5 frames with...

5 frames from Mo’orea with a Nikonos III – by Marc Gabor

To most people “Tahiti” immediately conjures up images of paradise; aquamarine lagoons, palm trees and volcanic peaks jutting out of the middle of the pacific. Tahiti is in fact just one of more than 100 islands and atolls that make up French Polynesia. And while Tahiti is undoubtedly beautiful, it’s sister island, Mo’orea located 10km to the west is even more charming. To put things in perspective, in pre-western Hawaii, Mo’orea was the island destination of choice for chiefs and princes looking for a romantic getaway.

I recently had the fortune to pay the island a visit myself. I was there to assist on a large commercial production but most of the time was spent exploring and surfing. Not wanting to burden myself with too much gear all I brought with me was a small Panasonic 4/3 camera and my old Nikonos III.

I purchased the Nikonos many years ago for a different trip to Tahiti as I wanted something that was waterproof, relatively compact and reliable but with an old school charm. Admittedly the later Nikonos cameras are more practical. The Nikonos IV and V have built in light meters and auto exposure as well as a standard side hinged door. The Nikonos III has no light meter and you basically have to take the camera part to load film in and out of the camera.

The reason I went for the III was partially practical as it cost less but mostly because it looks great. It is straight out of the world of Jacques Cousteau and vintage diving. Since I rarely use the camera to shoot with at least it looks great on my shelf or as a prop.

But now I had a perfect opportunity to dust off the old Nikonos and use it as it was intended. While it does take nice pictures underwater, in my opinion this camera excels in situations where you want to take pictures out of water but you do not want to worry about the camera getting wet.

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One of my favorite surf breaks is about a mile offshore off the west side of Mo’orea. To get there we took Kayaks and I brought the Nikonos III and a roll of Kodak Color Plus 200. No meter just good old Sunny 16.

First frame on the roll

Last frame on the roll

All film developed and scanned by Digital Photo Printing & Studio

Marc Gabor is a photographer based out of Los Angeles, CA. You can see more of his work on his website and his Instagram. Prints are available through the Tappan Collective

Hamish’s review of the Nikonos III here

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1 Comment

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    Gary Paudler
    October 26, 2019 at 3:57 pm

    A Nikonos V is the only new film camera I’ve bought, back in the late ’80s. I still have it but more recently bought two Nikonos IIs; one for each of their amphibious lenses; the 35mm and the 80mm, each was under $100. I don’t dive much, anymore, but I love to use the Nikonoses, especially the IIs. They are simple and solid and just feel good in the hand. The lenses are great, of course, and the winder/shutter is genius!

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