Nikon gear at the International Space Station (ISS)

Astronaut Jeff Williams aboard the International Space Station highlights a favorite activity of crew members while aboard: Earth photography. On his fourth space mission and third Expedition on the ISS, Williams demonstrates the cameras and lenses used to capture still and video imagery of the station and its various visiting vehicle spacecraft like the Soyuz, Progress and Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft. He then floats into the Cupola – his favorite “window on the world” from which breathtaking views of the Earth are taken and shared with everyone on Earth.

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  • Patrick O’Connor

    ‘…Nikon D4S….a number of these 800mm lenses…’ I guess camera gear has replaced the corvette as an astronauts must-have toy. 🙂

  • Francesco Bernd

    The ISS is the ideal place to “carry” around heavy lenses.

  • I am wondering if VR works idem in the ISS?

  • Hamuga

    Why do they need such a big lens.
    “They should just zoom with their feet!”

  • Gregory Roane

    I am thinking that a tripod is not very useful. Maybe one with magnetic feet, though…?

  • TwoMetreBill

    Someone should crowd fund an all electronic conversion of the D3S using a 4MP EVF and electronic shutter.

  • johann jensson

    I always wondered: Does NASA use only Nikon gear in space, and if yes, what was the reason for choosing Nikon over Canon? Maybe something rather trivial, like in other such cases. Anyone has any info?

    • I think I’ve seen Sigma lenses on the ISS. Never seen a Canon.

      • tadejs

        Actually they have at least the Bigma, 50-500. Look at Samantha Cristoforetti’s photo stream: https://www.flickr.com/photos/astrosamantha/18447219769/in/photostream/ (most shots have EXIF on them)

        I remember once reading that for daylight shooting, it’s bright enough to be closed down, and therefore sharp enough.

        I don’t recall the actual interview, but the capability of having a 10x zoom is the killer feature for them, since a lot of the interesting scenes are at different scales, and you need to be able to zoom a lot, or change lenses. Of course, night shots are typically things like 50 1.4 and 28 1.4, or 17-35 2.8.

      • TheMeckMan

        They do have Canon gear seen it in IMAX documentaries floating around but not sure if it’s NASA ESA Russia or Japan. That said this was on Canon rumors (I shoot both systems) again not NASA.

        http://www.canonrumors.com/imax-film-a-beautiful-planet-features-out-of-this-world-canon-4k-imagery/

    • Mike Gordon

      NASA started with Nikon back in the film days when Nikon ruled the pro-ranks. Canon was only consumer back in the 1960/70’s. Canon did not get the Pro ranks until the 80’s when auto-focus started.

      Likely just stuck with Nikon since they served NASA’s needs and never fell down/made mistakes, why change?

      Today, Nikon is likely just paying NASA more to use their gear, that is a heck of a marketing tool.

      • Flodder

        actually they used hasselblad first.
        and it has nothing to do with pro gear.. that´s just nonsense.

      • PhilK

        You have no idea what you’re talking about wrt to Canon being “only consumer” in those days. The Canon F-1, introduced in 1971, was a direct competitor to the Nikon F2 in its time. (The F2 was also introduced in 1971) Complete with motor drive, removable finders, 250-exposure back, etc etc.

        I don’t know how the relationship originally started, but Nikon made several highly-customized models exclusively for NASA, which probably had something to do with it. And NASA has stuck with them ever since.

        Different US agencies have different preferences. The US Navy, for example, once used Topcon products primarily, and now (AFAIK) uses Canon.

        • Mike Gordon

          Pros used Nikon in the 60/70’s, I lived it. We all thought Canon was a joke. Once until auto focus hit and Canon got the Pro support system rolling, the move happened.

          • PhilK

            Saying you and other Nikon users disliked the product is utterly different from a silly claim that Canon “was only consumer in the 1960/70’s”.

            There were a number of “pro” 35mm camera systems back then which weren’t as popular as Nikon, that doesn’t make them “not pro”. Eg: Topcon RE Super, Minolta XK (late 1970s), etc. If you’re willing to stretch the popular definition of 4-5fps motor drive, interchangeable focusing screens and interchangeable viewfinders to remove that last item, the Olympus OM-series also qualifies, and maybe even the Leicaflex.

    • Flodder

      nikon gives it away for free. they have a deal with NASA.

  • Flodder

    how often will they show the nikon gear?
    this is the fifth article in 3 years about camera gear onboard the ISS.
    they are in space and all they have to show is some boring gear they brought into space?

    • PhilK

      “All they have to show”… what?

      NR is posting articles that pertain to Nikon. If you want to learn all about the other things the people on the ISS do, feel free to browse the NASA site, or various other space-centric sites.

  • An American in Canada

    Screw VR, when can I pick up an 800mm with a zero-g switch?

  • Kikou Yamata

    Nikon’s site has an history page about Nikon and Nasa = http://imaging.nikon.com/history/chronicle/rhnc12ti-e/

    Neither this page nor the video tells about the lenses that astronaut Jeff Williams carries… on the top of his head = Nikon lenses ?

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