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.
[REWIND: WHAT KIND OF FILM CAMERA SHOULD I BUY?]
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.