At the Nikon Museum…

Hello, everybody. Thank you for taking the time and effort to read my first blog entry. I am a photographer living in Tokyo and I would like to share some of the things that I take for granted everyday here in the camera capital of the world to people who are otherwise too busy or lazy to travel here to indulge in their photographic pilgrimage.

One such “must visit pilgrimage site” for the Nikon enthusiast would be the Nikon Museum. The museum was built in anticipation for Nikon’s centenary in 2017. Showcasing what the company has achieved in the 100 years of it’s existence. From it’s humble beginnings when the Japanese government requested the help and assistance of German engineers and scientists to train and spearhead Japan’s own optics industry to what it is today – a prime mover in the industry whose name is synonymous to the recovery of Japan’s economy and export industry after the war and today as one of the world’s leading camera and optics manufacturer.

The museum has no mention of Nikon’s war time involvement except for the instance when Nikon lacked manpower due to wartime manufacturing and had to collaborate with the forerunner of Canon to manufacture and market consumer optics.

HAW_0273.jpgThe museum can be accessed easily from Shinagawa station in Tokyo. It is around 600 meters from the station itself. A detailed map can be found in the Nikon Museum’s website…

HAW_0287The entrance is decorated with important milestones in Nikon’s timeline.

HAW_0284.jpgAt the other side of the entrance you will find this humongous glass ingot. This is what Nikon uses to create the glass elements for the Nikkors.

HAW_0309More information on Nikon’s optical glass manufacturing techniques…

HAW_0288The museum itself is not big but it does showcase a lot of what Nikon has achieved in it’s almost 100 years of history. Apart from the optics, there are numerous educational exhibits in the museum such as how ED glass and Nano Crystal coating work. Taking pictures is prohibited in these exhibits.

HAW_0289Here is a showcase of Nikon’s press related achievement through the years…

HAW_0292The 1000mm f/6.3 is a lens that was engineered specifically for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. It is a mirror lens.

HAW_0290This photo shows some of the press-related cameras that Nikon has produced throughout the years as well as a description for each.

HAW_0291That white box is for “telephotography”. You can send images of your negatives to your editor using this machine via the telephone line. I know it sounds silly but this is actually pretty clever. I imagine that this might have been used in Live Aid (for those old enough to remember how technical that was to broadcast and cover).

On the same shelf, you can see some wireless solutions that Nikon has incorporated into the system like WIFI and wireless transmission.

HAW_0298This display case shows Nikon’s technical achievements and contains more interesting stuff for photography geeks to wet dream about.

HAW_0299This is Nikon’s original prototype for their first camera simply called the “Model I”. Notice that this is simply a modified Contax clone. Yes, everybody has to start from somewhere. What the Chinese are doing now, the Japanese and until recently the Koreans were doing as well. Even the Germans and the English as well in the case of porcelain manufacturing.

HAW_0300The real holy grail for many Nikon collectors. The original working prototype for the now legendary Nikon F. Notice that it has a rangefinder. Originally the idea was for it to have a rangefinder as well so that it can accept the lenses from rangefinder cameras by locking the mirror in the up position so that the rear end of the lens will not hit the mirror. This was a great idea and I wish that we have that in our Nikon cameras.

HAW_0302This one shows the worlds first auto focusing system for cameras. Jebus, just take a look at that monster of a lens! How they managed to make it auto focus is also quite interesting. Check and read the illustration.

HAW_0303This is the world’s first ultra wide zoom lens. The technology of that time prevented this from entering into full production. Read the write up for an interesting story about this lens.

HAW_0295Here are some cameras and lenses that were all arranged in chronological order. Notice the Nikonos and that 13mm f/5.6…

HAW_0297At the centre is a camera that Francisco Scaramanga might have ordered for himself.

HAW_0304Check that camera in the middle. It is a collaboration between Fujifilm and Nikon to produce a digital camera using the “Fujix” system…

HAW_0296That big round thing in the middle needs no introduction, it’s the Death Star…

HAW_0294The Nikonos, Nikkorex and some other oddball Nikons…

To be really honest, I was actually more impressed with Nikon’s medical and industrial optics than Nikon’s commercial optics (lenses/cameras). This just shows that Nikon is really a world leader in optics and sets it apart from the other brand because this is what Nikon is really all about. Other companies make their name making calculators and electronic consumer products or film and optics is more of an after thought or side project as opposed to Nikon where it started as an optical company from the start.

I hope that you like this mini photo commentary and if there is enough interest, I might interview the curator of the museum or any Japanese photographers here in Japan and publish them as a mini article.

Love, Rick.

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18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: At the Nikon museum | Nikon Rumors
  2. Trackback: At the Nikon museum-IT大道
  3. vaillantmartien
    Dec 31, 2015 @ 03:08:50

    Reblogged this on Un Vaillant Martien.


  4. okaykiddo
    Dec 31, 2015 @ 17:08:50

    Are there any of the mid-nineties Kodak/Nikon co-branded Digital Science Cameras (DSC,) at the Nikon museum.


  5. okaykiddo
    Dec 31, 2015 @ 17:10:35

    Are the any of the th mid nineties Kodak/Nikon co-branded Digital Scuence Cameras (DSC,) at the Nikon museum?


  6. John Hernlund
    Oct 06, 2016 @ 04:12:35

    Thanks for this Richard, I also live in Tokyo but haven’t made it to the museum yet…looking forward to it!


    • richardhaw
      Oct 06, 2016 @ 06:12:01

      Hi, John! Glad you liked it! You should visit there one day, they are open on Saturdays. It is probably 10 minutes walk from Shinagawa gantry gates.


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