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Nippon Kogaku K.K., more popularly known as Nikon, originally was a company resulted from a merger of three small optical firms in Japan back in 1881. The company was incorporated on July 25, 1917. It is Japan's oldest optical manufacturer with the most comprehensive line of some outstanding photographic and optical instruments. Its list of products includes military grade optical instruments and Nikon is a highly respectable trade name within the optical industry with their world-renowned Nikon cameras, Nikkor lenses and accessories; they are equally well known for their microscopes, cine cameras, binoculars, surveying instruments, astronomical telescopes and optical measuring instruments.

Nikon rangefinder Nikkor lenses - LINK to main index page

IMPORTANT: This site is still at its early development stage. This section is original meant as a PREVIEW among co-developers and contributors of content to this Nikkor web resources. IF you have came in accidentally, please DO NOT distribute this URL to any online users' groups which MAY cause disruption to smooth site construction as most of us do not have a lot of time answering various queries, questions or even verifications relating to all the Nikkor lenses featured here. Thank you in advance for being considerate.

Nikon Cameras and Nikkor Lenses

Looking back, the past century of Nippon Kogaku is like "reviving' the history of the Japanese optical industry. The company has achieved remarkable progress from obscurity to international fame as attested by the millions of satisfied owners of Nikon cameras and Nikkor lenses the world over. Frankly, during the early days of lens design and manufacturing, almost all the know-how and technology was derived from European players such as Contax and Leica. A legacy of lens-making technology left by Heinrich Acht, an engineer who came to Nikon from Germany in the 1920s - enabled Kakuya Sunayama, the head of Nikon' s Design Departments to develop a camera lens. After many trials and errors, Mr. Sunayama finally succeeded in creating a high quality lens in 1932.

Seiki-Kogaku Canon Hansa; very early Canon Hansa, type 1 in very nice condition with 'black face' Nikkor 3.5/50mm, matching base-plate with number 1232, this in one of the earliest Canon cameras in fully original condition; approx.  Year: 1935/36 Serial

Seiki-Kogaku / Canon Hansa; Shown is a very early Canon Hansa, type 1 in very nice condition with 'black face' Nikkor 3.5/50mm, matching base-plate with number 1232, this in one of the earliest Canon cameras in fully original condition; approx. Year: 1935/36

The company added an R to "Nikko": the Japanese abbreviation for Nippon Kogaku K.K.; and named it Nikkor. In 1937, the company began marketing its own production lenses, the first is believed to be a 50mm f/3.5 lens for 35mm cameras, and a 50mm f/2.0 lens followed soon afterwards. These early Nikkor lenses were primarily designed with a screw-thread mount. Unfortunately, Nikon had not yet perfected a camera body on its own. In fact, many believed and jokingly quoted there was no Japanese camera with a quality that could compliment the superb quality in the NIKKOR lens. And in fact, other co-Japanese producers such as Canon also came and asked Nikon to produce lenses for their early, fine series of rangefinder camera bodies. For an example, shown at left is Hanza Canon, the Canon rangefinder model that has a 35mm Nikkor lens attached onto it. The camera was made in 1935, and was marketed together with the Nikkor 50mm F3.5 lens (along with 50mm f/4.5 and a fast speed f/2.0 lens). NIKKOR lenses continued to be used in Canon cameras until 1948, when Nikon created its first camera.


Nippon Kogaku only introduced its own camera line quite late in 1948 with Nikon Model 1. The Nikon Model M rangefinder camera followed in 1949. The world-famous Nikon S series was then, introduced in 1950. The Nikkor lenses designed for the Nikon S camera came with a bayonet Contax mount. The five original Nikkor lenses introduced with the camera were Nikkor-W 3.5cm f/3.5, Nikkor-O 5cm f/3.5, Nikkor-H 5.0 cm f/2.0, Nikkor-P 8.5cm f/2.0 and Nikkor-Q 13.5cm f/4.0. Both the rangefinder Nikon S models and Nikkor lenses have helped Nikon gain international recognition due to their performance and dependability. The market place during that era was dominated mainly by equally respectable German names such as Leica, and Contax and it took Nikon quite some years to gain its footing.

The lenses made for the Nikon rangefinder system are quite numerous. Perhaps the frequent updates have also created many variations. Since the company had already started to apply lens coating as early as 1945, we would assume that all Nikkor lenses made for the Nikon rangefinder cameras were coated from the beginning. So, you may find some of the early Nikkor lenses that were made for the rangefinder cameras has a red 'C' after the first letter which should stand for "coated" (see a picture of my Nikkor-S 5cm f/1.4 lens below). But what is the meaning of the letter after the "Nikkor"?

U (Uns) for 1 element
B (Bini) for 2 elements
T (Tres) for 3 elements
Q (Quatour) for 4 elements
P (Pente) for 5 elements
H (Hex) for 6 elements 
S (Septem) for 7 elements
0 (Octo) for 8 elements
N (Novem) for 9 elements
D (Decem) for 10 elements
Note: For most Nikkor lenses made during the Occupation, and for a short time after, Nikon used the words 'Nippon Kogaku Tokyo' on the front ring (see picture at left). After the Occupation this was changed to 'Nippon Kogaku Japan'. Most lenses with 'Made in Occupied Japan' (abbreviates to "MIOJ" for common reference) have no click-stop and the corresponding minimum aperture for these lenses is larger than those with click stop.

One way to identify a lens is to look at the identification ring in front the lens where the specification of the lens is shown; such as Nippon Kogaku, focal length, lens speed and the word 'Nikkor' followed by two letters. The first letter if for identifying the lens type (wide-angle or telephoto) or designates the number of lens elements using the Latin alphabet. The letter encodes the number of lens elements used in the optical formula. In fact, many of the Nikkor lenses designed primarily for the Nikon reflex SLR still used this identification until 1974.

Nikon SP.jpg
With the respect it gained from subsequent classic rangefinder models such as Nikon SP (1957), which has won many professional users' confidence. Nippon Kogaku eventually cashed in all the goodwill swiftly and timely, resulting in a brand new conceptual 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR) camera culminated in the world-renowned Nikon F which was announced in April, 1959.

Credit: Copyright © 2001 Images courtesy of Ron King

The classic Nikon F reflex SLR camera was more than just a normal camera. With its modular body construction, it was a versatile system camera, supported by a comprehensive line of interchangeable lenses and accessories. A group of early Nikkor lenses was developed to enhance the versatility of the new Nikon single lens reflex camera body, while an adapter was also produced to permit the new bayonet F-mount lenses to be used on the rangefinder bodies.

Nikon F, 1959.jpg
Some lenses among the original batch of Nikkor lenses with the F-mount introduced in 1959 were 2.1cm f/4-16 Nikkor-O, 3.5cm f/2.8-16 Nikkor-S Auto, 5cm f/2.0-16 Nikkor-S Auto, 10.5cm f/2.5-22 Nikkor-P Auto & 13.5cm f/3.5-32 Nikkor-Q Auto. It was believed that the first Nikkor zoom, Auto 8.5-25cm f/4 ~f/4.5 Zoom-Nikkor lense was soon followed after.

Old Micro.jpg

There were MORE lenses specifically designed for the reflex Nikon SLR camera following. Optics such as 2.8cm f/3.5 Nikkor-W, 5.8cm f/1.4-16 Nikkor-S, Nikkor-Q 10.5cm f/4.0 Preset Auto lenses were added a year later in 1960. The famed RF 5cm f/3.5 Micro-Nikkor lens first introduced in 1956 was given a F-mount upgraded as 5.5cm f3.5-22 Micro-Nikkor-P preset in 1961. Other more noticeable F-mount Nikkor lenses introduced at the same time were: 21.0cm f/4-32 Nikkor-Q Auto and two exotic reflex lenses of Mirror-Nikkor 50.0cm f/5.0, 100cm f/6.3 Reflex Nikkor Reflex-Nikkor. In 1962, the 8mm f/8-22 Fisheye-Nikkor, the immensely popular 43~86mm f/3.5-22 Zoom-Nikkor Auto was debuted, 200~600mm f/9.5~10.5-32 Zoom-Nikkor Auto one of the longest reach zoom at that time was also being introduced; the revised 55mm f/3.5-32 Micro-Nikkor-P Auto & 200mm f/5.6-45 Medical-Nikkor Auto were rolled out in 1963 and a year later, a special and very rare 55mm f/4-32 UV-Nikkor Auto, another popular telephoto lens 85mm f/1.8-22 Nikkor-H Auto & 300mm f/4.5-22 Nikkor-P Auto were also being introduced; next, those super telephoto lenses that required Focusing Units CU-1 (later changed to a AU-1 model) such as 600mm f/5.6-22 Nikkor-P Auto, 880mm f/8-22/64 Nikkor-P Auto, 1200mm f/11-64 Nikkor-P Auto were available at the same year in 1964.

In July 1965, Nikon introduced Nikkormat FT & FS, two high-quality 35mm cameras with moderate price tags to supplement the professional Nikon F. They accepted all Nikkor lenses and shared many of the Nikon system accessories designed for the Nikon F.

The Nikon F, Nikkormat and some early Nikon F2 SLR camera models used either manual preset or semi-automatic indexing for their metering. The same year in 1965, there were a number of popular Nikkor lenses being introduced (these lenses have long been discontinued or have had their respective upgrades): 28mm f/3.5-16 Nikkor-H Auto, 35mm f/3.5-32 PC-Nikkor-H Preset, 50mm f/1.4-16 Nikkor-S Auto, 135mm f/2.8-22 Nikkor-Q Auto, 135mm f/4-22 Nikkor-Q Short Mount/Bellows Preset, 180mm f/2.5-32 Nikkor-H Preset, 250mm f/4-32 Nikkor-Q Preset, 350mm f/4.5-22 Nikkor-T Preset, 500mm f/5-45 Nikkor-T Preset, 50~300mm f/4.5-22 Zoom-Nikkor Auto. The Nikkor 3.5cm f/2.0 & 55mm f/1.2 lenses were followed later. -source: Michael Liu -

In August, 1971, the Nikon F2 was released and marketed. The F2 was essentially an upgrade of the original Nikon F but it has incorporated some of the very advanced mechanical features. It marked the first major innovation in the Nikon F series in more than 12 years since the debut of the Nikon F. Nippon Kogaku offered a total of 5 models along its entire product cycle of varying performance and metering capabilities which, combined with an assortment of lenses and accessories, firmly had the professional user market in absolute control.

The Nikon F2, Nikon F and Nikkormat represent the "three pillars" of the Nikon system which were designed as no photographic boundaries, most of them can share many common accessories within the Nikon photographic system. The Nikkor lens family, has also mushroomed to around 40 in numbers and many innovative optical developments were materialized and put to use in many of the Nikkor lenses.

Nikon F2.jpg
To position themselves ahead of their competitors, Nikon revised their 18 years old F-mount with a new way of indexing the lens aperture to perform full aperture metering. 

Micro 200MM.jpg

In 1977, Nikon had decisively introduced an Automatic maximum aperture Indexing (AI) method for their SLR cameras which inevitably affect the specification of Nikkor lenses. Five SLR bodies (Nikon F2A, Nikon F2AS, Nikkormat FT-3, Nikon EL-2, the original Nikon FM) were introduced in 1977 to take full advantage of the AI feature. The changes was essential as it has spearheaded Nikon to many innovative features to come. It was also the time where we saw some of the best of mechanical engineering for SLR photography. Other than the professional F series models, the Nikon EL-2 was the first to adopt the the unification name of 'Nikon' .

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Nikon MF RF-Nikkor lenses for Rangefinder cameras:- Main Index Page
Nikon Auto Focus Nikkor lenses:- Main Index Page
Nikon Manual Focus Nikkor lenses:-
Fisheye-Nikkor Lenses - Circular | Full Frame | Ultrawides Lenses - 13mm15mm18mm20mm | Wideangle Lenses - 24mm28mm35mm | Standard Lenses - 45mm 50mm 58mm | Telephoto Lenses - 85mm105mm135mm180mm & 200mm | Super-Telephoto Lenses - 300mm 400mm 500mm 600mm 800mm 1200mm |

Nikkor Link.jpg   Special Application lenses:
Micro-Nikkor Lenses - 50mm~55mm -60mm 85mm -105mm 200mm Micro-Zoom 70-180mm
Perspective Control (PC) - 28mm 35mm PC-Micro 85mm
Dedicated Lenses for Nikon F3AF: AF 80mm f/2.8 | AF 200mm f/3.5 EDIF
Depth of Field Control (DC): 105mm 135mm
Medical Nikkor: 120mm 200mm
Reflex-Nikkor Lenses - 500mm 1000mm 2000mm
Others: Noct Nikkor | OP-Nikkor | UV Nikkor 55mm 105mm | Focusing Units | Bellows-Nikkor 105mm 135mm
Nikon Series E Lenses: 28mm35mm50mm100mm135mm | E-Series Zoom lenses: 36~72mm75~150mm70~210mm

MF Zoom-Nikkor Lenses: 25~50mm | 28~45mm | 28~50mm | 28~85mm | 35~70mm | 36~72mm E | 35~85mm | 35~105mm | 35~135mm | 35~200mm | 43~86mm | 50~135mm | 50~300mm | 70~210mm E | 75~150mm E | 80~200mm | 85~250mm | 100~300mm | 180~600mm | 200~400mm | 200~600mm | 360~1200mm | 1200~1700mm

Tele-Converters: TC-1 | TC-2 | TC-200 | TC-201 | TC-300 | TC-301 | TC-14 | TC-14A | TC-14B | TC-14C | TC-14E | TC-16 | TC-16A | TC-20E

Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number:
http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-153.html by: my friend, Rick Oleson
http://www.zi.ku.dk/personal/lhhansen/photo/fmount.htm by: Hansen, Lars Holst

Recommended Reading Reference on Nikon cameras and Nikkor lenses | about this photographic web site

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leofoo.Gif Co-developed with my web buddy, Rick Oleson® & LARs.Gif Denmark, Creator of the Nikon Repair Group Mailing-List; A contributing effort to Michael Liu's Classic Nikon SLRs and Nikkor optic site.

Credit: MCLau®, who has helped to rewrite some of the content appeared this site. Chuck Hester® who has been helping me all along with the development of all these Nikon websites; Lars Holst Hansen, 'Hawkeye' who shares the same passion I have; Ms Rissa, Sales manager from Nikon Corporation Malaysia for granting permission to use some of the official content; Ted Wengelaar, Holland who has helped to provide many useful input relating to older Nikkor lenses; Some of the references on production serial numbers used in this site were extracted from Roland Vink's website; Hiura Shinsaku from Nikomat Club Japan. Lastly, to all the good people who has contributed their own expeience, resources or kind enough granted permission to use their images of their respective optic in this site. It is also a site to remember a long lost friend on the Net. Note:certain content and images appeared in this site were either scanned from official marketing leaflets & brochures published by Nikon and/or contribution from surfers who claimed originality of their work for educational purposes. The creator of the site will not be responsible for may discrepancies arise from such dispute except rectifying them after verification. "Nikon", "Nikkormat", "Nippon Kokagu KK" & "Nikkor" are registered tradename of Nikon Corporation Inc., Japan. Site made with an Apple IMac.