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Back to the future: ten one-of-a-kind cameras from the 21st century

By dpreview staff on Sep 3, 2013 at 09:30 GMT

At the turn of the 21st century, consumer digital cameras really took off. Technology was evolving at an incredible pace, and camera makers came up with features that we now take for granted, most notably live view on DSLRs. There were plenty of unique ideas going around, as well. Some were genuinely useful, while others may leave you scratching your head. In this article, we take a look at ten cameras that have stood out over the last thirteen years.

Comments

Total comments: 252
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Neloy Sinha
By Neloy Sinha (7 months ago)

Once upon a time Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1 (2005) was my choice. But its closeup was not so impressive, so reluctantly I gave up the idea and settled for Finepix-9600. I have lost a better sensor in the bargain of a closeup / macro option.But Fuji did not disappoint me. The camera is still on service.

0 upvotes
dutch3dmaster
By dutch3dmaster (7 months ago)

My twinned R1 pair served well in Antarctica as a fantastic 3D camera. Still love it :-)

0 upvotes
TrojMacReady
By TrojMacReady (7 months ago)

Reminds me of STF user "OTD" (Marjon) with his R1 stereo/3D setup: http://www.pbase.com/stf/stereo_images

RIP Marjon.

0 upvotes
Kuvasauna
By Kuvasauna (7 months ago)

I want the infrared + laser af in all my cameras. I've been thinking about such a technology without even knowing that it was done already years ago. It would be very useful.

0 upvotes
Paphios
By Paphios (7 months ago)

The yellow K-01 is my bad neighborhood camera. Even potential muggers have doubts about stealing it.

13 upvotes
Trollshavethebestcandy
By Trollshavethebestcandy (7 months ago)

It is a good street shooter since they think you are playing with a Fisher Price toy and in no way a serious photog.

1 upvote
DonThomaso
By DonThomaso (7 months ago)

I just spent a weekend in Zürich with the K-01 and three Limited primes (15/40/70). Perfect camera for the job if you ask me, glad I didn't bother with the DSLR.

0 upvotes
Oscar Torres
By Oscar Torres (7 months ago)

Hehehe, I've enjoyed reading the article, it reminds me lots of hours in front of my computer reading camera reviews, mainly in dcresource....
Well done, Jeff.

2 upvotes
J D Tranquil
By J D Tranquil (7 months ago)

Thank you, Jeff. I've always enjoy your articles, this one included.

2 upvotes
qwertyasdf
By qwertyasdf (7 months ago)

The Casio TRYX is very successful in Asia

1 upvote
Opposed
By Opposed (7 months ago)

The F1 should be on the list as well.

0 upvotes
dormcat
By dormcat (7 months ago)

Seconded.

The newest products of the line, TR15/TR350 (different model number depending on retail location) and TR10/TR300 (same but without Wi-Fi connectivity) have the price tag of NT$23,990 (US$805.37) and NT$19,990 (US$671.08) in Taiwan, respectively, way more expensive than ~US$250 as DPR described in this article.

Check out the product announcement ceremony: http://chiconydcd.tw/casio/news/preview/111.html
http://digiphoto.techbang.com/posts/4957-casio-ex-tr15-tr10-self-portrait-artifact-listed-is-equipped-with-wi-fi-at-23990

Due to high demand and low availability, queues at authorized retailers take months to buy one (and limited to one camera per person), thus many potential customers now willing to pay US$1,000+ to parallel importers.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Joel Pimenta
By Joel Pimenta (7 months ago)

Still use both listed cameras: Sony R1 and Olympus E-330.
Sony R1 is very good for a walkaround camera, on daylight or long exposures at night. It's very light for a camera with a 24-120 mm (eq.) lens.
Olympus E-330 is often paired with a 25:2.8 pancake lens and comes a very compact camera (for a DSLR).
Two amazing cameras!

0 upvotes
Loose_Canon
By Loose_Canon (7 months ago)

A very interesting article, despite the negative comments below. I'm sure many other interesting cameras were left out, so I'll add one that I find interesting - the Canon Pro 1. It's the only point and shoot to get an "L" lens, and is really a very good camera. It was pretty expensive when it came out, but lately I bought two of them at KEH for about 150$ each instead of a more current point and shoot, and the IQ is excellent. Kudos to Canon.

N.

4 upvotes
CFynn
By CFynn (7 months ago)

Not strange enough though.

Comment edited 48 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
scubaphotojon
By scubaphotojon (7 months ago)

Great look back at the technology that has developed. Thanks.

0 upvotes
Hennie de Ruyter
By Hennie de Ruyter (7 months ago)

A camera which was perhaps revolutionary only because of it's low price was the Canon 300D. It contributed greatly towards the end of large fixed-lens cameras. I recalled many years ago that I had to choose between the similar priced Sony-F828 and 300D. I ended up buying a 300D as they had no F828 in stock. What a well considered buying decision!

10 upvotes
iAPX
By iAPX (7 months ago)

I own a 300D "Rebel" because I emigrated in Canada, and bought a used one here. It still works perfectly, seems lightweight but it's solid.

It was a game changer, probably the first DSLR for most families, and able to fit 99% of home/family needs, I don't understand the need for 18MP or 24MP sensors except for professional that print in large size!

1 upvote
h2k
By h2k (7 months ago)

It was the first affordable DSLR, right? I still remember the excitement around it and also think it would fit into the list here.

0 upvotes
rpm40
By rpm40 (7 months ago)

Price alone is why is was important, but isn't enough to make it unique. If the 300d didn't hit the sub-$1000 mark, another camera, any other camera, would have done it eventually. It's special, but its design isn't in itself.

0 upvotes
Lawrence Solum
By Lawrence Solum (7 months ago)

Very nice feature. I appreciate the history, which puts current developments in perspective.

0 upvotes
twadger
By twadger (7 months ago)

Like many photographers I come here for reviews, not nostalgia.

Digital Photograph Review, the clue's in the name.

0 upvotes
groucher
By groucher (7 months ago)

Like many photographers, I come here for interesting articles as well as reviews.

Thanks for posting this one DPR.

41 upvotes
citrontokyo
By citrontokyo (7 months ago)

Like many here I come to read grumpy posts like yours. Thanks for the laugh.

20 upvotes
hc44
By hc44 (7 months ago)

You should ask for a refund.

2 upvotes
wyoming
By wyoming (7 months ago)

as usual with new products the early years are full of experiments, before a large standardization is reached.
the infrared sony is really cool.
i remember a minolta with detachable lens, i mean the lens and sensor had a wire connection to the camera body. pobably to save money of a remote control!

1 upvote
Mistral75
By Mistral75 (7 months ago)

I will be neat-picky here: 2000 is not in the 21st century, it's the last year of the 20th century (as the year 100 was the last of the 1st century and so on).

4 upvotes
Noksukau
By Noksukau (7 months ago)

Thanks, didn't know that, just read an interesting article on the lack of a calendar 'year 0' as a result. :-)

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

we do have year zero in some calendars other than Gregorian/Julian, like used by South Asians.

0 upvotes
Photo Pete
By Photo Pete (7 months ago)

I'll be nitpicky here; you've spelt nitpicky incorrectly ! :-)

5 upvotes
W5JCK
By W5JCK (7 months ago)

The year "2000 not being the start of the new millennium" argument is just as stupid today as it was in 1999. Get over it and learn to read the calendar.

0 upvotes
dccdp
By dccdp (7 months ago)

@W5JCK: Maybe I misunderstand, but are you saying that 2000 was in the 21st century? Because, you know, it really wasn't, no matter what Hollywood told you in 1999 :). 2001 was the first year of the 21th century, as 1 was the first year of the first century.

There is no year 0 in the calendar that we all use and reference even when talking about 2000. :) So please don't read the calendar wrong.

1 upvote
D1N0
By D1N0 (7 months ago)

At least the k-01 made it to one top ten list

9 upvotes
HendeHoq
By HendeHoq (7 months ago)

Where FinePix REAL 3D?

0 upvotes
qwertyasdf
By qwertyasdf (7 months ago)

It's not one of a kind i guess?

0 upvotes
HendeHoq
By HendeHoq (7 months ago)

I know no one who really seen Lumix DMC-3D1. In any case FinePix REAL 3D was one of a kind camera with 3D display.

0 upvotes
CarlPH
By CarlPH (7 months ago)

I also did not get the camera with projector thing..

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

one-of-a-kind doesn't necessarily mean anything good.

1 upvote
gcamen
By gcamen (7 months ago)

I used to follow Jeff's DC Resorce site quite closely and he managed to produce camera reviews at a very fast pace. Admittedly perhaps not as comprehensive as DPreviews but better the DCResource style reviews then no review at all. I think the DPReview style reviews have become overly complicated to produce and hence the delay. I am still waiting for a Sony RX100 Mk2 review, at this rate a Mk3 will be out before we get a review. DCResource used to have a schedule of upcoming reviews which usually was quite reliable. How about introducing that here.

3 upvotes
Anfy
By Anfy (7 months ago)

I still own two Sony DSC-R1 and, at times, make use of them for portraits; I have the wide and tele converters as well, but they make the camera - not small in itself - so bulky you would not easily carry outside! :-)

1 upvote
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

R1 was an obvious hint that the world would go mirrorless but I feel sorry for Sony they let Pana go first.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

Yup, they've lost many years. They should have built upon the legacy of the R1. By putting current sensors / hardware behind the same lens, the R1's direct descendants would be a killer even today.

Comment edited 16 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

it may still be more difficult to make a same lens for mirrorless because R1 got a flange-back of only 2mm.

it's interesting that we see 3 APS-C mirrorless mounts use similar flange-back of about 18mm (28mm equiv.). why not 15mm or 12mm?

0 upvotes
ezradja
By ezradja (7 months ago)

Canon G1X probably the next generation (with a bit different concept) of Sony R1?

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

This is a very interesting article but may I just give you my opinion?
Given how many cameras are still not reviewed yet I cannot understand why you assign Jeff to reviewing underwater cameras and writing articles about the history of digital cameras.
Again, it's interesting, but puzzling why you chose this over reviews of current interesting cameras.

6 upvotes
CFynn
By CFynn (7 months ago)

Perhaps the current crop of cameras isn't weird enough for Jeff.

Anyway, if this list is anything to go by, he may be busy trying out that QX lens-camera thing which is supposed to be announced tommorow.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (7 months ago)

I wrote this article in my spare time (over a weekend + a few nights), so it did not keep me from my reviewing duties.

9 upvotes
ThePhilips
By ThePhilips (7 months ago)

Hi Jeff! I know you are lying! How many times do you think I myself gave that excuse to my managers? ;) Otherwise, do not overstretch yourself. Little detour (like the excellent write-up (2-lens Kodak clearly won IMO)) only helps the productivity. Creative mind is a beast which feeds on distractions.

2 upvotes
Total comments: 252
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