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Digital SLR Camera Nikon D100

The D100 digital SLR camera, released in June, 2002, offers a compact,lightweight body with ergonomic operability and high image quality.Here, the people who developed the D100 talk about its origins and other behind-the-scenes stories.

WAKABAYASHI, Tsutomu
Chief Designer, 2nd Design Section, 1st Development Division, Development Department, Imaging Company, Nikon Corporation
PROFILE:
Born in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo, in 1956, WAKABAYASHI earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in mechanical physics engineering from the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Joining Nippon Kogaku K.K. (present Nikon Corporation) in 1981, he was assigned to what was then called the Camera Design Group, where he helped design cameras' mechanisms and structures, and contributed to the development of the setting and control indication area.
In 1998, WAKABAYASHI became a development leader for the F80 / N80 and D100.
WAKABAYASHI was a member of the Railroad Society in high school and at university.
"I like train models and used to take railroad pictures," he said. "I like travelling, and I always carry a camera with me."

The most significant aspect of the D100 is its compact and lightweight design.
The fascinating thing about this camera is that you can use it like an SLR film camera.

What do you feel are the D100's most appealing characteristics ?

WAKABAYASHI, Tsutomu:

Its primary appeal is that it's very light and very compact. Though we developed the D100 with hopes of getting more people involved with digital SLR photography using an interchangeable lens, its most important characteristic is its lightness and compactness.

The remaining number of shots appear on the panel after the power is turned off.

How much does it actually weigh ?

It weighs approximately 700 g (24.7 oz.) without batteries. The D1 series weighed 1.1 kg without batteries, so that's an improvement. Of course the D1 had to be that heavy because it needed to maintain its high performance......
But I guess it is a little heavy for everyday, casual use [laughs].
The D100 uses smaller batteries; even with the battery pack in place, it feels light and handles lightly. The suggested retail price of D100 is about 300,000- Japanese Yen. It is more affordable than the D1 series.

The price of D1X is about 590,000- Japanese Yen. The D100 is about half that.

Yes. And it takes high-precision images at 6.1 effective megapixels !

The D100 was designed "from scratch."
Everything about the camera indicates a conscious effort to make it compact, even the CompactFlash card port.

You wanted the D100 to be lightweight. How did you achieve this ?

Lightweight and compact can mean almost the same thing - if something is smaller, it's probably going to be lighter. But actually making it so is easier said than done.
To achieve compactness, you have to start from scratch. For example, if you use the D1 as the model for a new camera, chances are the new camera will be about the same size as the D1.
In order to make a compact camera, you really need to concentrate on the internal placement of parts and circuits.
So, when we started the D100, we did our best to forget about the D1. We cleared our minds and set out to create a completely new camera.

So, it really is like starting from scratch.

It sure is. You really need to rethink the inside of the camera......
I was also involved with the development of the F80 (N80); just like the D100, it was an SLR film camera designed to have a compact and lightweight body.
At that time, I cleared all thoughts out of my head and worked on rethinking the inside of the camera body.

What do you mean by "rethinking the inside" ?

The CF card slot is situated on a diagonal. This key design feature helps make the camera compact.

A good example is the CompactFlash? (CF) card slot area.
With film SLR cameras, the shutter system is on the left side of the body. With digital cameras, however, you have to allow room for a slot to accommodate the CF card. In the case of a digital SLR camera, if the slot is situated parallel to the lens surface -- as it is in the COOLPIX series -- the CF card will bump into the shutter system. If the camera's designed so the CF card is inserted in the back of the body...... if the card is inserted perpendicularly to the lens surface, then the camera body must be thicker to accommodate the complete length of the CF card.
One way to make the camera compact is to make the left side of the body broader -- so it can house a CF card -- and the right side more narrow, like the COOLPIX 5700.
However, cameras with interchangeable lenses have buttons on the right side - like the lens release button.
After considerable thought, we solved the problem by designing a diagonal CF card slot. And we situated all the external connectors on the right side so that the camera's body width is nicely balanced. We also wanted to make the D100 resemble the F100, so this design worked very, very well.
Choosing parts is another significant aspect of making the camera compact, as are small internal systems.

Let's talk about the product name, D100. The D1 was designed to be "a digital F5." Is the D100 supposed to be "a digital F100" ?

I guess you might say that. The D1 series contains Nikon's top-of-the-line digital cameras...... so those cameras are at a premium price, and they have big, substantial bodies. Some people shy away from them.
On the other hand, the F100 is a compact, lightweight version of the high-performance F5.
In that respect, the relationship between the D1 and D100 is similar to that of the F5 and F100.