Nikon Video Cameras


Late 1977 Nikon decided to stop with the production of its 8 mm. movie/cine cameras. A special team (VF-team = video feasibility) was set up to study and develop a video camera. Other camera producers already had introduced video cameras for home-use, making use of the 1/2 inch video tape in two standards: VHS (video home system, introduced in 1977 by JVC) and Betamax (introduced in 1975 by Sony). Although Nikon Corporation decided to enter the home video market there was a severe problem: Nikon did not have the experience nor skilled personnel to set up a production line! After a large-scale talent scouting activity (for the first time in Nikon's history!) three teams of experts were formed. One team had to develop a video camera, the second team a video deck (recorder/player) and the third team one or more lenses. The attentive reader will agree that the latter team had the easiest job.

Nikon S-100 Video Camera (Courtesy Jarle Aasland)


In June 1982 Nikon was ready to introduce its first video camera set: the video camera S-100 (see above image), a portable video recorder SV-100, a video tuner ST-100 and an AC power adapter SA-100. The camera (with an optical TTL-viewfinder) and the recorder were put in a video carrying case FV-1 in which a camera control unit (CCU) was housed. This whole set was weighing in at nearly 6 kilo! To lower that weight Nikon introduced in October 1982 a VHS-C (compact VHS) video deck SV-200. Unfortunately that video set wasn't a great success, either. Sales were disappointing, thus leading to stop the production. Many engineers were employed in other departments, like the departments that started the development of digital cameras.

To remain in the video camera market Nikon introduced and produced a variety of video cameras between 1988 and 1996, based on the Sony Handycam, which was introduced by Sony in 1985. The Handycam was using a (1/3", 2/3"and 1/2") CCD-sensor and the Video8 (8 mm. tape) system to compete with the larger VHS and Betacam (and later VHS-C) camcorders. Later camcorders (TR-series) were using the improved Hi8 system, including stereophonic sound recording, image stabilizer and a colour viewfinder. Most Nikon Video8 and Hi8 camcorders are clones of the Sony TR-series, featuring a 6x, 8x or 10x zoomlens. Most cameras were mainly sold in Asia and the Americas; in Europe some were sold by Nikon Germany and Nikon UK only.

Note: At most cameras the lens is not called/named Nikkor, so it isn't sure whether Nikon supplied Sony with the lenses or not. The name 'Nikkor' is normally used on a great variety of third brand equipment using a lens made by Nikon.

More information on the (nowadays very rare) Nikon S-100 video camera set can be found here.

Above one of the last Video8 cameras sold by Nikon as Nikon VN-9100.

(aka Sony Handycam TR-55E !)


See the (yet incomplete) list of Nikon video cameras (Video8 and Hi8) that are known to the author, here.