[nee-kawn; Russ. nyee-kuhn]

also known as Nikon or Nikon Corp., is a multinational corporation headquartered in Tokyo, Japan specializing in optics and imaging. Its products include cameras, binoculars, microscopes, measurement instruments, and the steppers used in the photolithography steps of semiconductor fabrication. It was founded in 1917 as Nippon Kōgaku Kōgyō (日本光学工業株式会社 "Japan Optical Industries"); the company was renamed Nikon Corporation, after its cameras, in 1988. Nikon is one of the major companies of the Mitsubishi Group.

The name Nikon, which dates from 1946, is a merging of Nippon Kōgaku (日本光学: "Japan Optical") and an imitation of Zeiss Ikon. Nikon is pronounced differently around the world. The Japanese pronunciation of the name is /nikoɴ/, but in the United States people also use /ˈnaɪkɒn/ and /ˈnɪkɒn/.

Among its famous products are Nikkor imaging lenses (for F-mount cameras, large format photography, photographic enlargers, and other applications), the Nikon F-series of 135 film SLR cameras, the Nikon D-series of digital SLR cameras, and the Nikonos series of underwater cameras.

Nikon's main competitors include Canon, Casio, Kodak, Sony, Pentax, Panasonic, Fujifilm and Olympus. Currently, Nikon's only competitor in high-end camera systems is Canon.

Nikon is the world's second largest manufacturer of steppers.


Nikon Corporation was established in 1917 when three leading optical manufacturers merged to form a comprehensive, fully integrated optical company known as Nippon Kogaku Kokyo K.K. Over the next 60 years this growing company became a leading manufacturer of optical lenses and precision equipment used in cameras, binoculars, microscopes and inspection equipment. During World War II the company grew to 19 factories and 23,000 employees, supplying items such as binoculars, lenses, bomb sights and periscopes to the Japanese military. After the war it reverted to its civilian product range with a single factory. In 1948, the first camera with the Nikon brand was released, the Nikon I.

Nikon lenses were popularised by the American photojournalist David Douglas Duncan's use at the time of the Korean War. Fitting Nikon optics to his Leica rangefinder cameras produced high contrast negatives with very sharp resolution at the centre field.

Besides cameras, Nikon Corporation (Nikon) is recognized as a world leader in development and manufacturing of advanced optical and precision photolithography equipment. In 1980, the first stepper, the NSR-1010G, was produced in Japan. Since then, Nikon has introduced over 50 models of steppers and scanners for the production of semiconductors and liquid crystal displays. Nikon currently designs and manufactures precision equipment for use in semiconductor and liquid crystal display (LCD) fabrication, inspection, and measurement. Nikon also designs and manufactures visual imaging products including cameras; instruments such as microscopes; and other products such as chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) systems, binoculars, surveying instruments, eyewear, sport optics, and optical measuring and inspection equipment.

In 1982, Nikon Precision Inc. (NPI) was established in the United States. NPI is the North American sales and service arm specifically for Nikon Corporation's semiconductor photolithography equipment and is headquartered in Belmont, California. Fueled by a rapidly growing customer base, the company quickly expanded. In 1990, NPI opened its current headquarters and the facility now includes corporate offices, a fully equipped world-wide training center (WWTC), service operations, applications engineering, technology engineering, quality and reliability engineering, training, technical support, sales, and marketing for Nikon equipment serving the wafer, photomask, flat panel display, and thin-film magnetic head industries. Today, NPI is an industry leader in supplying and supporting advanced photolithography equipment used in the critical stages of semiconductor manufacturing.

Nikon Corporation also has research and development operations in the U.S. under Nikon Research Corporation of America (NRCA), which directly supports R&D efforts of the Precision Equipment Division in Kumagaya, Japan. By leveraging its strong and long-standing customer relationships, global brand recognition, and technological expertise, Nikon has positioned themselves to maintain their market leadership through its emphasis on leading-edge research and development and its ability to adapt its products to meet its customers' rapidly changing needs. The Nikon brand has recently slipped behind rival Canon in total sales. Nikon, once the industry leader, has found itself playing catch up to Canon, who was quicker to market with such innovations as image stabilization and piezo-electric (ultra sonic motor) focusing.

Today, Nikon Group Companies total nearly 17,000 employees worldwide.

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.

In late 2007, Nikon introduced the newest product in the Nikon Immersion Solution, the NSR-S610C, which uses a proprietary technology that eliminates bubbles, watermarks, and particles generated by immersion processing. This results in defect levels to occur at a rate similar to dry scanners.


The companies held by Nikon form the Nikon Group


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 will continue to sell the low-end FM10 (manufactured by Cosina) and the high-end F6 (manufactured by Nikon), and announced a commitment to service all of the film cameras for a period of ten years after production ceases.

Film 35 mm SLR cameras with manual focus

Film APS SLR cameras

Film 35 mm SLR cameras with autofocus

Rangefinder cameras

  • Nikon I (1948)
  • Nikon M (1949)
  • Nikon S (1951)
  • Nikon S2 (1954)
  • Nikon SP (1957)
  • Nikon S3 (1958)
  • Nikon S4 (1959)
  • Nikon S3M (1960)
  • Nikon S3 2000 (2000)
  • Nikonos line of underwater cameras (strictly speaking, these are "scale focus" cameras, except for the autofocus Nikonos RS, the last Nikonos camera produced).

Digital compact cameras

Digital single lens reflex cameras

High-end - FX/Full Frame sensor

High-end - DX sensor, high resolution

High-end - DX sensor, high speed

High-end - DX sensor

Midrange - DX sensor

Entry-level - DX sensor

Nikon's raw image format format is NEF, for Nikon Electronic File. The "DSCN" prefix for image files stands for "Digital Still Camera - Nikon."

Nikon designs its own sensors for their professional D Series (except for the D300, which used a Sony-manufactured CMOS sensor); a majority of their DSLRs have Sony-manufactured CCD sensors. Beginning with the D3 and D300, Nikon is commencing the use of CMOS sensors in their professional-grade cameras since it uses less power than a CCD sensor.

Photo optics

Lenses for F-mount cameras

Other lenses for photography and imaging

Electronic Flash Units

Nikon uses the term Speedlight for their electronic flash guns.

Film scanners

  • Coolscan IV ED (35mm),
  • Coolscan V ED (35mm),
  • Coolscan 2000 (35mm),
  • Coolscan 4000 ED (35mm),
  • Super Coolscan 5000 ED (35mm),
  • Coolscan 8000 (35mm and medium format),
  • Super Coolscan 9000 ED (35mm and medium format)

Sport optics


  • Sprint IV
  • Sportstar IV
  • Travelite v
  • Mikron
  • Action VII
  • Action VII Zoom
  • Sporter I
  • Venturer 8/10x32

  • Venturer 8x42
  • Roof Prism
  • Monarch
  • Action EX
  • StabilEyes
  • Superior E
  • Marine

Spotting scopes

  • Spotter XL II WP
  • Spotting Scopr R/A II
  • Spotting Scope 80
  • Field Scope III
  • Field Scope ED 82

Other products

Nikon also manufactures eyeglass frames, sunglasses, opthalmic equipment, loupes, monoculars, binocular telescopes, microscopes, cameras for microscopy, optical and video-based measurement equipment, scanners and steppers for the manufacture of integrated circuits and liquid crystal displays, and semiconductor device inspection equipment.

Notes and references

See also

  • Lenses for SLR and DSLR cameras
  • Nikkor
  • Motorrad-67/PC-Nikkor lenses
  • Nikon D3, D2X, D2H, D1
  • Nikon D700, D300, D200, D70, D100
  • Nikon F, F2, F3, F4, F5, F6
  • Nikon F-mount
  • Nikon S3, SP
  • Perspective control lens
  • Single-lens reflex camera
  • External links

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