Nikon Nikonos-V

Living on past glory
Aug 10 '00 (Updated Mar  14 '03)

Author's Product Rating
Product Rating: 2.0

Ease of Use:
Photo Quality:
Battery Life:

Sharp images, wide lens & lighting options

Manual everything, fool-prone

The Bottom Line
Antiquated technology & user interface equate to a clumsy awkward, yet extremely expensive tool. Digital cameras specifically designed for UW use mean the demise of the product.
Full Review
Update Thu, Nov 15, 2001:
Nikon has discontinued the Nikonos-V underwater camera and all related accessories. Nikon apparently has no plans to manufacture a Nikonos-VI, or any other film-based underwater camera. It is unclear if Nikon's Nikonos assets will be made available. Courtesy of

Original review:

When diving, and this camera is really only useful for divers, you quickly learn to keep a sharp eye out for the unexpected. You might see a spotted eagle ray, a hunting blacktip shark or suddenly become enveloped my a swarming school of black durgeon. In every dive you can expect the unexpected. The question then is can you estimate the unexpected?

With a Nikonos, you must set the camera to the focus distance and depth of field prior to every shot. This means that if you anticipate that the next shot you'll be taking is 3' away and you see something incredible, but fleeting, happen just 12' away, there's almost no way to get the shot.

This is not a problem when shooting slow moving, medium distant, large subjects such a sleeping nurse shark, but impromptu close ups and blue-water shots are ruled out. Closeups are ruled out, or at least made much more difficult because of the parallax error of a non-SLR camera and the critical focus ranges involved with near-field focusing. Blue water shots require an underwater reconfiguration of the camera; repointing the strobes, setting the focus of the lens, opening up the iris to compensate for the distance from the light source (depth and strobe power dependant), etc. All guesswork--relying on experience.

Being accustomed to it or a professional is one thing, but if your on vacation, it's quite a bother. The technology certainly exists to auto-focus underwater. A zoom, apature/shutter priority, single-lens reflex, etc. would be very useful as well. The Nikonos is no where near as capable or advanced as the current standard land camera; yet it's 500 times more expensive. There is a certain elitism about a Nikonos; the same mentality that leads to hazing in collage fraternities.

I'd like to see an underwater camera (capable of going down past 33' (sorry Minolta) that has "modern" features.


Amount Paid (US$): 5000