Company founded in 1917 as
Nippon Kogaku KK. In 1988 corporate name changed to Nikon Corporation.
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Part 19: Nikon R10 / R8 SUPER ZOOM
From "Double 8" to "Super 8"
The 8 mm movie camera series of Nippon Kogaku K.K., started with "NIKKOREX-8" (released
in December of 1960 (in March of 1961 in Japan), see Part 18.) was followed by
new products one after another according to the change of the 8 mm movie camera
of the world. Especially big change broke out in 1965. It was the appearance of
so-called "Type S" standard film. The 8 mm movie film up to that time was called
"Double 8" and it adopted a complicated system that used film of 16 mm wide, and
after 25 feet of the first half width of the film was finished, the film was
reversed and shooting was made with rewinding the film.
It was the means of simplifying this operation of "reversing the film" that the
prototype prior to "NIKKOREX-8" introduced in the last part adopted a special
film magazine. Then, a new film standard appeared, which eliminated this
inconvenience using the film of 8 mm wide from the beginning, and that the frame
size (area) was enlarged by 50 percent with decreasing the size of perforation (the
holes for advancing the film). This was the film called "Type S". Such new
standardization of 8 mm movie film had been proceeded by Fuji Photo Film of
Japan and Eastman KODAK of U.S.A. separately. Both parties made mutual
concessions in the way and the frame size and the perforation size were
standardized as "Type S". However, the film cartridges were made separately as
"Single 8" of Fuji and "Super 8" of KODAK, thus the cameras were separate,
though the projector was common for both. As it was quite obvious that this new
"Type S" film was superior than conventional "Double 8", manufacturers which
marketed 8 mm movie camera all developed cameras adopting either "Single 8" or "Super
8" of these new standards.
After examining these new standards, Nippon Kogaku decided to adopt "Super 8" in
consideration of the dominant position of KODAK in export markets, and released
Nikon "SUPER ZOOM-8" equipped with 5X zoom lens (see photo) in 1966, at the
The 8 mm movie contest and quality product policy.
In September of 1967, the next year of the release of Nikon "SUPER ZOOM-8", the
1st Nikon 8 mm Movie Contest was held. This contest was held every year and was
regarded as one of the leading contest in this world, but on the other hand, it
seemed to be effective for sales promotion of 8 mm movie cameras as well, and
after that, the sales of Nikon 8 mm movie cameras increased rapidly. However, it
was due to the influence of this contest more or less that the 8 mm movie camera
of Nippon Kogaku, started with low-priced simple "NIKKOREX 8", was gradually
changed its direction to the high-grade product.
As a matter of course, rather advanced amateurs enter in this contest. We've
heard that someone built a cottage annex to the main house exclusively used for
his hobby of 8 mm movie, and another installed electricity as far as to the
beach in order to film a marine turtle. These advanced amateurs require rather
high performance even for 8 mm movie cameras. Nippon Kogaku changed its policy
to such direction to cope with the request of these advanced amateurs as it
released Nikon "8X SUPER ZOOM" that was equipped 8X zoom lens (7.5 ~ 60 mm) with
relatively simple Nikon "SUPER ZOOM-8".
Rewinding and overlapping.
For these advanced amateur film makers, it was the most dissatisfied thing with
the film of "Super 8" standard that it "cannot be rewound". This is used for the
technique of "overlapping".
When a movie scene is switched to the next, it is nothing interesting if it is
simply changed to another. With the present video equipment, we can enjoy
various scene conversions using plenty of image processing techniques such as
the change of scenes like turning over the pages of a book, or scattering of the
image like a mosaic, but with a movie camera of that time, only such techniques
as "fade-out", "fade-in" and "overlapping" could be made.
It is "fade-out" that the image is gradually getting dark and finally disappears
at the end of a scene, on the other hand, "fade-in" is that the screen is
gradually getting light and the image emerges at the beginning of a scene and
this "fade-out" and, "fade-in" of the next scene is made simultaneously is "overlapping".
Therefore, in the "overlapping" technique, the part of change over is double-exposed.
For that purpose, it is required to rewind the film once exposed by "fade-out"
to a certain length, then the next scene is "faded-in" on that part of the film.
This rewinding work was difficult with the cartridge of "Super 8".
The cartridge of "Super 8" originally aiming at the home movie maker, had the
first-priority in the easy loading and the compactness. As the film is twice
longer than "Double 8", the diameter of wound film becomes larger.
While "Single 8" of Fuji Photo Film avoided that by decreasing the thickness of
the film base, "Super 8" of KODAK prevented the cartridge to become large by
making the feeding spool and winding spool coaxial.
The coaxial mechanism of "Super 8" is valuable because it also makes the drive
system of the camera simple, but this structure of cartridge made the rewinding
According to a designer who was in charge of 8 mm movie camera at that time, he
had heard of users' strong request for rewinding repeatedly at the time of
attending the contest.
He was puzzling if it is possible to incorporate the rewinding function in "Super
8" cartridge scrutinizing the cartridge from this angle and from another
everyday. All of a sudden, an idea flashed across his mind some day.
There are feeding film chamber and winding film chamber in the cartridge of "Super
8" and when the film is wound from feeding chamber to winding chamber after
filming, some space is made in the feeding film chamber. When moving the film
appearing at the aperture for shooting by a finger, leaving the drive axle of
winding fixed, the film could be returned to this space of feeding film chamber
as though it was folded in. "I made it !", shouted he and the entire room of the
designing department was uproarious.
For the purpose of "overlapping", it is not necessary to rewind all the film
wound, but it is quite enough to return this length that can be folded in this
space, and "overlapping" with "Super 8" can be possible by utilizing this. He
says that the excitement of that moment when this idea came across to him is
clearly brought back even now.
The next thing to do was to apply patents. Very strong patent net was formed by
basic patents as well as peripheral patents.
This group of patents is called "R" patents inside Nippon Kogaku and the story
is handed down up to now as a model case for patent strategy at the time of
Developing the "R" patents into a final product.
"R" patents was unrivaled for its superb idea. Therefore, it was possible to
obtain the exclusive possession of that technology if so desired, but Nippon
Kogaku took the policy of licensing the patent to others giving priority to the
expansion of the 8 mm movie market. Licensees range from Japanese to European
manufacturers and a good many "Super 8" cameras with the rewinding function were
After making thoroughgoing preparations, Nikon "R10 SUPER ZOOM" and Nikon "R8
SUPER ZOOM" were finally released in 1973.
In contrast to former times, they were intended to be high-grade models aiming
advanced amateurs from the beginning with such features as fast zoom lens with
high magnification, macro mechanism covering full range, reverse shooting,
variable shutter opening angle, and so on. They were welcomed by high-level
amateur movie makers, as planned at the beginning, and sold well.
In addition to "R10 SUPER ZOOM", the highest-grade model, "R8 SUPER ZOOM"
succeeding the conventional "8X SUPER ZOOM" was released at the same time, and
contrary to our expectation that moderately-priced "R8" would sell more,
expensive "R10" sold more.
The "overlapping / rewinding" function, the strongest selling point was
automated as far as possible and its operation was simplified. However, inside
the company, there were many people who have the opinion that "its operation is
too difficult", mainly among senior people and the plan was almost rejected.
Development members made a narrow escape with their enthusiasm.
In the market, the evaluation of "simple operation and high performance" was
dominant, and development members were pleased with it as "their intention was
The last model of the Nikon 8 mm movie camera.
Nikon "R10 SUPER ZOOM / R8 SUPER ZOOM" were favorably accepted and won the fame
of excellent models, but they were the last models of the 8 mm movie camera of
Nippon Kogaku, as a result.
"Super 8" cameras with sound recording were developed and released from various
manufacturers. Sound-recording model had been prototyped in Nippon Kogaku as
well. This prototype of sound-recording model was to be a well-shaped,
ultra-compact camera of simple operation equipped with 6X zoom lens, but it
never made a debut, and Nippon Kogaku completely gave up the movie camera
business in 1979.
There had been a growing trend to switch over to the home-use video camera, and
the discontinuance was made foreseeing that. It was a right decision, on looking
back upon from now, but it was a very regrettable discontinuance for many people