The company was founded under its original name, Japan Optical Industries Col, Ltd



The brand name for Nikon lenses was changed to Nikkor



Nikon created its first camera



Photographer David Douglas Duncan used a Nikon lens on his Leica camera and photographed the Korean War



The first annual Nikon Photo Contest was held



The company name was officially changed to Nikon



Nikon digital cameras were brought on the space shuttle and have remained on flights

Nikon: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words*


Nikon’s Beginnings

The Japan Optical Industries Col, Ltd. was founded in July 1917. It was renamed Nikon Corporation after its camera line in 1988; Nikon is now a member of the Mitsubishi group of companies.

Along with cameras, Nikon produces binoculars, ophthalmic lenses, measurement instruments, and materials used in semiconductor fabrication. During World War II, they manufactured bomb sights and periscopes for the Japanese military.


The Nikon Camera

Post-WWII civilian production was reduced to a single factory, where in 1948, the first Nikon-brand camera was produced. It was not until the Korean War began that Nikon became a popular lens/camera. American photojournalist, David Douglas Duncan, affixed a Nikon lens to his Leica rangefinder and photographed the war from July 1950 to January 1951.

The brand name of Nikon lenses was changed to Nikkor, which means sunlight, in 1932; there had been a trademark issue with the Zeiss lens, Ikon.


From Rangefinder to Single-lens Reflex to Digital

Nikon first produced rangefinder cameras, most notably the Nikon SP; it competed directly with Leica, Zeiss, and Canon. Once it had introduced the Nikon F single-lens reflex camera in 1959, it stopped making rangefinders**.

Of course Nikon is a player in the digital camera market; its closest competitor is Canon. Nikon digital cameras have flown with the Space Shuttle since 1991. Their current offerings include the Nikon D810, which retails at approximately $2,500.

However, Nikon still manufactures and sells the Nikon F6, a single-lens reflect autofocus film camera.


Famous Nikon Images

Since 1969, Nikon has held an annual photo contest; the entry period runs from October 2016 through January 2017. Judges this year include Neville Bordy, Marcus Bell, Wang Lei, Carol Guzy, and Miho Odaka. Interestingly enough, you may submit an image from any digital device including a smartphone except if entering the Nikon 100th Anniversary Award – that image must be taken with Nikon equipment. Video submissions are also accepted.

One of the most famous Nikon images was taken in 1984 by Steve McCurry (born 1950). “Afghan Girl” originally appeared in National Geographic.


Did You Know?

  • The top ten movies that featured worn, but not necessarily used properly, were: Apocalypse Now, The Bridges of Madison County, Spider-Man 3, The Eyes of Laura Mars, City of God, Gorillas in the Mist, Under Fire, Blow-Up, The Year of Living Dangerously, and Superman Returns. How many have you seen?
  • Nikon produced the first optical lenses for Canon cameras.
  • In 1965, David Douglas Duncan (born 1916) was presented the 200,000th Nikon F for his assistance in making the camera popular.


* This exact phrase was (first) used in 1918 in an advertisement in the San Antonio Light.

** In January 2005, Nikon re-released its famous and best-in-class rangefinder, the Nikon SP. Twenty-five hundred were made and the factory in Japan had sold out by May. It can be found on auction sites for about $4,000.



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