PetaPixel

NASA Showing Some Serious Nikon Love

Nikon announced today that NASA has placed an order of 11 D3s full-frame DSLRs and 7 Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 lenses. The bodies each retail for about $5,000 while the lenses cost about $1,800 apiece, so NASA spent about $67,600 on this gear purchase. NASA’s budget is currently over $17 billion, so they spent roughly .0004% of their annual budget on this camera gear.

The unmodified equipment will be sent up to the International Space Station (ISS) to document the various activities that go on inside.

If you’re wondering why they purchased 4 fewer lenses than camera bodies, it’s because the ISS already has over 35 lenses on board for photography both inside the space station and out in space.

Nikon has a relatively long history with NASA, first providing the agency with Nikon Photomic FTN cameras for the Apollo 15 mission in 1971, two years after NASA first photographed the moon with specially modified Hasselblad cameras.

There are all sorts of reasons being suggested on the web for why NASA chooses Nikon gear over Canon gear in the DSLR era, but it would be interesting to hear the exact reasons straight from the horses mouth.

(via The Imaging Resource)


 
 
  • http://twitter.com/eugenephotoblog Eugene

    I saw this last night…

    It's interesting how Nikon is making a big deal out of this purchase, even though, as you mention, it represents a negligible portion of their yearly budget. Well, maybe not a big deal, but one that came with a press release :).

    Random: how do you think Fake Chuck Westfall feels about the announcement?

  • http://twitter.com/eugenephotoblog Eugene

    I saw this last night…

    It's interesting how Nikon is making a big deal out of this purchase, even though, as you mention, it represents a negligible portion of their yearly budget. Well, maybe not a big deal, but one that came with a press release :).

    Random: how do you think Fake Chuck Westfall feels about the announcement?

  • http://shuttersounds.thedailynathan.com nathanyan

    Uh, the reason for buying Nikon equipment is probably, as you mentioned, NASA's “long history” with Nikon and the aforementioned 35 lenses already onboard the ISS.

  • http://www.petapixel.com Michael Zhang

    Right, but they had to have picked Nikon originally for specific reasons, and an agency like NASA with such a large budget could probably switch to Canon in a heartbeat if they needed/wanted to.

    Read somewhere online that Nikon uses a special kind of lubricant that's needed in space that Canon doesn't provide, but I'm not sure whether that has any truth behind it. Haha.

  • Wilson

    “There are all sorts of reasons being suggested on the web for why NASA chooses Nikon gear over Canon gear in the DSLR era, but it would be interesting to hear the exact reasons straight from the horses mouth.”

    that is bullshit, since they also have canon equipment! there was a similar article some months ago about some canon equipment bought by nasa! the 35 lenses probabably are not only nikon but also canon and maybe even other brands(why not), i heard pentax has the best seal, and that would be the only one that could be used in space vaccum… []

  • Wilson

    “There are all sorts of reasons being suggested on the web for why NASA chooses Nikon gear over Canon gear in the DSLR era, but it would be interesting to hear the exact reasons straight from the horses mouth.”

    that is bullshit, since they also have canon equipment! there was a similar article some months ago about some canon equipment bought by nasa! the 35 lenses probabably are not only nikon but also canon and maybe even other brands(why not), i heard pentax has the best seal, and that would be the only one that could be used in space vaccum… []

  • QuBe

    Yes that is true.
    Cameras that go into space have to be modified for the microgravity environment. One mod is the use of special greases and lubricants (on shutters etc) that have more cohesive properties so particles don't dislodge and become airborne.
    (I can't remember where I saw the article…it explained the various things they had to do to a bunch of D2x's for space.)

  • http://www.photoblog.com/bergur Bergur

    I wanted to keep this short: I want to work with NASA!

    …but I just have to say this: It's clear that the writer, here on PP is a Canon fan…

  • pdc

    Whatever happened to the special relationship with Hasselblad?

  • http://www.petapixel.com Michael Zhang

    Hey Bergur,

    Actually we're split now – Jessica uses Nikon :-)

  • http://www.petapixel.com Michael Zhang

    Could you provide us with some links?