|You are here: Home > History > Nikon
Brief History of Nikon Cameras
do you achieve success in cameras? Superb engineering,
uncompromising quality lenses and listening to
your customers. Before the managerial gurus in
the West had "discovered" these principles,
the engineers and managers of Nippon Kogaku K.K.
(renamed to Nikon Corporation in April 1988) were
embodying them in the Nikon cameras they were
I [One], 1948
The first Nikon camera.
This camera began development in 1945 and was
eventually released March 1948. It was beset by
various problems and the Nikon M was released
in October 1949 which fixed the problems.
In their search for the best of the best, the
engineers looked all over the world for the leading
ideas and solutions. Leica was the undisputed
leader in 35mm rangefinder camera and many camera
manufacturers tried to copy their cameras. Nikon
had the courage to take the best and improve the
rest. After coming out with different models of
35mm rangefinder cameras, they eventually put
out the Nikon SP (regarded as the "Best of
Nikon") in September of 1957, followed by
the S3 in March 1958 and S4 in March 1959.
In May of 1959, the Nikon F single-lens reflex
(SLR) camera was introduced and quickly became
the unconfirmed standard of photo journalists
and other professional photographers. In introducing
the F, with its interchangeable viewfinders, focusing
screens and lenses, Nikon bypassed Leica in one
bound as the new leader.
The Nikon F2 was easily the dream camera to own.
It had everything a professional photographer
would ever want in a SLR camera, and more than
he or she could ever afford to own. Professional
photographers used it almost exclusively. The
ads that Nikon ran were easily the best at the
time and established the F2 as the standard bearer
in professional photography. It was a beautiful
camera, well proportioned, and the attention to
detail was exquisite. It was the first camera
I fell in love with.
Photomic FTN, Apollo 15
When the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA) wanted a more portable camera for its space
missions, it went to Nikon. The challenges of
producing a camera that worked safely and conveniently
for astronauts in space are many, including having
controls that are large enough to operate for
astronauts wearing bulky gloves. The camera must
also be able to function flawlessly in zero-gravity
situations, in the vacuum of space, and while
being roasted by the intensely hot rays of the
Sun in outer space.
F3, 1980 / F4, 1988 / F5, 1996
Nikon F3 body was designed by a world famous industrial
designer, Girogetto Giugiaro, and introduced in
1980. Again, NASA tapped Nikon for a space camera
and the F3 sailed into outer space. The F4 was
introduced in 1988, and the F5 in 1996. There
were a lot of improvements in exposure metering,
autofocus, flash syncronization, motor drive,
offering what users want -- and need -- to capture
sensational pictures, Nikon cameras have continued
to be the standards against which all other cameras
you have any anecdote about any of the above cameras
that you think might be interesting to share with
other readers, please send them to us.