If you visit the Nikon stand at The photography fair (opens in a new tab) (B600) you will find all the latest gorgeous gear and maybe even the lowdown on the recently announced Z17-28mm f/2.8 (opens in a new tab). But once you’ve salivated on the best nikon cameras (opens in a new tab) and caught up in a few interviews with pro photographers, be sure to check out some of the coolest and wackiest Nikon cameras in Big N history.
These curious gems include a Nikon destined for outer space, a gold-plated FA and the world’s first underwater SLR. Each camera is safely enclosed in a plexiglass display case, safe from prying hands, but still allowing a 360 degree view. Here are some of our favourites…
Nikon and NASA
NASA’s various space missions are responsible for some of the most famous photographs in human history and Nikon’s relationship with the US government space agency dates back to 1971 (opens in a new tab)when the Nikon Photomic FTN accompanied the crew of Apollo 15. This modified Nikon F was the first in a long line of specialized space cameras, including the modified Nikon F3 ‘Big Camera’ on display at the Photography Show 2022 The rather beefy 1981 SLR might seem like a lot to handle, but it was used for its relative portability compared to NASA’s larger 70mm format cameras.
Nikonos RS – underwater DSLR
The Nikonos RS was arguably a camera ahead of its time. It was released in 1992, making it the world’s first dedicated underwater SLR camera. Its toy aesthetic might not look particularly slick, but its large, protruding controls were designed to be manipulated underwater. That’s right, the Nikonos RS could work up to 100m without underwater housing.
Four lenses were developed for the camera’s unique R-UW mount and their dedicated underwater design means they are still coveted by underwater photographers to this day – so much so that it is even possible to convert them.
See our article on best fisheye lenses (opens in a new tab)
Nikon takes gold at the grand prize
If you had 500,000 yen spare in 1984 (nearly $3,500 / £3050 in today’s money), you could have walked away with this rather splendid Nikon Gold FA. The 24k gold-plated SLR – with 50mm f/1.4 in gold – was designed to celebrate the camera’s victory at the prestigious Camera Grand Prix. Only 2000 units were made, so finding one could be a bit like panning for gold!
Nikon cameras have come a long way since the F3 and FA. here are the best nikon cameras (opens in a new tab) you can get right now, and if you already have a Nikon camera, why not search for the best nikon lenses (opens in a new tab)?