1st Designing Section, Designing Department, NIKON VISION CO., LTD.
Since joining Nikon, Mr. Nishioka has devoted himself mainly to design work for astronomical telescopes and development of astronomical observation equipment. As an advocator of the WX series binoculars, he put together this project and took charge of mechanical design.
Everything started with a designer's dream.
Binoculars that deliver a beautiful image all the way to the periphery, providing a wide field of view and an immersive sensation as if you were jumping right into the landscape you see before your eyes.
That performance is something every designer who has worked on binocular development has at some point dreamed of. As an advocate of WX series binoculars development, Mr. Nishioka is no exception.
However, to realize such dream binoculars, there were many obstacles to overcome.
That's why it has taken until now to bring that dream to fruition.
"To understand the desire to make wider-field-of-view binoculars, it helps to look at the history of binocular development.
In the past, various wide-field-of-view binoculars have been released around the world. However, I wanted to create something special that would surpass them all - binoculars with the best optical performance ever.
A little after Nikon introduced the 7x50IF SP WP binoculars (high-performance binoculars released in 1982), I proposed making the field of view of the 7x50IF SP WP wider, to create a successor model.
At that time, though, technology, cost and internal reasons meant that the proposal never came to pass."
Later, Mr. Nishioka was moved to the Customized Products Business Unit, where he spent some time away from binocular development.
He returned to the binocular design department in 2006, and took this opportunity to propose even wider, super-field-of-view binoculars than he had suggested before.
The concept was super-wide-field-of-view binoculars that would provide a sharp image all the way to the periphery. Optical performance never be compromised.
They should be a straight type with a super-wide field of view that allows the user to enjoy landscapes as well as astronomical observation. They should be capable of being attached to a tripod for extended viewing, but also offer hand-held observation.
Prioritizing optical performance makes binoculars bigger and heavier, but he aimed for binoculars with a comfortable form that would be as light as possible within the performance criteria. Also the IF (Individual Focusing) type was chosen because the main use of these binoculars is for astronomical and long-distance landscape observation.
"It took ten years from the initial proposal to productization. One of the reasons it took such a long time was all the effort required to build a consensus for productization.
After persistent persuasion, I finally received the understanding and cooperation that I needed to realize this project."
Binoculars achieving a level of performance that had never existed before in the world - it wasn't really clear whether there would be demand for them.
The road of development was long. Mr. Nishioka proposed the concept in May 2007, but a functional prototype to confirm optical performance wasn't completed until February 2010. While seeking improvements to the prototype and possibilities of productization, 3D mockups were manufactured. With these mockups he re-proposed the concept in August 2014, focusing on the fact that these binoculars can appeal the high level of Nikon's technology, and finally the project was started in October the same year.
Mr. Nishioka proceeded with a detailed design study, and took charge of the mechanical design, including external appearance and coordination of the overall project.
Mr. Nishioka, "It's said that the weight of handheld binoculars should be less than 2 kg. However, if you stick to that idea, the WX binocular concept itself is impossible.
I am very glad we were able to release the product without compromising it. People around us approved its development and supported us in effectively realizing the concept. I want to thank them all."