  Turn the tank 5 times per minute. 

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At 6.20 start poring the Blix back into its container.  

Rinse the film in hot 102 degree water for 3 minutes. Film can be exposed to light at this point. 

After rinsing, pour Stabilizer into the tank and let sit for 1 minute.    Pour Stabilizer back into the container.

Rinse more, I use Ilford Wash Aid,  and then Illfotol Wetting Agent prior to hanging the developed film to dry

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Developer can be used to develop approx. 12-15 rolls.  Different sites recommend different things but i've found increasing that i need to increase the Dev time by 10 seconds each roll. 

It's a matter of practice & experimentation nothing more... 

 Nikonos Project  ©brandon jennings

Nikonos Project ©brandon jennings

and here.... the finished product.  

Focus and Film Speed

When it comes to buying the right film I am no help.  Maybe we'll get a Pro Film Photographer to speak up and give us all a lesson.  Volunteers? 

What I do know, especially with Nikonos cameras is that your film speed affects focus.  The higher F-stop your lens is set at increases the chances of sharp shots.   But the higher F-stop means less light is reaching your film.  So you have to either slow your shutter or have a faster film.

My recommendation to new Nikonos recipients is to start with 400 ISO.  The cheap stuff you buy at Walmart.  

f22 allows the least amount of light to reach the film (hence the small opening). At f22 EVERYTHING will essentially be in focus (assuming you don't have camera shake).

My cameras are usually at f8 or 5.6.  This gives me a 2-4 foot window on focus.   Its very situational and takes practice to master.  These are not digital cameras where we can spray and pray that one of the 1000 shots turns out.   I plan the shot in advance.

If I'm shooting surf,  I set my camera where it needs to be then wait for the rider to come to me.  

If I'm shooting landscape,  I turn the focus to ∞ and click my lens to f5.6 or 8 (these tend to be the sharpest).

Sometimes, even with 400 film we need more light, f2.5 is available.   There is a 9 inch window of focus.  So grab the tape measure and get your distances right.. 

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