Have you ever come across the Nikkor brand and wondered what in the world it is? Why are some products called Nikkor, when they are in fact Nikon Products! Well, if you look more closely, the Nikkor brand is only seen on the Nikon Lens system, never on Cameras or any other product. So what exactly is ‘Nikkor’?
The Nikkor brand was founded for the Nikon F-mount Lenses in the year 1932. Any lens with Nikkor printed on it, would be automatically identified as an F-mount (a type of mount launched by Nikon for its 35mm SLR cameras) lens of premium build quality. The whole idea was to have an exclusive brand that depics the best lenses in the Nikkon stable.They included their best lens under the brand when launching the brand. Not all Nikons were Nikkors, but all Nikkors were Nikons. Nikkors formed a subset of the whole array of the Nikon lense system, representing the best from the company.
So are Nikkor lenses superior even today?
This was true way back when the brand ‘Nikkor’ itself was launched. But today, most of the Nikon lenses are branded with Nikkor. Even a basic cheap Kit lens will be branded with Nikkor. Hence ‘Nikkor’ stands for the lens brand of Nikon. Nikkor lenses are some of the best lenses created in the world, though maybe not best of the best there is (read Carl Zeiss). But from a professional or a casual point of view, these lenses strike a great balance between rigidity, pricing and quality, making some of them regulars in the lists that list the best lenses in the world. But there are some average Nikkor lenses that exist today, which are still great for the price-point at which they are available.
To summarize, almost all of the Nikon lenses are clubbed under the Nikkor brand today. But why have a separate brand name. The answer becomes clear when you look back at History, when once upon a time they represented the premium of the pack. Not true anymore today.