Report: Nikon Fan Meeting 2017

Hello, everybody! How are you guys today? It’s a bit stressful for me right now because I will have to make a few very important decisions for my career and family in the coming months. These sort of problems do not matter much for people who don’t have a family of their own yet so I will advise all the single people here in my readership to enjoy your lives while you still have the freedom! Speaking of enjoyment, I am going to share to you my report on last weekend’s event here in Nikon land. I enjoyed the event a lot so I hope you will enjoy my report of Nikon’s 1st Fan Meeting event!

Main Hall:

The main are is where most of the important booths and exhibits are situated. There’s an area where you can play around with Nikon equipment, a photobooth, a place to shoot 2 beautiful models (modestly dressed, unfortunately), and other miscellaneous activities. I forgot to mention that this event is part of Nikon’s centenary celebrations so the theme is consistent with Nikon’s rich history over the past 100 years. Surprisingly, Nikon made no mention of her interesting early years as Japan’s sole manufacturer of precision optics. I can understand that they would want to gloss over Nikon’s wartime manufacturing but I don’t understand how the important formative years were omitted. Maybe the venue is too small? Perhaps Nikon just wanted to showcase her consumer photography products.

IMG_5632This mural will greet you as you enter the hall. I like how they chose the Nikon F and the Nikon D5 to signify that there is continued and unbroken lineage between the 2 cameras in the form of the venerable F-mount. Come with me and let’s see what’s inside!

IMG_5662Here is a crappy panorama from my iPhone. I don’t know if you can see it but to the left of the panorama you can see the area to test current Nikon equipment like the fantastic Nikon D850 that just came out. There is also a stage where you can shoot 2 models. There are other booths here such as a picture booth and a camera repair booth.

IMG_5633Going there at the 2nd day is a great idea since I do not have to endure a huge crowd. It is a small space around the size of a basketball gym. While it can fit around 1000 people for a small concert, I would prefer space for myself to loiter and walk.

HAW_8575Of course, talks and demos are part of the event. These people are representative coming from the Japanese photographic publications industry. They gave out magazines as their freebie. I didn’t listen to the talk because I wasn’t interested in what they had to say.

IMG_5634These are some of the current products of Nikon Imaging, it is the business division that handles consumer cameras and photographic products. Nikon makes more money on the industrial and medical side of things as I was told but those do not generate as much fans as Nikon Imaging.

I went on the second day to avoid the crown and sure enough, there were less people but there is still a big crowd gathering at the Nikon D850 testing area. That was unfortunate.


Of course, everything has to pay for itself or at least cover part of the cost so there were a lot of Nikon memorabilia being sold ranging from tumblers, towels, shirts, bags, etc. The merchandise area is separate from the main hall and is held in the adjacent hall beside a corridor leading to the toilet. I opted not to take photographs of what is being sold inside because photography is usually forbidden in these kinds of places and I will explain later why this is a common practice here in Japan.

IMG_5644Here are some notes made by fans wishing Nikon a happy 100th Anniversary. Of course, I had to write one myself! There are a few more boards filled with notes at the other side.

IMG_5643These are the only things I got from the merchandise section, a shirt for me and a friend. The largest size is L in “Japan-size”. This barely fit me and I was hoping that they have a size XL for bigger folks! Looks like Nikon wants me to stay fit, too!

I didn’t take pictures at the merchandise area because it may be forbidden to do so since the Chinese Mainlanders will do a good job making bootlegs. This is becoming a problem here in Japan where designs are copied elsewhere and sold online. Not good at all.

Camera Repair:

This is what I really came here for, a demonstration by the Nikon repair gods themselves! Kiitos was started by former Nikon technicians so you can be sure that they are the best! I would like to apply for apprenticeship here even on the weekends!

Here’re some pictures from the camera repair booth. That machine you see to the left is a proper shutter tester for use professionally by workshops to see if the shutter speeds are OK. The picture to the right shows an expert working on a Nikon F. She took about 45:00 to dismantle a Nikon F and put it back together in that time window. A real professional!

Limited Edition Cameras:

Nikon made several special commemorative cameras and lenses to commemorate special milestones or simply for the want of extra revenue as dictated by marketing. Leica’s been this all the time wether there is any significance or not to the special models they make. I cannot justify their prices but thankfully Nikon’s special models are priced realistically. It is one of the reason why I like Nikon, they can go that way but they chose not to. Even the special “millennium” edition of the Nikon S3 and the lens that came with it is still a pretty good deal despite being expensive since Nikon had to remake the tools for making these from scratch. You can be sure that you’re not merely paying an overpriced camera set for the price of a different paint job or insignificant cosmetic differences. Yes, I’m a fanboy.

Here are some of the limited edition cameras that Nikon made. The gold ones felt tacky to me to be honest but whatever. The Nikon S3 you see here is the “millennium” replica. It is interesting to note that there is a gold Nikon F50 made to commemorate a milestone and in this case, the number of cameras made. Again, not to my liking. I think it belongs to a rapper’s neck or an Arab sheik’s getup. It is at home in the Roger Moore 007 movies.

Nikons in Space:

Nikon has a very long history working together with NASA. Nikon’s awesome reputation for being tough and reliable is the key to this. This doesn’t mean that the equipment from the rival companies are not up to the job it’s just that Nikon’s professional cameras does it better. This is even more true during the ’60s up until the early ’80s where Nikons were made to considerably higher spec than the other manufacturers. Of course, they caught up eventually but the legend and the name has already been made so to speak.

This is the Nikon D4 that went to space. The EVA or Extra Vehicular Activity cover is very expensive and costs around $20,000. This is the training version you see here and it costs less than the real thing. Note the velcro strips on the Nikon D4, it is used when you want to secure the camera in zero gravity. I had a Nikon D4 once and I loved it a lot.

This one interested me the most. As you know, I am a very big fan of the 55mm family of Micro-Nikkors! This Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 Ai-S was specially made for NASA. Note that it doesn’t have any rubber used on it and the lettering is easier to see. Owning this lens is a dream for me. Dear Nikon, I have been a really good boy this year.

Here are some early Space Nikons. Note that they were all painted with matte black. That paint job has become glossier as more and more people handle it. Remember what scale modelers usually say about the paint job on their models? It applies here, too!

Almost every part has serial number information engraved on them. It doesn’t matter if the part is small such as the handles on the focusing ring of the lens, it had to be marked!

Here are some Nikon F3’s that were custom-made for NASA. Notice the fat insulation for the cables. The Nikon F3’s and their accessories were extensively modified.

NASA’s requirements were very demanding because it takes a lot of dollars to send stuff to space and when it’s there, the equipment has to work flawlessly and be safe to use for the crew. You can say that it’s overkill but this is critical stuff so better be safe than sorry!

Space Cameras:

One of the things that I came for is the talk on the topic of “space cameras” by non other than the great Goto Tetsuro himself. I respect the guy a lot and there is not better person to talk about the topic than the man himself because he is directly involved in this thing for more than 4 decades! He requested that we only take pictures of the slides from the presentation so long as there are no symbols saying otherwise. There are stuff that were shown in the presentation that is not meant to be shared on the internet.

IMG_5669Mr. Goto Tetsuro is about to begin his talk. He is a great guy, very approachable and he is a living treasure in the Japanese camera industry. He is going to retire soon after almost 45 years of work. Without him, we would be using very different cameras.

HAW_8582The cameras were made in the ’70s and the New-Nikkor 55mm f/1.2 lens was used to take pictures of our ozone layer. Notice that only the essential engravings were not painted in matte black. Note that some of the controls and knobs are different from the production versions because astronauts use very thick gloves. No film changing in space for you!

HAW_8585There were 2 types of bulk magazines used, they were nicknamed “Big” and “Small”. The film stock used is also special, they were thinner and they used polyester and not acetate as substrate material. One interesting thing to note is that the film advance mechanisms were modified so “Big” and “Small” are capable of doing 250 and 72 frames respectively.

HAW_8581Here are some of the modifications done on the Nikon F3 to make it kosher for NASA. The cameras have to be compliant in order to be sent to space.

  • The housing was painted in matte black (Nikon F).
  • The lubricant used was special and it costs a fortune for just a small tub.
  • All of the rubber and plastic parts were replaced with metal parts.
  • The use of lead solders was heavily controlled/supervised by NASA.
  • Special gas and spark resistant coatings.
  • Extreme temperature protection.
  • Different firmware.

HAW_8586The Nikon F3 backs were heavily modified. A place for a memo was included and a fuse box had to be implemented just in case. I don’t understand the bit where the 18ms thing was mentioned so I am not going to speculate and give you any bogus information.

HAW_8588Here are some more interesting things. The filters used were special and like what I said earlier, every part has serial numbers. The screws probably don’t have the serials since this is going to be impractical, but who knows!? If you have the money, why not?

HAW_8590This is the slide for the Nikon SB-800’s special EVA cover. The special Nikon SB-800 here’s been modified a bit because the arc-discharge will not work in the vacuum of space but the bulb and flash tube is exactly the same as the ones used on commercial models. That big housing beside it is the special power pack.

HAW_8593The special EVA cover of the Nikon D4 for NASA were made from a combination of those materials you see on the caption. It was made to withstand the speed and temperatures mentioned in the bubble. Wow, 8km/second! That is super fast!

IMG_5671This is basically just a timeline of what Nikon cameras were sent to space and when they were serve as space cameras. It is interesting to note that even the humble Nikon FM/FE series went to space with the Russians. This shows that these little cameras are tough!

HAW_8596The Nikon D4 was modified to use special lubricants, some insulation, a modified quick shoe and some velcro strips stuck to it here and there. The tag is also interesting.

This was a long but interesting talk. I will admit that I got sleepy at times because I didn’t have enough sleep the night before this but I tried my best to keep myself awake because this is not a common topic with scarce information available online.

I hope you enjoyed this report and if you liked it, please share this to your friends! Ric.


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11 Comments (+add yours?)

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  11. Trackback: Repair: Nikon F part 2 | Richard Haw's Classic Nikon Repair and Review

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