On the 25th of July, 2017 , Nikon will mark its 100th year anniversary. To celebrate this great milestone, we at Nikon Europe have spent months collecting our favourite 100 Nikon stories, both from Nikon, and from Nikon photographers. Here, we start with a look back on seven of our favourite stories of Nikon ‘firsts’ from the past 100 years.
1.The First NIKKOR Lens: Aero NIKKOR 18cm f/4.5
The story of the first NIKKOR lens begins in 1917, when the Iwaki Glass Factory and the Fuji Lens factory combined to found Nippon Kogaku K.K, a company manufacturing binoculars for consumer use. In 1932, NIKKOR, an abbreviation of NIPPON Kogaku, appeared as the trademark of a line of photography lenses built by this partnership. The first was the Aero NIKKOR 18cm f/4.5 in 1933, an impressively accurate aerial photography lens that was supplied to the military for mapmaking.
2. The Original Nikon
The first ‘Nikon’ camera was released in Japan in March 1948. Nippon Kogaku already had experience manufacturing aerial and telescope cameras, but the first camera anticipated demand for a consumer product. A team of experts from the research, design and product engineering departments formed the ‘Camera Committee’ and started studying the art and science of high-class consumer camera production. Eventually a small camera was developed – the Nikon, based on the abbreviation of the company’s name.
3. Introducing the F-Mount
1959 was a pivotal year for Nikon with the introduction of the F model, the first professional single-lens reflex camera. Announced at the ‘Philadelphia Show’ in the US, the camera was revolutionary because it featured the F-Mount. This enabled almost any NIKKOR lens, from that year onwards, to be attached to the camera, the first of its kind to offer this capability. The camera became a worldwide success, and in November 1965, the 200,000th F-Model was gifted to American photojournalist David Douglas Duncan. Now seen as one of the best war photographers of the 20th century, Duncan made the Nikon and NIKKOR brand names known all over the world.
4. The First Nikon In Space
Nikon’s history in Space began with the Nikon Photomic FTN, a modified Nikon F camera that was used aboard the Apollo 15 in 1971, and Nikon cameras have been aboard every manned space flight since. In the image below, Thomas Pesquet, a European Space Agency astronaut from France, uses a Nikon camera during his six-month mission at the International Space Station.
This film, edited by SmugMug Films, is a compiled time-lapse video of Earth created using thousands of still images shot by Nikon DSLRs on board the International Space Station. The bright flashes are lightning strikes hitting the earth.
5. Nikon’s First Digital Compact Camera
The COOLPIX 100 was Nikon’s first digital compact camera. Introduced in 1997, this camera was aimed at the everyday consumer with its key selling points being its ease of use, convenience and ability to capture quality pictures.
6. The first underwater auto-focus SLR camera
From microscopes to DSLRs, Nikon is known for pioneering technology in auto-focus. In 1992, Nikon entered a new market by introducing the NIKONOS RS, the world’s first underwater auto-focus SLR camera. While Nikon started producing underwater cameras in 1963, the NIKONOS RS enabled divers to use auto-focus in water up to a depth of 100m.
NIKONOS cameras are no longer in production, but Nikon is still an industry leader in waterproof cameras and housing, enabling photos like this one by underwater photographer Victor Lyagushkin taken in Ordinskaya Cave, in Russia. It features freediving champion Natalia Avseenko in one of the longest underwater caves in the world.
7. Introducing The World’s First Practical DSLR
The Nikon D1 was a major milestone that changed the photography landscape for years to come. Launched in 1999, the D1 rightly earned its title as ‘the world’s first practical DSLR’ and disrupted the professional camera market. Before its arrival, DSLRs were heavy, and lacked efficiency. The Nikon D1 broke new ground being significantly smaller, tougher, lighter, and with improved picture quality and faster image signal processing. The D1 was also relatively affordable, costing approximately half the price of that of other DSLRs on the market.
We are fortunate to share that we have had many more ‘first’ in our history, and it was difficult making the choice of our top seven. In the coming weeks, we will share more remarkable events and stories from our history so stay tuned!
Do you have a favourite memory or story related to Nikon? We would be happy to hear it. Share it with us in a comment below.