The Nikon F100: Invincible

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Ashley_Pomeroy
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The Nikon F100: Invincible

Post by Ashley_Pomeroy » Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:43 pm

Whilst writing something about the D1, and trying to work out if it used any bits of the F100, I stumbled on this blog post:
http://photozopia.blogspot.com/2010/04/ ... art-2.html

A chap bought a broken old F100 for spare parts, from an eBay auction which mentioned that the camera had been damaged in a car fire. And indeed the lower half is basically melted plastic, resembling a film prop from Mad Max or something similar. And yet it works! Obviously this post would be more entertaining with a picture. Imagine that the blank space below has a photograph of a melted F100:

(blank space)

See, Lifepixel's dissection of the D1 seems to show space for film spools:
http://www.lifepixel.com/tutorials/infr ... s/nikon-d1

And the back of the camera looks as if it was originally designed to open up, like a film back. And the top plate is very similar to the F100, and so I wonder what actual bits when into it.

Stan Disbrow
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Re: The Nikon F100: Invincible

Post by Stan Disbrow » Thu Sep 08, 2011 10:49 pm

Hi,

As I recall, the base mechanical design of the D1 and F100 was the same. That would not be unusual, sharing as much of the design effort as possible when making something new like the D1.

The early cell phones were based 98% on conversational-trunked 2-way radios. All we did was pull off the 2-way style control head and replace it with a cell-style handset then retune the radio section to the adjacent cellular band. The control software changed some, too, of course, but that's just bits loaded into memory. ;)

I have two such units on my desk at work. One is a GE model T-MX 2-way radio with control head and microphone, and the other is a GE model CarFone cellular radio with handset. Even with the covers off so you can see the circuit boards, you can't tell which is which without referring to the part numbers on the radio boards. The control and audio boards are the same, BTW. I have a '3D history of the Cell Phone' on my desk as the RIM folks weren't around for most of that history. :)

So, that explains the D1 body cavities filled with electronics that looked like they were for film spools, and the film door shape to the rear opening. They weren't going to pay for anything new they absolutely didn't have to as they were unsure just how well it might sell.

As it was, they could have made it all out of Unobntainium and made a killing. As it was, they leveraged that common mechanical design across three models for several years. Talk about cost-effective! :)

Later!

Stan
Amateur Photographer
Professional Electronics Development Engineer

Ashley_Pomeroy
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Re: The Nikon F100: Invincible

Post by Ashley_Pomeroy » Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:56 pm

Stan Disbrow wrote:So, that explains the D1 body cavities filled with electronics that looked like they were for film spools, and the film door shape to the rear opening. They weren't going to pay for anything new they absolutely didn't have to as they were unsure just how well it might sell.

As it was, they could have made it all out of Unobntainium and made a killing. As it was, they leveraged that common mechanical design across three models for several years. Talk about cost-effective!
I was pondering that. According to one of the chaps here - the bloke with that wonderful website, with all the Nikon bodies - there were 40,000 D1 serial numbers, and the camera sold for $5,000 a pop, reduced by about a thousand dollars about half-way through its life, so 40,000 times $4,500 (say) equals (fiddles with calculator) one hundred and eighty million dollars. In 2000 dollars.

To which must be added extra batteries, Nikon Capture, straps and accessories and so forth - the batteries in particular were famously expensive - and that's a lot of money. Add on the D1h and D1x, which were a bit cheaper and probably didn't cost that much to develop, and that's a lot more money.

Still, to a company like Esso or Microsoft $180,000,000 isn't a great deal, and that has to pay for staff, development, the cost of manufacture etc. I've always assumed that the professional digital SLR situation was a bit like that in the games console world, whereby the consoles are sold at a loss and the revenue comes from the games, but then again I've never really thought of lenses as being cheap to make either. Judging by this report from 2001 the company's major earner was the steppers used to make integrated circuits:
http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Nikon%27s ... a081828326

I like to think that it's a well-run stepper company that has a camera business on the side, run as a hobby by people who like cameras, and who try to make a profit but aren't too fussed if they don't, which is probably 180 degrees from the truth, but it's nice to dream.

Stan Disbrow
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Re: The Nikon F100: Invincible

Post by Stan Disbrow » Sun Oct 09, 2011 5:36 pm

Hi,

Yes, the development is usually paid for by the industrial side, and then used on the consumer side to make a few more bucks out of it all. And, for this discussion, consumer would include professional photography as well. Pro shooters are still consumers of goods, although at a different level than the average person, of course. :)

Kodak developed their imaging systems in the mid 1980's for vision quality control on industrial manufacturing lines. It got stuck in that Nikon F3 and sold to photojournalists as an afterthought.

In fact it was stuck in a Canon F1 before it was stuck in the Nikon F3. I recall playing with the F1 version in 1985 when Kodak was trying to sell IBM vision systems, and I was being demo'd as a possible customer at the time. I was shooting everyone in the meeting room with the fool thing and *really* wanting one for myself! ;)

For all the photographic things we see everyday, there are a lot more uses for optics and imaging in the industrial world. Plus, all of those uses are critically integrated in the whole of industrial processes and represent many times the money as from all of what we think of as photography.

That's all good because it leads to those super-low-cost professional digital SLR bodies back in 2000 for 5000 USD and ever lower as time marches on. :)

The Kodak DCS560/660 was $25k at the time the Nikon D1 was $5k and even at $25k it was a lot cheaper than the imaging head I integrated on an robotic manufacturing line in that same timeframe at $150k. That was just the head, not including the image processing computers and vision interpretation software nor the line process control systems that would push a failure off to a side belt to head to a repair technician....

That all sounds super costly, but it was really cheap as that vision unit was on a line that made 30,000 cell phones per day, which were worth $200 each wholesale and $400 each retail. :)

later!

Stan
Amateur Photographer
Professional Electronics Development Engineer

nikonnl
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Re: The Nikon F100: Invincible

Post by nikonnl » Mon Oct 10, 2011 1:30 pm

Hi,
Allow me to explain Nikon’s position in the world of photography.
Nikon was established as an optical industry supplying optics to the Japanese forces. The quality of the optics were amazing, but understandably as Nikon hired 8 German experts and Hitler handed them all Zeiss (and other) patents for free. After W.W. II Nikon had to shift to consumer goods. It copied (like most Japanese did) European products and introduced those horrible Nikon I, Nikon M and Nikon S cameras. The lenses, however, were and are still first class. The presentation of the Nikon SP, later converted into the legendary Nikon F, plus excellent optics, changed the reputation of Nikon. Nikon made very nice cameras for film, as we know, but also rubbish (Nikkorex, some F-X01, some compacts, FM/FE-10, etc.). And I still believe that the late Joseph Ehrenreich played an important role in the break-through of Nikon in the USA.
Nikon never had expertise in digital photography; it had to set up a special unit and to engage a completely new staff of engineers. Sony, Kodak and Fuji already were experimenting in sensor production. As Nikon did not know whether digital photography would be accepted or not it had to be economical with R&D. We all know how incredibly expensive the very first digital cameras, made by Kodak and Fuji, were. The Nikon D1 body (1999) was based on the F100 and F5 (look inside to be convinced).
Rival Canon was walking behind Nikon but that has changed. Nikon still has to buy technology (hardware, software, etc.). Sony, as being the most important sensor supplier, is dictating Nikon when to introduce what.
In 1980 Nikon introduced its first stepper. Since then it has sold 9,000 steppers. With a present global market share of 23 %. ASML is the world’s largest stepper producer, using Zeiss optics. Steppers are expensive (from 14 Million Euro onwards).
Nikon is NOT a stepper manufacturer with a subsidiary producing cameras and lenses! The last 4 years Nikon lost billions of Yen in its stepper and precision equipment business. Thanks to the worldwide sales of cameras and lenses Nikon was able to survive.
When we look at other companies in those markets - Sony, Canon, Konica Minolta and others - you’ll see that their camera business play - at least - the second fiddle.
Nikon’s net sales last year were 887 billion Yen, of which 597 billion Yen (67.3%) was contributed by imaging products, 209 billion Yen (23.6%) by precision equipment and 59 billion Yen (6.7%) by instruments. Ratio R&D to net sales is a low 7%. Canon counted for net sales last year of 3,780 billion Yen, of which 54% was contributed by office equipment, 37% by consumer goods (like cameras, etc.) and 11% by industrial goods.
Sony had net sales of 7,181 billion Yen of which only 10% is in digital imaging business and 5% in semiconductors. Most money is made in the game, PC, TV, pictures and music business. It may be clear that these two rivals do not put all their eggs into one basket.
I am sure Nikon will survive as it is one of the sparkling diamonds within the Mitsubishi keiretsu.

Regards,
that bloke
D1/D1X/D1H/D2H/D2X etc.

Stan Disbrow
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Re: The Nikon F100: Invincible

Post by Stan Disbrow » Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:37 pm

Hi,

Keep in mind that the impetus for R&D in the optics are driven from the industrial side and then transferred to the consumer side. This is where most of the loss on the industrial side of things comes from, the necessary R&D to push the envelope. Without the impetus of the needs of the industrial customers to drive the R&D, not as much would occur.

Then, too, the buyers of the industrial products use that equipment to supply needed items back to the place where that equipment came from. It's a symbiant circle. :)

As long as all the costs from all the divisions are lower than the income from them all, they survive.

Later!

Stan
Amateur Photographer
Professional Electronics Development Engineer

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