Ten one-of-a-kind cameras from the 21st century

In the early years of digital cameras, manufacturers were experimenting in a number of areas. Some cameras used PC Cards to store images, while others tried floppies and CDs. On other cameras, an LCD - something we all take for granted now - was an optional feature. Form definitely followed function, as you can see when you look at the designs of early cameras.

In the early 21st century, digital camera technology grew at an incredible pace. Whether it was resolution, zoom power, or LCD size, it was up, up, and away. Camera designs started to become a bit more conventional, as manufacturers learned to stuff everything into a more traditionally styled body. 

That doesn't mean that there weren't some out-of-the-ordinary cameras over the last thirteen years. Camera makers tried different features and designs, and some stuck, while others didn't last long.

In this article I'll be taking a look at ten of the most unusual cameras from the year 2000 to the present.

Olympus Camedia C-211 Zoom (2000)

Olympus and Polaroid announced the Camedia C-211 Zoom in July 2000. This pairing led to exactly what one would expect: a digital camera that could produce prints on Polaroid film.

The Olympus C-211Z was a large, vertically oriented camera that printed onto Polaroid film

The C-211 Zoom was a giant camera, which isn't surprising when you consider that it also had to make those prints. At 178mm (7 in.) tall and weighing 680 g (1.5 lbs), the C-211Z wasn't something you'd carry around in your pocket. 

On the camera side, the C-211Z was standard issue. It had a 2.1 megapixel CCD, 3X optical zoom lens (35-105mm equiv.), and used SmartMedia cards. Its 1.5-inch LCD used a new technology at the time, known as Hybrid Collector Backlight, which used ambient light to illuminate the screen outdoors. To turn this on, you'd just flip a switch on the back of the camera.

The most interesting thing to point out here - besides the dedicated print button - is that slot above the LCD. When you were outside. you'd flip a switch, which let you use ambient light to brighten the LCD.

By now you probably want to hear about the C-211Z's printing capabilities. It used Polaroid 500 instant film cartridges, each of which held 10 prints. It took around 10-15 seconds to produce each 73 x 57mm (2.9 x 2.3 in.) print. Your print would come to life in 30-90 seconds, just like regular Polaroids.

The C-211Z was the only printing camera that Olympus ever made. Polaroid, on the other hand, is still at it.

Olympus E-10 (2000)

I should disclose up front that I owned the Olympus E-10 - and loved it. The E-10 was a DSLR, but with a non-removable lens. It had a 4 megapixel, 2/3" CCD, fast F2.0-2.4 35-140mm lens, manual zoom and focus rings, a hot shoe and flash sync port, and support for a wired remote control.

A cutaway of the lens and viewfinder design on the E-10 from Phil Askey's original review.

But wait, there's more! The E-10 had a large TTL optical viewfinder that could be used alongside the live view on its 1.5-inch articulating LCD, courtesy of the 'beam splitter' shown above. Unfortunately, the quality of the live view was choppy and low resolution. The E-10 used an infrared focusing system, though its performance was nothing to write home about. 

The E-10 had more buttons and dials than you could shake a stick at. The E-10 had a large TTL optical viewfinder and an articulating 1.8-inch LCD.

Other features on the E-10 included support for shooting both Raw and TIFF images, twin-dial operation, dual memory card slots (for SmartMedia and CompactFlash), and an optional battery grip. And then there's this:

The E-10 with the TCON-300S telephoto lens adapter. [Photo credit: David Weikel]

The TCON-300S was a 3X teleconverter that boosted the top end of the E-10's zoom range to 420mm. Attaching this monster essentially doubled the weight of the camera, and it was unwieldy, to the say the least.

All was not perfect in E-10 land. The camera was very expensive at the time ($2000), and it had a problem with 'stuck pixels' and chromatic aberrations. Even so, the E-10 was the camera of choice for people who didn't need to change lenses, and had many fans (myself included).

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F707 (2001)

On most digital camera designs, the lens usually places second fiddle to the body.  On the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-707 - along with the F505 and F505V that came before it - it looked like the body was bolted onto its giant lens.

The F707 had a hinge that allowed the body to rotate, while the lens was held steady.

The F707's design was daring, and unfortunately, didn't last as long as some would've liked. A hinge located at the back of the lens allowed the photographer to tilt the body upward by 77 degrees, or down by 36 degrees. This gave you the much same advantages as the fully articulating LCDs found on other cameras, with that large lens serving as a sturdy grip.

The body can tilt up 77 degrees... ... or down 36 degrees.

The lens on the F707 was pretty spectacular, as well. Despite the misleading labeling on the side (which included digital zoom in the calculation), this is a 5X zoom, with an equivalent focal length of 38-190mm. This lens was also a fast one, with a maximum aperture of F2.0-2.4. The lens had a manual focus ring, though it was 'fly-by-wire' rather than mechanical.

Photos were composed on a 1.8" LCD with 123,000 dots, or via an electronic viewfinder with 180,000 dots, which was pretty good for those days.

The laser pattern from the Hologram AF system. Composing a photo in complete darkness using  the NightFraming feature. 
[Photo credit: Digital Camera Resource Page]

The DSC-F707 had a number of 'party tricks', as Phil Askey said in his review of the camera. The first one was actually very useful, and it was called Hologram AF. The camera had a Class 1 laser on the left side of the lens that shot a cross-hatch pattern on your subject, which the camera then used as a focusing aid. This feature was truly amazing, allowing for focusing in complete darkness (up to a certain distance, of course). It's a shame that Hologram AF only lasted for a few more models before Sony got rid of it.

The other neat feature, which, again, didn't last as long as some would've liked, is Nightshot. When turned on, the F707 moved its IR filter (a common feature on digital cameras) out of the light path. It then turned on a pair of IR emitters located above the lens. You were then able to compose and shoot photos in complete darkness, with a greenish tint similar to that of night-vision goggles.

A feature that took advantage of both Hologram AF and Nightshot was NightFraming. At the press of the shutter release button, the camera would switch into Nightshot mode, use Hologram AF to focus, and then switch back to 'normal' mode to take a flash photo. It worked very well.

Some clever photographers learned how to take advantage of the F707's Nightshot feature. By permanently locking the IR filter out of the light path (which was not an easy task), the F707 became a true infrared camera.

The F707 was followed up by the DSC-F717 and DSC-F828, and then this unique design faded into the darkness (no pun intended). 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1 (2005)

Jumping five years ahead we find another interesting Sony camera: the Cyber-shot DSC-R1. Unlike some of the cameras in this article and my previous one, the R1 wasn't particularly weird. Rather, it was groundbreaking.

The DSC-R1 had a design not unlike that of the Cyber-shot DSC-D700 from 1999.

The R1 was the first fixed-lens camera to utilize an APS-C-size sensor (of the 10-megapixel variety) - something that has only been repeated a handful of times. It was also the first camera of its type to use a CMOS sensor, which is what you'll find in most compact cameras these days. The DSC-R1 also did something that even DSLRs couldn't pull off in that era: full-time live view.

The R1's large sensor was paired with an F2.8-4.8 Carl Zeiss T* lens, with a focal length equivalent to 24-120mm. The lens had a mechanical zoom and electronic (fly-by-wire) focus rings.

You might expect a camera with these specs to cost a ton, but Sony priced it at just $999.

The R1's articulating LCD flipped up, rather than down or to the side. Phil Askey was not impressed. The hot shoe was awkwardly placed on the hand grip.

Okay, it turns out I wasn't entirely honest about the DSC-R1's relative weirdness. Its 2-inch, 134k-dot LCD flipped up from the top of the camera, and could rotate 270 degrees. Because of the placement of the LCD, the camera's hot shoe ended up on the top of the right-hand grip. DPReview founder Phil Askey didn't care for the placement of the LCD, and found himself using the electronic viewfinder nearly all the time. 

The R1 had a ton of manual controls, and was the first compact camera to support AdobeRGB in addition to sRGB. It could record Raw images, though Mr. Askey noted their large file size and slow write times. Despite a lengthy list of cons, the R1 was still impressive enough to earn DPReview's coveted 'Highly Recommended' award.


Click here to continue to page 2 of 'Ten one-of-a-kind cameras from the 21st century'

Comments

Total comments: 252
123
spidermoon
By spidermoon (7 months ago)

In 2000, Sony use liveview with 215000 dots, in 2013, the a3000 have a 230000 dots, what a progress :)))

6 upvotes
ET2
By ET2 (7 months ago)

R1 was 1000 dollars. A3000 is 400.

4 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (7 months ago)

Also A3000 hardly can be compared to R1. R1 got plenty of features that A3000 owners can only dream of - on the other hand though, A3000 offers much better image quality for lower price and interchangeable lenses (though that doesn't help much - NEX users can only wish for a zoom that would be comparable to one R1 had).

Comment edited 59 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Andy Crowe
By Andy Crowe (7 months ago)

@ET2 If you take inflation into account then the R1 cost $1200 in 2013 dollars.

1 upvote
Brandon Herring
By Brandon Herring (7 months ago)

I loved my E10! I owned this before DSLRs were even remotely affordable. It served me great. I really enjoyed it's feel and use.

0 upvotes
SRHEdD
By SRHEdD (7 months ago)

Same here! I still see them on ebay once in a while and seriously think about nabbing one. I loved it. The E-20 wasn't as nice somehow. I'd tried the Coolpix 5000, and it wasn't nearly as nice. Sad thing is I replaced it a couple of years later with a Nikon D100. What a P.O.S. THAT was.

0 upvotes
J Parker
By J Parker (7 months ago)

Regarding the Sony F707, some tips for those who are interested in this camera that 10 years later, is still ahead of its time:

It's ability to operate in total silence and unique L design makes it the ultimate street camera. In addition to shooting at waist level, with a little practice, it can shoot to either side or even behind you.

The camera more or less doubles as a nightscope. It allows you to do street, macro and wildlife photography (and video) in total darkness.

Turning it into a daylight infrared camera is simple -- put black tape over each infrared lamp and screw on an ND filter and infrared filter.

Although I use Nikons for most of my pro work, the F707 image quality holds its own and I use it for some studio portrait work. Clients who experience the laser beam focusing will think you are the James Bond of photographers -- it's a nice wow factor and the Zeiss lens has a nice cinematic look for portraits.

At $50 buy it if you can find one!

3 upvotes
utomo99
By utomo99 (7 months ago)

do you suggest sony to create 7X7 series ?
If yes, what do you suggest ?

0 upvotes
J Parker
By J Parker (7 months ago)

An updated 707 with Sony's RX100 Sensor would be great.

0 upvotes
keeponkeepingon
By keeponkeepingon (7 months ago)

Regarding the tryx:

You need to change your ending from "maybe it was a bit too radical" to:

The tryx is so popular that they are selling for $1000 new and even amazon will pay you $425 for a used one.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004HYGDCY

Casio recently released a new, upgrade of tryx, the TR15:

http://www.casio-intl.com/asia-mea/en/dc/ex_tr15/

1 upvote
Michael Ma
By Michael Ma (7 months ago)

My first encounter with a digital camera was a Kodak 1MP digicam that took 4 AA batteries. The most amazing thing about it was how it consumed so much battery. About 20 shots in, and brand new 4 AA Duracell batteries were spent. The camera didn't get disturbingly hot either. Where did all that energy go? I still wonder today. I also remember thinking how digital cameras may save you money from buying film and developing prints, but it negated all savings because of the cost of batteries. My how times have changed.

4 upvotes
DDWD10
By DDWD10 (7 months ago)

You're not alone. My first digital camera was a Nikon Coolpix 3100 3.2 MP that took a pair of AA batteries. "Took", as in annihilated, leveled, chewed up and spat out after as few as 20 or 30 shots.

1 upvote
h2k
By h2k (7 months ago)

You couldn't use rechargeable batteries?

0 upvotes
Bernard Hill
By Bernard Hill (7 months ago)

The energy was still in the batteries - you could have used them in torches or other "normal" devices.
Basically the earlier digicams took more power than the duracells could give continuously because the chemicals around the two electrodes (anode, cathode) became depleted. They would slowly mix again if rested but only a low-drain device could use them to exhaustion.
Rechargeable batteries however could handle high drain and the early digicams worked brilliantly on them.

1 upvote
Michael Ma
By Michael Ma (7 months ago)

I owned the yashica kyocera samurai 2100dg. It only took pictures but everyone asked if it took video, because it was shaped like a mini video recorder. It was my first digital camera, and it was from there that I learned concepts like same specs do not equal same type of pictures (compared to the canon s100). I also learned things like how the level of jpeg compression wasn't something that could be easily adjusted on a digital camera and that emailing kyocera about how their jpeg compression was too harsh which was producing jpeg artifacts wasn't going to solve anything.

1 upvote
dpdc
By dpdc (7 months ago)

I love my R-1 !

I wish it worked..lol
( I need a new on/off switch and shutter release)
The on off switch has a teeny tiny little microscopic tab that broke off when someone bumped the camera.

I think this was Sonys only design flaw, inless I got the only camera with this seeming defect...

Sigh.....

1 upvote
a1man
By a1man (7 months ago)

Great idea for an article, Jeff! You knew you would get lots of "you missed .... " comments, but you put a good perspective on relatively new and violent digital camera culture. This was like visiting a car history museum that displays automobiles with wings, three wheels, steel wheels, wood as fuel, etc. Seeing the evolutionary deadends of the camera technology is certainly important to understand what we have now.

Having said that you missed Hasselblad Stellar in your list :) that camera was the most stupid idea!

Comment edited 14 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
fed2man
By fed2man (7 months ago)

The Sony R1 was certainly a game changer. As are the more recent RX100 and RX1. Sony seems to label its special cameras like this similarly. I still have the R1, I just wish that fantastic lens could be detached!

5 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (7 months ago)

Oh yea... the lens was a big part of why this camera was a real masterpiece. I'd love to have an equivalent lens to my modern-day Sony SLT :)

3 upvotes
GWYNOXY
By GWYNOXY (7 months ago)

How does M4/3 not end up on the list - it was a game changer.

0 upvotes
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (7 months ago)

This isn't an article about game changers. It's cameras that were interesting for one reason or another. There may be a game changer article in the near future, though.

4 upvotes
mosc
By mosc (7 months ago)

It's kind of ironic. I'd agree with you in concept but the m4/3rds lineup really stumbled before it got going. The G1 was received much more like a 4/3rds camera, meaning very out of the mainstream, when it arrived. Interesting technologies (short flange distance, EVF, new lens format) but nothing game changing. The original PEN may be the most notable m4/3rds camera but I don't think it really caught on until the later models were already out and it was heavily discounted.M4/3rds seems to have swelled up due to a combination of video, GF and pen lite size/weight, aggressive pricepoints into compact territory, and CDAF of the subsequent generations.

The PEN had a few of these features, ditching the viewfinder to save space and leading the trend for retro styling but it was not that small and not the first m4/3rds camera nor I imagine one of the line's best overall sellers.

1 upvote
SHood
By SHood (7 months ago)

The GF1 with fast AF and 20mm f1.7 kit lens was the game changer for m43 and mirrorless in general.

Comment edited 18 seconds after posting
1 upvote
pbailey4
By pbailey4 (7 months ago)

I used to think the NEX series a game changer - until the sun came out and the beautiful big screen blanked out.

1 upvote
dccdp
By dccdp (7 months ago)

@pbailey4: Use the "sunny" setting for the LCD. It works. :)

Comment edited 11 seconds after posting
1 upvote
GWYNOXY
By GWYNOXY (7 months ago)

When I said M4/3 I meant the concept ... Oly and Panasonic may have got there first but every brand is on board now and there has been interesting reactions from tumbling prices for DSLRs to "monster" compacts. Mosc - yes the original M4/3 offerings were flawed but the OM-D is amazing which means that the direction mirrorless is heading can only get better. I am a photography nut and think its great that even a mythical camera like the D800 is considered "affordable" these days.

0 upvotes
GWYNOXY
By GWYNOXY (7 months ago)

BTW - thanks Jeff ... great article. Waiting for the game changers one now.

0 upvotes
John Miles
By John Miles (7 months ago)

Typically the FZ50 was left out of that line-up too. Well it is Dpreview after all.

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (7 months ago)

What does that even mean?

This is a list of 10 interesting cameras - it doesn't claim or attempt to be exhaustive, nor does it claim that they're the ten most interesting cameras. At which point, what snub have you imagined is being aimed at the FZ50?

19 upvotes
mosc
By mosc (7 months ago)

You mean panasonic made a Canon S3 clone that weighed twice as much, cost twice as much, had a sensor 50% larger and a 50% faster lens? I mean those figures are all rounded but the S3 was a VERY popular camera and the FZ50 was very much targeting superzoom users willing to spend and carry a bit more. Shockingly not revolutionary.

I mean, did I miss the projector on the side of it or something?

3 upvotes
Hugo808
By Hugo808 (7 months ago)

I feel your pain Mr Butler.

7 upvotes
Nikonicono
By Nikonicono (7 months ago)

The Panasonic FZ50 wasn´t special when they made FZ20/30 before.
The results where often comparable with Canon S3is: More practical in use.
If we skip the very best bridge camera (more related to reflex by sensor size) Sony R1, there are many cameras more interesting than FZ50.
Sony F700 series (and... V Why not?) were better cameras.
Even better/interesting good idea from Fujifilm when they did sport F20/30 sensor in a venerable S6500fd (Similar S9100 optics and body). The S6500 where one of the best bridge camera ever made.
Take a look:
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/fujifilmf31fd/15

1 upvote
Mescalamba
By Mescalamba (7 months ago)

Sony A350 and A380 has pretty strange LiveView too. A bit similar to E-330. Btw. Olympus E-330 was brother of Panasonic L-1, if Im correct.

R1 has one "speciality" between these. And thats that it has really good image quality paired with true Zeiss lens (yea its Contax/Zeiss quality lens, it doesnt just look like one). Apart from being pretty slow, its quite usable even today..

3 upvotes
guyfawkes
By guyfawkes (7 months ago)

To put the R1's lens into context, dpreview found it needed the equivalent of 3 high quality Canon lenses to cover the focal length of the Zeiss, and the package would have set you back $3,000 compared to the R1 at $999.

Yes, some will find the R1 heavy, tipping the scales at over 2lbs, but the combined weight of the Canon outfit? No competition.

1 upvote
K RAVINDRAN
By K RAVINDRAN (7 months ago)

Kudos to Jeff Keller for his exhaustive, interesting article. When you read the article he brings before you an era of photography. Congratulations Jeff Keller and thanks to DP.

4 upvotes
stuntmonkey
By stuntmonkey (7 months ago)

The F707 design -> eventually -> NEX. It was a great camera for it's day.

3 upvotes
larrytusaz
By larrytusaz (7 months ago)

I was recently thinking the same thing, back then I somewhat coveted the DSC-F717 (its successor) & in fact for awhile had its competitor the Coolpix 5700, then it occurred to me that in the Sony NEX-C3 I basically have that camera only it's a much better one. Getting Nikon D7000/D5100 image quality & lens interchangeability in that small of a package is tremendous.

1 upvote
larrytusaz
By larrytusaz (7 months ago)

If you are going to list history-worthy cameras of 2000-2009, in terms of actual breakthroughs etc, my top 5 list would be (no particular order):

(1) Nikon D1. The 1st real DSLR (vs a film SLR modified into digital) that really got things rolling. (Or was this 1999?)

(2) Canon "original" Digital Rebel/Nikon D70. The DSLR is now $1000 and under, at the 6mp level, this was a HUGE deal to many of us.

(3) Olympus E-P1/Panasonic GF1. DSLR image quality, interchangeable lenses & enthusiast controls in a much smaller easier-to-tote package. I can't decide--E-P1 because it was 1st, or GF1 as it was just afterwards & its AF was far better & made it far more practical to actually use. (The Sony NEX & Olympus OM-D that followed have really helped here a lot too.)

(4) Nikon D3. A new standard for high ISO image quality.

(5) Nikon D300. The best crop-sensor DSLR for a good while even after its introduction, so much so that even after the D7000-D7100 people are still screaming for a D400.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
SHood
By SHood (7 months ago)

For m43 the G1 was actually the first mirrorless body. But for size and useability it was the GF1 with 20mm kit that started it all. Both are still a joy to use today and will stand the test of time.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
0elias0
By 0elias0 (7 months ago)

I think you're missing the point of the article; it's meant to be a list of the most unique and innovative camera ideas of the last decade---not the "best" cameras, nor even those with the most impact. All these Nikons were certainly great cameras and were major milestones for the industry in terms of making the already existing SLR concept digital (D1), affordable (D70) and fabulous (D3), but they were not so much unique ideas.

2 upvotes
karet
By karet (7 months ago)

I guess you missed this reply which I think is a good idea for a future article:
By Jeff Keller (32 min ago)

This isn't an article about game changers. It's cameras that were interesting for one reason or another. There may be a game changer article in the near future, though.

1 upvote
Plastek
By Plastek (7 months ago)

"Olympus E-P1/Panasonic GF1. DSLR image quality" - erm... no, not really. Unless you mean: "4/3 DSLR image quality".

2 upvotes
larrytusaz
By larrytusaz (7 months ago)

I know the article was about "unique" cameras per se, but to me, game-changers is what interests me personally. It's much more exciting to me to talk about what game-changers micro 4/3rds & the Nikon D3/D300 were as opposed to talking about a Coolpix with a built-in projector.

The E-P1 and GF1 I think did bring DSLR image quality to the table, other than its dynamic range was a bit lacking compared to the other DX cameras of the time, but otherwise, it was right there. The E-P1 review basically said that it delivered on the promise of DSLR image quality. The Sony NEX-C3 and 5N especially did, it matches the D7000 & D5100 DSLRs for image quality, using the same exact sensor (apparently) & yet it is much smaller. The ability to have that level of image quality in a more portable camera, yet still with interchangeable lenses & RAW mode etc, is HUGE to me.

0 upvotes
Eric Hensel
By Eric Hensel (7 months ago)

"It's much more exciting to me to talk about what game-changers micro 4/3rds & the Nikon D3/D300 were as opposed to talking about a Coolpix with a built-in projector."
Of course, it isn't all about you, is it? I found the article fascinating.

1 upvote
larrytusaz
By larrytusaz (7 months ago)

As did I, I'm just saying I'm more into discussions of cameras which were game-changers during their day.

So far, for 2010-2013 I'd say the 2 that stand out are the Nikon D7000 & the Olympus OM-D/E-M5, the former didn't have a revolutionary new feature but was just so good for its class I think you have to consider it, the latter was by far the best micro 4/3rds camera & was where I think a lot of people who were long-time DSLR "hobbyist" users now were actually considering that maybe mirrorless was good enough to replace their DSLR along with being more portable.

For me, the Sony NEX-C3, coming on the heels of the Olympus E-PL1 I had prior to it, has been the biggest thing for me since I got my first D-SLR, a Canon Digital Rebel in Nov 2004. To have that level of image quality & changeable lenses with something that small has been a huge deal to me. The E-PL1 got it started, the C3 went one further & matched my Nikon D5100 IQ 100%.

0 upvotes
Paul Guba
By Paul Guba (7 months ago)

Surprising how little camera form has changed in spite of technology.

2 upvotes
0elias0
By 0elias0 (7 months ago)

To the contrary... many of the cameras in this list turn conventional camera form on its head! The first decade of digital cameras will go down in history as one of the most free-thinking and innovative, with (some) companies willing to try most anything with the new technology. After the dust settled, the industry decided on what a digital camera "should" look like, and design has become conservative and predictable again.

4 upvotes
mike kobal
By mike kobal (7 months ago)

Really liked the R1.

Comment edited 17 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Jim Breckenridge
By Jim Breckenridge (7 months ago)

Wow I had two of ten. The E10 and the R1.

0 upvotes
bluevellet
By bluevellet (7 months ago)

I owned and loved the V570.

Then it was stolen.

0 upvotes
sebastian huvenaars
By sebastian huvenaars (7 months ago)

Still love that R1, even after replacing it with a fancy dslr :)

5 upvotes
Al Evans
By Al Evans (7 months ago)

I had -- still have, actually -- an Olympus E20, the 5 MP successor to the E10. After figuring out how to correct for the distortion and chromatic aberration, of which there was plenty, and learning to always set focus and exposure manually, I found it an enormously capable camera. Now I can't even sell it cheap on Craigslist.... :-)

0 upvotes
Dan Weil
By Dan Weil (7 months ago)

Please contact me privately at images@danielweil.com abou the E20N.

0 upvotes
xdrei
By xdrei (7 months ago)

cheap meaning 100 bucks for an outdated monster?

0 upvotes
DDWD10
By DDWD10 (7 months ago)

What a great article. As an Electrical Engineer I find these sort of technical reviews very enjoyable.

1 upvote
CFynn
By CFynn (7 months ago)

Interesting the Kodak V570 dual lens camera had Schnieider lenses. One of the first cameras I owned was a folding Kodak Retina which had a very good Schneider lens.

The V570 had 'folded optics' instead of folding bellows

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
EssexAsh
By EssexAsh (7 months ago)

Ive a kodak Retina 1b and the schneider lens is a cracker. Very sharp. love it to bits and was purchased for next to nothing.

great article. Loved the "holographic" focusing. The night mode looked very useful.

Comment edited 31 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
mosc
By mosc (7 months ago)

It was useful, except that people would wonder why a laser grid showed up on the band for like 3 seconds. The grid did not flash up and then disappear, it was like pointing a shotgun laser pointer at something.

0 upvotes
BayAreaWZ
By BayAreaWZ (7 months ago)

Awesome article Jeff! I thoroughly enjoyed it.

3 upvotes
digitalweddings
By digitalweddings (7 months ago)

Absolutely amazing what happened to the photographic industry in this relatively short period of 15-20 years in history. With empty pockets from constantly upgrading during this period, and admittingly taking a good percentage of photos with my cellphone nowadays, I stand amazed, and wonder what we will be reading here looking back in 2030.

1 upvote
Roman Korcek
By Roman Korcek (7 months ago)

Does anyone know why Hologram AF and the NightShot / NightFraming capabilities had to go? At least Hologram AF has always seemed very useful to me.

1 upvote
Arn
By Arn (7 months ago)

That's a good question. I wish we had stuff like that today. Those features were still in the 717, which was one hell of a camera. In the 828, the Nightshot feature was somewhat crippled with (if I remember correctly) shutter speed restrictions. So, it the features were there until 828 and then gone. I really miss those Sony cameras with their tilting bodies and fantastic lenses.

3 upvotes
mikiev
By mikiev (7 months ago)

My impression was:

1. People were leery of lasers being shined in their eyes, when having their pictures taken. Sony could claim - till they were blue in the face - that there were no harmful side-effects, but its a PR battle you can't win.

2. Sony had a PR nightmare on their hands when people started using Nightshot features of Sony cameras/camcorders in bright sunlight = "letting you see through people's clothes". So they added circuitry which would prevent IR use in sunlight... but the damage was done. Anyone seen taking pictures/videos out in public, with a Sony camera, was suspected of being a pervert.

The two links below are just the tip of the iceberg as to how wide-spread the "Sony Nightshot = see under your clothes" meme was.

http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/1998/08/14447

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxWrMX9lzd8

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
mosc
By mosc (7 months ago)

I think people who never shot with one don't understand how wide a laser grid it produced and for how long it needed to project it to get a shot. It was very invasive. People don't like flashes let alone printing a laser grid on them. At least the flash is already done by the time the shot goes off. People actually had time to turn and frown at you before the Sony would fire the shutter!

2 upvotes
CollBaxter
By CollBaxter (7 months ago)

To mikiev
I was actually thinking about the see through the clothes public debacle. Today we would have people lining up for those type of cameras. If you brought out a cell phone with that opinion you would outsell Apple and Samsung. Maybe Microsoft need some thing like that. :)

0 upvotes
mikiev
By mikiev (7 months ago)

To CollBaxter
Which is exactly what happened when Sony changed the design of Nightshot in an attempt to prevent people from using it to 'see-through' light-weight clothing in sunny weather = pre-mod versions of the camcorder were flying off the shelves. :)

0 upvotes
plevyadophy
By plevyadophy (7 months ago)

@mosc

I still own a Sony F717, and I can assure you, the Hologram laser AF causes absolutely no problems with people being photographed; they simply don't notice it.

However, what can often happen is: if you are shooting an individual who is amongst a group of people, one of your subject's companions may get startled when they see a laser pattern on your subjects face; and usually, that startled person isn't startled in the sense of being afraid but rather they just think it's some practical joker messing around.

Often you can engage the Hologram AF and aim it at a crowd and no-one notices it.

For contrast detect AF, in my humble opinion, it was the best system ever invented; the hash pattern creates contrast where none exists, or increases contrast where very little exists, thus enabling you to focus on pretty much anything.

0 upvotes
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (7 months ago)

That Fujifilm 3D thingy belongs on the list.

2 upvotes
iso rivolta
By iso rivolta (7 months ago)

Is Ricoh GXR missing due to its unavailability in the US?

0 upvotes
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (7 months ago)

No, it's missing due to trying to keep the list to 10 cameras :)

10 upvotes
Simon97
By Simon97 (7 months ago)

I had the Fujifilm 6800Z. It was an odd designed vertical styled point and shoot. It didn't have standout features other than the design, but it did shoot video with sound. Hard to believe it was 12 years ago already.

0 upvotes
Trollshavethebestcandy
By Trollshavethebestcandy (7 months ago)

The K-01 is one reason alien life forms seek intelligent life forms on other planets. Surely an intelligent life form could not allow such visual evil to exist.
Seriously that cam is so hideous I could use it for shark repellent in a tank full of starving sharks and topped off with blood and bacon.

6 upvotes
Simon97
By Simon97 (7 months ago)

I don't think it was that bad. It did had a toyish look though. If you want to see the most hideous camera ever made, Google image the Konika Aiborg. The thing looks inflated, angry or just melted.

2 upvotes
Trollshavethebestcandy
By Trollshavethebestcandy (7 months ago)

Why didn't Hasleblad make an astronomy inspired named version of the K-01? They could have named it "Uranus" . We all know the Hasy cams are sol to people with no taste or clue about cameras. A match made in Heaven ER um galaxy.

1 upvote
ZAnton
By ZAnton (7 months ago)

Good article. Btw, there is no Canon at all. Hehe...

0 upvotes
Trollshavethebestcandy
By Trollshavethebestcandy (7 months ago)

The Nikon swivel cams were cool.
The Sony DSC R1 was quite the consumer cam for budding digital cameraphiles.

PS
This topic is making me feel old.

Comment edited 33 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Sessility
By Sessility (7 months ago)

Agree - Nikon 990 - awesome camera for it's time, the swivel design was amazing, way before tiltable LCD screens, and allowed for completely internal zooming because the lens ran down the "long" side of the camera body. It had lots of features uncommon for the time, like a histogram (not live, though), all sorts of adjustments and customizations, several add-on lens converters, all in a neat package that you could just as well use in fully automatic.

0 upvotes
altugo
By altugo (7 months ago)

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F707 was my first digital camera and it was magnificent. Now, after 12 years the F707 can still easily catches the IQ of modern premium compacts and DSLR-likes. I also didn't see the night IR shot feature on a digital camera in past 12 years. I regret having sold my F707, it was a collectors item and a milestone camera in digital age.

2 upvotes
Remfire Olympus User
By Remfire Olympus User (7 months ago)

I look in my camera room, and see several models you showcased, starting with the Sony F717' the Sony R1, both I can't seem to want to get rid of, tons of pictures taken with both. Olympic E-3 is what I use now, lens are great, don't need the greatest, or latest, to take great pictures!

Comment edited 45 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
SteB
By SteB (7 months ago)

There are some choices I'd agree with, and some which are just odd, because they never seemed to have the impact implied. Rather that was the marketing buzz, but the actual camera did not have that impact.

Take the Kodak EasyShare V570. The implication was that other cameras couldn't fit a wide zoom range into a small body. But then the Panasonic TZ3 was realeased just after 2006 ended in January 2007 with a 28-300mm zoom in a relatively small body. It was revoluationary in that it spawned a whole new class of popular camera, the travel zoom. So omitting that, in favour of things like the Kodak is an oversight. Kodak are no more (but a name), whereas travel zooms have gone from strength to strength.

1 upvote
agott123
By agott123 (7 months ago)

Perhaps, but Kodak's V570 has a 23mm wide angle lens, and that is unique IMHO,and IIRC, until today there's no other camera gone that wide. It was for many years the camera every real estate agent had to have on his/her pocket.

0 upvotes
Frank_BR
By Frank_BR (7 months ago)

"The E-10 looked like an SLR, but was actually a fixed-lens camera."
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I think the E-10 is a SLR. The mirror is the beam splitter.

4 upvotes
Ron Parr
By Ron Parr (7 months ago)

Thank you! The E-10 was indeed an SLR and the fact that it was a fixed-lens camera has nothing to do with this. I'm disappointed that even dpreview is getting this kind of thing wrong these days.

1 upvote
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (7 months ago)

That's what I get for not listening to my tech editor. Fixed.

Comment edited 9 seconds after posting
4 upvotes
Hill Country
By Hill Country (7 months ago)

I had the E-10 and E-20 and loved them. If they had updated the sensor I would still be using them. Its been mislabeled as not being a SLR since it came out.

1 upvote
Bernard Hill
By Bernard Hill (7 months ago)

The E-10 and E-20 had very bright (f/2) lenses. And one benefit of non-interchangeable was that there was no way you could get dust on the sensor. Remember we are talking about the days when you had to clean other SLR's sensors by hand.

0 upvotes
edu T
By edu T (7 months ago)

Poor little Lytro, didn't even make it to an "unusual camera list"!

14 upvotes
tex
By tex (7 months ago)

An interesting if, ...eccentric...list. But no question that there are some worthy picks here. And I'm very glad to see the Oly E330 here, the original "solution looking for a problem" per DPR's review of old. Notable in this list is the predominance of Sony and Oly---"outsiders" that needed to innovate relentlessly in order to compete with the big two---and we are all better for it now. As for omissions or changes---well, we all have our opinions I'm sure. I would have picked the Oly c8080, perhaps the first digicam to give startlingly good results, and a model for the R-1, and the end of the line in a way; and also the Epson RD-1, definitely a one-off, but a harbinger also. Honorable mention goes to the Oly E420/620, the first "pocketable" dslr's and harbingers of Oly's press towards mirrorless (as was the E330, in retrospect).

2 upvotes
cgarrard
By cgarrard (7 months ago)

I'd vote for the RD-1, the first digital rangefinder. But wait, it's not odd though or unusual- which is what this article is about, so scratch my vote :).

C

1 upvote
Edwaste
By Edwaste (7 months ago)

Not surprising, no innovative designs from Canon. Only one, rather useless innovation, from Nikon.

I also remember DP Review saying the live view of the Olympus E-330 was "a solution looking for a problem" Now it's groundbreaking...

History always reveals the true visionaries.

2 upvotes
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (7 months ago)

That is because Canon and Nikon cameras actually sell well, and they become "usual". By definition, one-of-the-kind are designs which failed.

Comment edited 17 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Edwaste
By Edwaste (7 months ago)

i won't deny Canon and Nikon sell well, but so does plain vanilla ice cream and McDonald's burgers. Bland and ordinary can do well in the marketplace.
I am referring to the hobbyist level of Canon and Nikon offerings. Their Pro cameras are stunning at least in their image quality and ruggedness. But those are not innovations, just good old fashioned engineering.
I wouldn't call live view a design that failed. Or large sensor fixed lens cameras. True, the early version may have been clunky and poorly implemented, but they paved the way for successful designs that C&N eventually imitated.

1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (7 months ago)

The E-330 was groundbreaking in the sense that it heralded the arrival of a feature that has become commonplace.

That doesn't necessarily undermine Phil's suggestion that live view didn't seem like an essential feature for DSLRs (and hence this doesn't really represent revisionism).

Given that most DSLR live view remains pretty poor but people happily buy the cameras anyway, you could still try to make his argument (which isn't to say I would, without adding certain caveats).

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
0elias0
By 0elias0 (7 months ago)

Agree with Edwaste and Tex; you wouldn't expect to see much Canikon here---first of all because they rule the market and don't need to innovate in order to compete, but also because thinking outside the box has not really been a big part of their company DNA. What Canon and Nikon (and Leica and to an extent Panasonic) do well is taking existing tech/ideas and perfecting them---ever pushing the boundaries of quality & performance. On the other hand, Sony and Olympus (and Ricoh and Fuji and even Kodak, in its day) are known for taking (sometimes crazy) risks with R&D; many of their ideas turn out to be flops, but a few break through and are adopted by the industry. Unfortunately for the innovators, Canikon reap most of the gain from these risks because they improve on the new ideas and use their reputation and marketing muscle to capitalize.

1 upvote
Edwaste
By Edwaste (7 months ago)

Perhaps it's a bad practice, but I always spend my money on the innovators. Canon and Nikon has never improved on image stabilization, sensor dust removal, or live view implementation like Olympus has. As for live view, Olympus and Panasonic were wise enough to jettison the mirror to get a proper live view camera.

0 upvotes
plevyadophy
By plevyadophy (7 months ago)

@ R Butler,

You made me laugh with that convoluted defence of the indefensible. :o)

What Mr Askey said was a lot of nonsense and he showed his age (if not actual age, certainly mental age (ie. old man)) when he made those remarks.

It wouldn't have taken much of a visionary to have seen how wonderful that live view thing on the Oly cam was (even it it could have done with some little niggles being ironed out).

And it's quite funny that there is also another cam on this 10 cam list that had a feature he criticized which again showed his old "stuck in the mud" mindset. He was a little critical of the flash hotshoe placement of the Sony R1. Well, hello!!! Isn't that R1 flash position similar to the position your flash would be in if you were shooting Nikon DSLRs and got their flash bracket (which positions the flash to the side of the cam body)?!!! It didn't have CaNikon on it, so the flash position must be wrong?

"A solution looking for a problem" seems to have solved many! :o)

1 upvote
Latecomer
By Latecomer (7 months ago)

You left out the Leica Digilux 2 and its Panasonic equivalent

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

and famous Hassel grips.

I miss Nikon E3 from the previous century (1998) which makes us think about what's really in sensor format.

1 upvote
cgarrard
By cgarrard (7 months ago)

They weren't unusual enough for this article- they were fantastic cameras (and still are). Maybe DPR could do a "Cult following" article- Cameras that have a more dedicated following than others.

The Digilux 2 and LC1 just might be at the top of that list.

2 upvotes
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (7 months ago)

Interesting suggestion. The LC-1 was pretty radical, a tank of a body with a to-die-for Leica 3x F2.0-2.4 zoom lens. Radical because no one had at that stage made such a high-quality, analog-styled, expensive, "compact" camera. It was the RX-1 of its day.

The sensor was terrible, though, saving a raw image locked up the camera for 6-7 seconds, and the stiff D-pad/control wheel was a pig to use.

0 upvotes
iae aa eia
By iae aa eia (7 months ago)

I had a V570. It has an attractive design and unusual silver metallic back. The panorama feat and the 23mm lens allowed great shots. The front big and round metallic cover is nice and makes a nice metallic sound when closing and opening. It's the kind of cam one just wants to own, to touch.

I would love to still have it, even if only to put it on a shelf in the bedroom or living room. I lost it. I was going to the airport with a friend to say goodbye to a group of teenagers flying to the States and asked him to put it in one of his backpack pockets. He put it together with a small book and when he was getting in the car, the pocket was open and both items fell between the curbside and the car.

It was dark. The lamp of the pole in front of his house was broken. I was in the car and heard something falling and could see he taking and putting the book back into the pocket, but I didn't realize (and he didn't remember) he had put the camera in the same pocket. We missed it too late.

Comment edited 8 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
h2k
By h2k (7 months ago)

I think these innovations deserve listing:
- first articulated monitor with live view
- first touch-screen monitor with live view that allows focus and focus-and-snap by touch

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (7 months ago)

erm... no. Not really. There were so many more interesting things going on that I doubt it needs any special highlight.

0 upvotes
RamblingDan
By RamblingDan (7 months ago)

I was certain I would see my Sony DSC-F707 in the lineup. I bought it new for close to $1000 just before I started to manage a construction project in Alaska in 2002. It is still a daily shooter today even with "only" 5MP.
It is also the reason I bought my Sony NEX-5 when it first came out.
Here is a look at a few of the Alaska photos. http://gallery.ramblindan.org/index.php/alaska

1 upvote
Expat Nomad
By Expat Nomad (7 months ago)

"On the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-707 - along with the F505 and F505V that came before it - it looked like the body was bolted onto its giant lens."

So nothing really seems to have changed in Sony land!

12 upvotes
cgarrard
By cgarrard (7 months ago)

LOL

0 upvotes
Langusta
By Langusta (7 months ago)

There shuld be one more camera listed...one that introduced carpentry + some upholstery to camera industry :)
One very, very special camera, addressed to non-existing market niche.

2 upvotes
tecnoworld
By tecnoworld (7 months ago)

nice article :) the Samsung Galaxy NX should go in this article as well, representing the present of "unusual" cameras. It's much more unusual than the K-01, imo.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
Antimateria
By Antimateria (7 months ago)

Minolta 7d, first stabilized sensor, is not listed...
And Pentax K01 yes????

Comment edited 43 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (7 months ago)

This article isn't about 'firsts' that have gone on to be mainstream, but about unusual designs and one-offs.

7 upvotes
karet
By karet (7 months ago)

Can't wait for the 'game changer' article. I'm allready having beer and popcorn ready for reading the comments by fanboys who'll find their pet camera is missing from the list.

1 upvote
rurikw
By rurikw (7 months ago)

Funny to see that I am using a "historical" camera (Sony R1). Happy you included it anyway. Have been thinking to upgrade to a system for years but afraid it might turn out to be a downgrade.

4 upvotes
Babya
By Babya (7 months ago)

Great to see an article by Jeff-my top fav camera reviewer.

2 upvotes
Babya
By Babya (7 months ago)

Got a DSC-F717 myself. Even the ADP-AMA works good on it.

1 upvote
Total comments: 252
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