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You are hereHome > History > Nikon

Brief History of Nikon Cameras

    Nikon I, 1948 Nikon F, 1959 Nikon F2, 1971

How 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 putting out.

Nikon INikon 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.

Nikon SP, 1957
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.

Nikon F, 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.

Nikon F2, 1971
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.

Nikon 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.

Nikon F3, 1980 / F4, 1988 / F5, 1996

The 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, etc.

By offering what users want -- and need -- to capture sensational pictures, Nikon cameras have continued to be the standards against which all other cameras are measured.

If 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.

Source: Brief History
  The History of Nikon Cameras by Yokoyuki Tateno
  A Pictorial History of Nikon Cameras
  Nikon F2 History by Michael Liu
And now to the present: Nikon Digital Cameras


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