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Nikon 

“Market Cap $6.37 B As of May 2014

At a Glance
  • Industry: Consumer Electronics
  • Founded: 1917
  • Country: Japan
  • CEO: Makoto Kimura
  • Website: www.nikon.co.jp
  • Employees: 24,047
  • Sales: $10.04 B
  • Headquarters: Tokyo
Forbes Lists

#1283 Global 2000

  • #953 in Sales
  • #1174 in Profit
  • #1870 in Assets
  • #1609 in Market value
Profile

Nikon Corp. engages in the manufacture and sale of optical instruments. It operates through the following segments: Precision Equipment, Imaging Products, Instruments, and Other. The Precision Equipment segment covers products and services related to integrated circuit and liquid crystal display steppers. The Imaging Products segment manufactures and sells imaging products and peripherals such as digital single-lens reflex cameras, compact digital cameras, and interchangeable camera lenses. The Instruments segment offers microscopes, measuring, and inspection equipment. The Other segment includes glass, sport optics, and customized products business. The company was founded by Koyata Iwasaki on July 25, 1917 and is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan.

“Nikon History

Nikon Corporation was established on 25 July 1917 when three leading optical manufacturers merged to form a comprehensive, fully integrated optical company known as Nippon Kōgaku Tōkyō K.K. Over the next sixty years, this growing company became a manufacturer of optical lenses (including those for the first Canon cameras) and equipment used in cameras, binoculars, microscopes and inspection equipment. During World War II the company grew to nineteen factories and 23,000 employees, supplying items such as binoculars, lenses, bomb sights, and periscopes to the Japanese military.

Reception outside Japan

After the war Nippon Kōgaku reverted to producing its civilian product range in a single factory. In 1948, the first Nikon-branded camera was released, the Nikon I. Nikon lenses were popularised by the American photojournalist David Douglas Duncan. Duncan was working in Tokyo when the Korean War began. Duncan had met a young Japanese photographer, Jun Miki, who introduced Duncan to Nikon lenses. From July 1950 to January 1951, Duncan covered the Korean War. Fitting Nikon optics (especially the NIKKOR-P.C 1:2 f=8,5cm) to his Leica rangefinder cameras produced high contrast negatives with very sharp resolution at the centre field.

Names and brands

Founded in 1917 as Nippon Kōgaku Kōgyō Kabushikigaisha (日本光学工業株式会社 “Japan Optical Industries Corporation”), the company was renamed Nikon Corporation, after its cameras, in 1988. The name Nikon, which dates from 1946, is a merging of Nippon Kōgaku (日本光学: “Japan Optical”) and Zeiss’ brand Ikon. This would cause some early problems in Germany as Zeiss complained that Nikon violated its trademarked camera. From 1963 to 1968 the Nikon F in particular was therefore labeled ‘Nikkor’.

The Nikkor brand was introduced in 1932, a westernised rendering of an earlier version Nikkō (日光), an abbreviation of the company’s original full name (Nikkō coincidentally means “sunlight” and is the name of a Japanese town.). Nikkor is the Nikon brand name for its lenses.

Another early brand used on microscopes was Joico,an abbreviation of “Japan Optical Industries Co”. Expeed is the brand Nikon uses for its image processors since 2007.

The rise of the Nikon F series

The Nikon SP and other 1950s and 1960s rangefinder cameras competed directly with models from Leica and Zeiss. However, the company quickly ceased developing its rangefinder line to focus its efforts on the Nikon F single-lens reflex line of cameras, which was successful upon its introduction in 1959. For nearly 30 years, Nikon’s F-series SLRs were the most widely used small-format cameras among professional photographers, as well as by the U.S. space program.

Nikon popularised many features in professional SLR photography, such as the modular camera system with interchangeable lenses, viewfinders, motor drives, and data backs; integrated light metering and lens indexing; electronic strobe flashguns instead of expendable flashbulbs; electronic shutter control; evaluative multi-zone “matrix” metering; and built-in motorized film advance. However, asautofocus SLRs became available from Minolta and others in the mid-1980s, Nikon’s line of manual-focus cameras began to seem out of date.

Despite introducing one of the first autofocus models, the slow and bulky F3AF, the company’s determination to maintain lens compatibility with its F-mount prevented rapid advances in autofocus technology. Canon introduced a new type of lens-camera interface with its entirely electronic Canon EOS cameras and Canon EF lens mount in 1987. The much faster lens performance permitted by Canon’s electronic focusing and aperture control prompted many professional photographers (especially in sports and news) to switch to the Canon system through the 1990s.

Precision Equipment

In addition to cameras and other visual imaging products, Nikon Corporation (Nikon) develops and manufactures photolithography equipment. In 1980 the first Nikon step-and-repeat photolithography tool, the NSR-1010G, was produced in Japan. Since then, Nikon (through the Nikon Precision Equipment Company) has introduced over fifty models of step-and-repeat and step-and-scan lithography systems. Nikon currently designs and manufactures precision equipment for use in semiconductor and liquid crystal display (LCD) fabrication, inspection, and measurement.

In 1982, Nikon Precision Inc. was established in the United States to provide service, training, applications and technical support, as well as sales and marketing for Nikon lithography equipment in North America. Nikon Precision opened its current headquarters in 1990, and the facility now houses corporate offices and a fully equipped training center that includes a state-of-the-art clean room.

Today, Nikon Precision is an industry leader in supplying and supporting advanced photolithography equipment used in the critical stages of semiconductor manufacturing. Nikon also has research and development operations in the U.S. under Nikon Research Corporation of America, which directly supports the R&D efforts of the Precision Equipment Company in Kagohara, Japan.

Cultural activities

In Japan, Nikon runs the Nikon Salon exhibition spaces, runs the Nikkor Club for amateur photographers (to whom it distributes the series of Nikon Salon books), and arranges the Ina Nobuo Award, Miki Jun Award and Miki Jun Inspiration Awards.

Digital photography

Nikon created some of the first digital SLRs (DSLRs, Nikon NASA F4) for NASA, used in the Space Shuttle since 1991. After a 1990s partnership with Kodak to produce digital SLR cameras based on existing Nikon film bodies, Nikon released the Nikon D1 SLR under its own name in 1999. Although it used an APS-C-size light sensor only 2/3 the size of a 35 mm film frame (later called a “DX sensor”), the D1 was among the first digital cameras to have sufficient image quality and a low enough price for some professionals (particularly photojournalists and sports photographers) to use it as a replacement for a film SLR. The company also has a Coolpix line which grew as consumer digital photography became increasingly prevalent through the early 2000s.

Through the mid-2000s, Nikon’s line of professional and enthusiast DSLRs and lenses including their back compatible AF-S lens line remained in second place behind Canon in SLR camera sales, and Canon had several years’ lead in producing professional DSLRs with light sensors as large as traditional 35 mm film frames. All Nikon DSLRs from 1999 to 2007, by contrast, used the smaller DX size sensor.

Then, 2005 management changes at Nikon led to new camera designs such as the full-frame Nikon D3 in late 2007, the Nikon D700 a few months later, and mid-range SLRs. Nikon regained much of its reputation among professional and amateur enthusiast photographers as a leading innovator in the field, especially because of the speed, ergonomics, and low-light performance of its latest models.The mid-range Nikon D90, introduced in 2008, was also the first SLR camera to record video. Since then video mode has been introduced to many more of the Nikon DSLR cameras including the Nikon D3S, Nikon D7000, Nikon D5100, Nikon D3100 and Nikon D3200. Camera Nikon D5100 More recently, Nikon has released a photograph and video editing suite called ViewNX to browse, edit, merge and share images and videos.

Film camera production

Once Nikon introduced affordable consumer-level DSLRs such as the Nikon D70 in the mid-2000s, sales of its consumer and professional film cameras fell rapidly, following the general trend in the industry. 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. Nevertheless, Nikon is the only major camera manufacturer still making film SLRs. The remaining model is the professional Nikon F6 with the last amateur model, FM10, having been discontinued.

Movie camera production

Although few models were introduced, Nikon made movie cameras as well. The R10 and R8 SUPER ZOOM Super 8 models (introduced in 1973) were the top of the line and last attempt for the amateur movie field. The cameras had a special gate and claw system to improve image steadiness and overcome a major drawback of Super 8 cartridge design. The R10 model has a high speed 10X macro zoom lens. Interestingly and contrary to other brands, Nikon never attempted to offer projectors and accessories.

Thai operations

Nikon has shifted much of its manufacturing facilities to Thailand, with some production (especially of Coolpix cameras and some low-end lenses) in China and Indonesia. The company constructed a factory in Ayuthaya north of Bangkok in Thailand in 1991. By the year 2000, it had 2,000 employees. Steady growth over the next few years and an increase of floor space from the original 19,400 square meters (208,827 square feet) to 46,200 square meters (497,300 square feet) enabled the factory to produce a wider range of Nikon products. By 2004, it had more than 8,000 workers.

The range of the products produced at Nikon Thailand include plastic molding, optical parts, painting, printing, metal processing, plating, spherical lens process, aspherical lensprocess, prism process, electrical and electronic mounting process, silent wave motor and autofocus unit production.

As of 2009, all of Nikon’s Nikon DX format DSLR cameras and the D600, a prosumer FX camera, are produced in Thailand, while their professional and semi-professional Nikon FX format (full frame) cameras (D700, D3, D3S, D3X, D4, D800 and the retro-styled Df) are built in Japan, in the city of Sendai. The Thai facility also produces most of Nikon’s digital “DX” zoom lenses, as well as numerous other lenses in the Nikkor line.”

*Information from Forbes.com and Wikipedia.org

**Video published on YouTube by “Leandro Discaciate