Mr. Braczko, we heard that you gave your son the middle name of “Nikon”. Could you share the thoughts and feelings you had when you named your son that?
In 1990, our first son was born. After giving serious thought as to what to name him, we decided on Felix as the first name. And, for the middle name, we chose Nikon. It was an obvious choice for me, and not a big surprise. Why? Because Nikon is my life. Nikon is indispensable in my life. Nikon was always with me. At first, my wife was not so thrilled about the name, but now both my wife and son enjoy the name Nikon as it always gives him a story to tell.
Mr. Felix Nikon Braczko,
who shared us his thoughts about his own name.
Felix, how do you feel about your father giving you Nikon as a middle name?
Well, as a child, as many would not want to tell others your middle name, which was the case for me and I wasn’t using it that much. Though, later in college I realized this name has always been a great conversation starter. At parties and get together, I had turned it into a game to let others guess my middle name. I’d give hints, like “it’s not a common name”, “it’s something techy”, then onto “it may be a camera” and so forth. People would then start answering with name of other brands or technologies, but in the end everyone finds out that it’s Nikon, which surprises, even shocks some, but most finds it amusing. It’s nothing bad for me, and I am having fun with my middle name.
A shot of Mr. Braczko’s son
Felix Nikon (age seven) using Nikon F4,
Tenerife Island (Canary Islands), 1997
Used, or with some scratches here and there, is no big deal
Mr. Braczko, when did you encounter your first Nikon camera, which subsequently became an indispensable part of your life?
It was back in 1968 at photokina held in Cologne. I was thrilled with Nikon F, but I couldn’t afford it. So instead, I went for a Nikkormat and I fell in love with it. The camera was reliable in every aspect and the outcome—pictures were so satisfying. But what really intrigued me was the quality of the lenses. They were great back then and still are today. For nostalgic reasons, I sometimes dig out some of those old lenses and use them, even today. So to answer your question, Nikkormat is my first Nikon camera.
Ever since, I have been fiddling with cameras day after day and I got to like Nikon more and more. I bought the Nikon M, then came Nikon F, F2, F3, and onto digital cameras. There were jillions of Nikons I got attracted to so I bought them all used. For me, they didn’t have to be new or look new. Whether they are used or have a bit of marks and scratches here and there doesn’t really matter. To me, these cameras being Nikons were most important. I simply like those cameras as they represent the whole Nikon family. Take a look at my Nikon family!
You have a quite impressive collection but which camera is the most striking one?
First is the Nikon F2, which is the one I bought in 1978 when I started working for a newspaper. The camera thrilled me as soon as I started to use it, with its mechanical quality, its reliability, and the opportunity to use so many Nikon lenses with it. It has an excellent exchangeable viewfinder. So if you ask me to name a Nikon that I will always remember, this is the one.
Then next comes the Nikon Df. This camera has got absolutely everything what I ever wished for. It provided the perfect transition and integration between analogue and digital photography. I can still use my old lenses with it, and it’s not that heavy but very reliable. Of course I use it as a tool of my trade, but I also use the Df for private occasions and holidays. It’s a camera that excites me every time I use it.
In terms of lens, I really like the 80-200mm f/2.8. It is a great, all-rounder lens, but I really feel it’s especially suited for sports photography and shooting portraits. The sharpness is excellent. The zoom lens is an absolute must for any photojournalist. Also wonderful are the fisheye and shift lenses. Nikon has really got their eyes on small niches with the intention to cater to people who do not only take normal photos, but also need matching lenses for their specific needs. Nikon deserves a lot of credit to have brought all these special lenses to market.
Tell us, what makes Nikon cameras special that you do not find with other camera brands?
In my opinion, Nikon offers thoroughly thought-out products, not to mention their selection of lenses. Simply everything, from menu and navigation to surface texture and overall handling. That’s why when I hold a Nikon in my hand, I can use it intuitively because I instantly know how it works.
The job of photojournalist depends not just on the camera but also accessories such as speed light. Nikon offers accessories that perfectly match each camera. This also is something special about Nikon. Getting to use optimum accessories that match specific shooting conditions is very important.
Looking forward to new products that make people happy, professionals and amateurs alike
Mr. Braczko, may we ask you as a photojournalist—what made you decide to go into journalism?
I was always taking photos. I was fortunate to get an opportunity to start working for the local paper, when I was documenting my home city, and started to work as a photojournalist. I enjoyed it a lot. I got to meet many people and proved myself as a genuine photojournalist. If I had a chance to choose my profession again, I would choose this interesting job once more without hesitation.
Do you have any amusing stories to share with us as a photojournalist?
In the 80s, I had a photo shoot in a forest to cover its forestation after a huge storm. There was another German photographer with a German brand camera, who was giving a stony stare at my Nikon gear throughout the session. Then an hour or so after the session, he called asking me if I could lend him the negatives, as his films ripped. I think he was leaning toward switching to a Nikon.
Mr. Braczko, can you show us your favorite photo you have taken so far?
That’s a difficult question. I actually don’t have a favorite shot. I have taken thousands of photos, and the number got even greater in the digital era. Of course, there have been photos I’ve felt especially attached to. One of those photos is of my home town, the Ruhrgebiet area. This shot was taken while coming back from a bicycling trip with a friend with the beautiful industrial setting in the background. Although it was shot back in 1987, I was surprised that the photo recently won second prize in the Stern-photo contest*. Of course it was taken on a Nikon, because that’s all I use.
*Stern is a German popular weekly news magazine, boasting a circulation of 700,000 copies per week.
Taken in 1987 using Nikon F3.
Winner of the 2nd prize in the Stern magazine photo contest.
This year, Nikon will be celebrating its 100th anniversary. What expectations do you have for Nikon, and what kind of products would you like to see?
I am content with the cameras up until now, but I’m sure there is always room for improvement. For instance, cameras could be a bit more compact, lighter, and quieter. How about a much smaller D5? But I imagine that Nikon is already aware of the needs and will introduce new products, which will keep all of us – both professionals and amateurs – happy.
The only thing is, keep up the good work. And, let it suffice to say that Nikon should listen to the words of professionals, always be aware of the trends and continue to try to take these into account. It doesn’t have to happen quickly. Why? That’s because Nikon products have to be reliable, and the company has to continue developing a wide range of equipment. If Nikon continues down this path, then the company will be endeared for another 100 years.
Mr. Peter Braczko