What Are Nikon Cameras?

Professional film photographers have long appreciated the power and precision of Nikon cameras, and the company is carrying that tradition into the digital photography arena, offering a variety of beginner, intermediate, and high end cameras. Continue reading to learn the answer to the question: What are Nikon cameras?

Nikon's History

Nikon was founded in 1917 in Tokyo, Japan, but it was officially known as Nippon Kogaku K.K. upon its founding. Nikon began marketing camera lenses as Nikkor lenses in 1932, and the company began focusing on camera production and other optical products after World War II. The name Nikon first appeared on film cameras from the company in 1948. Nikon's first camera was the Nikon I, and the company officially changed its name to Nikon Corp. in 1988.

Nikon introduced the idea of the 35mm SLR (single-lens reflex) camera in 1959 with the release of the Nikon F. The Nikon F featured a series of interchangeable parts.

Nikon began making digital camcorders in 1961, initially marketing the Nikkorex 8. Nikon's first digital still cameras were the E2 and the E2S in 1995, and they were jointly marketed with Fuji Photo Film.

Nikon has several group companies in the United States and North America, led by Nikon Americas Inc. in Melville, N.Y.

Today's Nikon Offerings

Nikon offers digital cameras for both SLR (single-lens reflex) and point-and-shoot market. Digital SLR models will appeal more to intermediate and advanced photographers.

  • DSLR. Nikon's current digital SLR cameras range from the best entry level DSLRs, all the way to high end professional models. The Nikon D810 is one of the best high end DSLR cameras currently on the market, while the Nikon D3300 is a great option for someone seeking a first-time DSLR camera.
  • Mirrorless ILC. Nikon has made a big push into the world of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (ILCs), offering a variety of models. These cameras are somewhat like DSLRs, in that they offer very good image quality and make use of interchangeable lenses. However, they don't have the mirror mechanism that exists inside a DSLR to allow for use of an optical viewfinder, which allows the mirrorless cameras to be thinner and smaller than a DSLR.  
  • Consumer. The famous Coolpix line of consumer-level Nikon digital cameras ranges from the most basic models to cameras that will work for intermediate photographers. Nikon's Coolpix cameras often feature extremely thin camera bodies and bright colors. The Performance series of Coolpix cameras offer high-end resolution and large optical zoom lenses, ranging from $200-$500. In the Coolpix Style series, you'll find thin models that are available in many colors. Some Style series cameras, which range in price from about $150-$400, offer high-end resolutions. Nikon also makes large zoom fixed lens cameras, which will appeal to some photographers.
  • Related products. Nikon still sells some film cameras, although the company announced in 2006 that it would stop making most of its film camera brands and focus on digital cameras. Nikon also manufacturers film scanners and image-editing computer software. Through the Nikon USA Web site, you can find authorized dealers for Nikon digital camera accessories, including camera straps, cables, AC adapters, external flashes, interchangeable lenses, lens filters, batteries, docking kits, and wireless accessories, among many other items.

Just as it was with film cameras, Nikon remains one of the best digital camera manufacturers. While it's best known for its great DSLR offerings, Nikon's entire range of digital cameras is very good, and will yield good results for photographers.