Shoot At Me – Shoot At You – Nikon In Battle

Shoot At Me – Shoot At You – Nikon In Battle

Nobody ever shot at me with live rounds. Blanks, yes, but no lead. I never returned the compliment either, but had I been in the position to do so, I think I would have chosen a Nikon camera to do it with.

Starting with the Nikon rangefinder cameras and lenses ( which were drawing on a number of influences from the Zeiss cameras ) in the early 1950’s photojournalists had a rugged 35mm camera that could be used in Korea, Indochina, and any number of war zones. The camera bodies were improved in a direct line until the idea of the SLR took root in the late 50’s. Then the Nikon F soldiered on all during its production life.

The battle camera needs several things:

a. To be as rugged as possible. Metal body. Metal lens barrels.

b. To be as small as possible. Light is better, if you are hauling it and 80 lbs of other gear into and out of ditches.

c. To be as simple as possible. Big controls for tired fingers. Locking controls if possible.

None of the occasions where it will be used encourage delicacy or fiddly adjustment. There have been any number of devices tried by other makers to get this market – google up what Graphic tried to do with their standard Speed Graphics in Olive Drab paint and what the later 70mm Combat Graphic looked like. Also google up what Leica were supplying to the US Army and the Swedish Army. Interesting…but these were government contracts…

But not what the real photojournalists were buying and carrying out in the same battle fields. They were buying Nikons for themselves. Cheaper, just as tough, and a lot more common. The Korean War saw the rangefinder bodies carried by combat photographers and later conflicts – including Vietman – saw the Nikon F body used extensively.

Is there a Nikon Battle Camera right now? I don’t know, but I can speculate – the modern DSLR with the extremely high ISO capability would be perfect for low-light shots in the undergrowth. Presumably the smallest body available with this level of performance. A full-frame image to get the most out of the photo opportunity ( if you’re gonna be shot at, you might as well make it worth while ). Quiet shutter, if at all possible. Black colour. Long battery life. As much zoom as one could pack into the smallest package. A focus-assist light that can be definitely turned off.

Well, which of the Nikon bodies would YOU pick for this task – and which of the lenses? Do write into our Camera Electronic column and give your opinion. I’ll collate the results and see if I can assemble the outfit that wins most votes.

Note: it is not necessary to send in a picture of your camera with a 7.62 round lodged in the lens mount. You can use your imagination – you don’t have to conduct field tests…

Cameras courtesy of Duncan Dodd, who used to sell them, but not as far back as the Korean War…

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