NASA orders 53 unmodified Nikon D5 DSLR cameras

 

NASA ordered 53 Nikon D5 DSLRs - at $6,496.95 per camera, the total bill is over $340,000. Nikon & NASA have been working together for a very long time - here are the highlights of Nikon's history with NASA:

1971 The Nikon Photomic FTN* (NASA specifications) and NIKKOR lens were used on Apollo 15.
1980 The "Small Camera", based on the Nikon F3 film SLR camera and equipped with a motor drive, and the F3 "Big Camera", which utilized long film, were delivered to NASA.
The "Small Camera" was used aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia launched the following year.
1999 The Nikon F5 film SLR camera and AF NIKKOR lens were carried aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery to photograph extravehicular activities (EVA).
2008 The Nikon D2XS digital SLR cameras were delivered to NASA. Six D2XS cameras are used in space to document activities such as inspection and maintenance.
2013 A total of 38 Nikon D4 digital SLR cameras, 64 NIKKOR lenses, including the AF-S NIKKOR 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR, and various other accessories were delivered to NASA.
These products are used, among other things, to check solar panels and outer surfaces of the ISS.
2016 An additional 10 Nikon D4 digital SLR cameras were delivered to NASA, and are also used to check solar panels and outer surfaces of the ISS.

Press release:

TOKYO - Nikon Corporation is pleased to announce that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has placed an order for 53 Nikon D5 digital SLR cameras. NASA plans to use the cameras both at astronaut training facilities on Earth, and for recording intra- and extravehicular activities at the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA has ordered 53 standard Nikon D5 cameras with no special hardware modifications. Just as with the D3S digital SLR cameras delivered to NASA in 2009, these D5 cameras will be the same models available to consumers, confirming the incredible reliability of Nikon products, as well as their ability to withstand even the harshest of environments.

This year, Nikon celebrates its 100th anniversary. Throughout this 100-year history, Nikon has supported the research and observation of extreme environments such as space and the Antarctic with strong and durable cameras and NIKKOR interchangeable lenses developed based on its optical and precision technologies. Nikon has focused on making its products better able to respond more completely to the demands made by photographers, their work and the environments that challenge them. Nikon is excited to continue to contribute to the observation and research of such regions by developing extremely reliable products that are able to stand up to even the most challenging of situations.

Fans of Nikon, space exploration, and photography in general can enjoy a time-lapse video titled "Nikon in Space" - this time-lapse video was created from stunning photos of our magnificent Earth captured from space using Nikon cameras and NIKKOR lenses.

*Nikon F equipped with Photomic FTN viewfinder that supports TTL center-weighted metering.

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  • NASA only buys the best!

    • ZoetMB

      This is what’s wrong with our government acquisitions: if they’re buying that many cameras, they should almost be entitled to wholesale pricing. I bet if they went to a dealer instead of buying directly from Nikon, the dealer would have found a way to provide a discount.

      But did they really need D5’s? Would a D810 or the new D850 not have been good enough? They would have saved a bit of weight, which is very important in space.

      But at least they didn’t order useless customizations that would have cost them $20K per camera.

      • James Michael

        I don’t understand why they didn’t get D850 bodies. They must also have a pretty good inventory of lenses too.

        • typyshotshot

          In space the first thing you want is to have reliable equipment, on the ISS you won’t find the latest of the latest technology but rather really well tested stuff that has proved to be reliable. I wouldn’t risk getting a new product only to find problems when it’s already in orbit 😛

          • webdiver

            isnt the d810 reliable?

        • RichGS

          The procurement process for NASA probably takes longer than we think. My guess is that they would want/need to take an existing, proven camera and subject it to a battery of tests – probably many months of them –
          before acquiring 53 of them for space work.

        • Lladnar

          Because they are not available?

      • Eric Calabros

        – We can’t be sure they didn’t receive a discount (or special service support equivalent to a good discount).
        – full body camera is easier to hold with those hefty white gloves, isn’t it? 🙂 Also D5 sensor has finest noise in high ISO ranges.

      • Robin Ducker

        How do you know? The press release makes no mention of price -Nikon Rumors did the pricing so its their guess against yours.

        • Oh yes, I just guessed based on the retail price.

      • 1741

        I doubt very much they’ll pop round to their local shop and buy them they’ll deal direct with nikon an will get trade prices at the very least if not a bit more

        • RIT

          That’s how NASA bought their first Omega Speedmasters, they just popped into a high street store and got a handful of 321’s! They’re worth a fortune now.

      • Aldo

        Have to agree with you (a little there) mostly on the lack of discounts… companies take advantage of taxpayers money. You see, and you are so eager to pay ‘every’ tax. Not worth it.

        • Richard Hart

          I heard about a non-profit that spent a sweet fortune on IT equipment and told the sales guy not to give any discount because they needed to spend the money to ensure they were non-profit. Not saying Nasa is like that, but some organizations have so much money they have to be creative to get rid of it.

      • Originaru

        Why discard partnership marketing for Nikon?

      • BlackRipleyDog

        Yep, and I can see NASA having to deal with Abe’s of Maine trying to get a grey-market body fixed.

      • Lladnar

        There’s a reason the flagship series exists, and this is one good example of a place where a body and build needs to be able to handle whatever’s thrown at it. Saying that the D8xx series is durable enough is like me saying that my D5500 is still in pristine condition after over a year’s use, why don’t photojournalists just use that?

      • Dmitry Anisimov

        Well, maybe big pixels of D5 are more resistant to cosmic rays… it’s not an issue as sea level, but each time you take long flight you get a bunch of new dead pixels.

      • Richard Hart

        I think they probably went for the most pro and hardy body. Maybe they don’t care so much about resolution? There are a lot of high res satellites already. If they went straight to Nikon, I am sure it would have been given 30-40% off msrp. I worked for a company who were Nikon dealers and that is what they got them for. I heard one astronaut say the space station is so big, you may not see anyone up there. Space (pun) may not be a concern. You should see how many cameras and lenses they already have! More than B&H

      • Mark Heseltine

        I would guess that Nikon and Camera pro cameras are both acceptable to NASA.

        I’ve read the issue of fluorite lenses, but Nikon make them, too, don’t they?

        I suspect it is not a question of ‘do they need’, rather, that Nikon’s contracting/marketing effort aimed at NASA is simply better at satisfying NASA’s bid requirements.

        That assumes Canon make camera bids. If so, at the pro level, it may come down to something as simple as the ease of use with gloves of the trigger button. Or that Canon focus on something else to supply NASA or ISS.

        Japan supplies the Spaceball to ISS – now that is ingenuity!

    • But, why not buy the D850?

      • BlackRipleyDog

        I would imagine because the D5 is a more robust camera for work in space, it has been out on the market where as the D850 is an unknown quantity.

        • After reading further, No. Spending that amount isn’t as instant as an individual customer. It take months to get an approval and the D850 are just available for order while the NASA seals the deal.

  • Ok, this is my time to troll – why not Sony? Or Canon? I mean the Sony a9 is better, right? Lol 🙂

  • Nika

    Golden days returns to Nikon

    • Yes, they are on a roll – it is also good to know that Nikon marketing is not asleep.

      • Eric Calabros

        We can’t wait to see your mirrorless rumor recap.. Thom gave us some hints, but I don’t believe anything unless confirmed by you.

        • Oh, I am far from a recap – just some small updates. Actually more like one update.

      • br0xibear

        This explains the D5 testing onboard the ISS I posted about a few months ago.

        • Yes, I remember that – you predicted the future 🙂 And I was complaining that Nikon should use this marketing opportunity…

  • Andrejs Zavadskis

    it means for me thad d850 autofocus is not the same as d5

    • Eric Calabros

      Even so, the difference is so subtle that only pro wildlife shooters will notice.. not NASA guys.

    • Lladnar

      Curious deduction. I don’t think NASA was hovering on NR waiting with bated breath for the D850’s release. In fact it is the same AF system, that should be abundantly clear to everyone by now.

  • James Michael

    I predict that a lot of pictures of kids soccer games will be taken with these cameras.

  • Cole Mccann

    How do you know? The press release makes no mention of price -Nikon Rumors did the pricing so its their guess against yours.

  • Fred

    Just guessing: The much vaunted SoNYs probably didn’t live up to expectations.
    Or else it’s simply a replacement of the current D4s. Call it a maintenance cycle operation.

  • Aldo

    At 9fps the d850 has to eat a little into the d5 sales… and with the medium raw at 25mp Im sure the low light capability wont be that far off a d5

  • RIT

    TBH, the photos they take are more often than not pretty standard snaps. Rarely do they process RAW and as for deploying Nikon’s Creative Lighting System, well, “flash” is not a thing they use at all! 😉 …They do have quite a fancy tripod though which automatically tracks cities at night.
    Ruggedness, reliability, sensor life (I’ve never seen so many dead pixels as seen on some of their images), image straight out of the camera and compatibility with all those high mass telephotos is of greatest importance, it seems.

    • tomskyphoto

      “I’ve never seen so many dead pixels as seen on some of their images.”

      Cosmic radiation can be pretty destructive. So their D4s might just be shot by radiation now.

  • Vince Vinnyp

    Come on Nikon rumours where is the UPS barcode.
    Express next day.
    Sender: Houston snappypix
    Receiver: Nikon Ambassador Jeff “DR” Twokens
    Top Bunk ISS 250mls Above E NASA Parkway Houston
    If no answer leave with Skylab
    Your driver is Buzz
    Status: Out for delivery Last scan Baikonur Kazakhstan

  • BlackRipleyDog

    What card format model – CF or QXD?

  • Kiboko

    Next order will be Nikon D850. 🙂

  • Fly Moon

    Smart people chose Nikon 🙂

  • Adam Fo

    Nikon use fluorite glass which is a mix, not fluorite crystal as used in some Canon lenses.

    • Bob Thane

      I’d never heard that, do you have a source on that? Good to know if that’s the case.

      • Adam Fo

        Yes, I downloaded Nikon’s glass manufacturing catalogue which is listed on their main site. It lists in great detail all the different types of optical glass they make.
        Nikon make no claims of using calcium fluoride crystals in optics except on smaller microscopes.
        Most large CaF₂ crystals are grown by Schott AG, they have something like a 90% World market share. They also make fluorite glass used in things like top end Zeiss binoculars etc. Canon Inc. also grow crystals for their own use

  • Adnan

    I think 2 D3s and 1 D3X for NASA were in the news somewhere.

  • Damian Franke

    There’s a reason the flagship series exists, and this is one good example of a place where a body and build needs to be able to handle whatever’s thrown at it. Saying that the D8xx series is durable enough is like me saying that my D5500 is still in pristine condition after over a year’s use, why don’t photojournalists just use that?

  • Carlo

    Do you think we can get a discount if we order one more with them ?

  • Gabriel

    Yes, they are on a roll – it is also good to know that Nikon marketing is not asleep.

  • SkyMeow

    I’m a proud D5 owner 😉

  • Richard Hart

    What lens, what aperture & exposure?

  • byn163

    There’s a reason the flagship series exists, and this is one good example of a place where a body and build needs to be able to handle whatever’s thrown at it. Saying that the D8xx series is durable enough is like me saying that my D5500 is still in pristine condition after over a year’s use, why don’t photojournalists just use that?

  • Michael Lee

    Stupid NASA. Do they not know that iPhone 8 will shoot better pictures and come pre-installed with fun selfie filters?

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