One hundred years ago three Japanese optical firms came together to form Nippon Kǀgaku. So started one of the world’s best-loved and most prestigious camera brands.
The new company soon won a reputation for its lenses and optical instruments. Then, with the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, it became the principal supplier of optical equipment to the Japanese army. When the war ended, with the help of the occupying Allied forces, production of civilian equipment was resumed. The Nikon Model I, launched in 1948, was a 35mm rangefinder camera. Externally, it showed a strong resemblance to the Contax II made in Germany in 1936. At 24x32mm, the film format was smaller than the conventional 24x36mm size, designed for more economy on 35mm film and to better match the 10x8in ratio used for photographic prints. The camera was supplied with a 50mm f/3.5 or f/2 Nikkor lens, a coupled rangefinder was built in and the focal plane shutter was speeded 1-1/500sec. Fewer than 800 were made before it evolved into the slightly better specified Nikon M.
The outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 brought photojournalists to the East, where they discovered the quality of Nikkor lenses when attached to their German Contax cameras. Nikon rangefinder models continued to evolve and in 1959 Nikon launched its first 35mm camera, the Nikon F.
Most Important Nikons
via Amateur Photographer – Saturday 8 july 2017