Kino Precision Industries

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Kino Precision is a Japanese manufacturer of lenses known primarily for their Kiron brand and products manufactured for Vivitar.


Kino Precision Industries, Limited (木野精密工業) was founded in 1959 by Tatsuo Kataoka. In a few cases, the phonetic English translation of their Japanese name, Kino Seimitsu Kogyo K.K., may be seen in patent and trademark filings. The company started out making lenses for 8mm movie cameras, available in the US under the 'Kinotel' brand name. In 1965 the company began making lenses for 35mm still cameras. About this time Kino began manufacturing lenses for Ponder & Best (later Vivitar) including some of the highest quality Vivitar Series 1 lenses. Kino also manufactured lenses for Soligor, Jaca Corporation (Panagor, Elicar), and Tapak International (Elicar).

The success of the Kino-designed Vivitar Series 1 lenses convinced Kino that it could market directly to the public. So, in 1980 Kino launched its own brand of lenses in the United States market, called Kiron. Two Vivitar employees, Paul Ellis and Dick Wolf, left their positions at Vivitar to found Kiron as a US distributor for the lenses of the same name.[1] Ellis and Wolf selected the Chiat/Day advertising agency to handle the launch. A series of five advertisements were created, each of which began with the phrase "How to..." (e.g. "How to capture a gorilla") and provided helpful advice on taking good photographs using Kiron lenses.[2] Coincidentally, Vivitar had used a similar theme in early 1970s ads and a free booklet titled "How to photograph auto racing" [3] but there is no apparent connection with Kiron's later ad campaign. Four of the five Kiron ads won advertising awards. The lenses themselves received good reviews in photography magazines. Within 12 months Kiron sales were 4th in the US market of 64 independent lens brands.[4]

The Kiron trademark was registered on 25 January 1980. The trademark expired on 13 July 2002.[5] Kino Precision also used the product trademarks Match Mate, Macro Mate, and Reverse Mate in the United States[6]

In 1986, due to increasing production costs and competition from camera companies introducing lower priced lenses, Kino Precision directed its US subsidiary to move out of the 'chaotic and unpredictable' US consumer market. The move towards auto focus lenses and the patent licensing fees demanded by Minolta likely were big contributor to this decision. Kino instead chose to focus on industrial products. The American Kiron branch was shut down and all stocks of Kiron lenses were liquidated at that time.[7]

By 1989, the company had discontinued the manufacture of camera lenses due to increasing costs and competition with original equipment lenses made by camera companies. Kino Precision merged with Melles Griot Japan in 1989 to form Kino-Melles Griot and began to focus on industrial manufacturing. In 1995 the name was changed to Melles Griot Ltd. In 2007 the company became a member of CVI Melles Griot Group. In 2011 IDEX Corporation aquired CVI Melles Griot Group.[8]

Kiron lenses

  • Kiron 24mm f/2.0
  • Kiron 28mm f/2.0 (illustrated above and below)
  • Kiron 28mm f/2.8
  • Kiron 105mm f/2.8 Macro
  • Kiron 28–70mm f/3.5–4.5 Zoom
  • Kiron 28–70mm f/4.0 Zoom
  • Kiron 28–85mm f/2.8–3.8 Varifocal Macro Zoom
  • Kiron 28–105mm f/3.2–4.5 Varifocal Zoom
  • Kiron 28–210mm f/3.8–5.6 Varifocal Zoom
  • Kiron 28–210mm f/4.0–5.6 Varifocal Zoom
  • Kiron 30–80mm f/3.5–4.5 Varifocal Zoom
  • Kiron 35–135mm f/3.5–4.5 Varifocal Zoom
  • Kiron 70–150mm f/4.0 Zoom
  • Kiron 70–210mm f/4.0 Zoom
  • Kiron 70–210mm f/4.5 Zoom
  • Kiron 80–200mm f/4.0 Zoom
  • Kiron 80–200mm f/4.5 Zoom

See also:


  1. Personal correspondence between Bill Swinyard of Vivitar and Steve Rainwater, 17 Feb, 2012
  2. Example Kiron How to ad, 1981
  3. Example Vivitar How to ad, ca 1970
  4. Kelley Advertising & Marketing Case History: Kiron Camera Lenses, in Kelley Advertising and Marketing (archived).
  5. Kiron TradeMark registration, in Trademark Applications and Registrations Retrieval, US Patent and Trademark Office.
  6. Kino Precision TradeMark registrations, in Trademark Applications and Registrations Retrieval, US Patent and Trademark Office.
  7. British Journal of Photography, vol. 133, iss. 27-39, p. 960
  8. IDEX Aquires CVI Melles Griot, in The business of photonics, 13 June 2011.