UW-Nikkor lenses

for underwater photography


Nikon produced a nice range of interchangeable lenses for the Nikonos rangefinder series and for the Nikonos RS, among them even a fisheye and AF-Zoom-Nikkor!! Again, not a bargain, but all of them a masterpiece of optical engineering, hardly seen elsewhere.

Some lenses are - optically - based on the existing SLR models, although field curvature and coating may differ. As light underwater has a different breaking index than on land, the picture angle of all lenses are (approx. 15%) smaller than the indicated focal length may suggest. The weight of all lenses underwater is less as well; underwater about 1/3 of their weight above water. It´s redundant to say that lenses (and flashes!) can´t be changed underwater. Lenses reviewed in this chapter have a special mount and can be used on Nikonos cameras, only!; they can not be used on any other Nikon camera! All other lenses reviewed in this entire web site cannot be mounted on a Nikonos camera. Nikon never made an adapter!


UW-Nikkor 2.8/15 mm.

A very unique underwater wide-angle lens with an optical construction of 9 elements in 5 groups was introduced in June 1972. A redesigned version (12 elements in 9 groups) appeared in June 1982. Both lenses have to be used with a separate viewfinder (DF-11). The second version is fitted with some electronic contacts for use on the Nikonos IV-A and Nikonos V. The viewing angle (underwater) of this lens equals that of a 20 mm.-lens (approx. 94°) on land. Shortest focusing distance is 30 cm. Serial numbers start at 150001.

UW-Nikkor 2.8/20 mm.

Introduced in July 1985 this very nice lens should be used with the DF-12 viewfinder. On both sides two knobs allow adjustments of aperture and distance. Serial numbers start at 200001.

UW-Nikkor 3.5/28 mm.

In July 1965 this wide-angle lens (underwater almost standard) was presented. It has 6 elements in 5 groups,a viewing angle of 59° and the shortest focusing distance is 60 cm. Serial numbers start at 100001.

W-Nikkor 2.5/35 mm.

This lens, introduced together with the first Nikonos camera in 1963, is considered to be the standard lens for underwater photography, as it has - underwater - nearly the same picture angle as a standard (50 mm.) lens on land. It is a simple construction of 6 elements in 4 groups - in fact the optical formula of the identical lens for rangefinder cameras. Serial numbers start at 180001. Viewing angle on land is 62°, underwater it is 46°30'. Shortest focusing distance is 80 cm. As most other UW-Nikkors this lens can be used/mounted upside down for better readability.

This standard lens is the most popular of all Nikonos lenses. Some 80,000 were build - in three versions. The first version has a chrome body and distances indicated in feet only! The second has a meter&feet scale and a wider focus grip. The third version is an all-black painted lens and ribbed wheels (see above).

Nikkor 4/80 mm.

This telelens has a picture angle ( 22° underwater, 30°20' on land) with an equivalent on land of a Nikkor with a focal length of approx. 105 mm. As it focuses down to 1 meter it is an excellent lens for close-ups. With just 4 individual elements it is almost free from flare and other internal reflexes. The first version has a black and a chrome wheel, a second version is all-black. It has a separate DF-10 viewfinder. Serial numbers start at 100001.

LW-Nikkor 2.8/28 mm.

LW stands for ´all-weather´, indicating that this lens cannot be used underwater! It is meant to be used on any Nikonos rangefinder camera in wet conditions, like rain, tropical jungle, cavern etc. Its optical construction (5 individual elements) equals that of the Series-E Nikkor 2.8/28 mm. This nice lens was introduced in September 1983. Serial numbers start at 280001.


Now we come to a group of very interesting and masterly examples of optical engineering! All lenses below weren´t cheap and light (on land), but they are unequalled until to date! All lenses have rubber coatings on the front rim and a ´bull-eye´ on the top side to read the distance.


R-UW AF-Nikkor 2.8/13 mm.

This wonderful underwater fish-eye-lens (what´s in a name!), consisting of 10 elements in 7 groups (of which the front lens is a protection lens as well), has a picture angle of 170° (on land) and can be focused down to 15 cm.! It was the second most expensive UW-Nikkor (same price as the AF-Nikkor-D 1.4/28 mm. ASP) at its introduction in June 1994. Serial numbers start at 200001.

R-UW AF-Nikkor 2.8/28 mm.

This lens, introduced in June 1992 was the cheapest of all Nikonos RS-lenses. It has an optical construction of 6 individual lenses and focuses down to 26 cm. This lens is considered to be the standard lens (underwater) for the Nikonos RS. Serial numbers start at 200001.

R-UW AF-Micro-Nikkor 2.8/50 mm.

This lens, introduced in June 1992, was specially designed for close-ups underwater. It can focused down to 17 cm., which (again underwater) offers an image ratio of 1:1. Its optical construction consists of 10 elements in 9 groups. Serial numbers start at 300001.

R-UW AF-Zoom-Nikkor 2.8/20-35 mm.

This lens is the first and thus the one and only underwater zoom-lens in the world! This wonderful optical instrument (10 individual elements) delivers excellent images. It was introduced in June 1992 at a price higher than the Nikonos RS! It focuses down to 38 cm. and has a knob at its side to zoom. Due to its high price it is a very rare lens. Serial numbers start at 400001.