Nikon’s 100 years of imaging excellence (brief history of Nikon)

Nikon timeline (click for larger view)

Nikon's most important events in their history courtesy of Adorama:

Research and development of optical glass, and eventually photographic lenses (1917-1933)

From its inception in 1917 up to the release of its first photographic lens in 1933, Nikon focused on the research and development of optical glass, as well as the production of binoculars, microscopes, telescopes, and other optical instruments. This later culminated in the design and development of the company’s early photographic lenses, which were designed with the help of German engineers.


The Birth of Nikon: Nippon Kogaku K.K. (Japan Optical Industries Co., Ltd.) is created through a merger of the Optical Instruments Department of Tokyo Keiki Seisakusho and the Reflecting Mirror Department of Iwaki Glass Manufacturing. This company would later be known as Nikon.


First Manufacturing Plant: Nippon Kogaku K.K. completes construction on the Oi Dai-ichi Plant (now referred to as Oi Plant) and begins pouring their efforts into optical glass research.


Development of Nikon’s First Photographic Lenses: The company releases Anytar to the public, making it available in focal lengths of 7.5cm, 10.5cm, 10.7cm, 12cm, 15cm, and 18cm. It came to fruitrition with the help of world-renowned German engineers and with microscope designer Heinrich Acht at the helm of this project’s design department. Anytar is patterned after Tessar, which was then the standard of high quality photographic lenses.


Optical Glass Mass Production: In order to improve glass quality and produce results that rival optical glass from other countries, the company establishes optical glass mass production through research and development, as well as rigorous testing.


NIKKOR Brand Name: The name NIKKOR, which was created by combining the “NIKKO” abbreviation of the company name with the letter “R” (used as a suffix for the names of photographic lenses at the time), is adopted as the brand name for the company’s lenses. The name was registered as a trademark in the same year.


Nikon’s First NIKKOR Lens: Aero-NIKKOR, the first lens designed by the company for aerial photography, becomes the first line of lenses under the newly established NIKKOR brand name.

Expansion of the company’s line of cameras and lenses (1946-1977)

In the decades that followed, Nikon focused on expanding its cameras and lenses to address a variety of niches. In this regard, they also started reaching out to more people through the founding of clubs and by creating contests meant to hone and discover the skills of Nikon users. This initiative also aimed to bring camera enthusiasts together and promote photography culture.


Nikon Brand Name: The company, which was still known as Nippon Kogaku K.K. at the time, begins using “Nikon” as a brand name for their cameras.


First Nikon Camera: Nippon Kogaku K.K. introduces the Nikon Model I, which was the first camera to be released under the Nikon brand name. It was originally just called “Nikon” but was later changed to “Nikon Model I” to distinguish it from subsequent camera models.


Creation of Nikkor Club: The Nikkor Club is founded as an international organization by world-renowned photographers, top photographers from Japan, novelists, scholars, and even film actors. Its purpose was to connect users of NIKKOR lenses from all over the globe.


The Nikon SP: The company releases its signature rangefinder camera, the Nikon SP, which was a flagship of rangefinder cameras in the country. It became one of the most highly acclaimed professional cameras at the time and won the grand prix at the World Expo held in Brussels in 1958.


First Interchangeable Lens SLR: The company releases the NIkon F, which was the first interchangeable lens camera of its kind. It introduced the consumer to many world-first features, including the practical application of a motor drive and an exposure meter fully coupled with the aperture. It was positioned in the market as a high-end SLR camera.

World’s First Telephoto Zoom Lens: In the same year, Nippon Kogaku K.K. released the Auto NIKKOR Telephoto-Zoom 8.5 – 25cm f/4-4.5—the world’s very first telephoto zoom lens for still photography cameras.


Ultra Micro-Nikkor: Nippon Kogaku K.K. releases its line of Ultra Micro-NIKKOR optical lenses, which took the world by storm due to the fact that it had the highest resolution of any optical lens in the world at that time.


First Weatherproof Camera: The company releases its first all-weather camera, which was called the NIKONOS. This camera was designed to withstand corrosion, water, and pressure.


First Nikon Photo Contest: The company holds the first Nikon Photo Contest, then known as Nikon Photo International, to uphold photography culture and promote interaction between photography enthusiasts from all over the world.


Production of Cameras for NASA: The American National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) commissions specially designed, space-ready cameras for their Apollo 15 and 17 missions. Nippon Kogaku K.K. then creates the Nikon Photomic FTN, which was constructed to withstand the extreme environments of space.

The Nikon F2: Nikon releases the iconic Nikon F2, which was a reliable, easy-to-use, and feature-packed camera heavily patronized by professional photographers, especially newspaper and magazine photographers of that decade.

Development of Extra-Low Dispersion Glass: The company begins developing extra-low dispersion glass, which is widely used in today’s modern lenses, for NIKKOR lenses.


World’s First Extra-Low Dispersion Lens: The NIKKOR-H 300mm F2.8, which was the first lens to use extra-low dispersion glass, was released.


World’s First Wide-Angle Zoom Lens: Nippon Kogaku K.K. releases the world’s first full-fledged wide-angle zoom lens—the Zoom-Nikkor 28-45mm f/4.5.


World’s First Titanium Exterior SLR: The Nikon F2 Titanium Uemura Special, the world’s first titanium exterior SLR camera, is developed and released to meet the needs of renowned Japanese adventurer, Naomi Uemura, for his trip to the North Pole.

Changes in product and corporate branding (1980-1997)

Nikon F3 camera and lenses

Nikon F3 camera and lenses

Nippok Kogaku K.K. continued developing more cameras and lenses to expand its product base. It was during this period the the company focused on the integration of autofocus and the development of its first digital cameras.

This era in the company’s long history also bore witness to certain major changes in the camera’s aesthetics, logo, and other branding elements, which would impact Nikon’s corporate and market identity in the years to come.


The Nikon F3: The company adds another interchangeable lens SLR camera to the Nikon F line—the Nikon F3. It offered some the latest electronic technologies at the time and boasted of many world-first features, such as electronic shutter control and built-in through-the-lens (TTL) metering.

The Iconic Red Line: A new design, conceptualized by Italian automotive designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, is introduced with the Nikon F3. Aside from the elegant new aesthetic, it bears the iconic red line that we still see in modern Nikon cameras today.


First Compact Camera: The company markets the Nikon L35AF, its first compact camera. It was also called the “One-Touch” in the US.

Development of Autofocus Mechanism for SLR Cameras: Nippon Kogaku begins development of the autofocus mechanism for SLR cameras and subsequently releases the Nikon F3AF.


First SLR with Built-In Autofocus: The Nikon F-501 is released. It was the first Nikon SLR camera to have its autofocus mechanism controls built into the body.

World’s First Lens with Built-In CPU: The company introduces the NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8S, which was the very first lens in the world that had a CPU built into its body.


Nippon Becomes Nikon: Nippok Kogaku K.K. undergoes rebranding to help establish and strengthen the brand globally. Due to the widespread reputation of the Nikon camera brand name, the company drops the name it has operated under for the past 70 years (Nippon Kogaku K.K.) and starts using the corporate name of Nikon Corporation. Nikon also starts using the Nikon logo and logotype to reinforce the brand’s identity domestically and globally.

The Nikon F4: The newly rebranded Nikon releases the fourth installment in their highly popular line of F-series SLR cameras. Another world first, the award-winning F4 is the first SLR camera to feature a vertical sensor for metering.


First Underwater Camera: Nikon releases the NIKONOS RS—the world’s first underwater SLR camera, which allows autofocus shooting underwater. Designed with water contact optics, the Nikonos RS was a useful tool for the scientific study of underwater conditions and species.


Digital SLR-Type Still Cameras: The Nikon E2 and E2s, developed in collaboration with FUJIFILM Corp, provided photojournalists, studio photographers, and forensic documentarians with the efficiency needed in producing high-quality photos for their jobs. These cameras came with a Reduction Optics System and could be used with most F-mount lenses.


First Digital Compact Cameras: The company markets their first digital compact cameras—the Nikon COOLPIX 100 and COOLPIX 300. The former provided users with the option of connecting to the computer through a PC card slot to allow for direct data transfer data. The latter, meanwhile, featured a touch-panel display, which could be operated using a special stylus pen.

World’s First Zoom Macro Lens: Nikon releases the AF Zoom Micro-Nikkor 70-180mm f/4.5-5.6D ED, which was the world’s first zoom macro (or micro, as Nikon describes them) lens.

Realization of a new vision and launching of products to go with the changing times (1999-2016)

Nikon D90 DSLR camera

Nikon D90 DSLR camera


The Nikon D1: Nikon’s flagship professional DSLR camera is released. The Nikon D1, an interchangeable-lens DSLR camera targeted towards professionals, was packed with plenty of world-first features such as integrated control of metering and white balance and tone compensation. It also offered exceptional image quality and camera functionality at a highly competitive price (about three times cheaper than those of Nikon’s competitors). Up to this day, the company continues to create professional DSLRs based on this model, with the latest being the D5.


Nikon’s New Brand Symbol: The company adopts a new brand symbol, which they still use up to this day. The highly recognizable yellow logo symbolized the concept of “fusing the future possibilities with reliability.”


The Last of the Nikon F-Series: As digital photography gained popularity, the interest in film SLR cameras began to wane. In 2004, the company releases the Nikon F6, which was to be the final installment in their highly popular flagship Nikon F-series line. The F6 combines the well-loved features of the previous Nikon F cameras and the latest technological advances during this time.


World’s First Compact Camera with WiFi: Nikon releases the COOLPIX P1, its first compact camera with built-in WiFi—the first of its kind in all the world at the time.

World’s First Lens with Nano Crystal Coat: The AF-S VR Nikkor ED 300mm f/2.8G IF-ED is another world first from the brand, as it is the first NIKKOR lens to feature the popular nano crystal coating.

World’s First Compact Camera with Face-Priority AF: Nikon unveils the COOLPIX 7900. It is a notable product from the brand as it is the first compact digital camera to feature face-priority autofocus, which allows the camera to automatically detect faces for sharper focus.


World’s First DSLR with Video Capture: The capability to record video is a familiar feature in today’s modern DSLR cameras, but it all started with the Nikon D90. In 2008, Nikon releases the 12.3-megapixel DSLR camera, which was the first of its kind to feature video recording ability.


World’s First Digital Camera with Built-In Projector: Proving that they never stop innovating, Nikon releases the COOLPIX S1000pj—the first digital camera in the world to feature a built-in projector.

2009 to 2010

Nikon in the International Space Station: NASA once again taps Nikon to provide them with cameras and lenses, this time to record images in the International Space Station. From 2009 to 2010, the company provides NASA with several D3S and D3X DSLR cameras, as well as various interchangeable lenses such as the AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f2.8G ED and F-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8G ED VR.


First Advanced Cameras: The company combines the compact camera and the DSLR with the Nikon 1 J1 and Nikon V1—Nikon’s first advanced digital cameras. These are compact digital cameras that allow for interchangeable lenses.


The Nikon D4: Nikon markets one of its most outstanding DSLR camera models, the Nikon D4, which significantly improved on the Nikon D1 to help meet the shooting demands of both amateur and professional users. At the time, it was Nikon’s fastest and most feature-packed DSLR model, making it a great choice for demanding photography applications, such as sports and action photography.


World’s First Waterproof and Shockproof Digital Camera: Nikon markets the Nikon 1 AW1—the first digital camera (with interchangeable lenses) that could be used underwater.


First Compact Digital Camera with Telephoto Zoom: Nikon releases a compact digital camera that allows extreme telephoto zooming. With a 83x optical zoom lens, the COOLPIX P900 gives the user the portability of a compact digital camera and the diverse shooting options of a telephoto lens. It also features a fast maximum aperture and one Super ED (extra-low dispersion) lens element.

The Nikon Museum: To mark Nikon’s 100-year anniversary, the company opens the Nikon Museum in Shinagawa, Tokyo.


Nikon’s Most Advanced Professional DSLR to Date: On its 99th year, Nikon comes out with their most advanced professional DSLR to date. The Nikon D5, which is considered the fastest and most precise DSLR out of anything the brand has in their vast camera lineup, boasts of highly advanced features such as 12fps continuous shooting with full-time autofocus (AF) and auto-exposure (AE), an expanded sensitivity range that goes up to ISO 3280000, and 4K UHD video recording at 30fps.

100 Million Lenses: Nikon hits an impressive milestone in the company’s century-long history after reaching the 100 million-mark for the total number of NIKKOR lenses produced for their interchangeable lens cameras.

First Action Cameras: Nikon launches its first line of action cameras. The KeyMission 360, KeyMission 170, and KeyMission80 are all equipped with water-resistance, impact-resistance, and the world-renowned image quality that people have come to expect from Nikon.

And there you go—100 years of revolutionary optical instruments from one of the world’s largest and most beloved camera brands.

In celebration of the company’s first 100 years, Nikon has come out with a range of special 100th Anniversary editions of select cameras, lenses, and accessories. These special edition products all bear Nikon’s 100th anniversary logo.

Via Adorama

This entry was posted in Other Nikon stuff and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • Sammydemon

    That is definitely not a Nikon F6 in the picture

    • silmasan

      Yeah, same as the F501 pic…

    • Dino Brusco

      pft… really !

  • luan

    Why skip Nikon D3? Maybe it was the most important release from Nikon in the digital era (more than the D4), because they finally caught up and suparssed Canon cameras in image quality, low noise, color depth, etc.

    • Spy Black

      Really. The D3 pulled the rug out from under Canon, and left them scrambling to make a competitive camera, something they never truly did.

    • S Cargill

      My thoughts exactly. I went over the diagram 3 times thinking I must have missed the D3 somewhere.

    • PhilK

      Most likely because they would have had to at least implicitly acknowledge that the D3 was Nikon’s first full-frame 24×36 mm DSLR, after Canon had pioneered that category with the EOS-1Ds, five years beforehand. 😉

      There are a number of glaring omissions in this timeline, presumably made to hone the positives for Nikon. (Such as the complete omission of Nikon’s very prominent stature as a key WWII supplier to the Imperial Japanese military.. only hinted-at by the mention of the Aero Nikkor lens in 1933… and then skipping ahead 13 years after the end of the war. 😉 )

      • thundrrd

        I’m just curious, do you think Nikon could have not supplied the Japanese military? Do you think Nikon could have said “No?” What if they were the main maker of photography gear in America, do you think they could have said “No, we will not supply your war machine. The thing I am getting at is Nikon did not start the war and why should they bring it up. To me this is not a “Glaring omission,” but an understandable one.

        • David Gottlieb

          Nikon could have said “no” at a dear cost, or done what Schindler did in Germany. He ordered that weapons that were being produced by the Jews he saved in his factories during WWII to be mis-sized and sabotaged. Or Nikon could have done what Leica did. They smuggled Jews out of Nazi Germany. I’m not sure Nikon had much choice though…. Or perhaps they preferred to stay “blind” to the plight of those enslaved and tortured by the Imperial Army during WWII.
          Anyway, it is history, and as horrible as it is, we can’t change history, even though many do try to obfuscate it and lie about it….
          We need to move on and create a better world, but not hide the truth and cruelty of humanity and its past deeds. Good luck humans!

          • PhilK

            See my detailed reply to thundrrd above.

        • PhilK

          You are taking a defensive stance for some reason when I made no such judgemental assertions.

          It is not particularly surprising to me that a large corporation wishes to massage their history to burnish their public reputation. This is much more the rule than the exception in the corporate world. If I were on the board myself I certainly would want to project as positive an image as possible for the company, without veering into downright revisionism. Simply omitting certain parts is about as far as one could go to massage that history without crossing the line into blatant historical manipulation.

          But it’s important to make clear that Nikon’s history of being a military supplier did not start with WWII. Indeed, Nikon was heavily involved in military product production from their very beginning in 1917. In fact, the most comprehensive English-language history of Nikon that I know of asserts that this was literally the motivation for creating the company in the first place (PDF):

          Here’s a shorter history from another source if you don’t have the patience to read through that other 53-page document 😉

          • thundrrd

            You are wrong, I did not take a stance at all.

            • PhilK

              Lol, yeah, and these things I’m generating now are just electrons.

              I hope you read the history and see for yourself that Nikon’s military work did not start with being forced to do so in WWII. Make of that what you will.

            • thundrrd

              OMG, please get over it and yourself.

            • PhilK

              Seems to me that the ones who need to “get over themselves” are the ones who make false claims, and then get hysterical and go on the attack when someone has the ‘audacity’ to correct their falsities. 😉

            • thundrrd


  • br0xibear
    • TurtleCat

      I still remember when he posted on Nikonians about starting this page. The mods, at the time, frowned on open speculation about future products.

      • you should have seen the mods at lol…. they still hate me today – just go there a mention the word “rumors” and watch the show, mention NikonRumors and you will get banned probably 🙂

        • TurtleCat


          • btw I know for a fact that the mods a regular readers of NikonRumors lol 🙂

        • Proto

          you been rumoring for nearly 10 years? wow! congrats!

          • yes, thanks – started NikonRumors on May 1st, 2008, had a few other not-known Nikon websites before…

        • fanboy fagz

          I posted a review of the fantastic guy from nrc. I sent him my 28-70 AFS. did a great job. I found him through your post of the 70-200VR they restored and painted white. got some nasty comments by the morons at have to say, that besides 2-3 serious guys (shun), the majority posting are incredibly stupid people who have no idea what theyre talking about. like theyre stuck in in the 50’s

          and nikonians can goto hell. especially you mod brian tilley you racist bastard. all they care is about milking people for money. nikonites is a nice site I frequent every so often. nice folks there.

          my lens fell again. will have to send it back to him again.

      • David Gottlieb

        The mods there frown on anything they disapprove of….

    • yes, May 1st 2018 🙂

      • br0xibear

        And you’re still spelling “rumours” wrong, lol.

        • ZoetMB

          Only in the UK

          • Allan

            Hey, what about Canada, ay!

            I’m pretty sure the Australians and New Zealanders also spell rumours correctly. 🙂

        • lol, check 🙂

          • David Gottlieb

            Very smart Peter — Putting the incorrect spelling of rumors (rumours) in a second link so it comes right back to this site with the correct spelling. Very colorful, but obviously not colourful!!!!!

        • David Gottlieb

          Get over it!! The correct spelling of rumors is just that: rumors…..
          The UK is behind the times and is insulated and refuses to let the English language evolve as it has in America.
          All in jest, mate!!!
          PS – That horrible invention called a roundabout is actually a traffic circle!!!!

    • you know that I will use that logo 🙂

      • A. F.O.

        pay the guy ehehhe

  • IronHeadSlim

    No FM?!

    • Rich Murray

      No FM or their first cousins the FE/FE2
      pretty damn popular cameras

  • “The company combines the compact camera and the DSLR with the Nikon 1 J1 and Nikon V1—Nikon’s first advanced digital cameras.”
    Uh, what? So the D4 isn’t an advanced digital camera?

    • MB

      Maybe Advanced as in Advanced Photo System 🙂
      Nikon still didnt get over Pronea fiasco 🙂

  • Ric of The LBC

    ACK! Keymission?

  • GearHeavy

    What would 2017 say? “Nikon announces ‘extraordinary losses’, celebrates with fancy leather strap and crystal version of the old Model 1.”

    • Naacryl

      Unless they start catering to a different demographic than only middle aged men with money. It’s downhill for them.

      Kids used to think Nikon was cool. Now Nikon is selling leather manbags for $600. It’s the brand for dads and middle aged men with a substantial amount of disposable income. That market isn’t going to last forever.

      • GearHeavy

        Nikon’s “I Am…” campaign should include “I Am Male”.

      • “including women, these mythical creatures Nikon has never heard of”
        What? You never seen the pink nikons?

      • NorthPol

        Too much CNN!

        • Naacryl

          They were right for once.

          Did none of those 32 male Nikon photographers taking the group photo notice there was not one woman present. Do these people have a brain? How out-of-touch do you have to be.

          • NorthPol

            If they invited X number of people, and all male showed up, were they supposed to photo shop in a few female. I’m seek and tired stories like that…too much CNN!

            • Naacryl

              They should seek them out. It’s not like everyone at Nikon is dumb, when you go to the Nikon site they feature females on the first row of ambassadors now.

              But by then it had already appearted on every news site. The guardian alone had 210 comments about it. The NY-Times had it on the front page. It’s just dumb, the last thing you want to do as a brand is exclude a massive potential demographic, unless your brand actually specifically caters to a specific demographic, but cameras can be used by female and male hands last I checked.

            • luan

              Nikon always had female embassadors, more than Canon’s explorers of light (in percentage). Ami Vitale (I came to know her fantastic work only because I saw her photographs in a Nikon ad for the D300), Lynsey Addario and awesome female photographers did ad campaigns for pro Nikon bodies. Dumb is people trying to burn them because of one single model that didn’t feature female photographers (it was wrong, but given their history, maybe it could have another explanation other than they are a machist company.

            • NorthPol

              First of all, we know nothing about it except, it’s all male, but who was invited and how. Second of all, if all of them are female, but the best ambassadors at all, I would have no complains at all. If you would like to stick in someone who’s just female, and to knock off someone who’s much more valuable as Nikon ambassador, I don’t accept it, sorry. Let’s go farther, then complain for lack of all human races, then all skin colors, and so on. To me just wasting time reading it, and writing it…but…

            • John Albino

              You’re absolutely right. If one goes to Google and searches “Nikon photo features only men” you’ll find over 3 Million hits. I’n definitely not a PC SJW, but I am smart enough to know sexism when I see it.

            • ZoetMB

              Believe me, the people who are subjects of discrimination are sick and tired of stories like that as well. Nikon is run by a bunch of very old men in what is a very paternalistic society. They didn’t seek out women because it didn’t even cross their minds. Any way you look at it, it’s stupidity, bad marketing and discriminatory and the executives who didn’t realize this would look bad should be fired because it’s one more of the many examples of Nikon’s blindness.

              And bringing CNN into the picture tells me that you’re someone who doesn’t want to hear any facts that conflict with your ideology.

            • NorthPol

              Anyway, thanks for explaining to me what crossed or didn’t their minds, and what my ideology is all about, you certainly know it. I was clear, and I wouldn’t mind at all, if they all were all female ambassadors. I’m a male who loves them as much as a male can. I certainly have wife, daughter, sister, granddaughter, and I love them and respect them to the death, but I still think discussion like this is just stupid.
              I don’t care about Nikon in general, but if like the product, as I do D850, I’ll buy it regardless who’s on that photo.

            • Robert Falconer

              “Nikon is run by a bunch of very old men in what is a very paternalistic society.”

              I think you may mean “very patriarchal society”. But your point is well taken. This is actually as much an Asian cultural thing as a Nikon corporate thing. Different society. But if you want to play/sell on the international stage, then you’d best keep up with what’s going on around the world, and I do think that a few of the other Japanese companies are setting a better example here.

            • PhilK

              I made a couple of comments about that on a different NR thread recently.

              Japan’s government has actually passed statutes in recent years specifically pressuring companies to hire more women (and not just in traditional low-paying manufacturing/clerical/etc jobs) – because the country is facing a dire labor shortage very soon and the cultural bias against women in the workplace is a key reason why that is going to be a massive problem in the country, and is going to hurt them economically.

              One of Nikon’s (mostly former) competitors – Konica-Minolta – specifically touts its achievement of progress in this area in one of their press releases I ran across this week. (linked it in one of the comments mentioned above)

            • David Gottlieb

              I agree with some of your comments. But equating CNN with factual news is absurd. They lie about everything. And when they are not lying they obfuscate the truth.

            • ZoetMB

              I wrote a long thing here, but I don’t want to turn this board into a political debate. Peter would probably (rightfully) delete it anyway,

      • ZoetMB

        I agree, but Nikon was always expensive. The Nikon F with a 50mm f2 sold at Olden Camera in NYC for $330 in 1960. That’s $2707 in 2017 dollars. When I bought my Nikkormat in 1973, I don’t remember the price, but I definitely remember having sticker shock, especially because I knew the VP of the store who sold it to me and I thought he was going to give me a discount, but when he didn’t, I was too embarrassed not to buy.

        • David Gottlieb

          I bought my first Nikon Ftn from a retiring fashion photographer back in the 1970s It came with about seven lenses, extra prisms, focusing screens, extension tubes, all sorts of filters. I thought I hit the jackpot, given that it was in immaculate shape. I retired my Exacta vxiia.

      • decentrist

        Wow, you are on to something. Maybe Nikon should sell cameras that dispense tampons, and cell phones.

  • Robert Falconer

    Re the F3: “It offered some the latest electronic technologies at the time and boasted of many world-first features, such as electronic shutter control and built-in through-the-lens (TTL) metering.”

    The F3 was definitely not the first camera to offer electronic shutter control or TTL metering.

    • PhilK

      Yeah, I cringed at that too.

      But the F3 did have some definite firsts (eg TTL and aperture-priority auto exposure metering built into the body, so it worked with any of the interchangeable viewfinders), it’s hard to figure why they picked the ones they weren’t unique with. 😀

      • Robert Falconer

        Actually, the Nikon FE had that first. And the Minolta XE-7. And the Minolta XD11. And the Pentax K2. And, of course, the Canon AE-1 had fully electronically controlled shutter priority automation in 1976. And there were others, too. This was a first for a pro Nikon SLR, that’s about it.

        • PhilK

          You are skimming my point. It was a unique innovation to have body-based AE that worked with any of several interchangeable viewfinders.

          The Canon F1 and Minolta XK both had auto-exposure capability but it was viewfinder-dependent.

          The Topcon RE Super from 1963 was likely the first SLR with built-in metering that worked with interchangeable viewfinders (it pioneered the usage of partially-silvered areas in the reflex mirror to pass light through to in-body metering sensors) but it had no auto exposure capability.

          The only other SLR of the era I am aware of that had both body-based AE and interchangeable viewfinders was the Pentax LX, but the F3 was introduced earlier in 1980 than the LX.

    • MB

      I think Nikkormat EL (actually my first Nikon 🙂 was the first Nikon with electronic shutter control … and it did TTL …

      • Robert Falconer

        It was actually electromechanical, but yes, that still constitutes a measure of electronic control.

    • Abiatha Swelter

      Possibly they meant ‘built-in’ to distinguish it, at least for Nikon, from the F and F2, which had the meter in separate, optional, prism heads.

  • Just realized, that D90 in the picture has a tamron lens on it!

    • silmasan

      The “SP” logo is shown as a tribute to Nikon’s heritage. ;-p

  • Photoman

    I wish they would bring back some of those compact film cameras. There’s absolutely nothing out there but dinosaurs on ebay.

  • Ben Park

    Where’s the outstandingly all rounder the D850 ?

  • Ben Park

    My first camera was a FM2 I inherited from my father and the D70 was my first DSLR!

    • Polsloe

      Although my first camera was an Olympus OM10 I moved pretty soon after to Nikon FM, stayed with that until D70 (then D80, D800, D810, D850)

  • Cranky Observer

    Kinda skips that 1936-1945 period…

    • Nakayamahanzaemon

      Developed a telescopic sight of the Type 97 Sniper Rifle for the Imperial Japanese Army.

      Developed a telescopic sight of the Type 99 Sniper Rifle. Also manufactured a naval rangefinder for the battleship Yamato.

      Going to make a 6×6cm two-lens reflex camera and a 35mm high-end camera,

      according to Wikipedia…

      • silmasan

        “Going to make a 6×6cm two-lens reflex camera”

        Never knew that. Did they actually release it? Or I guess they abandoned it and instead focused on the latter and then the rest is… history? 🙂

        OK, searched and found “Nikoflex” at camerapedia (wikia).

      • PhilK

        It is said that items like those, and others like submarine periscopes that Nikon made for the Japanese military gave them some very unique advantages at the time.

        Pity they were used for questionable purposes..

  • sure, go ahead and come back to report here 🙂

  • Gidi Sela

    T think you cut some important station in nNkon camera line

  • Thom Hogan

    This list is an embarrassment. Let’s just start at the digital era:

    * 1999 First DSLR for consumers. No. The D1 was not really a consumer camera, the Coolpix 880 was. The D1 was a professional camera. But they can’t say “first professional DSLR” because there were earlier ones. They can’t even say first DSLR for consumers, actually. They’re forgetting their own joint venture with Fujifilm in the 90’s ;~).

    * 2004 Last of the Nikon F-Series. Last is an accomplishment? I guess so.

    * 2005 First compact camera with Wi-Fi. Didn’t really work.

    * 2008 First DSLR with video capture. Yes, but then you let every other maker simply pass you by in video capabilities.

    * 2012 D4. Uh, sure. Didn’t sell as well as the D3, which should be on the list.

    * 2013 First waterproof digital camera. I’m pretty sure that’s not true. Perhaps first waterproof ILC camera.

    * 2016 First action cameras. Uh, first Nikon action cameras. Everything else tends to be “worlds first.” Here we have something that’s more like that F Series. Maybe Nikon’s last action cameras? ;~)

    The list looks like a high-school project done with a quick Google search.

    • MB

      They really pi**ed you of 🙂
      The list was actually “courtesy of Adorama” and not from Nikon, although it may seem like something from Nikon :).
      It was probably written by some poor rookie who just got the job there as his first assignment exactly as you described (googling without much understanding) and is removed in the meantime …
      I wonder how this is a “rumour” though 🙂

      • David Gottlieb

        It’s not a “rumour,” and it’s not even a rumor…. 😉

    • Michiel953

      Ok, now we know Thom.

    • António

      But was the high-school student doing it to Nikon?

      I went through the 100th Anniversary site and couldn’t find anything looking like this or even close to it.

      The same goes for Nikon Europe and its virtual museum.

      Being a courtesy of a supporter os this site, “brief history of Nikon” and the “Nikon’s most important events in their history” couldn’t be a “brief” compilation made by someone external to the company?

      • Thom Hogan

        True. I hadn’t caught who had produced this chart. But frankly, Nikon’s own timeline ( is kind of weird. Apparently the D1, D3, D4, and D5 are worthy of mention, but the D2 isn’t ;~).

    • ZoetMB

      That page looks like it’s not loading the stylesheet and as such, it looks like it was web design circa 1995.

  • Peter

    Nikon FM missing and the Nikon AW1 was definitely NOT the first waterproof digital camera. It may have been the first waterproof interchangeable lens camera but that’s not what is claimed in the poster.

  • Tom Chown

    Nikon F, Nikon F2, are right, but what about the D3, way more important that the D4. Also missing is the D700. The D 700 was so good, Nikon has been very careful not to make that mistake again. Flagship internals with a smaller body. Also missing is the Df. So many problems with the Df, Nikon will never make another retro camera. Outstanding sensor in a body that falls short in terms of build, shutter speed and a few key features. Why make a camera that costs almost 3 grand with a camera auto focus with the D610 system. Nikon also should have the D500 on the list. Pro build in a crop sensor. It would be nice for Nikon to offer 2 versions of the D500- crop and full frame sensor- oh yeah, they do……….the Nikon D5 for $6500.00

  • Back to top