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中英對照 尼康的鈦金屬相機故事



尼康的鈦金屬相機及為美國太空總署特製的相機

在這篇介紹尼康相機歷史的文字的最終章  讓我們看看代表尼康工藝最高峰的兩款相機: 尼康鈦金屬相機  和一款為了美國國家航空及太空總署(National Aeronautics
and Space Administration, NASA)量身訂造的相機  大部分的讀者可能從未聽說過這兩款尼康

鈦金屬和尼康

絕大多數快門在焦平面的相機正對著太陽時 
鏡頭就像取火的聚光放大鏡一樣,很快的就會把快門布簾燒燬。(提醒讀者:切勿從相機觀景窗直視太陽,視網膜可能嚴重受損!)一般相信,光圈開到大於f/8就可能損壞快門簾。

1957年時,尼康Kogaku工廠開始研發薄且耐燃的快門簾材料。 當時的研究團隊認定的目標材料是工業界用的純鈦箔。鈦是一種質輕而可彎曲性佳的材料,一般被認為是用作快門簾的絕佳材料。但是,鈦也是一種很難加工及處理的金屬。尼康Kogaku廠的團隊一路上花了很大的功夫逐漸把鈦快門的技術發展成熟。許多問題也逐漸被克服,比如說精確度,表面刮傷,還有低溫環境的快門運作問題。在1959年,Nikon F上市之後,尼康開始在相機裡正式使用鈦金屬快門。Nikon F是單鏡反光相機(SLR),平常狀況下反射鏡會阻擋陽光所以並沒有燒壞快門簾的問題。不過,Nikon F有抬起反射鏡的功能。在那個時候假如面對太陽就有可能造成損壞。鈦快門在開發階段就是用在Nikon F上,Nikon F也就成為第一款正式使用鈦快門的尼康相機。其後的Nikon SP使用了和Nikon F同樣的快門機制和鈦快門簾幕。Nikon Kogaku廠逐步地改善他們的鈦金屬製作工藝,這也成為他們獨步一方的技術。

鈦金屬的多種用途

繼Nikon F之後,1971年推出的F2不只使用鈦來做快門簾,也用它來做反光鏡的金屬框。尼康希望能夠不增強彈簧就加快反射鏡抬起的速度。更輕的鈦金屬框就用在這裡,減少了快門的延遲時間。

用作反射鏡框的鈦片厚度是快門簾的二十倍。在製作這麼厚的鈦金屬片時,一般製作鋼片零件的模具很快就被磨鈍。所以整套的衝壓處理過程都需要重新改進。正是這種厚鈦金屬片的製程的開發,引領出了鈦外殼的尼康機身。

鈦機身尼康F2

(鈦元素"titanium"名稱的由來就是希臘神話裡強而有力的巨神族泰坦“Titan”)

多年來相機的外殼多是以黃銅(銅鋅合金)製造。尼康專業相機在長期嚴酷的使用環境考驗下,往往會被碰撞到凹凸不平。Nikon Kogaku最早嘗實製造了使用質輕而堅固的鈦金屬外殼的Nikon F2機身。雖然尼康在製作鈦金屬機殼(尤其是觀景窗部份的壓製)時遭遇了許多困難,他們仍然逐漸的累積了豐富的經驗及知識來製造美觀又耐用的鈦金屬機殼。

當時的鈦機身和現在的大多鈦機身不同,當時是不上漆,以鈦金屬的本色上市的。


在實驗性的產品之後,尼康製作了少量鈦機身。1978年也正式上市了幾款機型 。然而,用戶卻對鈦色機身有些負面的評語。大多認為淺色的機身既反光且太醒目,似乎不適用於專業機款。

尼康於1979年出產了幾百台限量發行的黑色F2 Titan。外殼是粗面黑漆。其後,尼康推出刻有"Titan"字樣的鈦機身F2。尼康的F2 Titan雖然產量很少,但還是逐漸被消費者接受。

(據本文原作者Tateno先生稱,聽說有刻Titan字樣的鈦機身遠多於沒有刻字的版本。)
Following 

尼康F3在1980上市接替F2成為頂級專業機。1982年上市的F3/HP(配備了DE-3觀景器)讓帶眼鏡的使用者能夠清楚的看到完整的觀景視野。所以尼康決定以F3/HP作為鈦金屬版F3的平台。

F3的機身是全黑的。為了增加顏色選項,尼康將1982年出的F3/T漆成鈦金屬色澤。1984年起,一款黑色的F3/T出品了,這個版本比鈦金屬色版生產了更長的時間。

另外,1994年限量版F3所搭配的觀景器外殼也是鈦金屬製的。鈦製的外殼增加了整體的結構強度,讓閃光燈座也可以安在觀景器上。尼康鈦版的F2/F3不但在鈦製造技術上領先其他廠牌,其機身設計也是非常優越的。其他競爭對手在摹仿尼康用鈦金屬製造相機時,往往使用含有其他金屬的鈦合金減低加工壓製上的困難度。不過,尼康不顧加工的困難,堅持使用較高純度的鈦。

 
Cameras for a higher cause “高”檔次相機
Nikon Photomic FTN
used in Apollo 15 

二次大戰之後,美蘇兩國為了爭取超級強國的地位,開始了太空及軍備競賽。到了1960年代,雙方都開始了載人的太空任務。也使用照相機來作任務紀錄。

早先,美國航空太空總署(NASA)是使用70毫米寬的底片的。但是NASA很快發現他們需要一種攜帶較方便的相機來紀錄動作量逐漸增加的太空任務。當時,尼康相機已因耐用可靠享譽美國市場,所以被NASA選來製造太空中使用的35毫米相機。

尼康在美國的代理商接下NASA特製相機的訂單。尼康在品川大井(Ohi, Shinagawa)廠的一個特別團隊負責這個產品的開發。

 Space photography太空攝影
Nikon Photomic FTN
used in Apollo 15 

太空中使用的相機必須能承受真空及無重力的環境。在密閉的太空艙裡,也絕對不能產生任何有害易燃的氣體(譯者註:比如潤滑油可能在真空中加速揮發產生氣體)。太空人帶著厚重手套的手也要能容易的操作。

太空中的日光比地球表面強烈許多。而太空船承載的重量也有限制,不容許多帶一個備用相機。所以,相機一定要可靠耐用。為了符合這許多嚴格的要求,尼康的團隊用一臺Nikon F為基礎然後開始改裝。

比如說,Nikon F機身上貼的類皮革被改成金屬版,漆成不反光的黑色。所有民用版機身上的塑膠零件及黏著劑也都升級以符合NASA標準。
電池室也經過改造以防止意外的電池漏液。所有電路的銲接,電鍍層的厚度也都要符合NASA的規格。太空攝影使用的聚酯基底的底片厚度較薄,所以機身內部的尺寸也有所修正。

操作部件基本上都改大了以便於太空人戴著手套使用。連底片計數的數字和窗口都是大號的。
替換的鏡頭也經過改裝。對焦環上的兩個突起讓太空中的對焦更為便利。最後,NASA對快門準確度的要求比尼康原廠更為嚴格。

 尼康和顧客獲益於NASA合作的經驗太空實驗室裡使用的Nikon F 

尼康為了NASA開發的特殊相機在1971年正式登場。一臺改裝的Nikon F和一些鏡頭參加了阿波羅15號登月任務。然後,在1973年的太空實驗室裡也採用了一臺Nikon F,包括了捲片馬達。
這些尼康開發的太空照相機至今仍在服役中(譯者註:直至原文出版之時),尼康也持續提供維修服務。
雖然這些NASA版的相機絕對不便宜。據信尼康的這個計畫上也還是賠了很多錢。不過,和NASA合作的寶貴經驗也對日後尼康的產品有很大的幫助,尤其在相機的可靠度和性能上的改善,應該早已值回票價。
尼康在替NASA生產Nikon F版的太空相機時,也平行開發了F2版的太空相機。不過,NASA從未要求量產F2版,所以也沒有正式的生產過。 


F3/F4版的NASA太空相機
尼康接著開發F3版的NASA相機。有“大”“小”兩款。“小”相機有馬達捲片器,“大”相機則是1981年太空梭上使用的大捲底片機背款。

早在尼康還在開發民用版的F3時,NASA就提前正式宣布F3將是下一款太空相機。所以尼康F3的民用版和NASA版本是同時在大井廠開發的。

尼康成立了一個新的特別團隊來研發NASA版“大”F3。這台相機有一個可替換的大機背和捲片軸用以裝載特長的超薄膠片。研發人員在加速底片傳動上花了很多的心力才完成這個任務。

F3的NASA版和民用版有許多相同的部件,所以大體上十分相似。這一點和第一代Nikon F的太空機不同,F的民用版和NASA版差異較大。
尼康在1989提交了F4版的太空相機給NASA。這一款NASA機和民用版的差別就更小了。尼康積極地把先前和NASA合作的經驗融入新相機的開發過程,NASA也瞭解新相機的規格都符合太空攝影標準,所以近期的NASA相機不需要太大的改裝。

尼康相機是被用戶催生而來的

在這最後一個章節裡,我們看到了尼康的鈦金屬機身和NASA太空相機。這些相機足以應付最不尋常,最嚴苛的使用環境。
早在1950年代韓戰期間,尼康相機就以在嚴寒地區的優異表現負有盛名。之後,尼康相機不斷地在全球接受各種極端狀況的考驗。
尼康研發的鈦金屬機和太空相機展現了尼康在相機工藝上的過人之處。這些特殊的技術也回頭幫助了尼康後來一般相機的開發,拓展了客戶群,也增加了顧客的信心。

這讓我們看見尼康產品和客戶的回饋是不可分的。尼康的使用者把自己使用尼康機身和鏡頭的經驗傳回給尼康,因而加速了新產品的開發及改善。筆者相信,尼康會繼續這個傳統給尼康的愛用者提供優異的產品。這當然是很艱鉅的任務,但這也是尼康今後發展的必須途徑。

Special titanium Nikon cameras and NASA cameras

Special titanium Nikon
cameras and NASA cameras

This will be the final installment of my review of the history of Nikon
cameras.
In this last edition I will concentrate on camera models that were born of
Nikon's highest-grade cameras.
The discussion will focus on titanium-coated cameras as well as cameras
Nikon made for NASA.
I'm certain that many readers will be seeing this information for the
first time.

Titanium and Nikon
When a focal-plane shutter camera with direct optical viewfinder is
pointed toward the sun, the lens acts as a magnifying glass and the shutter
curtain serves as black paper which was found during experiments performed with
children (Caution ! Never look at the sun through a camera. Retina damage and
blindness may result.).
As a result, the sun may burn a hole in a shutter curtain. It is said that
normal cloth shutter curtains may be damaged if a camera is pointed toward the
sun without the lens cap and with a lens aperture set at brighter than f/8.
In 1957, Nippon Kogaku K.K. started working on
developing a thin, burn-resistant material for shutter curtains
The laboratory determined that they should aim
for pure titanium sheets used in industry.
Titanium, which is ultra light and has high flexibility, was regarded as
suitable for shutter curtains.
It was, however, also well known as a material that was difficult to
treat. With its improved treatment technology, Nippon Kogaku somehow succeeded
in contorting the sticky material into the shape of a shutter curtain. However,
Nippon Kogaku had many problems along the way, such as accuracy, scratches,
damage, and performance when exposed to low temperatures. They gradually
cleared these obstacles and were able to begin using titanium for shutter
curtains in 1959, immediately after the announcement of the Nikon F. The Nikon
F was an SLR camera, and the mirror prevented the sun from burning a hole in a
shutter curtain.
However, the Nikon F had a mirror up mechanism. With the mirror up, the
shutter curtain might be burnt by the sun.
The Nikon F, which was often used in the titanium curtain experiments, was
the first camera to actually incorporate titanium shutter curtains.
Later, the Nikon SP, which employed the same
shutter unit as the Nikon F, also applied titanium shutter curtains.
This was the beginning of the relationship
between Nikon and Titanium.
Through mass production, Nippon Kogaku refined titanium technology and
made it a specialty of theirs.

Discovery of versatility of titanium

The Nikon F2 was introduced in 1971 as the successor to the F. With the
F2, titanium was used not only for the shutter curtains, but also for the
reflex mirror frame.
Nippon Kogaku wanted to increase mirror speed without having to strengthen
the driving spring.
By applying titanium for the mirror frame, the F2's mirror unit became
lighter and provided a shorter shutter time lag than the F.
The titanium used for the mirror was 20 times
thicker than that used for the shutter curtains. For thicker titanium plates,
metal molds were easily blunted via the conventional steel-plate treatment
method. New treatment methods for punching and pressing needed to be developed.
It was the technology for the reflex mirror frame
— not for the more well-known shutter curtains — that eventually led to the
development of titanium-coated cameras.


Nikon F2 Titan

For many years, it was generally recognized that camera covers were made
of brass (copper/zinc alloy).
As I have mentioned repeatedly in past articles, Nikon cameras have been
used in some extremely trying conditions.
The bodies of virtually all Nikon F and F2 cameras suffered dents after
they had been used in the demanding professional photography environment.
As an experiment, Nippon Kogaku made an F2 body
covered by light, durable titanium.
Although they experienced many difficulties such as in press-treating the
finder unit, Nippon Kogaku gained the expertise necessary to produce a titanium
cover that both looked good and was durable.
Unlike today's titanium cameras, the covers of titanium cameras of that
day were unpainted and the titanium showed through.
Following the experimental product, a limited
number of models were manufactured and a few models were actually marketed in
1978.
Users commented that the
titanium cover was not suited to professional use because the light color stood
out too much and was too reflective.
In 1979, several hundred of the Nikon F2 Titan (Black) models, with black.matte leather-look covers, were manufactured and marketed on a limited basis.
Later, Nippon Kogaku introduced the F2 titanium
body with "Titan" engraved in the cover.

The F2 titanium body, though manufactured and marketed in small
quantities, gradually gained acceptance.
I (Mr. TATENO) heard that the number of bodies produced with
"Titan" letters engraved in them was considerably greater than the
number of non-engraved bodies.


Nikon F3/T (Titan)
Nikon F3/T 

The Nikon F3, the successor to the F2, was released in 1980. Two years
later, in 1982, came the Nikon F3 High Eyepoint which enabled users to see the
entire viewfield of the finder.
The High-Eyepoint Viewfinder DE-3 was extremely popular among general photographers,
as well as wearers of eyeglasses.

Therefore, Nippon Kogaku decided that the F3 High-Eyepoint should be used
as the base body for the titanium version of the F3.
The F3's body was entirely black. To add the
variety of color to their F3-series cameras, Nippon Kogaku manufactured the
titanium F3 body painted in the color of titanium.

That was the F3/T, released in 1982. In 1984, the black-painted F3/T
models were released and continued to appear on the market longer than titanium
color.
By the way, the viewfinder
cover of the F3 Limited (1994) was also made of titanium.
Unlike the original F3 body, the titanium cover
of the F3 Limited enabled an accessory Speedlight to be mounted on the
interchangeable finders.
Titanium was employed for the cover in order to strengthen the accessory
shoe.
We have talked about the
titanium bodies of the F2 and F3. Nikon's pioneer titan cameras are superior to
those of other manufacturers, in body design and durability as well.
Competitors who tried to copy Nikon sometimes
used negative techniques such as adding materials to improve press-treating.
Nikon, despite the trouble with press-treating,
continued to use pure titanium.



Cameras for a higher cause “
Nikon Photomic FTN
used in Apollo 15 


After W.W. II, the U.S.A. had been involved in a race for space with the
U.S.S.R., to gain ultimate superpower status.
Both countries continued their work and research, and were able to execute
a manned space flight by the 1960's.
Around this time they had started using cameras for recording.
At first, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space
Administration) used primarily 70mm-format films.
They found, however, that they needed a more portable camera for more
active shooting situations.
Nikon, whose cameras had a reputation for reliability in the U.S. market,
was selected as a special manufacturer of 35mm cameras for NASA.
Although the Nikon U.S. distributor accepted the
order of the special cameras for NASA, a special team at Nippon Kogaku's Ohi
Plant took charge of product development.


Space photography
Nikon Photomic FTN
used in Apollo 15 


 

A camera used in space would be subjected to a vacuum and zero-gravity
conditions.
As the spacecraft compartment is airtight, it is crucial that harmful gas
or fire never be generated.
The camera should be easy to operate for someone wearing gloves.
And reliability became a major issue.

The rays of the sun and their reflection on the camera body may be
stronger than those on the earth's surface, and the weight of cargo aboard the
craft should be limited as much as possible for launching, so there's no room for
a spare camera in case the main one malfunctions.

In order to meet these demanding conditions, Nippon Kogaku's special
product development team used the Nikon F as the base body and made numerous
modifications.
For example, the leather-like body cover generally used for the Nikon F
had been changed to a metal plate painted in matte black.
Adhesive used adhered to NASA specifications.
For plastic parts, materials generally used for F
cameras had to be changed to specified parts.
The battery chamber was designed to prevent accidental leakage from the
camera body. Electrical parts were soldered in accordance with NASA standards.
The standard thickness of the plating was
modified. Dimensions were also changed to accommodate thinner polyester-based
films.
Modifications made to
operating parts included an enlarged finger pad for the film advance lever, a
larger film rewinding knob, and enlarged film counter figures and windows.
Interchangeable lenses were also modified.
The addition of two horns on the focusing ring
was the most significant change.
It made focusing simple as the user needed only to rotate the ring using
the horn.
NASA's standards for shutter accuracy were even more stringent than those
of Nikon.


Nikon — and users — benefitted from NASA experience
Nikon F used in Skylab


The technologies Nikon used in developing cameras for NASA finally went
into use in 1971.
The modified F camera and some modified interchangeable lenses were
provided to NASA for the Apollo 15 mission.
Then, in 1973, a modified version of the F camera with a motor drive and
modified lens were supplied for use aboard Skylab.

 
Nikon F used in Skylab 


The cameras Nikon developed for use in space exploration are still in use
today, and maintenance is still being provided.
These NASA cameras were of course very costly.
It is said that Nippon Kogaku took heavy losses.
However, these losses were balanced out by the value of the experience in the
space project. Nippon Kogaku took what they had learned and used it to improve
the reliability and operational performance of Nikon products.

The development of the camera for NASA using the Nikon F body as a base
and the development of the Nikon F2 occurred in parallel.
NASA did not require increasing numbers of the
modified F2 cameras, and in fact the camera was never actually manufactured.





After some time had passed, Nikon went to work on camera models for NASA
that were based on the F3 body.
There were the "Small Camera", which was equipped with a motor
drive, and the "Big Camera" for long film that were delivered to NASA
for use aboard the space shuttle in 1981.
While the Nikon F3 was still being developed and many issues had yet to be
decided, NASA went ahead and formally declared the Nikon F3 to be an official
NASA camera.
The F3 models for NASA, and those for mass consumption, were developed
side-by-side at the Ohi Plant.
Another special team was assigned to the development of the F3 for NASA.
The "Big Camera" was equipped with an interchangeable film back and
used a thinner special long film for bulk loading.
Members of the special team needed to concentrate
on developing a new technology that would accelerate film advancement.
After much effort and brainstorming, they solved
the problem and succeeded in delivering the cameras for the space shuttle.
The F3 for NASA had many of the same features as
the F3 for mass consumption, including internal parts.
Compared to the modified F models for NASA, the
F3 for NASA was much more similar to the F3 models made for the public.

 

Nikon F3 "Small Camera"

尼康在1989提交了F4版的太空相機給NASA。這一款NASA機和民用版的差別就更小了。尼康積極地把先前和NASA合作的經驗融入新相機的開發過程,NASA也瞭解新相機的規格都符合太空攝影標準,所以近期的NASA相機不需要太大的改裝。

In 1989, Nikon delivered the modified F4 to NASA. There were only a few
small differences between the modified F4 and mass-consumption F4 models.
Nikon positively applied the experiences obtained
during development of NASA cameras to the development of cameras for the
general public.
At the same time, NASA learned about the specifications that were required
for the camera's use in space.
These were the reasons why very few modifications were required for recent
NASA cameras.



Nikon a product of its users


In this final issue, we've talked about Nikon's titanium cameras and the
cameras they developed for NASA.
These cameras are tough enough to withstand the most unusual and severe
conditions.
During the Korean War in the 1950's, Nikon cameras gained a reputation for
high performance in extremely low temperatures.
Since then, Nikon cameras have been put to the test in myriad situations around
the globe.
The development of titanium cameras and special cameras for space use were
two ways Nikon was able to show its true strength and prowess. These
experiences also contributed to a rise in the performance of subsequent Nikon
products, thus broadening the user base and increasing consumer confidence.
This shows how much effect users actually have on
the development of Nikon cameras and Nikkor lenses — by relating their own
experiences using Nikon products.
As I look back over the first 11 issues of this column, I see the same
thing.
I firmly believe that Nikon
will continue to offer excellent products if it maintains, and improves, this
connection with its users.
This is a heavy responsibility for Nikon to bear, but one that will serve
them well in the years to come.

This ends my review of the history of Nikon cameras.
I'd like to thank you for reading this column,
and I hope you'll continue to access Nikon's homepage for more interesting
information.


Note

This issue first appeared in "Nikkor Club Quarterly" magazine ,
published by the Nikkor Club, and was revised for Nikon's webpage.

Products, brands and companies names are trademarks or registered
trademarks of their respective companies.

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