DCS 425 Digital Nikonos (NikonWeb article with photos!)

Discuss older Nikon-based Kodak digital SLRs, including DCS 100, DCS 200, NC2000, DCS 400/600/700-series, etc. Ask questions, post general comments, anecdotes, reviews and user tips.
Post Reply
Webmaster
Site Admin
Posts: 1005
Joined: Fri May 20, 2005 4:12 pm
antispam: No
Location: Norway
Contact:

DCS 425 Digital Nikonos (NikonWeb article with photos!)

Post by Webmaster » Thu Dec 11, 2008 10:13 pm

Until May 2005, the existence of a secret, digital Nikonos underwater camera was known only to a select few. Then, a list of all Nikon based DCS cameras was posted in the vintage Kodak DSLR forum here on NikonWeb.com. The list included three digital Nikonos models. Finally, here are some photos and more details!

http://www.nikonweb.com/dcs425/

Jarle

Anssi Krooks
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2005 2:45 pm
Location: Espoo, Finland
Contact:

Re: DCS 425 Digital Nikonos (NikonWeb article with photos!)

Post by Anssi Krooks » Sat Dec 13, 2008 10:02 am

Wow! Nice find!

That must be the most rugged DSLR ever. ;) It's a bit shame that nowadays special underwater cameras are replaced by standard DSLR:s in protective housings so maybe there wouldn't be much market for new digital Nikonos - or maybe there is a special underwater D2X built for US Navy, one newer knows. ;)

Speaking of the "real time image sending" if I recall correctly there was an cellular data card as optional accessory for the DCS 600/700. It could be plugged in the PCMCIA-bay and it would then send images (slowly) to server. But I bet that metal housing would seriously shorten the range of that thing. ;)

-Anssi
D1X, DCS PRO SLR/n, DCS 760, DCS 420c & Canon Pro70

Stan Disbrow
Posts: 579
Joined: Fri May 20, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Raleigh, NC USA

Re: DCS 425 Digital Nikonos (NikonWeb article with photos!)

Post by Stan Disbrow » Sat Dec 13, 2008 3:15 pm

Hi,

I see no electronics in the photos that match up with any communications chipsets from that era. Looks to me like they repackaged the DCS420m parts so that they'd fit behind the Nikonos and then made that alloy cover to seal it all up.

Not that the military would need, or use, any form of civilian communications networks. They have their own satellite-based field systems that come packged to look a lot like a small briefcase. All they'd need do is attach the camera's data port to the satcom unit and they'd be able to send secure and encrypted from anyplace on the planet.

If they tried to use civilian comm networks, they'd have to provide for some 15 different systems within the camera, probably as modules easily swapped under the cover. At that time, each radio would be slightly smaller than half of a pack of cigarettes, so if there were one present, it'd be easy to spot inside that housing. ;)

The main issue is, of course, such military teams operate in secret. Sending photos over a commercial network would lose all secrecy as anyone working for the company that runs the network could see the shots! Then, too, anyone operating counter to the teams would be able to spot the transmissons and know where the teams were operating. It's a lot easier to direction find on ground wave transmissions than it is on space wave ones. ;)

Later!

Stan
Amateur Photographer
Professional Electronics Development Engineer

Webmaster
Site Admin
Posts: 1005
Joined: Fri May 20, 2005 4:12 pm
antispam: No
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: DCS 425 Digital Nikonos (NikonWeb article with photos!)

Post by Webmaster » Tue Dec 16, 2008 11:27 am

Since first publishing this article, I've been in touch with the current owner of the camera, a Spanish Nikonos collector. The DCS 425 is now part of his collection. The camera was bought on eBay, from a US seller, for an undisclosed amount. The photos posted in the Spanish forum, and here on NikonWeb.com, are the ones that were used in the auction listing.

This information has been added to the article.

Here's another photo of DCS 425 in its new Spanish home:

Image

Jarle

NIKON KIU
Posts: 327
Joined: Fri May 20, 2005 9:25 pm
Location: Washington DC USA

Re: DCS 425 Digital Nikonos (NikonWeb article with photos!)

Post by NIKON KIU » Wed Dec 17, 2008 6:26 am

You know this is just great, Now I have to look for a Nikonos RS with a special back... :P

Originally when I saw the list of cameras I was skeptical about these things being real but now I believe!

Let me go and check that list once again :twisted:

Kiu
Lets talk Nikon

Webmaster
Site Admin
Posts: 1005
Joined: Fri May 20, 2005 4:12 pm
antispam: No
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: DCS 425 Digital Nikonos (NikonWeb article with photos!)

Post by Webmaster » Wed Dec 17, 2008 3:38 pm

Another update:

Through some detective work, I've been able to locate the previous owner. He himself had bought it on eBay, but decided to sell it since the camera couldn't be fixed. It was then sold to the current owner (the Spanish Nikonos collector) for "repair only".

I'd like to know how the camera originally ended up "in the wild". I can imagine it was once sold at a US government auction, but that's pure speculation on my part.

Jarle

Webmaster
Site Admin
Posts: 1005
Joined: Fri May 20, 2005 4:12 pm
antispam: No
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: DCS 425 Digital Nikonos (NikonWeb article with photos!)

Post by Webmaster » Wed Dec 17, 2008 11:02 pm

Yet another update with some great info directly from Jim McGarvey, Kodak's lead engineer on the DCS cameras:

"The Nikonos body cameras were made by Kodak's Commercial & Government Systems division. Through most of the DCS years, that group would take our commercial camera designs and adapt them for government and other special needs. Some of that work was secret, but most of the products were simply only marketed in limited venues and didn't appear on the commerical photography radar screens. I don't think the Nikonos cameras were ever actually secret.

Yes, the 425m was a monochrome camera, and that's one I missed on the model list. I have no idea how many Nikonos units were built, but I doubt the total would be over 100. They had no super secret special communications stuff, just standard DCS420 features."

Thanks Jim!

Jarle

Webmaster
Site Admin
Posts: 1005
Joined: Fri May 20, 2005 4:12 pm
antispam: No
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: DCS 425 Digital Nikonos (NikonWeb article with photos!)

Post by Webmaster » Fri Nov 13, 2009 10:56 pm

Came across an interesting "Proposal Submission" from The United States Operations Command’s (USSOCOM), dated May 1999. USSOCOM's mission includes "developing and acquiring unique special operations forces (SOF) equipment, material, supplies and services". Here's an interesting part discussing the need for a successor to the DCS 425:

SOCOM 99-006 TITLE: Ruggedized Digital Camera

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Sensors

OBJECTIVE: Develop a Ruggedized Digital Camera capable of operating underwater to depths up to 100 ft without the need of a separate environmental housing and on land to 15,000 ft. (MSL).

DESCRIPTION: Operational requirements to successfully carry out surveillance and reconnaissance missions specifies the need for a ruggedized digital camera that is capable of operation both underwater at depths to 100ft and on land to elevations of 15,000 (MSL).

The preference is for a camera that does not require a separate environmental housing since these housings tend to be both fragile and bulky.

Emerging mission requirements continue to specify the need for a ruggedized digital camera capable of operating while subjected to severe environmental conditions often encountered during the conduct of surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The Nikonos RS-Based Kodak DCS-425/435 met this requirement. Unfortunately, the Nikonos RS is now out of production resulting in the cancellation of the Kodak DCS-425/435. To meet this requirement a replacement for the Kodak DCS-425/435 is needed.

In addition to the capabilities of the Kodak DCS-425/435 there are additional specified capabilities required of this new ruggedized digital camera. The camera would be capable of both underwater and above ground use capable of taking high-resolution stills and low to high-resolution progressively scanned video (user selectable).

The minimum still resolution would be 1K by 1K pixels and the minimum video resolution would be 640 by 480 pixels. The video (or motion imagery) would be a minimum of ten frames per second (fps), with 30 fps desired. The video frame rate must be user selectable from 1 to 30 frames per second.

The camera must be capable of having interchangeable waterproof (100ft.) lenses for focal lengths of 28mm to 1200mm and a waterproof low light/night vision device. The camera must be autofocus and have SLR-type “through the lens” viewing. The camera shall make no sound perceptible outside a 2 foot range when used above water.

PHASE I: Effort should focus on technological approach for addressing requirement. This should result in the delivering of a Systems Requirements Document and a Preliminary Systems Design Document. Accompanying the Systems Design Document would an in-depth cost estimate for developing three prototype cameras for use in developmental test & evaluation.

PHASE II: Build, test and report on design from Phase I effort.

PHASE III COMMERCIAL APPLICATION: A ruggedized digital camera as described above would have many commercial uses. Photojournalist would have a camera capable of withstanding hard use. Underwater photographers would have a camera not requiring bulky environmental housings. Some of the technology developed might be migrated to the consumer digital camera market that could result in the development of a lower cost less robust (but still more rugged than current digital cameras) version for the consumer camera market. This camera would be have a market with SCUBA hobbyist, backpackers, mountain bikers or anyone requiring a more rugged “sports” camera to meet their needs.

Source: http://www.acq.osd.mil/osbp/sbir/solici ... com992.doc

Jarle

Post Reply