Digital Nikonos RS (Kodak DCS 425, 435)

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.
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Digital Nikonos RS (Kodak DCS 425, 435)

Post by Webmaster » Wed Jun 22, 2005 6:35 pm

In 1996 and 1997, Kodak made 3 digital models based on Nikon's Nikonos RS underwater camera:

DCS 425c - 1012x1524 Bay RGB-100-400 ISO
DCS 425ir - 1012x1524 IR-200-800 ISO
DCS 435 - 1012x1268 Bay RGB-200-1000 ISO

These cameras are not listed on Kodak's website, or anywhere else, for that matter. Asking Kodak, I received this reply:

'I'm sorry but those cameras never existed here at Eastman Kodak. We
never made cameras for that specific use. The information you have is
incorrect.'

Strange thing is, I'm pretty sure my information is correct. Asking another Kodak source, I was told: 'I think the issue is who they were made for'.

I can only assume they were produced for some US military / intelligence organization. I can't really understand what the secrecy is all about, but I understand Kodak's position (the support people probably don't even know that such a camera exists).

Here's some brief Nikon info about Nikonos RS:

http://nikonimaging.com/global/products ... rwater/rs/

And here's more, from the excellent Photography in Malaysia website:

http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/co ... onosrs.htm

If anyone have any more information about the 'secret' Kodak underwater models (or even better: some photos), please let me know. Post it here or click on the email button below.

Jarle

Stan Disbrow
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Post by Stan Disbrow » Thu Jun 23, 2005 2:44 pm

Hi,

Yes, it's pretty common for an R&D shop to produce special models in limited production quantities for specific customers, and then not document said models for the product support folks.

Sometimes these 'specials' wind up spawning a high-volume commerecial product, but most of the time they don't.

Back when I was with IBM, we made a couple of 'specials' in the PS/2 line, the 8580-K31 and the 8581-US1, both of which spawned the commercial models 8580-A31 and 8595-A01. If you called the IBM PS/2 help center, the official product support organization, with either of the model numbers for the 'specials', you'd be told that they never existed. ;)

Later!

Stan
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drummond93
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"Specific customers"

Post by drummond93 » Fri Jun 24, 2005 8:53 pm

I'll try to generalize, since there may still be some companies that haven't revealed who they made products for. (At one time there were about 150 different businesses or so whose relationship with a certain "Customer" was classified)

The one "specific customer" that Stan mentioned that deliberately did not want identified is the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) whose very existence was classified until about 1992. A company like Kodak would have been a very important source of imaging technology for them.. perhaps the singlemost important company in the field of sensor development for satellite reconnaissance. Note, it was a mutual beneficial agreement between the NRO and the companies involved regarding keeping these types of relationships secret.... it 1) Kept the NRO from being identified, and 2)kept the manufacturer from having to fend off public inquirys by shareholders into that part of their business. I know that a certain company from Rochester, NY has/did/still does support this area... but as for what specific models/ products... well, if I told you I'd have to kill you :wink:

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Post by Stan Disbrow » Fri Jun 24, 2005 10:17 pm

Hi,

Yep. It was like that for another corporation in New York State, with HQ in Armonk and a dedicated R&D site in Owego that looked more like Fort Knox than a corporate R&D center. In fact, we often referred to it as 'Fort IBM' :P

However not all of the 'special products' came out of The Fort. Many times, they didn't have the specialized know-how, so there were other folks at other sites that worked on 'specials' as well.

Many of us were at Kingston, which started out life as the place that manufactured SAGE. That stood for Semi-Automatic Ground Environment, which was a tube-based mainframe computer system that could take input from radar stations, track inbound air targets, plot intercept courses, and load tracking data into S-A missiles. That was all automatic. The semi-automatic part was that the launching of said missile was done by an operator at a console. That was a nice feature for anyone on a commercial flight from 1956 until 1985 or so when the last system was shut down. ;)

I can talk about that one without having to kill anyone because it's (a) before my time in the business, and (b) long declassified. Heck, the main status display console was featured in a movie called 'War Games', where SAGE was called WOPR. The movie was about a kid that hacks into the thing and thinks he's playing a game called Global Thermonuclear War, which WOPR thinks is all too real......

Anyway enough about 'special' products that aren't Kodak cameras. ;)

Later!

Stan
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drummond93
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SAGE

Post by drummond93 » Sat Jun 25, 2005 2:42 am

SAGE was quite the system... I've researched that system as a side-trip into early man-machine interface protocol/ user input. If I recall, they used light-activated "guns" (actually, pointers) to query/ locate targets displayed on the radar screen. Somewhere on the web there is a pretty detailed analysis/ description of the system. As I recall, there was a analysis of the "man-in-the loop" feature of Sage compared to automated "fire" control systems in a book about called "The Limits of Safety": by Scott Sagan... as I recall, due to the semi-primitive nature of computers at that point, they still used voice links to confirm firing orders, as opposed to the automated fireing system that led to the accidental downing of the Iranian airliner by the USS Vincennes.

I didn't realize that WOPR came from a SAGE unit.. I'll have to look at that movie again... I typically think of Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller ... but then again, the character in War Games is really a lot like Ferris, just a couple of years younger!

I won't say much more about special products or who makes what for whom, but Kodak is still in that industry..... and still makes some top-notch items.... If Nikon wanted a full-frame sensor, the chip is available... just not in mass-production for the consumer market. 8)

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Re: SAGE

Post by Stan Disbrow » Mon Jun 27, 2005 2:43 pm

drummond93 wrote:SAGE was quite the system... I've researched that system as a side-trip into early man-machine interface protocol/ user input. If I recall, they used light-activated "guns" (actually, pointers) to query/ locate targets displayed on the radar screen.

I didn't realize that WOPR came from a SAGE unit..
I spent most of my time with IBM at the Kingston, NY plant, which is where SAGE came from. So, there were reminders of it all over the place. I still have a couple of the tube plug-in logic units from one.

The light-pen interface made it into other products. We last used it on the 3277 terminal, although it was an option on later products, like the original 5150 Personal Computer. The monochrome display/printer adapter has a light-pen connection, and I grafted one from an old 3277 onto mine way back when (1981). :P

That WOPR is made up from a couple of the status panels from a SAGE. I suppose they'd seen reference to the real thing, and felt that lots of blinking lights were just the effect they needed.

Of course, in real operation, the lights don't flash all over the place like that. That's just Hollywood-speak for a computer 'thinking'! ;)

Later!

Stan
Amateur Photographer
Professional Electronics Development Engineer

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Photography movies

Post by Webmaster » Mon Jun 27, 2005 6:55 pm

Guys, guys! This is a photography forum. Don't make me moderate you :)

Nah, just kidding. I would never do that. Instead, let me join you:

At the time I thought War Games was a very cool and entertaining movie. Remember the modem Matthew Broderick used to connect to the WOPR? A similar device, a Nikon QA-10 Acoustic Coupler was part of my new QV kit that you might have heard about..

Speaking of photography, the best news photographer movie of all times is 'Under Fire' (1984) where Nick Nolte does an excellent job looking like a real pro with his Nikon F2's.

'Salvador' with James Woods (1985) is another good one, if I remember correctly.

'The Killing Fields' (1984) was nominated for seven Oscars and won three. In this true story Sam Waterston played New York Times journalist Sydney Schanberg covering the civil war in Cambodia, working with his local colleague Dith Pran. Pran later became a staff photographer for the New York Times. Probably one of the strongest, most intense movies ever.

Here's some funny trivia for you (perhaps in violation of the forum rules, but I won't tell anyone):

At the Oscar's, when Haing S. Ngor won the Oscar for best supporting actor, he walked onto the stage with his 15-year-old niece. Upon walking up to the stage, John Malkovich jokingly shouted something in Cambodian to him which shocked his niece and made Haing Ngor laugh. He shouted, "The award's mine, asshole!" In Haing Ngor's autobiography, he describes John Malkovich's keen interest in learning Cambodian swear words.

(Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087553/ )

Now, anyone ever seen a Kodak DCS or a Nikon QV-1000C in a movie?

Jarle

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Post by kelbley » Tue Jun 28, 2005 3:47 am

:evil:

Lets just say that if or when Nikon discontinued the RS..
It would have made it really difficult to build further "wet" digital cameras based on the system..
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Nikonos RS

Post by Webmaster » Tue Jun 28, 2005 6:25 am

Nikonos RS was announced in 1992 and discontinued only a few years later, in 1996.

Apparently, early versions had an annoying tendency to flood. Nikon dutifully replaced all these fiasco floods at first, but in the end it was not worth the trouble, and they discontinued the camera.

(Source: http://www.photo.net/learn/underwater/uw2/Nikonos.html )

It would probably be easier to produce a watertight digital model, since you don't need to insert any film. (You'll still need memory and batteries, though).

These days, most people seem to prefer underwater housings for regular DSLR's, or even smaller compact models. The bigger models are very expensive, typically costing much more than the cameras they are made to protect. You can't change lenses under water in any case, so I guess it often makes sense to use a smaller camera.

Still, it would be cool to see a digital RS. Perhaps someone can make a sketch of what it might look like :)

Jarle

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