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The Calypso is the first self-contained 35mm film camera designed for underwater use, manufactured in France by Atoms to a design of Jean De Wouters. The camera operates at depths down to 200feet / 60m. It was conceived by the famous marine explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau (1910–1997), named after the research vessel he was using from 1950, and distributed 1961–1962 by Spirotechnique, a small firm he had established dealing in underwater equipment, located in the suburb of Paris at Levallois-Perret.
The camera body consists of two main parts being locked together by mounting the lens on the camera, and is sealed by Vaseline greased O-rings. The lens is removed by pulling and twisting it either way in the bayonet mount. The focal plane shutter has vertical running metal plates, initially manufactured with speeds from 1/30 to 1/1000sec, but from 1/15 to 1/500sec a year later. The camera is operated by a combined wind-on and shutter-release lever, and is provided with a flash sync connector and an automatic resetting frame counter, both situated at the camera base. The standard lens fitted was a SOM Berthiot 1:3.5 f=35 with knobs on either side for setting focusing distance and lens aperture, suitable for both under and above water photographing due to the optically flat front glass. The lens has no filter thread. In some ads, it was advertised as the “CALYPSO-PHOT”.
For marketing reasons the design was sold to Nippon Kōgaku (Nikon) who reintroduced it in 1963 as Calypso/Nikkor (in Europe) and elsewhere as Nikonos. This was the beginning of Nippon Kōgaku's long-lived Nikonos series, including the Nikonos II, III, IV-A and V, and culminating by introducing the 35mm SLR Nikonos RS (1992–1996).
- Photo-Plait Catalogue 1962 p.39 price 795,-NF
- Calypso by AS at www.collection-appareils.fr.