Nikonos III test roll

As far as cameras go, the Nikonos III underwater setup is pretty much as basic and elementary as it gets – five shutter speeds (1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500 and B) on the body – apart from the winding mechanism, there are no more moving parts. Depending on which of the six lenses you choose, seven apertures are available (on the 35mm l use – f2.5, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22).
There’s nothing automatic on this camera, not exposure or focusing; there isn’t even a coupled rangefinder – that, probably the most crucial aspect of photography, is achieved through zone focusing on the lens. Exposure, another fundamental of photography, can be set by either using a separate handheld light meter (I’ve yet to see a waterproof light meter, but I’m sure they exist) or by using the ‘Sunny 16 rule’. Zone focusing and the ‘Sunny 16’ are both one notch above guesswork.
The Nikonos III is not an easy camera to use. So why did I buy one? Firstly, I need a fully waterproof camera, and this is as waterproof as they get. Secondly, I want a hot shoe to attach my GoPro to – stills and video at the same time for those funky point of view YouTube clips. Lastly, aesthetics – the Nikonos III just looks sexy. Simple.

These shots are all from the first roll of film I put through the camera, I used Kodak Ultramax 400.


      1. Hahahaha! OhEmGee, I’m so embarrassed…. I meant South Africa, honest! I hear you’re doing a Pecha Kucha 20×20 talk about the project?


  1. Phil! We’re missing you down here! Love, love, LOVE your work. I’m sure you know this, but you’ve done some very important storytelling here in SA. Well done, my friend 🙂 Oh, and thanks for introducing us all to chips,cheese and gravy!


  2. Great images – that first one really evokes a feeling of actually being out in a rough sea. Well done. I’m really looking forward to seeing your South Africa project, btw!


  3. Very impressive work! Where would be the best place to buy a Nikonos III? Yours looks to be in excellent condition. How much should I expect to pay?


  4. Thanks! I got mine from a Japanese seller on eBay, it’s in an almost as new condition. I got a real bargain, I think? I paid about £90. I’ve seen these cameras going in all sorts of conditions from £100 to £300+. Good luck!


  5. Congratulations on the South Africa commission, Phil. I’ve followed your work for years now and watched your steady rise to great things. You deserve all the success. Don’t forget to wave from the top!


  6. Your career appears to be flourishing, Mr Kneen! I’m proud and honored to have been involved in the journey. Go Phil!!!


  7. These images have a very different feel to your other work – I’d image that would be down to the lens? I know the Nikkor UW optics were designed to give more contrast when underwater. They do have a nice feel to them though, kind of retro.

    I’ll be very interested in the Petcha Kutcha talk, could you post a link when it goes online, please?


  8. Very nice imagery. I am amazed at the colors on your side of the pond…it must be the sun and the way the light hit the wood on the boat! lovely.


  9. My daughter won a Nikonos V in an Instagram contest earlier this year. We’ve been shooting film together for the last 5-6 years, since I “taught” her photography (I’m no expert) and she began shooting paid jobs. Since then, she’s “acquired” nearly all of my film cameras….but the Nikonos has been a favorite because it enables her to go in the water. Anyway, this post (and MANY of your other photos) has inspired us to do some (exclusively film) shoots with a specific vibe, enhanced by the Nikonos cameras (I’ve got a Nikonos III).

    We take our first trip in a week or two. It will be interesting with Covid. But looking forward to it.

    So, thank you for your work and its inspiration to us and many others.

    Liked by 1 person

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