Nikon Under Fire for Making Gear for Both Hunters and Wildlife Photographers


Animal welfare proponents and wildlife photographers alike are calling Nikon out for what they see as the height of hypocrisy. According to The Independent, the fact that a company “synonymous with wildlife photography” simultaneously manufactures and markets rifle scopes to hunters — and in particular big game hunters — has the animal welfare community up in arms.

Focusing mainly on big game hunting, the article brings Nikon’s “Monarch African” (aka. The Monarch 3 1-4×20 German #4) forward as exhibit A. According to the product’s page, it’s a rifle scope “designed specifically for dangerous, big game hunting in Africa,” a scope that could mean “the difference between a successful hunt and a painful debacle.”


That in itself wouldn’t be as big of an issue if Nikon didn’t simultaneously describe itself as “at the heart of nature” in its latest catalog for photographers. Sporting pictures of polar bears and boasting a love of nature while selling a plethora of rifle scopes (164 to be exact) at the same time is, in award-winning wildlife photographer Stefano Unterthiner’s opinion, fundamentally wrong. Speaking with The Independent, he explains:

I don’t understand and can’t agree with their support for trophy hunting, which sends out entirely the wrong message to global photographers who love nature. Wildlife needs protecting now more than ever, and I urge the company to end its support for trophy hunting.

The article was published yesterday and Nikon UK has yet to respond to the accusations or The Independent’s questions. However, having recently changed the name of its “Nikon Hunting” website to “Nikon Sport Optics,” it’s altogether possible that the company may have seen this one coming.

The wrong kind of photo shoot: Nikon in the line of fire over rifle sights for big game hunting [The Independent]

  • MB100

    This is ridiculous, they are an optics company, making products to meet different markets. People somehow think that large corporations associate or prescribe a certain ideology which is represented in their products and lose sight of the fact that they are just that, products. Also I’m pretty sure that there are conservationists who hunt…..

  • devon

    “If you can’t see it, you can’t shoot it”…

  • Bryce

    Thank you for posting exactly what’s going through everyone’s mind so we don’t have to

  • Alex Minkin

    thanks for giving nikon free advertising, activists, i may photograph with canon, but i’ll shoot with nikon

  • Jeremy Madore

    Agreed. Thank you for your succinct observation.

  • Leonardo Abreu

    I agree with Stefano… You americans will not agree, of course.

  • delayedflight

    Storm in a teacup.

  • junyo

    Yes, because if it weren’t for hunters, most wild animals would die of old age, surrounded by their loved ones, as soaring pseudo-ethnic Disney theme music plays.

  • Samuel

    The Daily Mail started the whole “Synonymous with wildlife” crap, reasoning that they have photos of animals on their website so must be PETA or something. The real headline should read “Optics company makes slightly different kind of optics”

  • Swade

    What do Americans have to do with this? It is a Japanese company. Are you saying only Americans hunt? Hunting is actually very instrumental in controlling animal populations so they don’t over populate and start destroying certain ecosystems. That view comes from an ignorance about hunting.

  • Kyle

    Am I the only one that takes my camera and a tele lens with me alongside my rifle when I go big game hunting?

  • Brad Martin

    Oh Internet Outrage what would we do without you?

  • Frederick Alfaro

    People think hunting is bad, its not poaching is, sustainablity is key, selective and legal hunting of non endangered species strengthens the whole species and in turn ecosystem thru natural selection

  • Jay Scott

    Why now? Nikon has been making rifle scopes for a very long time and my first rifle scope was a Nikon. I had it 12 years before I ever shot a camera. That, and some of the greatest nature appreciators are hunters. Take a look at Bert Stephani’s most recent work. He certainly gained a greater understanding.

    People have been hunting for millennia and if we are to believe that humankind will only survive if they revert to old ways such as paleo diets of things consist of hunting and gathering everything they are touting is for not, anyway.

  • Frederick Alfaro

    and ignorance about a country as well, I may be american but at least i dont blame the world problems on a single country which is the number one most diverse in the world, no sterotype about americans can truely be accurate as americans are not one section of humanity but all of it we come from every corner of the globe we take the best and possibly the worst from every group in the world

  • Mateus Augusto Lopes

    But other companies that makes optical products like Leica and Zeiss also makes optics for sports and hunting and no one ever complained about that.

  • lidocaineus

    Well at least everyone in the United States isn’t ugly and stupid like your country.

    See, I can stereotype a whole country too. Makes just as much sense.

  • Philip Han

    L-lens + Ground Glass = Scope :P

  • Joseph McKee

    Eat your Big Mac and shut the F*ck up!!

  • Miamor

    That the great reason to boycott everything Nikon produce.

  • Jo

    Leica and Zeiss also produce hunting scopes. Two more companies to boycott, if one likes that kind of stupidity.

  • Norshan Nusi

    LOLWUT? Nikon has been making scopes for Japanese military back in WW2!

  • Allan Schroeder

    Nikon has been making scopes for years and it’s only just bothering them now… get over it!

  • Lance Neilson

    MB100 hit my thought right on the head, before I got to the comments section, on the first sentence. They’re an optics company. Not a wildlife conservationist corporation.

  • John

    Only humans destroy ecosystems.

  • Phrog

    Oh my, oh, my, oh my…..
    If we are to be genuine
    We must all strip naked, walk into the woods and
    never come out. I say this because if
    we were to not associate with ANY animal by-products, this option would be the
    only option. Not even a horse drawn wagon. We mustn’t abuse the horse. If you do not accept this, then, do your own
    research and tell me where exactly you would draw the line. Be careful what you wish for and know exactly how much of our modern world is associated wit animal bi product.

    My last concept concerns people’s rationale in the keeping
    of so called domestic animals. Would anyone consider keeping another human on a
    leash, decide when the human ate, decide what the human ate, where the human
    relieved itself and let’s not forget, train natural tendencies out of the
    animal. ? Then why are the bleeding
    heart animal rights individuals not protesting the keeping (owning) of domestic
    animals? Should not a canine or any other living thing, be allowed to be what
    it is, without being conditioned to what we humans feel would be appropriate
    for us?

    Ya know, there is some solid research that indicates plants
    having feelings. Possibly we should
    leave the planet. But not with technology, all of it is animal byproduct. We
    are reduced to falling on a sharp stick and piercing our own hearts. Now if I
    can only find that animal by-product produced knife, I could sharpen the stick.
    Then the free (formally domestic pets) will have something they really enjoy,
    to eat.

  • tertius_decimus

    Well said!

  • DafOwen

    I think it’s likely just Journalists getting people worked up to create news.

    Mind you – looks like similar happened in 2004:

  • Mark Houston

    PETA…People Eating Tasty Animals..

  • David Liang

    More slacktivism ei. bitching. Maybe these guys should go after laws, hunting regulations, gun manufacturers, or even human behaviour….you know…the SOURCE.

  • Ken

    I have a Zeiss scope on my rifle. I can kill Bambi from a mile away. I also eat what I kill.

  • Zachary Larsen

    My Ruger 30-06 needs a Nikon scope. Or a Leupold, but those are really spendy!

  • eraserhead12

    just to play devil’s advocate, you can’t guarantee everyone who uses their scopes hunt by legal means, or do not use them to poach. but yeah, legally hunting an overpopulated species isn’t going to end the world.

  • eraserhead12

    Think what James Audubon could have accomplished with a Nikon scope ;)

  • Ralphie

    What inconsistency? As a non-hunter and wildlife enthusiast, I have to recognize that hunters are deeply involved with wildlife conservation. The growth of the National Wildlife Refugees in the US is funded by hunters through the purchase of Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps. Ducks Unlimited, an organization geared towards hunters invests in wetlands conservation. The money and political activity of hunters helps guarantee that I have areas in which to photograph wildlife.

  • Derrick Lytle

    Yes, hunters obviously hate nature with a passion.

  • queboy89

    The main difference with them is that they don’t make a point of “wildlife conservation” that Nikon tends to make. I often see wildlife photo ads promoting Nikon/Canon in photography magazines, but never see them for Leica or Zeiss.

  • OldTimer

    Have you ever seen what a volcano does to ecosystems?

  • Theranthrope

    This complete and utter foolishness makes me want to buy Nikon products MORE.
    Maybe I’ll buy a new Nikon lens (or even a scope) tomorrow…

  • Theranthrope

    “Why now?”
    It’s a slow news day with no mass-shooter for the “it-bleed-it-leads” ratings-dependent mass-media to aggrandize at the moment.
    Alternatively, it’s kind of uncomfortable to make a ever-so brave stand to “debate the controversy” for disarmament on the backs of the corpses of dead children once said children are actually buried in the ground, so it’s hard to wait for the next mass shooting…

  • John

    Go and shoot volcanos then.

  • Scott Linden

    What many forget – especially those in the so-called “conservation” community – is that in the U.S., excise taxes that hunters asked Congress to levy on them via purchases of hunting gear, plus licenses and permits pay the bills: purchasing and maintaining federal wildlife refuges, and paying for wildlife management at the state level. “Wildlife photographers” and “animal welfare proponents” are deadbeats when it comes to walking their conservation talk. Hunting IS conservation. “Wildlife photography” is freeloading.

  • Tangair

    Great! More great Nikon optics for me!!!

  • Scott Wuerch

    I have follwed PP for a bit, but after the last two articles I read (Miss Bachman’s Lion Hunt and this “news”), it has become clear the PP has allowed itself to stray from photography and start espousing a political anti-hunting stance. I am heading to unsubscribe and unfollow PP and would encourage other photographers who hunt to do the same.
    PP, you are a photography news source. This was a non-story, clearly picked up by you to push a political agenda you wish to further.

  • the_puppy

    Oh man ignorance is bliss! Have you seen what an unchecked deer population can do to an entire valley? When wolves were re-introduced into Yellowstone the ecosystem sprang back.

  • the_puppy

    Yes, exactly. Hunting organizations (Ducks Unlimited is a good example) do a lot more practical (read actually do something like reestablishing a wetland instead of writing snarky letters to the editor about animal cruelty by hunters – all the while digesting a dinner of veal and listening to the pet canary that has never been out of a 2 by 2 foot cage – truly questionable behavior).

    Also, animal welfare proponents don’t seem to have a problem that optics firms make large sums producing military rifle scopes specifically designed to help kill people.

  • Naturecamhd

    Most optics companies make rifle scopes. To single out Nikon is ridiculous. So they just stop making these? Silly.