A LIFE-SAV­ING CAM­ERA

NPhoto - - Close-up -

A rare ti­ta­nium Nikon F3 Limited, which was sold only in Ja­pan, saved Jeff’s life in Bei­jing

Jeff Wi­dener al­most died the night be­fore he took ‘Tank Man’. Af­ter weeks of peace­ful oc­cu­pa­tion of Bei­jing’s Tianan­men Square, events be­came deadly. On the night of June 4, 1989, Wi­dener was sur­rounded by a mob…

While pho­tograph­ing a burn­ing ar­moured car, my flash was run­ning low on bat­tery power and I was re­stricted to one frame ev­ery 60 sec­onds. It was al­most like a cruel joke: one of the big­gest sto­ries of the 20th century and all I could do was wait for a lit­tle or­ange ready light. The an­guish was short-lived be­cause a split sec­ond af­ter rais­ing the cam­era to my eye, a ter­rific blow slammed the F3 into my face. The world was spin­ning as I looked down at my blood-cov­ered cam­era prism, which was torn off along with the flash and lens. A stray brick had smashed through the mir­ror and shut­ter cur­tain but the body re­mained light-sealed. Al­though I suf­fered a se­vere con­cus­sion, the ti­ta­nium-clad F3 ab­sorbed the blow, spar­ing my life. The film was later pried out of the cam­era with pli­ers. Had it been any other cam­era, I prob­a­bly would not be do­ing this in­ter­view.”

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