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A Blast From The Past: Classic Nikon Advertising of Two Revolutionary Cameras 1955-1960

By Hanssie on April 25th 2016

One of the most fascinating things about the T.V. show Mad Men was watching the process of the advertising execs at Sterling Cooper create campaigns for their clients, and I can picture Don Draper with a bourbon in his hand, sitting high above the skyline of a 1950s New York City, pitching some Nikon execs. Nikon has been making cameras for almost 100 years now, and through the decades, Nikon advertising has changed as much as their cameras.

Photographer Marc Bergman has compiled a few of these vintage Nikon ads from the 1950s and 1960s that highlight some of their popular and revolutionary cameras such as the Nikon S-2, and the Nikon F. It is interesting to see how much copy is in one ad in 1955 and the new features of the cameras back then. See for yourself here in this sample, and see Marc’s full collection here.


One of the early Nikon rangefinders, the S-2, had some pretty advanced features and innovative design. There was the 1:1 viewfinder, lever film-advance, lever rewind, 1/1000th shutter speed, and a smaller, lighter body. Together, they made the S-2 a popular – still a favorite – choice for Nikon users. The S-2 with a 50mm Nikkor f1.4 came in at $345 – inexpensive by today’s standards, but 60+ years ago, the S-2/50mm combination would’ve been equivalent to a few thousand dollars in today’s money.




Then, in the late 1950s, Nikon introduced its first SLR camera, in the Nikon F. It was revolutionary in that it combined many features found in different cameras but all in one package. The Nikon F was extremely popular and widely used by professional photographers, and had the widest range of lenses available, from 21mm to 1000mm. It was also very durable and became a favorite of photojournalists for its compact size and reputed ability to withstand a beating. The Nikon F was indeed a “game changer” if there ever was one, putting Japanese camera-makers on the map, swaying photographers from the German Leica, Rollei, Zeiss.




You can see Marc’s entire collection here on 
Via: PhotoArgus,

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Dave Haynie

    Cool! While I was not born in the 40s or 50s, I had a decent collection of rangefinder cameras from that era for awhile… though mostly Canon and Leica. Nikon used the Contax mount, so I wasn’t interested at the time — I was actually using that gear, back there in the film days. Curiously, given the collapse of film shooting, you can get these for only a little more, in absolute dollars, than back then.

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  2. Ralph Hightower

    Interesting read. Okay, I was born in 1954, so I didn’t really care about cameras or camera prices back then or even in the 60’s. But I did buy my first SLR in 1980, a Canon A-1 which was state of the art at the time with aperture priority, shutter priority, and offered program mode as well as manual control; I still use that camera.

    I am a “pack rat”. I have a 1982 Calumet catalog. It is interesting to see the prices from 1982 and compare the prices of the used equipment today.

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  3. Andy & Amii Kauth

    This was a fun read!

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