The Philosophy of Nikkor is a series of videos which Nikon started to release in April of last year. Every so often a new video is released containing insight into the creation of their Nikkor lenses. There are interviews with everybody from the designers and product managers right down to those making the individual components.
In the latest video, Volume 6 released recently, we hear from those who make the optical glass. As part of the Nikon Group, Hikari Glass produces the optical glass that will eventually go into the Nikkor lenses you mount to your camera. The current Hikari Glass plant was built in 1975 in Akita, Japan. It’s a fascinating look at how our lenses begin their life.
Particularly interesting is the fact that they design, assemble and repair all the equipment used to produce the optical glass themselves. I suppose it’s really not surprising. There are few companies producing optical glass, so I imagine there aren’t many companies out there producing equipment for optical glass manufacturers.
Only the Nikon Group is involved in the entire production of its optical devices, from production of optical glass to the completed product.
Unless we keep on manufacturing, we cannot cultivate true engineers, and innovation is not possible.
– Izumi Chiba, Production Division, Hikari Glass Co., Ltd.
Producing the glass is the first step in the manufacture of a Nikkor lens. To bring a bag of glass powder to a final optic is a lot of work. The slightest change in production conditions can easily and drastically affect the quality. So, each piece is continually inspected throughout the process to spot defects as early as possible.
They even go so far as to guarantee the refractive index of their optical glass to six decimal places. Despite the extremely strict specifications of Nikkor lenses, they say that the standards don’t feel particularly strict. It’s just the way it’s made.
It’s a great look into how these lenses are born, and the rest of the series is great, too. You can see all the videos over on the Nikkor Motion Gallery channel on YouTube.
What do you think of the series so far? Which is your favourite video? Which parts did you find particularly interesting? Let us know in the comments.