I first encountered the legendary Nikonos cameras in January 1983, when, as a freshly qualified SCUBA diver I spent a couple of weeks diving with family friend Rob Van der Loos, who was living in Alotau, Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea. Rob had a Nikonos II and Nikonos III at the time and was doing a lot of macro photography in soft sediment habitats close to Alotau town at night, using underwater flashes, and extension tubes for the 35mm F2.5 lens. I was completing a degree in marine science at the time so tried to use some of my rudimentary learnings to help him classify some of the staggering diversity of spectacular critters he was photographing. The slides produced by the Nikonos cameras were mesmerizingly beautiful. Decades later ‘muck diving’ became a thing. We also did a lot of reef dives and I can confirm that Milne Bay is a diving mecca for good reason.
When I was young, I was given a Tonka toy truck. Sold as being were indestructible, a four year old me took this as a challenge and duly tested this out by placing said truck under my dad’s car. One punctured tyre and slightly bent toy later, I developed a fascinated with ruggedised objects.
And so, when I came across a “Genba Kontaku” (Japanese for site supervisor) camera during a rather my latest Shinjuku Camera Shop Walk in Tokyo, I jumped at the chance to get one.