ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Nikon News Hound: The Origins of Nikon

Updated on August 25, 2009

Vintage Nikon Artifacts — Testaments to a Long Life

Original Nikon F body cap for to fit the first Nikon manual focus SLR camera.
Original Nikon F body cap for to fit the first Nikon manual focus SLR camera.
This rare COM-Nikkor 37mm F1.4 lens used to record computer images to micro film.
This rare COM-Nikkor 37mm F1.4 lens used to record computer images to micro film.

The Origins of Nikon

Barely a century ago, in 1917, three separate Japanese optical makers joined together in Tokyo. They formed a new company called Nippon Kogaku K.K. — which translates directly into "Japan Optical Company". At the time Nippon Kogaku enjoyed the favor of both the Japanese Imperial Navy and the Mitsubishi conglomerate. The name “Nikkor” was first introduced in 1932 and was applied to their Aero-Nikkor lenses for aerial photography. Nikkor was an abbreviation of Nippon (Ni) Kogaku (ko) K.K. with an "r" added in the tradition of the finest lenses of the day — such as Sonnar, Tessar, and Xenar. The popular tradition of adding an "r" to the end of a brand was also used by optical companies such as Kodak with their Ektar brand, and Wollensak with their Raptar line.

The Nikkor brand continued to evolve and diversify. It soon gained the attention of industrial concerns which quickly recognized the value of these high performance optics. Throughout the 1930s, Nikkor glass was used for Hansa-Canon cameras.

The first camera to be branded a "Nikon" was the Nikon 1. It was a rangefinder style camera built in 1948 and came with it's own 50mm ƒ/3.5 Nikkor lens, a cloth shutter, and six variable shutter speeds including a "B" setting for bulb and a "T" setting for Time. There were fewer than 1,000 Nikon 1’s ever made. Even fewer were stamped on the base with the “Made In Occupied Japan” moniker. Some have indicated it was a remarkable co-incidence that the "Nikon" name was created independent of the "Zeiss Ikon" product many considered the top quality camera of the day.

In the early 1950's, Nikon got a very big break. Life magazine began extolling the virtues of Nikkor lenses over their more expensive German made counterparts. This helped to establish a robust overseas market for Nikon/Nikkor product.

In 1959 — just a decade after their first camera was released, Nikon introduced a new style 35mm film camera. A Single Lens Reflex with interchangeable lenses. The Nikon F. It was the first time Nikon introduced their own proprietary lens mount — soon to be known as the "F mount". Fifty years later, 2009 marked the 50th anniversary of the Nikon F mount. Apart from Nikon, no other camera maker has managed to support the use of the same lens system for so long and with this style of camera. The legacy of lenses that have been offered to consumers is enormous. Although the original Nikon F mount has seen improvements made over time, some current models of the Nikon SLR digital camera can still use an original lens from 1959 with slight to no variation at all. The ubiquitous nature of Nikon's F mount enables a Nikon manual focus lens of another era to be used on many cameras today. This helps to explain why good quality specimens of early lenses — including the Nikon Ais — exhibiting unique lens signatures are still being highly sought after today. In the future another article will expand on some of these unique lens signatures.

If the subject of Nikon News, views and tips piques your interest, be sure to also visit thehome of the Nikon News Hound from time to time.

What kind of Nikon lenses best suit your needs?

What kind of Nikon gear do you mostly shoot with?

See results

Do you use vintage Nikon gear? Share your experiences here.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Jay Drew 

      7 years ago

      As for asking if AF or manual lenses are used by me, as in so many surveys, the wrong question is being asked. The answer: Prime lenses mostly AF. I don't like zooms.

    • mrdot profile image


      8 years ago from New York, NY

      I Love Nikon!



    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)