Lets solve the F6 digital back mystery

Started Nov 6, 2004 | Discussions
ib1yysguy Senior Member • Posts: 1,772
Lets solve the F6 digital back mystery

If Nikon was to make a digital back for the F6, they would need to put the electronics into a vertical grip type unit. The camera has 18 gold contact points which it can connect through to communicate back and forth.

So, lets find out. I'd like anyone with the vertical battery grip for the F6 to tell me if it has 18 gold contacts also. If not, I think we can strongly suspect some type of upgrade in the future.

Also worth mentioning is the 11 pin contacts on AF-S lenses while Nikon cameras up to this point only have 8 pins in the bayonet mount. What are the extra contacts going to be used for, I wonder?

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Al
Set low goals and you'll never be disapointed.

Surfdog Senior Member • Posts: 1,080
I once asked...

...about extra contacts in a prior model and whether they were for some future add on. Eventually, I got what seemed like an acurate answer identifying several diagnostic and calibration loops and telling me that the contacts mated to a machine at the factory used in calibration and quality assurance. I'm not saying this is the case with the F6, I'm only pointing out that sometimes contacts do serve a purpose but not for the consumer.

ib1yysguy wrote:

If Nikon was to make a digital back for the F6, they would need to
put the electronics into a vertical grip type unit. The camera has
18 gold contact points which it can connect through to communicate
back and forth.

So, lets find out. I'd like anyone with the vertical battery grip
for the F6 to tell me if it has 18 gold contacts also. If not, I
think we can strongly suspect some type of upgrade in the future.

Also worth mentioning is the 11 pin contacts on AF-S lenses while
Nikon cameras up to this point only have 8 pins in the bayonet
mount. What are the extra contacts going to be used for, I wonder?

OP ib1yysguy Senior Member • Posts: 1,772
thats a good point

I didn't even consider that.

Al

vernix Senior Member • Posts: 2,022
Related question....

My ancient-tech 85mm 1.4 has 5 electrical contacts.
My high-tech 24-120 VR has 10 contacts.

Some of these contacts obviously impact consumer usability.

My question: Can anybody tell me which five contacts I need to dremmel off of the 24-120 to get it's performance up to the superlative level of the old 85-1.4??

:-B

ib1yysguy wrote:

I didn't even consider that.

Al

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OP ib1yysguy Senior Member • Posts: 1,772
lol (nt)

vernix wrote:
My ancient-tech 85mm 1.4 has 5 electrical contacts.
My high-tech 24-120 VR has 10 contacts.

Some of these contacts obviously impact consumer usability.

My question: Can anybody tell me which five contacts I need to
dremmel off of the 24-120 to get it's performance up to the
superlative level of the old 85-1.4??

:-B

ib1yysguy wrote:

I didn't even consider that.

Al

-- hide signature --

Al
Set low goals and you'll never be disapointed.

hansg Regular Member • Posts: 166
Well...

I belive that some of the "extra" contacts are used by the teleconverters to provide the camera with correct lens-information such as focal lengt etc.

Unfortunatley I have no clue as to the contacts on the F6....

Best regards

Hans

ib1yysguy wrote:

If Nikon was to make a digital back for the F6, they would need to
put the electronics into a vertical grip type unit. The camera has
18 gold contact points which it can connect through to communicate
back and forth.

So, lets find out. I'd like anyone with the vertical battery grip
for the F6 to tell me if it has 18 gold contacts also. If not, I
think we can strongly suspect some type of upgrade in the future.

Also worth mentioning is the 11 pin contacts on AF-S lenses while
Nikon cameras up to this point only have 8 pins in the bayonet
mount. What are the extra contacts going to be used for, I wonder?

Clemens B. Regular Member • Posts: 173
Re: Lets solve the F6 digital back mystery

But keep in mind that the back isn't removeable by the user like it was on the F5.

The contacs can be used for communication to the grip. You need 2 or 4 for the two dials. Then you need a ground. In addidtion to that there is a 8-way thumb pad and a AF-L/AE-L Button.

This communication could be done with 3 or 4 Pins but maybe Nikon decided to go another way.

I don't think there will be a digital back to the F6, a sensor would be way more difficult to hold in the right position than film.

As already mentioned, the 11 contacts on AF-S lenses are used by TCs.

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Clemens Bauer

uk102 Senior Member • Posts: 1,286
as we say here

‘If my aunt had balls she would be my uncle’ LOL

I think this idea that some how the F6 is go ing to have a digital back is off pitch.

It's one of Thom ideas before the F6 was introduced. The F6 does not look as if it's made for that, infact the F5 would better place to do so. The F6 is really a F100 update. Far short i'm sure of what Thom was hoping for.
Alex

Clemens B. wrote:

But keep in mind that the back isn't removeable by the user like it
was on the F5.
The contacs can be used for communication to the grip. You need 2
or 4 for the two dials. Then you need a ground. In addidtion to
that there is a 8-way thumb pad and a AF-L/AE-L Button.
This communication could be done with 3 or 4 Pins but maybe Nikon
decided to go another way.
I don't think there will be a digital back to the F6, a sensor
would be way more difficult to hold in the right position than film.

As already mentioned, the 11 contacts on AF-S lenses are used by TCs.

JJGP Senior Member • Posts: 1,610
imo, F6 = 1V

ib1yysguy wrote:

So, lets find out.

Some day, when Nikon decide to go FF, they'll have a body that they can use in the same way (so to speak) that Canon used the 1V film camera for their 1Ds.
jj

Jim Seach Forum Member • Posts: 70
Re: Related question....

I didn't dremel them off, but I masked them so I could figure it out by trial and error. Looking at the lens from the back and numbering the contacts clockwise from 1 - 10, remove 3, 5, 6, 8, and 10. It works great, and you wouldn't believe the improvement in bokeh! I also gained two extra stops, but the VR no longer works.

Warning: only do this if you want to ruin your lens! :^)

vernix wrote:
My ancient-tech 85mm 1.4 has 5 electrical contacts.
My high-tech 24-120 VR has 10 contacts.

Some of these contacts obviously impact consumer usability.

My question: Can anybody tell me which five contacts I need to
dremmel off of the 24-120 to get it's performance up to the
superlative level of the old 85-1.4??

:-B

ib1yysguy wrote:

I didn't even consider that.

Al

GaySatyr Senior Member • Posts: 1,936
Re: Lets solve the F6 digital back mystery

Given the 18 connections for the MB40, let's assume two possibilities: A) individual circuits and B) shared circuits.

A) system ground (1), battery power (2), two-position shutter release (3), AF start (2), eight-way multi-selector (9), front & rear command dials (4) equals a total of 21 connections.

B) combined system & signal ground (1), battery power (1), two-position shutter release (2), AF start (1), eight-way multi-selector (8), front & rear command dials (2) equals a total of 15 connections.

Assuming option (B) with a system ground, then give the battery power its own independent circuit, add a signal ground for the eight-way multi-selector, and a signal ground for the shutter, AF button, & command dials and you've got your 18 connections.

Have I missed anything?

ib1yysguy wrote:

If Nikon was to make a digital back for the F6, they would need to
put the electronics into a vertical grip type unit. The camera has
18 gold contact points which it can connect through to communicate
back and forth.

So, lets find out. I'd like anyone with the vertical battery grip
for the F6 to tell me if it has 18 gold contacts also. If not, I
think we can strongly suspect some type of upgrade in the future.

Also worth mentioning is the 11 pin contacts on AF-S lenses while
Nikon cameras up to this point only have 8 pins in the bayonet
mount. What are the extra contacts going to be used for, I wonder?

jb_va2001 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,741
This whole discussion seems a set up for dissapointment.

I hate to rain on the parade but IF Nikon plans a digi back, wouldn't they say so?!!

Seems highly unlikely they would make provisions for such a great future addition and --not tell anyone--. Manufacturing companies drive every Yen/Dollar out of a product to maximize profit. IMHO for Nikon to build in significant capabilities and not advertise it is a real stretch of the imagination.

So, for the sake of discussion, let's pretend Nikon has a secret plan to surprise all the F6 owners with a digi-back. How do you know it will; a)meets your needs, and b) you'll think it's fairly priced???

Anyone buying an F6 with expectations that it will have a digi-back one day are bound to be dissapointed. I can hear the cries now, "Nikon lied to us! I"m selling ALL my Nikon stuff..." when this digi-back never appears. All this even though Nikon actually said nothing about it & it was never more than another internet rumor.

This whole discussion seems a set up for dissapointment. Buy a F6 because you want a great FILM SLR and nothing more.

JB

ib1yysguy wrote:

If Nikon was to make a digital back for the F6, they would need to
put the electronics into a vertical grip type unit. The camera has
18 gold contact points which it can connect through to communicate
back and forth.

So, lets find out. I'd like anyone with the vertical battery grip
for the F6 to tell me if it has 18 gold contacts also. If not, I
think we can strongly suspect some type of upgrade in the future.

Also worth mentioning is the 11 pin contacts on AF-S lenses while
Nikon cameras up to this point only have 8 pins in the bayonet
mount. What are the extra contacts going to be used for, I wonder?

dannv Veteran Member • Posts: 3,416
Re: as we say here

to call it an "F100 update" is quite an underestimation of its capabilities.

the challenge with the digital back is positioning of the sensor. i don't see the required positive-position mating points that would be required to gaurantee accurate, consistent positioning. if that were there, then we could talk about communication contacts...dav

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GaySatyr Senior Member • Posts: 1,936
Re: This whole discussion seems a set up for dissapointment.

I agree.

There were significant rumors of a modular F6 body in prototype form. I'm sure that Nikon experimented with a wide variety of options. There were also rumors of new versions of the N/F80 and the F100 bodies. I think the announced F6 answered the questions in that it is the new flagship comprising both the F5 and the F100 in updated form. There may or may not be a new version of the N/F80 (it would be nice!), but I seriously expect that the modular F6 is dead. And, with the possible exception of an N/F85 (?), I suspect that Nikon's film body R&D is finished.

jb_va2001 wrote:
I hate to rain on the parade but IF Nikon plans a digi back,
wouldn't they say so?!!

Seems highly unlikely they would make provisions for such a great
future addition and --not tell anyone--. Manufacturing companies
drive every Yen/Dollar out of a product to maximize profit. IMHO
for Nikon to build in significant capabilities and not advertise it
is a real stretch of the imagination.

So, for the sake of discussion, let's pretend Nikon has a secret
plan to surprise all the F6 owners with a digi-back. How do you
know it will; a)meets your needs, and b) you'll think it's fairly
priced???

Anyone buying an F6 with expectations that it will have a digi-back
one day are bound to be dissapointed. I can hear the cries now,
"Nikon lied to us! I"m selling ALL my Nikon stuff..." when this
digi-back never appears. All this even though Nikon actually said
nothing about it & it was never more than another internet rumor.

This whole discussion seems a set up for dissapointment. Buy a F6
because you want a great FILM SLR and nothing more.

JB

ib1yysguy wrote:

If Nikon was to make a digital back for the F6, they would need to
put the electronics into a vertical grip type unit. The camera has
18 gold contact points which it can connect through to communicate
back and forth.

So, lets find out. I'd like anyone with the vertical battery grip
for the F6 to tell me if it has 18 gold contacts also. If not, I
think we can strongly suspect some type of upgrade in the future.

Also worth mentioning is the 11 pin contacts on AF-S lenses while
Nikon cameras up to this point only have 8 pins in the bayonet
mount. What are the extra contacts going to be used for, I wonder?

Thom Hogan
Thom Hogan Forum Pro • Posts: 13,660
Re: as we say here

uk102 wrote:

I think this idea that some how the F6 is go ing to have a digital
back is off pitch.

Agree. While the contacts are interesting, there's no obvious way to remove the current back--a camera with multiple backs would need that.

It's one of Thom ideas before the F6 was introduced.

Not my idea. Several F6 prototype mules with digital backs were floating around over the course of several years.

The F6 does
not look as if it's made for that, infact the F5 would better place
to do so.

While the F5 has a user removable back, it has no obvious connection to the internal CPU bus. The only way of moving things in and out is via the 10-pin connector, which uses an old RS-432 protocol (slow).

The F6 is really a F100 update.

Not even close. There's nothing F100 at all about the F6. It's a D2h that has had the vertical grip made optional and the F5 film mechanism and shutter added. I'd be surprised if there are ANY F100 parts in the F6, and it does not feel or handle like an F100.

Far short i'm sure of what Thom was hoping for.

I wasn't actually hoping for anything. What Nikon delivered is a film body I wish I had four or five years ago when I was shooting a lot of film. As it is, I may start taking some film back out with me on some trips.

FWIW, the F6 shows that Nikon can improve the D2h/D2x. There are a number of little design details that have been tweaked for the better on the F6, which I'll get to in my upcoming review.

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author, Complete Guides to the Nikon D70, D100, D1 series, and Fujifilm S2 Pro
http://www.bythom.com

Joseph S Wisniewski Forum Pro • Posts: 34,458
Actually...

Jim Seach wrote:

I didn't dremel them off, but I masked them so I could figure it
out by trial and error. Looking at the lens from the back and
numbering the contacts clockwise from 1 - 10,

Actually, they're lettered, not numbered, and they run counterclockwise, looking at the back of the lens. Clockwise, looking at the camera.

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Joseph S Wisniewski Forum Pro • Posts: 34,458
You've got it...

hansg wrote:

I belive that some of the "extra" contacts are used by the
teleconverters to provide the camera with correct lens-information
such as focal lengt etc.

Yes, 2 of them.

Unfortunatley I have no clue as to the contacts on the F6....

Don't know. I can't see needing more than 6 or 8 for a digital back.

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Joseph S Wisniewski Forum Pro • Posts: 34,458
Vertical grip protocol...

Clemens B. wrote:

But keep in mind that the back isn't removeable by the user like it
was on the F5.

Bummer.

The contacs can be used for communication to the grip. You need 2
or 4 for the two dials. Then you need a ground. In addidtion to
that there is a 8-way thumb pad and a AF-L/AE-L Button.
This communication could be done with 3 or 4 Pins but maybe Nikon
decided to go another way.

Nikon grips do indeed use four wires for a grip. Serial data, clock, power, and ground.

I don't think there will be a digital back to the F6, a sensor
would be way more difficult to hold in the right position than film.

If F6 really were built to be modular and use digital backs, the film gate would be removable (near zero additional cost), to get past the 1.3x crop factor limit that Leica ran into putting a digital back on a conventional R9.

As already mentioned, the 11 contacts on AF-S lenses are used by TCs.

Actually, there are only 10 contacts.

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Joseph S Wisniewski Forum Pro • Posts: 34,458
But I'm not going to let it end that way ;)

jb_va2001 wrote:

I hate to rain on the parade but IF Nikon plans a digi back,
wouldn't they say so?!!

I doubt it. Nikon is pretty tight lipped.

Now, Leica claimed, when they announced the Modul-R digital back for the R8 and R9, that those cameras were actually designed for digital backs. Leica did not mention this when either the R8 or R9 were released. (Personally, considering the timeframe of the R8 introduction, and Leica's totaly disregard for the digital market several years after the R8 introduction, I consider claims that the R8 was designed to accept a digital back to be total fabrications on the part of Leica marketing).

Seems highly unlikely they would make provisions for such a great
future addition and --not tell anyone--.

You should see some of the stuff in Nikon communications protocols and interfaces. Lots of provisions for interestign additional features, and they never tell anyone.

Manufacturing companies
drive every Yen/Dollar out of a product to maximize profit. IMHO
for Nikon to build in significant capabilities and not advertise it
is a real stretch of the imagination.

Well, designing a camera to accepta a digital back would add virtualy no cost. It's just a matter of bringing out the proper communication from the camera main processor, bringing out some power, and adding some hard points for sensor alignment.

So, for the sake of discussion, let's pretend Nikon has a secret
plan to surprise all the F6 owners with a digi-back. How do you
know it will; a)meets your needs, and b) you'll think it's fairly
priced???

I'm betting it won't. I sincerely believe a combination of camera and digital back will underperform a dedicated DSLR in terms of weight, cost, ruggedness, reliability, and ergonomics.

Anyone buying an F6 with expectations that it will have a digi-back
one day are bound to be dissapointed.

A very high probability that you're right.

I can hear the cries now,
"Nikon lied to us! I"m selling ALL my Nikon stuff..." when this
digi-back never appears. All this even though Nikon actually said
nothing about it & it was never more than another internet rumor.

This whole discussion seems a set up for dissapointment. Buy a F6
because you want a great FILM SLR and nothing more.

I'll pass. I no longer have that much need for film.

p.s. about not letting the thread end in disappointment. I'm getting to that...

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Joseph S Wisniewski Forum Pro • Posts: 34,458
The AF-S contact mystery...
1

ib1yysguy wrote:

Also worth mentioning is the 11 pin contacts on AF-S lenses while
Nikon cameras up to this point only have 8 pins in the bayonet
mount. What are the extra contacts going to be used for, I wonder?

There are 10 contacts on an AF-S lens. Looking at the back of the lens, the first seven contacts are labled, counterclockwise, with the letters A through G. I assume the other three are H, I, and J, although in lettering contacts it's common to skip I, so they might be H, J, and K.

I'll use A-J for this discussion.

The first 7 are the second nikon autofocus contact system introduced with the N2020.

A - VCC (power)
B - RW or H/S (read/write)
C - LCLK (serial clock)
D - LIO (serial data)
E - not connected
F - not connected
G - PGND (ground)

The original communication protocol, logic levels, and basic message set are described in US patent 4896181.

(The first Nikon AF system, introduced with the F3AFm which predates the Canon EOS system, for those interested, put different signals on these contacts).

These same lines are used for AF-S lenses. The AF-S lens increases power:

F - LBAT
H - PGND

Adds another serial interface for teleconverter to lens communication

E - RW2
I - LCLK2
J - LIO2

Pin B becomes RW1, instead of just RW.

The AF-S focusing serial protocol is described in US patent 5727241.

The teleconverter communication protocol on pins E, I, J allows the teleconverter and lens to communicate. The teleconverter gets the "easy" part of the dialogue. It has a little processor that just says to the lens "I'm a 1.4, 1.6, 1.7, or 2x teleconverter". The lens has a bigger processor and uses the fact that it's connected to a teleconverter send a bunch of altered parameters to the camera. Min and max f stop, min and max focal length, and recommended focusing rate are all changed to reflect the teleconverter.

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