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Nikonos V vs MM II EX


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#1 paul.hunter

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Posted 08 April 2003 - 12:06 AM

Greetings all

I want to start underwater photography and not sure what camera to start with? MM II EX or the Nikonos V?

Some guy has offered the system below for about $1500.00

Nikonos V
Nikonos SB 105 Strobe
Nikkor 35mm 1:2.5 lens
Nikkor 20mm 1:2.8 lens
Optical Finder 20mm
Close up Kit 3 frames - 80mm, 35mm, 28mm
Extension Tubes x 2 - 35mm -1x & 35mm - 2x

Any help will be much appreciated

Paul :huh:
Nikon F100, D70 and D200
2 X Sea & Sea Housings
2 X Ys-90 Strobes, YS-350
105mm Macro,18-35mm, 10-20mm, 28-70mm

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#2 richardson

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Posted 08 April 2003 - 12:31 AM

if I were to be facing this choice...the Nikonos V is definitely my way to go.

It is a superb system. Basically it is a full Fledge Manual System but has proven itself to be a good system. It is a pity that Nikon decided to discontinue it.

with care, I am sure the system will last you a long time to come.

#3 TedJ

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Posted 08 April 2003 - 03:53 AM

Nikonos V $350-400 with 35mm lens
Nikonos SB 105 Strobe $350-400
Nikkor 35mm 1:2.5 lens
Nikkor 20mm 1:2.8 lens $500
Optical Finder 20mm $200
Close up Kit 3 frames - 80mm, 35mm, 28mm $125
Extension Tubes x 2 - 35mm -1x & 35mm - 2x $50


Total $1575-1675

Based on my research on eBay this is about what I think its worth given that the camera is in very good condition, no lens damage etc.

I recently bought some of this same rig for my wife and she loves it. She will always be a film person and this camera is the workhorse of the industry. Take good care of it and its 0-rings and it will last a lifetime.

Ted Janssen

NEX-7, Nauticam,  INON, and ULCS


#4 JackConnick

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Posted 08 April 2003 - 08:27 AM

The Nikonos is a great system. Sounds like it's not a screaming deal, but reasonable.

I have a Sea & Sea system and like it a lot. The flexibility UW is fun, going from 16mm to 2x on the same subject. It's also easy to deal with and rugged. From what friends tell me the Nikonos can be a little touchy, ie a friend flooded his from pressing the macro framer onto the lens while taking a picture and causing a leak.

Optics are probably superior on the Nikonos.

You probably can get a cheaper S&S sytem on Ebay, lots available, same with the Nikonos. Plan on getting it all serviced. Rates are about $140 for the body.

Jack

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#5 Cybergoldfish

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Posted 10 April 2003 - 02:35 PM

As Jack said the optics of the Nikonos lenses ARE vastly superior to the S & S equiv. This is because they are all top quality muti-coated primary lenses of the utmost optical quality.

The 20mm lens is around $900 on its own new.

I however, prefer to use the S & S adjustable finder as it prevents parrallax oversight due to the fact one has to dial in the distances manually. This adapts with framers to cover 20, 28 & 35mm lenses, and without covers 15mm. I will reiterate what Jack said - invest in a good service and FULL 13 O ring replacement, and fully test the electronics before buying the body. The YS 120 is a perfect partner too.

As the deal stands you are getting a bargain - You just need to get the 12mm to top it off!

#6 JackConnick

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Posted 10 April 2003 - 03:51 PM

As Jack said the optics of the Nikonos lenses ARE vastly superior to the S & S equiv.


I said "probably superior" B)

I think with a good exposure on good, low-grain film you can't tell a lot of difference with a 2x or 16mm S&S equiv.
Especially for a hobbyist or someone starting out.

Anyway, Paul - buy it, service it, go forth and multiply...

Jack Connick
Optical Ocean Sales.com Sea & Sea, Olympus, Ikelite, Athena, Zen, Fix, Nauticam, Aquatica, Seacam, Gates, 10Bar, Light & Motion, iTorch/I-DAS & Fantasea Line - Cameras, Housings, Strobes, Arms, Trays & Accessories
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#7 mattsh

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Posted 01 May 2003 - 12:46 PM

When I started out in photography, my two biggest influences were my dive instructer, who went on the be manager of sales at Sea & Sea and Joe Libuirdi who wrote "The Complete Guide to Sea & Sea," so I may be a bit biased. I have had my MMII EX for several years and it is a work horse. It is very easy to maintain the user servicable O-rings in the field. There is one of the camera back, one for the battery case and one for the synch cord. I will check the back O-ring every time I open the back and LIGHTLY grease it if I remove it, usually once a day. I remove and grease the battery o-ring when I change the batteries (2-AA) and will grease the synch o-ring at the start of the trip and leave it connected for the rest of the time. You do need to get the camera serviced regularly, and I flooded mine once when I was not careful in how I closed the back (thank heavens for the homeowner's insurance rider).

In use, the two cameras are very similar in that they are both rangefinders, but with the MMII, you have the distinct advantage of being able to alter the type of shots you take underwater. The big drawback of the Nikonos, and I do agree that the Nikonos has both better and more varied optics, is that you are stuck with your set-up for the entire dive. If you go under to shoot macros and a whale shark comes swimming by, you have to be happy with close-ups of the eye. If you are set-up for wide angle and you end spotting a family of pygmy seahorses, put the camera away and enjoy the moment. With the MMII, I have a 16mm, a 35mm and a 2:1 macro set up with me for every dive, and I usually use all three lenses at some point. On my last trip, it was not unusual to start out with the wide angle, switch back and forth with the built-in 35mm and then snap on the macro set up for some colorful nudis.

With this being said, a big part of the question is how focused is your diving. I take pictures when I dive, rather than dive to take photos. Thus may not seem to be a big difference, but it is. If you know your dive sites and decide ahead of time what types of photos you want to take, you will likely get better results with the Nikonos due to the better optics. On the other hand, if you want to take photos of the various things you encounter on a dive without pre-set goals, the flexibility of the MMII will serve you better.

A few other points. I will say that the Nikonos optics are better, but they are not so superior that the MMII pictures are terrible. There are just more choices for the Nikonos (like a fish eye). I have taken wonderful, clear, crisp shots with my MMII under many conditions with all of my lenses. From my two main influences, I will relay that the MMII has better electronics, with more shutter sppeds and wider TTL synch speeds, as well as a motor drive. The 4-pin connecter on the MMII is non-standard, but most camera systems come with a YS60 and most if not all the other Sea & Sea strobes can take the 4-pin TTL synch cord. I use the YS60 with a cordless YS20 Duo slave, both in TTL mode.

#8 Cybergoldfish

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Posted 01 May 2003 - 04:50 PM

I'm sure glad I didn't read this underwater - I could never have stopped my mask flooding...

[QUOTE]
When I started out in photography, my two biggest influences were my dive instructer, who went on the be manager of sales at Sea & Sea and Joe Libuirdi who wrote "The Complete Guide to Sea & Sea," so I may be a bit biased.

I have had my MMII EX for several years and it is a work horse. It is very easy to maintain the user servicable O-rings in the field. There is one of the camera back, one for the battery case and one for the synch cord. I will check the back O-ring every time I open the back and LIGHTLY grease it if I remove it, usually once a day. I remove and grease the battery o-ring when I change the batteries (2-AA) and will grease the synch o-ring at the start of the trip and leave it connected for the rest of the time.

You do need to get the camera serviced regularly, and I flooded mine once when I was not careful in how I closed the back (thank heavens for the homeowner's insurance rider).
[QUOTE]

I think your self confessed and obvious biasness has blinded you to the real facts here, in fact they are quite humerous, hence my opening statement. It is also obvious you know as little about your beloved MMII as you are ignorant about the Nikonos V. If you researched the book which you mentioned very little if anything was taken using an MMII.

It is not my intention to slag off the MMII because I had one myself during the early 90's and I managed some pretty good photographs, but if you are going to present a case for the MMII do not try and belittle the enquirers other choice the Nikonos V with incorrect information. I also find it difficult to believe you have ever laid eyes on a Nikonos of any type, for reasons that will become obvious during this post.

The Nikons was and still is able to be called an Industry standard as well as a tried and tested, loved and adored professional quality camera. All the O rings in a Nikonos are serviceable in the field too, and I will go further to say that I can perform a FULL non user O ring service & recalibrate if necessary inside an hour.

If I were to flood a Nikonos V and suffer worse case electronic failure, I can have it running in Mechanical manual mode (1/90) by the next day.
You couldn't do that with a MMII or a housed camera, and two days into a trip I would not be the one pissed off cos my camera was dead and unuseable!

[QUOTE]
In use, the two cameras are very similar in that they are both rangefinders, but with the MMII, you have the distinct advantage of being able to alter the type of shots you take underwater. The big drawback of the Nikonos, and I do agree that the Nikonos has both better and more varied optics, is that you are stuck with your set-up for the entire dive. If you go under to shoot macros and a whale shark comes swimming by, you have to be happy with close-ups of the eye. If you are set-up for wide angle and you end spotting a family of pygmy seahorses, put the camera away and enjoy the moment. With the MMII, I have a 16mm, a 35mm and a 2:1 macro set up with me for every dive, and I usually use all three lenses at some point. On my last trip, it was not unusual to start out with the wide angle, switch back and forth with the built-in 35mm and then snap on the macro set up for some colorful nudis.


Yes, the two cameras are similar in the fact that they are rangefinder types and what may seem like a drawback on Nikonos to you of not being able to change lenses underwater is not that much of a drawback at all. This seems important to some people I admit, but not to Nikonos users over the last 20 years.

For example if I am diving a site I don't know I fit a pin sharp primary multicoated 20mm lens - This can focus from 8" to infinity. This will cater for almost anything that will happen along, Whaleshark to Nudibranch; and has (BTW, you mean 1:2 not 2:1 when you talk about the attachment). I can post examples of both if you like.

NIKONOS HAS VASTLY SUPERIOR OPTICS TO THAT OF A MMII - This is why they cost more and produce infinitely sharper pictures with better definition, saturation and contrast on even the cheapest film stock.

The only time I would be taking a 1:1/1:2/1:3 on a dive is if I were after something specific and that may be as a 2nd camera.

The Sea & Sea 16mm is not a proper lens - It is a converter lens that alters the primary lens via a puddle of water. In all honestly you cannot even compare a $200.00 flat fronted glass slab to a $1500 superior primary optic that professionals the world over swear-by?

[QUOTE]
With this being said, a big part of the question is how focused is your diving. I take pictures when I dive, rather than dive to take photos. Thus may not seem to be a big difference, but it is. If you know your dive sites and decide ahead of time what types of photos you want to take, you will likely get better results with the Nikonos due to the better optics. On the other hand, if you want to take photos of the various things you encounter on a dive without pre-set goals, the flexibility of the MMII will serve you better.


This actually is proper advice!

[QUOTE]
A few other points. I will say that the Nikonos optics are better, but they are not so superior that the MMII pictures are terrible. There are just more choices for the Nikonos (like a fish eye). I have taken wonderful, clear, crisp shots with my MMII under many conditions with all of my lenses.

From my two main influences, I will relay that the MMII has better electronics, with more shutter sppeds and wider TTL synch speeds, as well as a motor drive. The 4-pin connecter on the MMII is non-standard, but most camera systems come with a YS60 and most if not all the other Sea & Sea strobes can take the 4-pin TTL synch cord. I use the YS60 with a cordless YS20 Duo slave, both in TTL mode.


For a number of years I had my MMII shots published on a regular basis, so I know they are ok.

Your two main influences are confused: The Nikonos V has much better electronics, because it can be used as a Aperture Priority automatic with electronic shutter control as well as full manual shutter control. It has an ISO range of 25-1600, Automatic and manual speed settings of 1/30 - 1/1000, B & M90. & full TTL
TTL selectable sync speeds of 90, 60, 30 with in-finder display of all speeds and over/under exposure warnings, not just flashing LEDS as in the MMII.
The MMI has a rather slow auto-wind on, not a motordrive and I can wind on as fast or faster manually with the Nikonos. The Nikonos also has infinitely greater access to strobes including Sea & Sea.
Being made of high grade alloy the Nik V is not prone to temperature or pressure distortion as is the plastic of the MMII.


That's about it really - Have a nice day
:D

#9 bobjarman

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Posted 01 May 2003 - 06:57 PM

Paul,

Let me give you another opinion and another option as well.

I also believe that the nikonos V is significantly better than the MMIIex. Its a rock, a great camera with great optics. The Nikonos 15mm is thought by many people to be the finest underwater optic ever made.

I have owned both, I got decent pics from both, but if I went that route again I wouldn't have to give the decision 5 seconds thought before I bought the Nikonos.

That said, here is a third option to consider. I recently switched back to film for underwater use. Through careful shopping, I was able to buy a complete used Ikelite housed system for under $1,800. And that included a full factory service from Ikelite.

If you want to have the best chance of getting great shots, and you want to shoot film, give some thought to a used ikelite, or other brand, SLR system with a single zoom lens to start. You can expand it, get great closeups, normals and semi-wide angle shots and you will have the benefit of a fully automatic camera with autofocus. And trust me, anyone who says that you wont benefit for auto-focus is a little too loyal a rangefinder user. :D

If you take a look at my Fiji album on my website, although not prizewinners by any means, that was my first time out with an SLR and my third time diving and shooting pics.
I was thrilled with the results compared to either the Nikonos or the Sea&Sea. Almost every shot in that album was shot with an Ikelite, and Elan II camera and a single Ikelite 200 strobe. I had at least 5x more "keepers" than i did with either the Nikonos or the Motomarine.

Now that so many people are switching to digital, film set ups are cheap......a real bargin. Their only downside is they are bigger and bulkier. To me it is worth it.

Just thought I would throw anoter log on the fire here!

#10 mattsh

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Posted 02 May 2003 - 09:16 AM

I'm sure glad I didn't read this underwater - I could never have stopped my mask flooding...

By all means, clear your mask before you get an eye infection :freak:

It is also obvious you know as little about your beloved MMII as you are ignorant about the Nikonos V. If you researched the book which you mentioned very little if anything was taken using an MMII.

You are quite right in that I have not used the Nikonos, and perhaps Joe Liburdi and his sons lied to me when I spoke to them about the MMII and the pictures that they have taken with it (I have been in the shop to talk to them many times, in fact buying my camera from Joe), but I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

However, I don't think that anything I said belittled the Nikonos. I may have been incorrect in my statement about the electronics, and since I have not used both cameras, I will take you vastly superior experience with the two systems as a given and allow that the Nikonos has the better internals. However, what really has me scratching my head is your statement: ...what may seem like a drawback on Nikonos to you of not being able to change lenses underwater is not that much of a drawback at all. This seems important to some people I admit, but not to Nikonos users over the last 20 years.

This seems a little like me saying not having a backseat in my 2-seater isn't much of a drawback. I don't really have a choice there do I? There are times that a backseat would have been nice, but I don't have one, so I get by with what I have and don't really miss it. That 20 mm lens is nice, but it really is not all that wide and it does not provide enough magnification for real tight macro shots. With the Nikonos, you need to pick a set up and live with it during your entire dive. If you are a photographer who is very set on the types of photos you want to take and know your dive site, this is definitely the way to capture the best images. There is one photographer from whom I have purchased 5 images for my home and office, and he knows that on any one dive, he will shoot this one subject, for at least a full roll, often times with two or more rolls using multiple bodies. I have never been on a dive with a person like that. If I could pick any camera, I would likely buy an RS with a zoom or a housed SLR with a zoom so that I can capture the same range of photos on a single dive that I can capture with my MMII.

When I have been on dives with Nikonos users, I know that there have been plenty of photo opportunities that have gone by the wayside for them because the set-up they jumped in the water with was not correct for that shot. Does this make the MMII superior to the Nikonos, not in and of itself. However, this is a distinct advantage over the Nikonos, especially for a photographer like myself. I really love my MMII, but I am moving on. I have a housed Rebel G, which was the only housed SLR I can really afford at this time, and I am weighing the decision of whether or not to go digital, perhaps with a housed DSLR once they come out with full size imaging chips.

Right now for my Rebel, I have a port for the 50mm macro, which will limit me to a single set-up. Will I get by with that one lens choice? Sure. Will there be photos that I am able to capture with this set-up that would have been much more difficult with my MMII? Yes again. Will I miss the flexibility of my MMII on some dives as I pass up on shots where my setup will not give me the results I am looking for? For the third time, yes.

The Sea & Sea 16mm is not a proper lens - It is a converter lens that alters the primary lens via a puddle of water. In all honestly you cannot even compare a $200.00 flat fronted glass slab to a $1500 superior primary optic that professionals the world over swear-by?

I guess here, you answer your own question. I don't have the cash for a $1500 lens. Obviously the $1500 lens is superior. There is no doubt that the Nikonos optics are better. However, for about $2,000 I can get a brand new complete MMII kit, with the camera, wide angle, and macro lens, strobe and high-point view finder. Less if used. When the Nikonos was still being marketed, what would have been the price of this set-up? I guess that even you will concede that this flat fronted glass slab is at least decent seeing how: For a number of years I had my MMII shots published on a regular basis, so I know they are ok.

I don't want to get into a flame war, seeing how I am so very new to this message board, but I just think you were a tad bit harsh on me considering that you eventually seemed to say that the Nikonos is a better camera with much better optics, but the MMII can be more flexible and can still give you very nice photos. Not all that far from what I was saying.

That's about all I have...

- Matt

#11 Cybergoldfish

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Posted 02 May 2003 - 04:26 PM

Hi Matt,

Maybe I was a little harsh and I appologize for it, but I am as passionate about my Nikonos' as I am about my children... They have given me great pleasure, but the Nikonos' are not so demanding, and do not disrupt my sleep!

My statement about the flexibility of the Nikonos 20mm lens is based on the fact it will focus down to 6-8" on f22 which means I can get in close enough to small objects to provide a reasonable amount of subject that can be cropped into a reasonable image. The field of view is more than capable of capturing whale shark, although not quite as much as the 15mm, and nowhere near the 12mm.

The 20mm is extremely sharp at all f. stops and there is no degredation at the edges unlike the 16mm you refer to. The images I had published were those obtained through the primary and c/u lenses. The MMII 20mm lens is much better than the 16mm.