Founded on July 25, 1917 as Nippon Kōgaku Kōgyō Kabushikigaisha (日本光学工業株式会社 "Japan Optical Industries Co., Ltd."), the company was renamed to Nikon Corporation, after its cameras, in 1988. Nikon is a member of the Mitsubishi group of companies (keiretsu).
Nikon Corporation was established on 25 July 1917 when three leading optical manufacturers merged to form a comprehensive, fully integrated optical company known as Nippon Kōgaku Tōkyō K.K. Over the next sixty years, this growing company became a manufacturer of optical lenses (including those for the first Canon cameras) and equipment used in cameras, binoculars, microscopes and inspection equipment. During World War II the company operated thirty factories with 2,000 employees, manufacturing binoculars, lenses, bomb sights, and periscopes for the Japanese military.
Reception outside Japan
After the war Nippon Kōgaku reverted to producing its civilian product range in a single factory. In 1948, the first Nikon-branded camera was released, the Nikon I. Nikon lenses were popularised by the American photojournalist David Douglas Duncan. Duncan was working in Tokyo when the Korean War began. Duncan had met a young Japanese photographer, Jun Miki, who introduced Duncan to Nikon lenses. From July 1950 to January 1951, Duncan covered the Korean War. Fitting Nikon optics (especially the NIKKOR-P.C 1:2 f=8,5 cm) to his Leica rangefinder cameras produced high contrast negatives with very sharp resolution at the centre field.
Names and brands
Nikko parent company brand, from which the Nikkor brand evolved.
Founded in 1917 as Nippon Kōgaku Kōgyō Kabushikigaisha (日本光学工業株式会社 "Japan Optical Industries Corporation"), the company was renamed Nikon Corporation, after its cameras, in 1988. The name Nikon, which dates from 1946, was originally intended only for its small-camera line, spelled as "Nikkon", with an addition of the "n" to the "Nikko" brand name. The similarity to the Carl Zeiss AG brand "ikon", would cause some early problems in Germany as Zeiss complained that Nikon violated its trademarked camera. From 1963 to 1968 the Nikon F in particular was therefore labeled 'Nikkor'.
The Nikkorbrand was introduced in 1932, a westernised rendering of an earlier version Nikkō (日光), an abbreviation of the company's original full name (Nikkō coincidentally means "sunlight" and is the name of a Japanese town.). Nikkor is the Nikon brand name for its lenses.
Another early brand used on microscopes was Joico, an abbreviation of "Japan Optical Industries Co". Expeed is the brand Nikon uses for its image processors since 2007.
Rise of the Nikon F series
Nikon F FTN Camera
The Nikon SP and other 1950s and 1960s rangefinder cameras competed directly with models from Leica and Zeiss. However, the company quickly ceased developing its rangefinder line to focus its efforts on the Nikon F single-lens reflex line of cameras, which was successful upon its introduction in 1959. For nearly 30 years, Nikon's F-series SLRs were the most widely used small-format cameras among professional photographers, as well as by some U.S. space program, the first in 1971 on Apollo 15 (as lighter and smaller alternative to the Hasselblad, used in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, 12 of which are still on the Moon) and later once in 1973 on the Skylab and later again on it in 1981.
Nikon popularized many features in professional SLR photography, such as the modular camera system with interchangeable lenses, viewfinders, motor drives, and data backs; integrated light metering and lens indexing; electronic strobe flashguns instead of expendable flashbulbs; electronic shutter control; evaluative multi-zone "matrix" metering; and built-in motorized film advance. However, as auto focus SLRs became available from Minolta and others in the mid-1980s, Nikon's line of manual-focus cameras began to seem out of date.
Despite introducing one of the first autofocus models, the slow and bulky F3AF, the company's determination to maintain lens compatibility with its F-mount prevented rapid advances in autofocus technology. Canon introduced a new type of lens-camera interface with its entirely electronic Canon EOS cameras and Canon EF lens mount in 1987. The much faster lens performance permitted by Canon's electronic focusing and aperture control prompted many professional photographers (especially in sports and news) to switch to the Canon system through the 1990s.
Nikon created some of the first digital SLRs (DSLRs, Nikon NASA F4) for NASA, used in the Space Shuttle since 1991. After a 1990s partnership with Kodak to produce digital SLR cameras based on existing Nikon film bodies, Nikon released the Nikon D1 SLR under its own name in 1999. Although it used an APS-C-size light sensor only 2/3 the size of a 35 mm film frame (later called a "DX sensor"), the D1 was among the first digital cameras to have sufficient image quality and a low enough price for some professionals (particularly photojournalists and sports photographers) to use it as a replacement for a film SLR. The company also has a Coolpix line which grew as consumer digital photography became increasingly prevalent through the early 2000s. Nikon also never made any phones.
Through the mid-2000s, Nikon's line of professional and enthusiast DSLRs and lenses including their back compatible AF-S lens line remained in second place behind Canon in SLR camera sales, and Canon had several years' lead in producing professional DSLRs with light sensors as large as traditional 35 mm film frames. All Nikon DSLRs from 1999 to 2007, by contrast, used the smaller DX size sensor.
Then, 2005 management changes at Nikon led to new camera designs such as the full-frame Nikon D3 in late 2007, the Nikon D700 a few months later, and mid-range SLRs. Nikon regained much of its reputation among professional and amateur enthusiast photographers as a leading innovator in the field, especially because of the speed, ergonomics, and low-light performance of its latest models.[unreliable source?] The mid-range Nikon D90, introduced in 2008, was also the first SLR camera to record video. Since then video mode has been introduced to many more of the Nikon DSLR cameras including the Nikon D3S, Nikon D7000, Nikon D5100, Nikon D3100, Nikon D3200 and Nikon D5100.
More recently, Nikon has released a photograph and video editing suite called ViewNX to browse, edit, merge and share images and videos. Despite the market growth of Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras, Nikon does not neglect their F-mount Single Lens Reflex cameras and have released some Professional DSLRs like the D780, or the D6 recently (Q1 2020).
Also in 2018, Nikon introduced a whole new mirrorless system in their lineup. It was the Nikon Z system. The first cameras it used were the Z 6 and the Z 7, both with a Full Frame (FX) sensor format, In-Body Image Stabilization and a built-in electronicviewfinder. The Z-mount is not only for FX cameras though, as in 2019 Nikon introduced the Z 50 with a DX format sensor, without IBIS but with the compatibility to every Z-mount lens. The handling, the ergonomics and the button layout are similar to the Nikon DSLR cameras, which is friendly for those who are switching from them. This shows that Nikon is putting their focus more on their MILC line.
In 2021, Nikon announced the Nikon Z FC. It is the second Z-series APS-C (DX) mirrorless camera in the line up, designed to evoke the company's famous FM2 SLR from the '80s. It offers manual controls, including dedicated dials for shutter speed, exposure compensation and ISO.
Film camera production
Once Nikon introduced affordable consumer-level DSLRs such as the Nikon D70 in the mid-2000s, sales of its consumer and professional film cameras fell rapidly, following the general trend in the industry. In January 2006, Nikon announced it would stop making most of its film camera models and all of its large format lenses, and focus on digital models.
Nevertheless, Nikon is the only major camera manufacturer still making film SLRs. Both the high-end Nikon F6 and the entry-level FM10 (the sole remaining models following the 2006 discontinuations) remain a part of Nikon's current lineup as of March 2019[update].
Movie camera production
Although few models were introduced, Nikon made movie cameras as well. The R10 and R8 SUPER ZOOM Super 8 models (introduced in 1973) were the top of the line and last attempt for the amateur movie field. The cameras had a special gate and claw system to improve image steadiness and overcome a major drawback of Super 8 cartridge design. The R10 model has a high speed 10X macro zoom lens.
Contrary to other brands, Nikon never attempted to offer projectors or their accessories.
Nikon has shifted much of its manufacturing facilities to Thailand, with some production (especially of Coolpix cameras and some low-end lenses) in Indonesia. The company constructed a factory in Ayuthaya north of Bangkok in Thailand in 1991. By the year 2000, it had 2,000 employees. Steady growth over the next few years and an increase of floor space from the original 19,400 square meters (208,827 square feet) to 46,200 square meters (497,300 square feet) enabled the factory to produce a wider range of Nikon products. By 2004, it had more than 8,000 workers.
As of 2009, all of Nikon's Nikon DX formatDSLR cameras and the D600, a prosumer FX camera, are produced in Thailand, while their professional and semi-professional Nikon FX format (full frame) cameras (D700, D3, D3S, D3X, D4, D800 and the retro-styled Df) are built in Japan, in the city of Sendai. The Thai facility also produces most of Nikon's digital "DX" zoom lenses, as well as numerous other lenses in the Nikkor line.
Nikon-Essilor Co. Ltd.
In 1999, Nikon and Essilor have signed a Memorandum of understanding to form a global strategic alliance in corrective lenses by forming a 50/50 joint venture in Japan to be called Nikon-Essilor Co. Ltd.
The main purpose of the joint venture is to further strengthen the corrective lens business of both companies.
This will be achieved through the integrated strengths of Nikon's strong brand backed up by advanced optical technology and strong sales network in Japanese market, coupled with the high productivity and worldwide marketing and sales network of Essilor, the world leader in this industry.
Nikon-Essilor Co. Ltd. started its business in January 2000, responsible for research, development, production and sales mainly for ophthalmic optics.
Revenue from Nikon's camera business has dropped 30% in three years prior to fiscal 2015. In 2013, it forecast the first drop in sales from interchangeable lens cameras since Nikon's first digital SLR in 1999. The company's net profit has fallen from a peak of ¥75.4 billion (fiscal 2007) to ¥18.2 billion for fiscal 2015. Nikon plans to reassign over 1,500 employees resulting in job cuts of 1,000, mainly in semiconductor lithography and camera business, by 2017 as the company shifts focus to medical and industrial devices business for growth.
In January 2006 Nikon announced the discontinuation of all but two models of its film cameras, focusing its efforts on the digital camera market. It continues to sell the fully manual FM10, and still offers the high-end fully automatic F6. Nikon has also committed to service all the film cameras for a period of ten years after production ceases.
Nikon F2SB SLR camera with DP-3 finder and GN Auto Nikkor 1:2,8 f=45mm lens
Nikon F3 Giugiaro Camera Design
Nikon F4 F4s Giugiaro Design
Nikon F4 Giugiaro Design
Nikon F4 F4s
Nikon 28ti camera
Nikon ZOOM retro camera
Nikon KeyMission 360
Film 35 mm SLR cameras with manual focus
High-end (Professional – Intended for professional use, heavy duty and weather resistance)
Nikon F series (1959, known in Germany for legal reasons as the Nikkor F)
Between 1983 and the early 2000s a broad range of compact cameras were made by Nikon. Nikon first started by naming the cameras with a series name (like the L35/L135-series, the RF/RD-series, the W35-series, the EF or the AW-series). In later production cycles, the cameras were double branded with a series-name on the one and a sales name on the other hand. Sales names were for example Zoom-Touch for cameras with a wide zoom range, Lite-Touch for ultra compact models, Fun-Touch for easy to use cameras and Sport-Touch for splash water resistance. After the late 1990s, Nikon dropped the series names and continued only with the sales name. Nikon's APS-cameras were all named Nuvis.
The cameras came in all price ranges from entry-level fixed-lens-cameras to the top model Nikon 35Ti and 28Ti with titanium body and 3D-Matrix-Metering.
Double 8 (8mm)
NIKKOREX 8 (1960)
NIKKOREX 8F (1963)
Nikon Super Zoom 8 (1966)
Nikon 8X Super Zoom (1967)
Nikon R8 Super Zoom (1973)
Nikon R10 Super Zoom (1973)
Professional Underwater cameras
Nikonos I Calypso (1963, originally known in France as the Calypso/Nikkor)
Nikonos II (1968)
Nikonos III (1975)
Nikonos IV-A (1980)
Nikonos V (1984)
Nikonos RS (1992) (World's first underwater Auto-Focus SLR camera)
Nikon COOLPIX P7700
Nikon's raw image format is NEF, for Nikon Electronic File. The "DSCN" prefix for image files stands for "Digital Still Camera – Nikon."
(1998) Coolscan III LS-30 E (2700 dpi, 10-bit) SCSI
(2001) Coolscan IV LS-40 ED (2900 dpi, 12-bit, 3.6D) USB, SilverFast, ICE, ROC, GEM
(2001) Coolscan LS-4000 ED (4000 dpi, 14-bit, 4.2D) Firewire
(2001) Coolscan LS-8000 ED (4000 dpi, 14-bit, 4.2D) Firewire, multiformat
(2003) Coolscan V LS-50 ED (4000 dpi, 14-bit, 4.2D) USB
(2003) Super Coolscan LS-5000 ED (4000 dpi, 16bit, 4.8D) USB
(2004) Super Coolscan LS-9000 ED (4000 dpi, 16bit, 4.8D) Firewire, multiformat
Nikon introduced its first scanner, the Nikon LS-3500 with a maximum resolution of 4096 x 6144 pixels, in 1988. Prior to the development of 'cool' LED lighting this scanner used a halogen lamp (hence the name 'Coolscan' for the following models). The resolution of the following LED based Coolscan model didn't increase but the price was significantly lower. Colour depth, scan quality, imaging and hardware functionality as well as scanning speed was gradually improved with each following model. The final 'top of the line' 35mm Coolscan LS-5000 ED was a device capable of archiving greater numbers of slides; 50 framed slides or 40 images on film roll. It could scan all these in one batch using special adapters. A single maximum resolution scan was performed in no more than 20 seconds as long as no post-processing was also performed. With the launch of the Coolscan 9000 ED Nikon introduced its most up-to-date film scanner which, like the Minolta Dimage scanners were the only film scanners that, due to a special version of Digital ICE, were able to scan Kodachrome film reliably both dust and scratch free. In late 2007 much of the software's code had to be rewritten to make it Mac OS 10.5 compatible. Nikon announced it would discontinue supporting its Nikon Scan software for the Macintosh as well as for Windows Vista 64-bit. Third-party software solutions like SilverFast or Vuescan provide alternatives to the official Nikon drivers and scanning software, and maintain updated drivers for most current operating systems. Between 1994 and 1996 Nikon developed three flatbed scanner models named Scantouch, which couldn't keep up with competitive flatbed products and were hence discontinued to allow Nikon to focus on its dedicated film scanners.
Action VII Zoom
Prostaff 3 16-48x60
Prostaff 5 60
Prostaff 5 80
Spotter XL II WP
Spotting Scope R/A II
Spotting Scope 80
Fieldscope ED78/ EDII
Fieldscopes EDG 65 /85
Fieldscope EDG 85 VR
Nikon Metrology, a division of Nikon, produces hardware and software products for 2D & 3D measurement from nano to large scale measurement volumes. Products include Optical Laser Probes, X-ray computed tomography, Coordinate-measuring machine (CMM),Laser Radar Systems (LR), Microscopes, Portable CMMs, Large Volume Metrology, Motion Measurement and Adaptive Robotic Controls, Semiconductor Systems, Metrology Software including CMM-Manager, CAMIO Studio, Inspect-X, Focus, and Automeasure. Measurements are performed using tactile and non-contact probes, measurement data is collected in software and processed for comparison to nominal CAD (Computer-aided design) or part specification or for recreating / reverse engineering physical work pieces.
The origins of Nikon go back to 1917 when three Jananese optical manufacturers joined to form Nippon Kogaku KK ('Japan Optics'). In 1925 the microscope having revolving nosepiece and interchangeable objectives was produced. Significant growth for the microscopy division occurs over the next 50 years as Nikon pioneers development of polarising and stereo microscopes along with new products for measuring and inspection (Metrology) markets. These new products include devices targeted for industrial use such as optical comparators, autocollimators, profile projector and automated vision based systems. Continued effort through the next three decades yield the release of products including the Optiphot and Labophot microscopes, Diaphot microscope, the Eclipse range of infinity optics, and finally the DS camera series and the Coolscope with the advent of digital sensors. With the acquisition of Metris in 2009 the Nikon Metrology division was born. Nikon Metrology products include a full range of both 2D & 3D, optical, tactile, non-contact, and X-Ray Metrology solutions ranging from nanometer resolution on microscopic samples to μm resolution in volumes large enough to house a commercial airliner.
Bridge, Gantry and Horizontal Arm CMMs
Digital / Analog Tactile and / or Non-Contact Optical sensors
Portable arms – 6 and 7 axis models
Laser Scanning – Optical Line Scanners in single Line and Multi-line (Cross Scanner) configurations
Nikon developed the first lithography equipment from Japan. The equipment from Nikon enjoyed high demand from global chipmakers, the Japanese semiconductor companies and other major companies such as Intel, and Nikon was the world's leading producer of semiconductor lithography systems from the 1980s to 2002. Nikon saw a sharp drop in its market share from less than 40 percent in early 2000s to no more than 20 percent as of 2013. The company has been losing an estimated ¥17 billion a year in its precision instruments unit.
In contrast, ASML, a Dutch company, has grabbed over 80 percent of the lithography systems market as of 2015 by adopting an open innovation method of product development, which includes the acquisition of U.S-based light source manufacturer Cymer. In 2017, Nikon announced that it would cut nearly 1,000 jobs mainly in the lithography systems business and halt its development of next-generation equipment.
In February 2019, Nikon, ASML and Carl Zeiss AG, a leading supplier to ASML, have entered into a definitive settlement and cross-license agreement relating to multiple disputes over patents for lithography equipment that had been underway since 2001 and agreed to drop all the world-wide lawsuits regarding the issue.
By the latest settlement, ASML and Zeiss paid approximately $170 million to Nikon. The two companies had paid a total of $87 million to Nikon in 2004 for similar legal dispute.
Market position and products
As of February 2018, Nikon held 10.3 percent revenue share in the semiconductor lithography market while the share of ASML was over 80 percent.
As of 2019, Nikon develops and sells the following lithography-related equipment:
In the TV show Veronica Mars, Veronica, the main character, Uses A Nikon coolpix 8800 throughout season one, and a nikon DSLR in all other seasons.
Awards and recognition
Nikon was ranked 134th among India's most trusted brands according to the Brand Trust Report 2012, a study conducted by Trust Research Advisory. In the Brand Trust Report 2013, Nikon was ranked 28th among India's most trusted brands and subsequently, according to the Brand Trust Report 2014, Nikon was ranked 178th among India's most trusted brands.
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