Why NASA don't use Canon

Started Aug 20, 2004 | Discussions thread
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Why NASA don't use Canon
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There have been a few threads over the years about what cameras NASA take into space and why. So when an opportunity arose, I had to take it:

I was doing a subcontracting job at NASA last week and I got speaking to a guy in Image Analysis. I told him I was most interested in the cameras being used for shuttle missions and on the ISS.

The guy told me they use Kodak and Nikon DSLRs and Nikkor lenses exclusively. When asked why they weren't using Canon DSLRs, he replied that they had been trialled, and the bodies didn't have any problems. The problem, he said, is that Canon use Fluorite lens elements in many of their long lenses and that in trials the fluorite elements had suffered fractures from the vibration associated with a launch. On one occasion, a fluorite element had completely disintegrated rendering the lens useless. ED elements did not suffer any fracturing problems. He went on to say that Canon had been trying for years to get into the space program, but that NASA would never consider Canon cameras or lenses while they continued to employ Fluorite in any required lenses.

A quick google check also revealed more info about the downsides of fluorite lens elements:

Cracking due to shock and rapid changes in temperature:
http://alice.as.arizona.edu/~rogerc/chapters/Chapter%204a.html

Fragile, soft, degrades with moisture, cannot be hot-coated leading to coating failure:
http://www.questar-corp.com/QuestarPDF/Choosing.pdf

Using air-in-a-can to clean can cause fluorite lens to crack:
http://www.company7.com/library/clean.html

And, here's Nikon's spin in a recent press release, talking about their new SuperED glass: "....While the optical properties of this new glass closely resemble those of fluorite, Super ED glass is more resilient to rapid temperature changes (thermal shock) and not as susceptible to cracking as the crystal structure of fluorite. Super ED glass also boasts a higher refractive index than fluorite, making it highly capable of correcting aberrations other than chromatic aberration....."

Anyone here had their fluorite lens elements fracture? Or is this problem only common to extremes such as those associated with space missions?

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