The Nikon Story
Nikon’s Crystal Model
My tryst with photography dates back to 1965…….however ever since I have I crossed my teens and stepped into real world photography, I still remember that I trudged miles to feast my eyes on first Nikon camera. It was owned by a professional photographer who shot photographs for a film magazine. Since then the name Nikon and the camera became a part of my dream.
Here is a brief history of Nikon and how the camera brand evolved.
Nikon hasn’t always been Nikon. In fact, The company that makes Nikon Cameras now ,Nikon Corporation, has only been around for about the past 30 years. When two of Japan’s leading optical manufacturers – the Optical Instruments Department of Tokyo Keiki Seisakusho and Reflecting Mirror Department of Iwaki Glass Manufacturing – merged on 25 July, 1917, with investment support from the President of Mitsubishi, Koyata Iwasaki,the company was known as Nippon Kogaku, K.K. (or ‘Japanese Optical Co.’).
what is in a Name ?
The Nikon brand name was established in 1946 – not as the name for the company, but for a camera. Nippon Kogaku K.K. execs were looking for a title for a new compact 35mm camera that they were planning to develop. It is said that, in a bid to capture the camera’s compactness while building on the ‘Nikko’ abbreviation of Nippon Kogaku, they considered the title ‘Nikorette’, which sounds perilously close to nicotine gum . Concerned that Nikorette was too weak for a product for which it had major ambitions, the company instead decided to retain the ‘Nikko’ base but add an additional ‘N’ to give, as Nikon puts it, a more masculine impression in the Japanese language’. The first camera to carry the Nikon name – the Nikon Model I – was launched in 1948, and is commemorated by a limited edition crystal version (the above image ), which is available as part of Nikon’s 100th Anniversary collection.
A Reputation For Reliability
Fast forward to 1988, and on 1 April Nippon Kogaku rebranded as the Nikon Corporation. Products bearing the Nikon name across various markets had built up a reputation for reliability and the company wanted to take advantage of this as it continued to develop as an international brand.
The Nikon logo was redesigned to reflect the new branding Nikon launched its ‘I AM Nikon’ advertising campaign throughout Europe seven years ago – and it’s still going strong. Created by the Jung von Matt/Spree creative agency in Berlin, the campaign was designed to build on Nikon’s ‘At the heart of the image’ concept. “By reminding our customers that they too are at the heart of the image, we hope to ignite a new understanding of photography – one where anyone can express themselves, regardless of their photography experience, “said Nikon Europe’s Birgitta Olson at the time. The concept was a neat and simple one: express ‘who are you with your Nikon?’ Used to encapsulate a moment and prick the emotions – ‘I AM Neil Armstrong’, to capture a baby’s first steps – ‘I AM Alive’, for a shot of Robbie Williams turning his camera on the crowd – through to the more literal ‘I AM a Super Zoomer’, it’s the myriad ways that ‘I AM’ can be applied that’s given this campaign its longevity and so the campaign “ I am Nikon “ was born and is still their catch-line in their advertisements.
In this journey of 100 years Nikon has contributed a lot to the imaging industry. They have invented a better kind of glass for the lenses. The ED (Extra Low Dispersion Glass) lens was their invention, which every lens manufacturer uses right now. This lens reduces chromatic aberration They were instrumental in developing special lenses for satellites launched by NASA. NASA has captured over 700,000 images from the outer space with Nikon lenses over the years.
So wish Nikon a happy anniversary……..as they enter their centenary year……..!
with inputs from N-photo, August 2017