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legal form Kabushiki-gaisha (Japanese joint stock company)
ISIN JP3657400002
founding July 25, 1917 (Taisho 7 according to the Japanese calendar)
Seat Chiyoda , Tokyo , Japan
management Kazuo Ushida (President)
Number of employees 25,000 (2017)
sales ¥ 749 billion ( 6.7 billion ) (March 2014)
Branch Photo and optical industry

The Nikon Corporation ( Japanese 株式会社 ニ コ ン , Kabushiki-gaisha Nikon ) is a Japanese manufacturer of cameras , lenses and other optical devices such as microscopes , binoculars and steppers . Nikon has been making optical glasses since 1917 and lenses since 1925. With a world market share of 18.6 percent (2019) for digital cameras, Nikon is number 3 of the most important camera manufacturers after Canon and Sony . The company is headquartered in Tokyo .

Nikon has been active on the European market since 1961, when Nikon AG Switzerland was founded in Zurich . The company is one of the world's most important photo technology companies .

The company's history goes back to 1917, when the three companies Tokyo Keiki Seisaku Sho, Iwaki Glass Manufacturing and Fujii Lens Seizo Sho formed the Nippon Kogaku Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha (for short: Nippon Kogaku KK ; for example, “Japanese Optical Technik AG " ) merged. The merger was supported by Mitsubishi , which Nikon still belongs to today. In 1988 the company renamed itself from Nippon Kogaku KK to KK Nikon (English Nikon Corporation ).



Digital SLR camera Nikon D4 (2012)

Its products include Nikon small picture and digital cameras , Nikkor lenses as well as the Nikonos - underwater cameras .

In 1932 the company introduced the first camera lens under the name Nikkor ; this product name has been retained to this day.

In 1946 the company name Nippon Kogaku KK became the product name Nikon .

Rangefinder cameras

The first camera with the name "Nikon" was the rangefinder camera Nikon I presented on March 7, 1948 , which was modeled on the Contax II from Germany and also had its bayonet connection, but with deviations in the control curve, which come into play with longer focal lengths. and the unusual image format of 32 mm × 24 mm. Nikon established its international reputation with the largely identical successor model, the Nikon M, which was offered from 1949 to 1950. The real breakthrough came with the Nikon S (1950–1955), which was also officially produced for export. The Nikon S2 (from late 1954) was the first Nikon to have the 36 mm × 24 mm image format that is common today . The Nikon SP, manufactured from 1957 to 1965, had professional equipment (connection for a film transport motor, reflection of four different focal lengths).

Nikon S2 rangefinder camera

The simplified version, the Nikon S3 built from 1958 to 1961, had to do without the switchable frame in the viewfinder. The further simplified S4 followed in 1959 and the motorized half-format camera (24 mm × 18 mm) S3M in 1960. When the production of the professional model SP was discontinued in 1965, the production of Nikon rangefinder cameras was temporarily terminated. In 2000 a modified model of the Nikon S3 and in 2005 a modernized version of the top model Nikon SP was reissued and sold.

Their innovative lenses contributed significantly to the success of the rangefinder cameras. They were also often used on the Contax cameras and were also made with screw connections for the Leica cameras. Nikon's "Nikkor" lenses were made famous by the US photographer David Douglas Duncan ("DDD"). Duncan worked in Tokyo during the Korean War . There he met the young Japanese photographer Jun Miki Nikkor lenses. From July 1950 to January 1951 he documented the Korean War as a photojournalist with Nikkor lenses for the M39 screw thread. Excellent results increased interest in “Nippon Kogaku” products. DDD acquired the 1.5 / 50, 2/85 and 3.5 / 135 screw-in Nikkor lenses for its Leica . The 85 mm lens was particularly impressive in terms of its image quality. Duncan became familiar with the ones in his first book, This Is War! A Photo Narrative of the Korean War. ”Published images captured with Nikkor lenses became world famous. Duncan continued to support Nikon and in 1965 received the 200,000th Nikon F from the company in recognition of his popularization and use of Nikon products .

Nikon also offered a mirror box for the rangefinder cameras, with the help of which long telephoto lenses (up to 1000 mm), macro lenses or microscopes could be focused directly through the lens. The cameras of the Nikon S series became SLR cameras, but they were unwieldy and difficult to use.

Single lens reflex cameras

In 1959, Nikon's first small picture - reflex (SLR) camera, the Nikon F, presented; the interchangeable lenses were equipped with an F bayonet , which was named after Nikon's chief engineer Fuketa, who led the development of the F series from 1958. A first modification of this lens bayonet took place in 1977 with the introduction of the AI ​​coupling, a second in 1982 with the introduction of the AI-S type. In principle, all Nikon lenses built after this (and third-party lenses with F bayonet) can be connected to the first Nikon F and vice versa (older Nikon lenses on newer cameras), but functional restrictions must be accepted.

After 11 years of construction, the Nikon F was followed in 1971 by the technically very similar successor, the Nikon F2 . One speaks now of the Nikon F series . In 1980 it was replaced by the Nikon F3 . For the first time, the exposure meter is permanently installed, the shutter is now electronically controlled, and automatic timing is also offered. Although many professionals were initially skeptical about electronics, it was still convincing. The F3 can still be seen in action today.

In 1983 Nikon introduced the Nikon FA, the world's first SLR camera with multi-field metering (forerunner of today's matrix metering). In the same year, Nikon's first autofocus single lens reflex camera was introduced, the F3AF. It used special lenses with a built-in AF motor, but was not sold in large numbers.

When Minolta launched the 7000 AF and 9000 AF in 1985 , the AF motor was invisible into the housing. Nikon's first AF-SLR camera with the new AF technology was implemented in the F-501 . Unlike some other manufacturers, Nikon opted for a system in which the manual lenses could still be used. The original bayonet was retained. In the professional F series , AF technology was used in the Nikon F4 in 1988 , which was followed by the Nikon F5 in 1996 .

The Nikon F100 came onto the market in 1999 - an F5 with a few features reduced, on which Nikon's first digital professional SLR camera, the D1, is based, which continues to use the F bayonet. The D1 was preceded by a series of professional digital cameras that Kodak had been developing since the early 1990s on the basis of various Nikon (and some other manufacturers) bodies - most recently based on the F5 and F80 - under the name Kodak DCS .

In 1996, Nikon also tried to gain a foothold in the market with the Pronea series with a SLR camera in APS format. However, since the APS format was to a certain extent overtaken by digital photography after a few years, Nikon discontinued this series in the early 2000s.

Even before that there were digital SLR cameras in the E series from 1994 in cooperation with Fujifilm , the concept of which was no longer pursued after the D series appeared. At the beginning of 2004, with the introduction of the Nikon D70 digital SLR camera, the era of digital SLR cameras with a price of less than 1000 euros began.

While in October 2004 Nikon presented the Nikon F6 digital camera in addition to the digital camera Nikon D2X with a resolution of 12.4 megapixels for professional applications , the company announced in January 2006 that it would largely discontinue its analog photo program. The manufacturer now fully concentrated on the digital photo market.

In the spring of 2004, the Nikon D70 was launched for beginners in photography. In the spring of 2005 it was revised and called the Nikon D70s, whose production ended in September 2006. The Nikon D70 as well as the revised version Nikon D70s are digital single lens reflex cameras (DSLR) with 6.1 megapixel image sensors in DX format .

In September 2006, the Nikon D80 was launched at photokina as the successor to the Nikon D70 / D70s in the mid-range. The Nikon D80 is a digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) with a 10.2 megapixel image sensor in DX format and is equipped with the autofocus module of the Nikon D200 and a complex 3D color matrix light metering system.

In August 2007, Nikon introduced the D3, the first digital Nikon with a sensor measuring 36 mm × 24 mm. This sensor size, dubbed “FX” by Nikon, corresponds to that of analog 35mm film. This meant a departure from Nikon's previous point of view towards full-frame sensors. Nikon was previously of the opinion that smaller sensors in DX format (24 mm × 16 mm) had more advantages than disadvantages in digital photography. The full-frame sensor, with its larger pixel pitch in relation to the resolution (distance between the individual photo pixels on the sensor), achieves better image quality because the amount of light that hits the individual pixels is increased, which means that the camera's own signal amplification can be lower. As a result, this leads to lower image noise. In December 2008 the company presented the Nikon D3X with 24.5 megapixels, which has a resolution twice as high as the D3 and is intended primarily to appeal to studio and landscape photographers. Newer FX models from Nikon are named D610, D750, D810, D5 and Df.

Mirrorless system cameras

Nikon 1 V1 in white version with 1 Nikkor VR 10–30 mm 1: 3.5–5.6

In 2011, Nikon introduced the Nikon 1, a compact mirrorless system camera series. Nikon thus caught up with the providers Panasonic , Olympus , Samsung , Sony and Pentax , who already had similar mirrorless system cameras on offer.

The Nikon 1 cameras were equipped with phase autofocus sensors integrated into the image sensor , which allowed focus measurement using live view . Continued to be high-definition filming possible.

The camera series was not compatible with the Nikon DX format ; A new lens series ( 1 Nikkor ) has been established for the new cameras - matched to the CX format sensor measuring 13.2 mm × 8.8 mm . However, lenses with the Nikon F bayonet could be used on Nikon 1 cameras with some restrictions with an adapter. The crop factor of the Nikon 1 cameras was 2.7.

The Nikon 1 system was discontinued in 2018.

Nikon Z 7 body

At Photokina 2018, Nikon presented the Z 6 and Z 7 models for the first time with mirrorless cameras with full-frame sensors . The Nikon Z 50 with APS-C sensor was added in October 2019 . These cameras have the newly developed Z bayonet . At 55 mm, it has a large diameter, which makes the development of high-speed lenses easier in particular . The Nikkor Z lenses were presented to match. An adapter for using the F bayonet lenses is available.

Diving cameras

Nikonos-V underwater camera

From 1963 to 2001 Nikon produced a line of underwater cameras that was very popular with divers . The first model Nikonos I (in Germany Calypso / Nikkor) is based on the Calypso camera, which was originally developed by Jacques-Yves Cousteau and the Belgian engineer Jean de Wouters . It was distributed in France by La Spirotechnique (now Aqua Lung ) and produced by ATOMS in Nice. Nikon acquired the rights to the brand in order to develop the Nikonos and their successor models.

compact cameras

Nikon Coolpix 8800; Bridge camera with viewfinder / display and integrated zoom 1: 2.8-5.2 35-350mm (KB equivalent)

Between 1983 and the early 2000s, Nikon manufactured a large number of different compact cameras for 35mm film . In the first few years the cameras had a series designation (e.g. L35 / L135, RF / RD series, W35 series, EF series or AW series). From the mid-nineties, the models were also given a marketing name, e.g. B. Zoom-Touch for cameras with a large zoom range, Lite-Touch for particularly compact models, Fun-Touch for particularly user-friendly and Sport-Touch for splash-proof models. Nikon's APS cameras were called Nuvis . Nikon served the entire market from inexpensive compact cameras with fixed focus lenses to high-end models such as the Nikon 35Ti with a titanium housing and the innovative 3-D matrix measurement adopted from the SLR cameras.

Nikon Coolpix has been the marketing name for the digital compact and bridge cameras from Nikon since 1996 . The internal type designation of the model series is "E-series"; For example, the Nikon Coolpix 8800 is actually called the Nikon E-8800. The first camera - the Coolpix 100 (E 100) - had 0.5 megapixels and was designed as a PCMCIA card for data transfer. In normal operation, the camera with the card was in the battery box and thus formed the handle for the actual, very small (55x55x35 mm) camera.

Nikon brought out a series of swiveling optics to keep the camera slimmer when not in use, including the Nikon Coolpix 4500. This is also one of the cameras that can be used with a slide adapter (Nikon ES-E28).

Action cameras

Nikon KeyMission 360 at Photokina 2016

With Photokina 2016, Nikon introduced action cameras. The three models KeyMission 360, 170 and 80 are the first cameras in this series. You have a field of view in the specified number of degrees, i.e. 80, 170 or 360 degrees field of view. Depending on the version, tested up to 2 meters drop height and 40 meters water depth. Partly up to 4K UHD video recording.


Nikon SB-600 Speedlight Speedlight
Nikon AC-2E Data Link System (1993)

In addition to the Nikkor lenses, Nikon also offers a wide range of original accessories for its analog and digital SLR cameras, such as the Speedlight series of flash units .

Film and slide scanners

In addition to activities in the digital camera market segment, Nikon produces high-quality film and slide scanners . The first scanner (LS-3500) with a maximum resolution of 4096 × 6144 pixels was presented by Nikon in 1988. He had a halogen lamp; LEDs were later installed in the COOLSCAN series after blue LEDs also became sufficiently powerful. The resolution of the first successor models did not increase, but scan quality, speed and color depth were improved. Initially, the scanners were to be connected via GPIB (General Purpose Interface Bus) or SCSI, the successor models later via FireWire and USB.

  • (1988) LS-3500 (4096 × 6144, 4000 dpi)
  • (1992) Coolscan LS-10 (2700 dpi) with LED
  • (1994) LS-3510AF (5000 × 5000, 3500 dpi) with autofocus, scan field max. 4x4 cm (superslide)
  • (1996) Super Coolscan LS-1000 (2592 × 3888, 2700 dpi) faster scan time
  • (1996) Coolscan II LS-20 (E) (2700 dpi), as type "E" built-in device for standard drive bay
  • (1998) Coolscan LS-2000 (2700 dpi) with ICE and Clean-Image-Software
  • (1998) Coolscan III LS-30 E (2700 dpi)
  • (2001) Coolscan IV LS-40 ED (2900 dpi) USB, SilverFast, ICE, ROC, GEM
  • (2001) Coolscan LS-4000 ED (4000 dpi)
  • (2001) Coolscan LS-8000 ED (4000 dpi)
  • (2003) Coolscan V LS-50 ED (4000 dpi, 14 bit)
  • (2003) Super Coolscan LS-5000 ED (4000 dpi, 16 bit)
  • (2004) Super Coolscan LS-9000 ED (4000 dpi, 16 bit) multiformat

With the Slide-Feeder SF-200 (for Coolscan LS-2000) and its successor SF-210 (for Coolscan LS-4000 and LS-5000) Nikon developed a device for archiving larger slide stocks. With this, up to 50 framed small picture slides could be scanned automatically one after the other. The SA-30 adapter was also available for an entire 35 mm roll of film.

In 2004, the Coolscan 9000 ED, the last film scanner to date, was presented, which also has a special feature. It is still the only scanner available on the market that enables reliable dust and scratch removal from Kodachrome films without any additional software using a special variant of ICE technology (ICE 4 -Professional). In the meantime, however, there are also pure software solutions that do this.

See also: Scanning Kodachrome Films and Dust and Scratch Correction

Between 1994 and 1996 Nikon released three flatbed scanner models under the name Scantouch , which, however, could not prevail over competing products.

Nikon has discontinued support for its Nikon Scan software for MacOS X 10.5 and Windows Vista 64-bit. SilverFast and Vuescan are alternatives here.

Other optical devices

Nikon offers a very wide range of binoculars, laser - rangefinder , spotting scopes ( scopes ) and telescopic sights on. Other important business areas of the company are the manufacture of microscopes for the scientific field and the production of complex optical systems for quality assurance , measurement technology and the manufacture of semiconductor components ( steppers ). Nikon is also active in a number of markets as a supplier of ophthalmic lenses . The company also manufactures industrial X-ray equipment and computed tomography systems.


Until the analogue cameras were discontinued, Nikon had a significant share of the overall market, which has since shifted to digital cameras.

Units sold per year (analog film cameras: SLR and compact cameras, digital including DSLR):

Nikon cameras in thousands World market in thousands Percentage
year SLR Compact Digital DSLR SLR Compact Digital DSLR SLR Compact Digital DSLR
1998 850 1790 30th - ? ? ? - ? ? ? -
1999 940 1630 100 - 4360 29460 5090 - 22% 6% 2% -
2000 890 1710 410 - 4190 27480 10340 - 21% 6% 4% -
2001 1080 1700 680 - 3630 23930 14750 - 30% 7% 5% -
2002 880 1530 1450 - 3380 20230 24550 - 26% 8th % 6% -
2003 930 1300 3360 - 2350 13930 43410 845 40% 9% 8th % -
2004 680 600 5400 300 1119 8562 59766 2476 61% 7% 9% 12%
2005 240 50 6610 1050 543 4829 64766 3791 44% 1 % 10% 28%
2006 120 - 8450 1340 231 1401 78981 5264 52% - 11% 25%
2007 30th - 8010 2090 - - 100367 7468 - - 8th % 28%
2008 10 - 11640 3090 - - 106322 9845 - - 11% 31%
2009 - - 13750 3420 - - 93270 9771 - - 15% 35%
2010 - - 15180 3670 - - 108793 12974 - - 14% 28%
2011 - - 18550 4290 - - 98882 15742 - - 18.8% 27.3%



  • 1917 Foundation of the Nippon Kogaku Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha.
  • 1918 Nippon Kogaku KK opens the Oi plant.
  • 1932 “Nikkor” becomes the trademark for lens production.
  • 1935 first Nikkor lens for 35 mm rangefinder cameras
  • 1937 A new glass factory is attached to Oi.
  • 1948 Nikon's first 35mm camera "Nikon I" comes onto the market.
  • 1949 first high-speed telephoto lens: 2.0 / 85 mm
  • 1950 New York Times praised the high quality of Nikon cameras and Nikkor lenses.
  • 1952 Foundation of the Nikkor Club in Tokyo.
  • 1953 up to then brightest telephoto lens: 1.5 / 85 mm.
  • 1956 extremely bright Nikkor 1.1 / 50 mm comes onto the market.
  • 1959 The Nikon F, Nikon's first analog SLR camera, is introduced.
  • 1959 The Nikon F-BAYONET is introduced.
  • 1977 First modification to the F bayonet. The Al coupling is developed.
  • 1979 Nasa uses Nikon 35mm cameras for the space shuttle program.
  • 1998 First digital camera with swivel lens
  • 1999 Nikon's first digital SLR, the D1 with F-BAYONET, comes onto the market.
  • 2018 Nikon introduces the new mirrorless system cameras, Z6 and Z7.
  • 2018 The Nikon Z-BAYONET with an extremely large diameter (55mm) is introduced.
  • 2018 The FTZ adapter for downward compatibility with F-BAJONETT lenses is introduced.
  • 2018 The first native lenses with Z-BAYONET are introduced.
  • 2019 Nikon announces the extremely fast NIKKOR Z 58mm 1: 0.95 Noct S lens.


  • Peter Braczko: The new big Nikon manual. Cameras, lenses, accessories . Wittig Fachbuchverlag, Hückelhoven 1999, ISBN 3-88984-111-2 .
  • Peter Braczko: Nikon fascination. Wittig Fachbuchverlag, Hückelhoven 1992, edition: 2., ext. A., ISBN 3-88984-047-7 .
  • Rudolf Hillebrand and Hans-Joachim Hauschild: Nikon Compendium. The Nikon Photo Technique Handbook . Edition Stemmle, Schaffhausen 1991, ISBN 3-7231-0013-9 .

Web links

Commons : Nikon  album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b NIKON REPORT 2017
  2. Nikon celebrates its 100th anniversary
  3. 2019 Market Share Data Shows Canon and Sony Growing, Nikon Shrinking. Retrieved August 20, 2020 .
  4. Peter Braczko, Nikon Fascination, History - Technology - Myth from 1917 to today, Hückelhoven 1992, ISBN 3-88984-047-7 , p. 27ff and table 2
  5. David Douglas Duncan, This Is War! A Photo Narrative of the Korean War . Little, Brown & Company, 1990, ISBN 0-316-19565-0
  6. ^ Nico van Dijk: Nikkor Mirror Lenses
  7. Nikon 1 - The beginning of a new era . Report at (online) from September 21, 2011.
  8. Z Series, redefined without mirror
  9. Bayonet adapter FTZ
  10. Simon Stafford: The new Nikon compendium: cameras, lenses & accessories since 1917 . Lark Books, New York 2004, ISBN 1-57990-592-7 (English).
  11. (English)
  12. Nikon SLIDE COPY ADAPTER ES-E28 for Nikon Coolpix 4500 and 5400 on Nikon's homepage, accessed on August 5, 2019
  13. Nikon announces KeyMission action camera series with three models
  14. Nikon Europe  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. - Compatibility of Nikon software with Mac OS 10.5@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  15.  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  16. List op top IC equipment suppliers 2007
  18. Forecasts for 2006–2011 and world market values ​​according to the Camera & Imaging Products Association (CIPA)
  19. Nikon Investor Relations: Nikon Fact Book 2009 ( Memento of the original from January 14, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 1.0 MB) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  20. Nikon Investor Relations: Nikon Fact Book 2010 ( Memento of the original from October 26, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 685 kB) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  21. Nikon Investor Relations: PDF ( Memento of the original from September 16, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  22. a b c 100 years of Nikon . In: Thorsten Höge (Ed.): FotoMAGAZIN . No. 3 . Year Top Special Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, March 2017, ISSN  0340-6660 , p. 58-59 .