100 Years On Nikon

on August 12, 2018
We've just seen the closure of the 100 years website that the Nikon corporation drew up to celebrate their anniversary year. It was worthwhile looking at as the corporation had the best stocks of information about their products over that time - and, of course, an immense number of a landmark productions in the time. But what was their biggest landmark for you - what was it for me? Did we have the same experience of the company over that time? I first encountered the brand in 1966 - when I took up amateur photography in high school. It was far beyond my reach financially, but I had no idea why...it wasn't until I started working at Wizard Photos ( Plaza Arcade ) in 1967 and encountered the Photomic T that I got an inkling. And the inkling came in a flash. I dropped one in the shop window and it went down through the entire stack of glass shelves. To no harm... The cameras were being merchandised on a limited basis then. The retail shop had one of the few Nikon agencies for central Perth and we did a big trade in the cameras and lenses. They were expensive - 3 x the Asahi Pentax prices at the time - and were being used by real live photo journalists. In some cases I suspect they were being used to hammer horseshoe nails - they were that tough. I thought the Photomic, Photomic T, and later the Photomic Tn heads made the camera top-heavy, and I was always bemused by the post-in-a-slot coupling for the metering, but if you put a standard pentaprism on it - or one of the waist-level finders - the camera was a brutal piece of industrial elegance. The reliability of it was such that it pressed more senior German camera makes away from general attention. It got to fly, dive, take fashion, and get shot at all over the world. Seriously - if someone wished to continue their photographic art with film these days, and had a Nikon F, there is no real reason why they could not continue to shoot with it in most conceivable circumstances. I would be willing to bet that there are enthusiast clubs in Japan that do just that. Did I ever own a Nikon F? No - but I did get to own a Nikon F2 and later an F3 - and held to them as late as 2000. When they were sold on they were working perfectly - though I would guess that the CdS cells or other cells that measured the light in their finders would have quietly died by now. One cannot demand more of chemistry than it is able to give you - and the supply of spare parts can only extend for so long. But note: If a person were shooting the F2 or F3 with plain prisms or WL finders, they could very probably go out there and go mad every weekend right now - Nikon shutters and bodies were not designed to fail. My time with the F3 was spent in travel and wedding work and I can say that I never had a bad exposure. I did make mistakes with my focusing due to deteriorating eyesight and in retrospect should have searched for the Nikon diopter viewfinder lenses that would have corrected this. You see, Nikon knew what people needed, and had the manufacturing capacity and the business sense to make all the accessories. But what were some of the other highlights of this company's production here in Western Australia? Well, take some time this week to stop in at our Murray Street shop and see. Two of the yellow and black Nikon showcases have been dedicated to a presentation of Nikon film and digital SLR cameras. It was old-home-week for me when I saw some of the bodies I used to sell and to use and it was also a very good chance to watch the development of body style through the years.