Are Titanium Cameras Less Heavy?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by snegron, Apr 10, 2007.

  1. snegron

    snegron Member

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    I have read that titanium is lighter than other metal alloys used by camera manufacturers. I was looking at a Nikon F3/T online and was wondering if it is that much lighter than the regular F3? Also, does anyone know if Nikon makes a titanium MD-4 to go with the F3/T?

    There are several cameras on the market (or at least there were not too long ago) that are titanium models. Are they really any lighter or tougher or is it just marketing hype?
     
  2. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Not necessarily, but they are stronger.
     
  3. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    no, but you get better bokeh LOL.
     
  4. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    The Titanium F3 body is quite stronger than the normal F3 body. I have two F3 bodies with the HP finder and one MD4 drive. The F3 body that does the lions share of the work is battered, dented and looks like it has been dragged through a war zone, but it works like the day I bought it.

    I have a friend with the same outfit, but one of the bodies is a titanium body.

    What is interesting is to see the difference after about 15 years with two bodies side by side in a camera bag.

    The F3 bodies are very strong, but the material they are made out of is slightly malleable. That is, they take a bump and the outer shell bends or kinks slightly, they also lose their outer coating of black relatively easily, showing up a brass coloured material underneath. I think the term the English use is, "brassing".

    Back to my friend with the two different F3 bodies, the normal one is brassed quite heavily and has knock marks all over. The titanium body is almost mark free and dent free, although it does have some minor dents. Considering some of the knocks I have seen it take, the titanium body is way stronger than the normal body.

    The normal or HP finder is not titanium and the MD4 isn't titanium either.

    The MD4 is tougher than the F3 body material and is virtually undentable by comparison, if you know what I mean.

    I would have an F3T in a flash if one was available, even though I'm not on the market for one.

    The best thing about an F3 with a drive attached is that you can carry the camera around very easily, even with very sweaty hands. I road tested an F4 when they came out, was given it for evaluation in fact. I didn't like it as the rounded shape meant that when I was walking around with a 300 or 400 mm lens on, the thing kept slipping out of my sweaty hands, I went back to the F3 before the test period had ended. For what it's worth the F4 is more or less an F3 with an inbuilt drive and autofocus, other than that, they are basically the same thing.

    Mick.
     
  5. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    I think the weight difference would be measured in grams not ounces.
    The innards are the same in both cameras. only the covers are titanium.
     
  6. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    By sheer coincidence, my friend with the F3T has just popped in, we whacked them on the scales and this is the result.

    Normal F3 747gms, titanium F3 743 gms. The difference though, could be the drive cover on the base of the camera, which was off on the F3T as he had it on the drive and we just popped it off.

    The view finder is also titanium.

    The early models were all titanium coloured, whilst the later models were black according to my friend.

    His is the titanium coloured model!

    Mick.
     
  7. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    This will surprise you.

    From The new Nikon Compendium:

    F3 and F3HP weigh 700 g.

    F3T weighs 745 g.

    p. 346
     
  8. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    George, that is interesting, I just put my one of my F3HP cameras on the scales and it came up at 765gms with a roll of bulk loaded plastic cassette film.

    I checked out a roll of film at 17 gms so that makes my battered F3HP 748 gms.

    There is also the weight of the battery to be taken into consideration, I don't have spare set of batteries to weigh though.

    Perhaps there is a +- issue and the factory weight is an average weight.

    There is of course the aspect of how accurate are my electronic scales. I don't think they would be that out, but I recognise that they wouldn't be certified.

    Mick.
     
  9. snegron

    snegron Member

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    Interesting findings Mick! I thought that there would be more weight differences than just a few grams though. I agree with your comments on the square ergonomics of the F3. It feels better than any other camera Nikon has made.

    I am about to go on a 4 day trip and I had to make up my mind which two cameras to take with me. I placed different combinations on my bag and realized that it was way to heavy to be treking through a city, tropical beach with my favorite combo:two F3HP's (one with an MD4), three small lenses, and a Vivitar 285HV flash. After thinking a bit too much about the weight and the potential for loosing one of my F3's, I decided to go with an F100, 28-105AF, 70-210 AF, an SB800 flash, and more rolls of film. This second combo is much lighter than the F3 combo I had originally (not to mention that if the F100 and lenses are lost or damaged I won't be as upset). The weight issue got me thinking about the titanium bodies. If the F3T was considerably lighter it would be the perfect travel camera. At least that's the excuse I was going to give my wife for having to purchase an F3T in the near future! :smile:
     
  10. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Mick,

    I'm as confused as you. Although the chart shows the three models (i.e. F3, F3HP and F3T on a single line) it only shows two weights (700 and 745). I have to think that the F3HP would weigh more than the F3.

    Perhaps what the chart means is that the F3 and F3T come in about the same (700g) and the F3HP is 745g?

    That would make more sense - but it's unclear from the chart.
     
  11. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    FWIW, my F3 weighs;

    775g with HP finder, including the strap
    745g with non-HP finder
    Without the cover on the bottom plate for the motor.

    don't have a titanium one to weigh though.
    Since all the guts are the same with titanium or without I suppose it wouldn't make much weight difference. Titanium can take much more bending without deforming permanently than aluminum, steel, or probably brass which is what accounts for the lack of dents in use.
     
  12. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Correct me if I am wrong, but Titanium is used because, for a given amount of weight, it gives much greater strength and rigidity.

    Thus, while its use may result in a weight savings, it is generally used to increase strength and rigidity, without sacrificing light weight.

    I might expect a Titanium Nikon F3 to be lighter, while I would expect an Olympus OM4T to be stronger.

    Matt
     
  13. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Can anyone point to greater reliability in a titanium-covered body, though? We have all seen (and many of us have used) incredibly battered F-series Nikons and I have never heard of external damage that stopped a brass camera but wouldn't stop a titaniam one. I'm thinking in particular of a Vietnam-era F with which a friend stopped a bullet...

    My own belief is that titanium body coverings are a marketing ploy, nothing more or less. Even a titanium top-plate on an M-series Leica -- a BIG piece of metal, machined from the solid -- wouldn't make that much difference to the weight because there's too much other brass and steel in there.

    Cheers,

    R
     
  14. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

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    To me making Nikon F series in titanium sounds similar to making a mountain bike with lots of heavy parts but with titanium frame and expecting it to be lighter.

    I have a rather rare Konica Hexar Titanium as well as original Hexar AF black. I disassembled both cameras and you know what- the only difference is the top cover. The same mechanisms and electronics are found under the cover. The titanium cover may be stronger than aluminium one but if significant impact is given I think the circuit boards underneath may crack or other problems will develop... and the dent or scratch on the cover is least of my concern... (However, I found Konica Hexar to be pretty reliable camera except for the problems I discussed in depth on my website.)

    Titanium is very useful when used to make woks for stir frying. It's relatively nonstick like anodized aluminium, lightweight, good heat conductor, browns food nicely, corrosion resistant (againt salt, acid, heat and Thai chilis), and all that.
     
  15. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    Titanium is good for decreasing weight in one's wallet, if nothing else.:D

    as for strength and rigidity, yes in general it improves the strength to weight ratio. It's often described as nearly as light as aluminum, and nearly as strong as steel. But rigidity, and strength are not necessarily the same. Aluminum frame bicycles are much more ridgid than steel bikes, even though the material isn't as strong for it's weight (aluminum tubes are made thicker).

    Does anyone know if the Ti F3 used titanium for the core casting or only on the cover plates? I think the standard core casting was either aluminum alloy or magnesium. Titanium wouldn't offer very much weight advantage over either one.
     
  16. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

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    Titanium is very difficult to machine or cast, even now but more so at the time of F3 production.

    Also, aluminium tubes are made thicker in bicycle frames, partly because greater thickness is required to weld aluminium tubes. I ride an aluminium frame folding bike (about 13kg), and it's only a couple of pounds lighter than comparable steel framed version, which is half priced. I looked into titanium version, which is a couple of pounds lighter than my aluminium bike, but it is double priced.
     
  17. bruce terry

    bruce terry Member

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    Picked up a used F2T (with the standard prism) in 85 and beat it up for 12 years till I sold it in 97. The camera "felt" lighter but that was probably just the small prism talking. It took many accidental knocks and drops with aplomb, and on the day I gave it up that flat black finish was still unworn, unpeeled and dentless - some kind of metallurgy thing I guess.

    PS There is a supposedly brand new never used F2T Titan for sale overseas for 4K if you've got to have one!!!!
     
  18. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    It's interesting that the brief hey day of the Ti bike coincides in part with the period of the Nikon F3T.

    Ti bikes had a brief run of popularity in the 80's and 90's as many frame builders wanted to move away from the heavier steel framsets. Titanium was seen as an "alternative answer" to the introduction of aluminum bikes (e.g. Cannondale) - since some riders of the latter were put off by the stiff ride of aluminum and the oversized tubing.*

    But the high expense of Ti bikes was always a problem and once carbon fiber tubing became available - most high-end frame makers moved to it as providing the best "stiff, yet flexible where it needs to be, and affordable" alternative to aluminum. Even Cannondale now makes a carbon/aluminum "hybrid" frame.

    What intrigues me is why camera makers never moved to carbon fiber bodies - since CF offers both significant weight reduction and toughness?

    * In interests of full disclosure; I've been riding Cannondale bikes for 25 years (bought one each of original production models - both road and touring - and later models too). But I am now about to switch to carbon! :wink:
     
  19. John Hermanson

    John Hermanson Member

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    I kinda doubt main F3 body casting is titanium. More likely, titanium areas are limited to top and bottom cover and meter housing top cover. Olympus OM-3Ti, 4T, 4Ti have titanium tops and bottoms and that saved a few ounces in weight. As noted, machining titanium (which a body casting would require tons of) makes it unlikely the body itself is titanium.

    John