Happy Birthday Nikon
When are you going to catch up?
This week marks Nikon’s 100th Birthday. That’s impressive when you think about how many tech companies there are today which didn’t even exist one hundred years ago. Canon and Fuji didn’t even show up to the game until about 1934. By this time Nippon Kogaku Kogyo Kabushikigaisha had already formed and begun development of Military optics and lenses. Go ahead, try to say that name three times fast. I can’t even spit this name off my tongue without laughing. I am nowhere near the proficiency of the Japanese language as I’d like to be.
Throughout the years Nikon was always a leader in camera technology and development. The one camera they produced that changed the entire landscape and feel of the professional camera was the Nikon F4. This camera was groundbreaking for the modern professional photographer. It offered perks like focus tracking, and over five frames per second, which was incredible for sports photographers who’d never had this technology. They changed the standard shape and overall design of the modern SLR into what we all recognize today. All of this before the 1990's!
Moving forward to the 2010's, Nikon has been the the leader in digital imagery, next to Canon for many years. But over the last decade, Sony, Fuji, and numerous other manufacturers have shown up to the game and sprinted toward the front runners. Developing Mirrorless technology, that first was thought to be a joke. Nikon proved this theory by putting little effort into their “1" series of mirrorless products. The sensors on those cameras were even smaller than the APS-C crop sensors, competing with the Olympus micro four thirds, and we see where that has landed them.
Meanwhile, Sony jumped from point and shoot novelty items, to top notch professional and ‘prosumer’ mirrorless cameras. The release of the A9 recently proved that it’s not a game at all to them. But some of us took them seriously from the get go. Maybe Nikon moved too slow on that market and found themselves in a confusing market. Continue with outstanding DSLR’s or go all in on Mirrorless? Tough decision when you are running a multi billion dollar corporation.
Looking back at the Nikon 1 Series again, maybe they were on to something ahead of their time. We’ve seen this with many tech companies over time. That series of camera produced some pretty amazing features, like 20 frames per second, and what was claimed to be one of the fastest autofocus systems on the market. It had potential, but maybe Sony was just too quick. Maybe? Remember that Nikon predominantly uses Sony sensors in their cameras. Which is why many Nikon users enjoy the color rendering from both systems.
Recently Nikon filed for a patent of a 35mm f/2 lens, designed for a curved sensor. Didn’t Sony toy around with a curved sensor at one point? Are Nikon and Sony working together, or are they incredibly neck in neck on a photography tech race comparable to the U.S./Russian space race! For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t count Nikon out of the game just yet. I think they still have a lot to bring to our industry, and I am very excited to see what they have in store for us! There may always be a Nikon in my bag, no matter which other brand compliments my plethora of tools.