Despite tough competition from Japanese rivals with deeper pockets for R&D – namely Sony and Fujifilm – Nikon remains a key player in the camera and lens market, adroitly moving into mirrorless while also serving a lot of legacy DSLR customers.

The company recently announced that as of April just gone, it had produced 120 million Nikkor lenses for Nikon interchangeable cameras – this covers both DSLR and mirrorless (to recap, Nikon offers Nikkor F lenses for DSLRs and Z lenses for mirrorless models).

Some of Nikon's Z-series Nikkor lenses
Some of Nikon’s Z-series Nikkor lenses

A brief history of Nikkor

Canon is well-known for being a storied company with a long history, but Nikon is a proper old trooper, too. The Nikkor trademark was first registered by Nippon Kogaku K.K. in 1932, before the company (wisely) changed its name to the much easier-to-remember Nikon.

After the war, Nikon was a pioneer in SLR technology and won many well-known fans, including Don McCullin – a Nikon F SLR stopped a bullet from a Khmer Rouge sniper in Cambodia in 1970, probably saving his life.

‘Beginning with the introduction of Aero-Nikkor aerial photographic lenses in 1933, Nikon is still one of the few manufacturers that crafts lenses starting from the production of optical glass,’ the company said.

Renowned photojournalist Don McCullin probably owes his life to Nikon

‘Over the years, Nikkor has consistently integrated cutting-edge technologies into its lenses, including features like aperture control, autofocus, and vibration reduction (VR). The legacy continues with Z lenses, specifically designed for Nikon mirrorless cameras, boasting a new mount with the industry’s largest diameter. This innovation unlocks new possibilities in lens design, increasing its capabilities in optical performance.’

NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct
The NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct

Nikon further claims the wide variety of Nikkor Z lenses released in recent years further reveals how the company is pushing boundaries. ‘This includes the flagship NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct, which set records as the fastest lens in Nikon’s history with an aperture of f/0.95.’

By way of comparison, Canon announced a production milestone of 110 million EOS series cameras and 160 million interchangeable RF/EF lenses in April last year.

Further reading
Best Nikon Z-mount lenses
Best Nikon F mount lenses