Week 17 : Testing the Nikonos out of water

This week is appearing out of order since I haven’t finished the roll I started for Week 16. One of my intentions for this project was to actually use some of the cameras I’d acquired and not yet tried. Of course since January 1,  I might have added to that collection but that’s another story. This week I tested the Nikonos IVA. This series is billed as the only film camera designed for underwater use. I managed to score a mint edition (you can tell because the factory stickers are still on it) and have been waiting for a dive trip to try it out. However that hasn’t happened and doesn’t look likely in the near future so I thought I’d give it a spin on land. As it turns out, that was the right choice since when I went to load it up and figure out the controls, I realized that it’s missing ALL of the o rings and gasket. So it can’t presently be used underwater anyway. My surmise is that the EBay seller acquired it somewhere, had no idea what it was, and resold it not realizing the little original packet containing the full set of o rings was missing. Anyway I’ve found a set (probably the original one that went missing from my camera, now being resold for an outrageous sum) and will hopefully receive it soon.

For this test I popped in a roll of Acros 100 and drove leisurely down the coastline on a sunny day. The thing about this camera is it’s designed to be used underwater where you’re not really able to focus due to wearing a mask, so there is no actual focusing ring. Instead, you set the approximate distance and aperture and then use the depth of field indicators to figure out what you might get. The viewfinder never changes so you’re just basically guessing. Also it’s automatically aperture priority, there is no way I have found to affect the shutter speed. So it’s kind of primitive but it has lovely Nikon glass (35mm lens) and judging from the below results it has a lot of potential. The only thing that went wrong is when I went to rewind the film I thought I was done and opened the camera back to discover that I hadn’t understood the mechanism. Rookie mistake. But only wrecked a few shots. I am excited to try this in water when the parts arrive. I refuse to dive in the ocean here but I might be persuaded to don my wetsuit and venture far enough out to grab some surfer shots.


Camera: Nikonos IVA   Film: Acros 100 Stand developed in Rodinal 1:100

One other discovery I made was that, fearing I’d ruined the entire Acros roll by opening the back, I shot a second roll of Lucky 200 from Film Photography Project (the green film that looks like a shamrock). I stand developed them together and NOTHING came out on the Lucky except a few frames that had a bit of something on them. I’m not sure if it’s because that film doesn’t like stand development, or because it didn’t like the presoak which caused a lot of the green emulsion to go down the drain. I’m not a fan of that film anyway.



2 thoughts on “Week 17 : Testing the Nikonos out of water

  1. I think if I do this next year I will try the approach of using a different camera each week. I don’t have 52 cameras (but getting close I’m afraid), so I’d have to do some repeat performances.


    • That sounds like fun. My issue is I definitely don’t have 52 cameras but I have several (and seems like one more almost every month) that look cool and are good deals….but when I go out to shoot I always take my two or three proven favorites and never give the new ones a chance. I’m trying to get through every camera so I can decide which ones are really worth keeping. Nobody really “needs” more than 5 cameras, imho.


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