Nikon DSLR with a 800mm lens used as an accelerometer

It is always slow on rumors after an official announcement. While waiting, I have a series of interesting Nikon related posts. Depending on the ratings of this post, I will continue (or not) with the series.

If you are impatient, just skip to 02:19 mark.

Also, take a look at this picture of the Golden Gate Bridge snapped from the International Space Station with a Nikon D2X.

Thanks to Graham for sending this in.

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  • Scott

    Awesome! Hehe, they sure take a lot of glass up with them. 🙂

    • Joe R

      I just want to point out that he’s technically wrong. The camera isn’t accelerating toward you. It’s actually staying still. The ISS, with the video camera mounted toward it, is actually accelerating toward the stationary Nikon.

      I’m fairly confident the guy that made it into orbit actually knows the difference but I’m just saying.

      • Mehmet

        Actually it depends where do you take as a frame of referance.

        If you take the camera as a frame of referance, the ISS is accelerating towards to the camera and the camera is still. If you take the ISS as a frame of referance, the camera is accelerating towards to the ISS and the ISS is still. :))

        • Joe R

          Since the force (an engine thrust) was applied to the ISS and not the camera, the acceleration must be occurring in the ISS system not in the Nikon system.

          This isn’t a frame-of-reference thing. No force on the Nikon means no acceleration.

          • Non-inertial reference frame..

          • Martin

            There is no single frame of reference in the universe. In this case, you are the observer in the video–> the camera is accelerating in *your* frame of reference. There *is* a force on the camera–gravity. From the earth’s frame of reference, the camera is already whizzing around the earth at great acceleration; the difference in acceleration between the space station and camera is minor in comparison.

          • Ola Forsslund

            Mehmet is right, it all depends on the choice of reference system.
            Just as you say that an object accelerates to the ground, the camera does the same thing in ISS. There is no way of telling the difference between a gravitational force field, and an accelerating reference system!

            Thus, there does not excist any reference system that is more true than any other! You simply select the most convinent one for you needs. In this case the ISS.

            Also, you should remember that the ISS is in free-fall towards the earth, i.e. ISS is always accelerating.

      • Anonymous

        It is unclear which direction the ISS accelerated in. If in the direction of the camera movement – camera accelerated also. If the opposite direction – camera was in fact still.

      • twoomy

        I don’t care if the camera is moving or the spaceship is moving, but can this some how accelerate the release date of the D900?

  • They chose the right camera/lens combo, but failed when it came to computers sadly!

    • siro

      there are number of tests that computers that are allowed to the ISS must succeed. The biggest problem when choosing right HW is that hot air is lighter as well in ISS, but it does not goes UP, as there is no UP.

      • Anonymous

        IF YOU THINK OF THE “I” brand ,It s been a long time since professional and scientifics are using PC for its polyvalence capabilitys and interaction with other systems ,only graphic pro designers use the Apel brand .

        • Hey-nonny-mouse

          Not true. Lots of computer science researchers…. since os x is linux based they prefer it over windows, but Linux (Ubuntu, Debian, etc,) can be a hassle to run on laptops (wrt drivers, etc.).

          • kefek

            wrong … OS X is UNIX based NOT Linux 😉

            UNIX != Linux !!!!!

          • Hey-nonny-mouse


          • Ronan

            Hey-nonny-mouse no. I have never met a proffesional in the research field that uses an Apple.

            Now on the other side, a LOT of my colleagues in the photography/graphic field uses Apple.

          • Hey-nonny-mouse

            Roughly half the people I work with use apple laptops. They all have PhDs, they have all have published extensively in computer science fields.

            When I go to conferences I see a fair share then also, but to be honest fewer because most have laptops provided by their employers and in that case it tends to be windows machines. In academia, though, we usually have the choice to buy the machine that we want and a lot of the time it’s running os x.

            Anyway, not worth arguing over. I just wanted to point out the mis-perception that professional users just come from video/photo fields. I enjoy using my mac for work though personally I dislike apple and their locked-in business model (and their crazy key bindings).

    • Anonymous

      Duh! EVERYBODY knows shiny computers work better in space.

    • james

      Duh! EVERYBODY knows shiny computers work better in space.

    • Ronan

      Whats wrong with IBM/Lenevo? Some of the best laptops for business.

      What would you have chosen? HP? Toshiba? Apple? LOL!

  • hellosunday

    Now if only there was a way to get zero gravity here on earth, Wouldnt be such a chore lugging my gear around all day anymore =D

    • Paul

      That’s what I was thinking, but then it would really just be more justification to give Nikon money. hehe

    • Trekkie

      You might want to try an anti-gravitation pad.

  • Neat-O!

  • David

    @LR: I think you meant “impatient.” I know, I know, we are an ungrateful bunch of complainers.

  • Enrique

    WOW. 800mm HAND HELD 🙂

    • nir.e

      more like finger held..

      • szakall

        Look Mom… no hands! 😀

  • No need for a gimbal head in space. Thanks for the post admin. Something new is better than something old even if it isn’t fresh gear.

  • Absurd Burglar

    I sure wish all of my camera gear was that light!

  • fixit

    Curse you, spaceman! — experiment with a Canon next time — !

    • Anonymous

      What for?,,extra weight to look cool with your I phone lol!!!This is space not Earth evrything must have a need , apparently they don’t need Canon’s lolzz!

      • Ronan

        Owned, LOL!

    • f/2.8

      From what I understand, NASA did try Canon because the lenses color match with their vehicles and spacesuits so well. However, at launch the Canons got shaken into jumbo mess of parts inside the bodies.

      The big honcho gave the contract to Nikon and never looked back. The rocketscientists Canon fanboys tape white canvas all over them.

  • PJS

    Very cool! Do you need VR in space?

    • Global

      Nope. Just “Zero G” lenses. Aperture ring still not included. =P

  • Yeah, thats one way to demonstrate your in space, with the most expensive camera gear you could find. I’m sure though, that the camera is the cheapest thing on the space station.

    • I dunno, you think that was a custom sharpie on the wall?

  • Poop

    I thought the guy was a clone at the end 😀

  • ArtTwisted

    Man ive been there, so many 800mm’s laying around you just end up not knowing what to do with them anymore. After you mount a few to the wall as nice wall ornaments the last few just get tossed back and forth for fun.

    • Nathan

      Seriously? You’ve been up in the ISS?

  • David Chu

    I think I saw an 18-55mm kit lens on the right side during the re-boost :P.

  • PHB

    Well anyone who wants a free 800mm should just wait till the station de-orbits as it is unlikely that they would bring it back again.

    All you need to do is to be in the right place at the right time to catch it.

    Might need some TLC to get it back into working condition of course.

  • Steve

    Isn’t that a shorter lens with a teleconverter, not a real 800mm?

  • Nathan

    Nice lenses. Notice the 800mm had a tele-converter attached? That other lens that was on the wall was a whopper though.

    As a side note, that Omega X-33 watch he has on his wrist is awesome.

  • That was sweet! That front element was gorgeous. I can’t look at those lenses for too long—I get sad wanting but not having. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing…

  • MarkusW

    Nice idea, awesome video, but look at the URL, it contains the word “rumors”. Which is why I vote “do not post again” on articles that could also appear on non-rumors-sites like or news magazines.

    • Phil

      lol someone forcing you to read it?

      • MarkusW

        Nope, but I’m forced to waste time reading at least the headlines of these ordinary news to find those of real rumors.

        • Ronan

          Ah sorry, were you busy playing with your i-Pad?

          • MarkusW

            Not exactly. Rather with a bunch of SB-900s to light a plane.

  • mistuh nikkor

    Isn’t that a 400mm f/2.8 with a 2x TC?

    • Yes! And the body was a D2x. …and a 200-400VR velcroed on the wall with a body.

      The one that has me stumped is the body to the far right at about 4:40…something with a step up ring? I can’t think of anything with a lip that wide at the end of the lens.

      • looks more like a 300-800mm sigma

      • MarkusW

        It’s a D2Xs.

    • Frigorifico

      Just FYI, it’s the AF1 version of the 400, and the heaviest AF lens Nikon has ever made, weighing “222.2 ounces”. It feels just as heavy, sadly (I own one) but the picture quality is right up there with the newest versions, and because it’s all metal you can abuse it without it showing any damage.
      There seems to be a Sigma 300-800 on the wall too, and I read on a separate website that they’re using a D3X + 300-800 combo for some high-res earth shots…

      • Dweeb

        Yes indeed that’s a 300-800 Sigma. I wrote that up a few missions ago. The 400 or 800s are used for a combo of earth observation and especially in checking the STS tiles in the fly arounds. Remember there are several space agencies there now so even though Nasa may not have purchased a D3X they are in use, possibly launched by Japan.

  • Nice. I like these odd bits of nikon related information.

  • Jeff

    Well it has nothing to do with rumors but I really enjoyed, thanks for sharing!

  • Chris P

    After watching the video I am now feeling ‘spaced out’. Sorry couldn’t resist it :-). Very good, I’m happy to see more shorts with Nikon gear in them.

  • M!

    nice. that demo could have been with anything, didn’t really need the nikon and lens.

  • Bob

    That guy has a picture book made from shots from space coming out when he gets back down here

  • Gra

    You’re welcome! lol

  • tim

    Damn you gravity! DAMN U!! 🙂

  • Simon

    The lens on the wall is a Sigmonster 😉 300-800mm f/5.6

  • vincent

    what body is that?

  • Pete

    If you want to post a youtube link at a certaim time point, use the following format at the end of the link:

  • Gordon

    Got to say I really enjoyed that video, thanks for posting it Admin even if had nothing to do with Nikon rumours.

  • Louis

    wow so in 2010 they’re STILL working with D2X’s?? I thought that program was running hundreds of millions of dollars! they should have numerous D3s up there at this point…..

    • tim

      Cost of sending 1 LB into space = $10,000

      Source NASA:

    • PHB

      Remember that they are a very long way from what they are trying to shoot. So they are looking for the very longest lens that they can possibly find. So a 1.5x focal length multiplier is very useful.

      Its not as if there is going to be depth of field issues or motion issues. And provided they can deal with the vibration introduced by the shutter release and mirror/shutter movement, they can take really long exposures without much of an issue.

      The ISS is 336 km up and a 400mm has a field of view of 4 degrees on DX format. So with the teleconverter thats a 2 degree angle and the field of view is 11km. So a pixel is going to be several meters. I would have thought you would want even longer.

    • Dweeb

      Cost of D3X at camera store?

      Like I said I believe other cameras are also being supplied by other space agencies. The D2X buy was a scam coming just before the release of the D3. They still have their uses though.

    • Dweeb

      Cost of D3X at camera store? Under Obama Nasa can’t afford them. LOL

      Like I said I believe other cameras are also being supplied by other space agencies. The D2X buy was a scam coming just before the release of the D3. They still have their uses though.

  • This is just amazing !
    Thank you so much for sharing this.

  • chEEtah

    Just look at how gracefully it flies!.. Canon is waaay behind in terms of aerodynamics.

  • big mac

    serious question for astronauts here – how does VR work in weightlessness???

    • Simon

      Gyro sensors work just fine in space… whole space stations are stabilized that way (at least MIR was).

    • tim

      probably even better, since there is no constant force of gravity on the lens.

  • PeterD

    That is some very cool stuff. What a blast it would be to play in that environment for a while. Oh and the lens was cool too. Just think you could carry that big dog around your neck all day like a point and shoot and never get tired or sore.

  • niels

    isn’t it a 400mm with a 2x extender? that’s also 800mm. It doesn’t look like the old 800mm, maybe the 400mm f/2.8D ED-IF AF-S II NIKKOR

    • Dweeb

      Yeah, I believe they were using a 400 with 2X in order to get more reach to shoot the STS tiles after the crash. I think they also had an 800 for earth observation. As they needed more cameras to do the shuttle imaging the number of really long glass multiplied. Looking at files I expect when the shuttle approaches they have every camera with a long lense put in play.

  • jon

    Cool!!! Now that’s what I call VR! Imagine being able to hand hold a 800mm like that on Earth.

  • Colin

    Like it! More like it please … anything to pass the time until serious rumourmongering gets going again!

  • I like it – science + space + photography = win.

    It looked like they had a teleconverter on that first camera. D2X + 2.0 TC + 800mm lens? I guess with not much atmosphere to shoot through they can probably get quite clear shots that we probably couldn’t get down here.

  • I’m wondering how the VR would work in zero gravity.

    • Anonymous

      there would probably be another switch added for that 😀

  • niels

    the 400mm that they use in the ISS hasn’t got VR. And Nasa en Esa will not buy VR lenses for in the ISS untill some lenses doesn’t work anymore.

  • mixone31

    Ce n’est pas un 800mm mais un Nikon 600mm AF-I !!!

  • GallardoMrt

    At the last scene, the third camera comes with a 400mm attached on it. The other two cameras are at the right side with a 300-800 attached to a D3 series body (note the large bulky pentaprism part) and our D2 series with 800mm f5.6 (2x + 400mm) attached..

    The lenses are not VR and are not ED II series. I have a ED II 300mm f2.8, this one and all other ED II series has golden nameplate on them like old 70-200 VR or 200mm f2 VR. These lenses has black nameplate like AF-I and AF-S ED. I am not sure which of it but i am sure that lens has internal motor due to the buttons on it..

  • willl

    For those on twitter, follow Astro_Soichi –

    He’s been tweeting photos taken from the space station, with photos taken with the D2Xs and that 800mm lens 🙂

    Pretty awesome stuff.

    • Dweeb

      Good find. I really wonder why they just don’t have a camera on an intervalometer constantly shooting landmass as it orbits. Sure there’s satellites that do it better, but the ISS wouldn’t really cost anything and provide more general imagery.

  • rhlpetrus

    Nice, but he could have used anything, like a pencil or himself, as in the end, maybe a fancy camera just looks more appropriate in a high-tech environs like the ISS. Or did Nikon pay him for the “free” ad :)?

    Nice they can just attach it to the wall w/o much effort, that’s what, a 7Kg kit?

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