In the Tradition

Legacy Nikonos underwater cameras

The introduction of the Nikon 1 AW1 will surely bring to mind among Nikon fans a camera from the company's legendary lineage: Nikonos, a camera that for over 30 years was synonymous with underwater photography.

The Nikonos owed its creation in large measure to underwater explorer, adventurer and conservationist Jacques Cousteau, who in 1950 founded the French Oceanographic Campaigns and outfitted a ship named Calypso for research, diving and documentation. In 1956, an underwater camera was designed for Cousteau by Belgian engineer Jean De Wouters. It was called the Calypsophot. Nikon brought its technical expertise to the camera's design, and the Nikonos 1 became available in 1963.

Gradual improvements marked Nikonos models II and III, but the Nikonos IVa, introduced in 1980, was the first model to vary the Calypso design. The IVa featured aperture-priority exposure, auto exposure lock and an electronic shutter. An automatic Speedlight, the SB-101, was also introduced.

Four years later the Nikonos V debuted, offering manual shutter speeds and auto TTL flash with underwater SB-102 and SB-103 Speedlights.     

In 1992, the last Nikonos, the RF AF, was developed. The first underwater autofocus SLR, It offered four interchangeable lenses—a 13mm fisheye, a 28mm wide-angle, a 50mm micro and the first underwater zoom, a 20-35mm.

The evolving technology of underwater housings for SLR cameras was one of the reasons Nikon discontinued the sale of the Nikonos in 2001.

Now, for the photo enthusiast looking to explore, document and have fun to a depth of 49 feet, a whole new era begins with the Nikon 1 AW1.

Welcome to the NEW
Nikon Learn & Explore

We've redesigned the site to make it easier to find
stories you care about, get tips and advice from pros,
learn new shooting techniques, discover classes and
workshops—in short, help you find new inspiration
every time you visit. (And we hope you visit often.)

Get the Learn & Explore iPhone App

Access all the photography techniques, advice and inspiration of Nikon's Learn & Explore anytime, anywhere with the free app for iPhone®, iPod touch® and iPad®.
photo of two iPhones with the Nikon L&E app on the screens

Take Today's Poll

Along with the new look of Learn & Explore, we've added polls. Make your opinion count and check back often to participate in new polls.

Attend Nikon School

Take your photographic knowledge to the next level; get a working understanding of your camera's features; learn how to create DSLR videos; discover how to edit your images using Capture NX2 software and more.

Check out a Digitutor

Learn more about the Nikon DSLR or Nikon 1 camera you own by watching an interactive product tutorial!
image of a Nikon DSLR and Digitutor screenshot illustration

Subscribe to the
L&E e-Newsletter

And get great tips and techniques to try next time you go shooting!

L&E e-newsletter examples graphic

Learn new photo and video terms!

Learn & Explore features an expansive glossary of over 800 photographic terms. Visit the L&E glossary to learn about specific Nikon camera features or more general photographic or video terms and definitions. Browse the glossary by letter, number or icon.
glossary terms graphic