Space, the final frontier for expensive camera gear.
Most photographers won’t get the chance to journey to outer space for a shoot, but that doesn’t mean some of Earth’s most popular cameras won’t get the opportunity to make that trip of a lifetime.
In a surprise move, the American space agency NASA placed an amazingly large order for camera gear back in August.
NASA placing one of the largest orders for camera gear in the agency’s history is a move that by itself would normally raise eyebrows, but this time the agency not only shocked with the dollar amount of photography equipment purchased, but also the manufacturer chosen – Japanese optics giant and photography powerhouse Nikon.
NASA placed an order for 53 Nikon D5’s and many speculated that the space agency was replacing the on-station gear all in one order.
This past weekend, 10 of those Nikon D5 cameras were delivered to the International Space Station for use in taking pictures of mother Earth as well as their use in inspecting the space station’s exterior solar panels.
The International Space Station's Nikon D5 cameras are operated with a white thermal housing that protects the camera from extremes in hot and cold temperatures while in use during spacewalks. The cameras also sometimes employ special firmware to reduce ambient noise that is caused by the increased radiation present in space.
NASA’s previous purchases of Nikon D4 cameras also had a special lubrication that helped it operate in the extremes of space but it is unknown whether NASA’s D5 cameras will have a similar coating. As FStoppers noted most of the models purchased were completely stock, unmodified cameras that any photographer could purchase.
FStoppers notes that NASA likely chose the Nikon D5 because of the agency's prior experience with the model and the D5's noted low-light capabilities.
NASA has a long relationship with quality camera makers, using Hasselblad gear in its famed Apollo moon landing missions.