Nikon lenswear: 100 years of innovation

This year, Nikon is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Known for its world-famous cameras, the company’s strong innovative streak and fluency with new technology is keeping it young. Check out the fascinating history behind Nikon lenswear.

Off to the technology races

Like any good story that starts in 1917, Nikon’s beginnings are inextricably linked to the First World War, which created a fierce technological rivalry with Germany. That’s when Nikon began manufacturing optical equipment, including microscopes, binoculars, and sights. It soon expanded its technological expertise to include a variety of domains such as health.

Starting in 1930, Nikon entered the photography industry, expanding its product line over the years. Nikon launched its first ophthalmic lenses in 1946, bringing its innovations in terms of materials, design, and coatings to the lenswear market.

Beginnings of a top-notch reputation

Nikon’s reputation for quality was first established overseas. In the 1950s, international reporters based in Tokyo remarked the sharpness and quality of their Japanese colleagues’ photographs. David Douglas Duncan, whose photos regularly graced the cover of Life magazine, introduced Nikon to the rest of the world. A legend was born, and Nikon’s calling card was innovative products that surpassed expectations.


Editor’s note: Just over a year ago, photographer David Douglas Duncan also celebrated his 100th birthday. He has photographed some of the world’s most recognizable faces, including Gandhi, Khrushchev, and Nixon.

A story about innovation

It goes without saying that Nikon has constantly pushed the limits of optical technology to offer professional-quality products to the general public, and their lenswear is no exception. Their commitment to innovation goes back a long way.

  • Nikon has been a long-time partner of NASA. In 1971, a Nikon camera made it to the moon aboard Apollo 15 and captured time-lapse images from the international space station.
  • In 1983, Nikon introduced Hard Clear Coat, its first scratch-resistant, anti-reflective coating. It’s still used to this day and goes by the acronym HCC.
  • In 2000, Nikon launched the highest-index organic material in its line of lenses: index 1.74. They are still the thinnest and lightest finished lenses on the market.
  • On April 1, 2003, Nikon adopted a new logo. A yellow square with sequential rays of light symbolizes a photograph and frames the name Nikon. Written in italic, black logotype, the font symbolizes the brand’s commitment to innovation.
  • Nikon received the Good Design Award in 2011 for its SeeCoat Blue coating, a clear coating that filters out blue light, offering better contrast for digital screens.
  • Nikon struck again in 2017 when it added SeeCoat Bright to its line of coatings. The anti-reflective coating enhances colour perception in low light situations.


At Opto-Réseau, we can’t wait to see what Nikon will come up with next. In the meantime, happy birthday!

For more information about Nikon and to stay up to date on their newest products, visit their Facebook page.