When most people think of Casio, they think of watches (calculator and G-Shock, most likely) and keyboards of the musical type. What people probably don't remember is that Casio was a huge innovator in digital photography, creating features that would become standard on cameras introduced years later.

Casio stopped selling cameras in the US several years ago, and it threw in the towel globally in 2018. In this article we'll take a look back at the innovations that Casio came up with, going all the way back to the mid 1990s.

The story begins in 1994, when Casio introduced the 0.25 Megapixel QV-10, the first consumer digital camera with an LCD and live view (the QV-10A, a variation, is pictured above). It also had a rotating lens that would not only reappear on several other Casio cameras, but on several Nikon and Sony models, as well.

The QV-700 showing off Casio's trademark rotating lens and low-res LCD. That F2 lens had a focal length equivalent to 38mm. The tiny sensor size combined with the F19-equivalent lens allowed the QV-700 to be fixed focus.

Image courtesy of www.digicammuseum.de, Boris Jakubaschk

The real innovations occurred in 1998 with the release of the QV-700. It offered pre- and post-shot buffering, similar to what Olympus calls Pro Capture today. While it didn't take many shots, the QV-700 let you save a few images before or after you pressed the shutter release.

Not long after the QV-700 came the QV-7000SX, which brought with it a sort-of movie mode (32 frames at 160 x 120, with no audio) and in-camera panorama stitching (something some cameras still don't have). It also created an HTML page on your memory card that you could load up in Netscape to browse through your photos.

Note the large IR transmitter/receiver on the front of the QV-7000SX. It could beam photos to the small number of devices that supported the IrTran-P protocol.

Image courtesy of www.digicammuseum.de, Boris Jakubaschk

The QV-7000SX also offered support for infrared image transfer (later called IrDA), which was a very slow way of wirelessly beaming photos to compatible devices. Both Sony and Sharp were involved in IrDA, with the former offering a camera and printer with this feature.

Two of the more conventional Best Shot modes

Casio was a pioneer of scene modes, which it called Best Shot modes. And Casio really loved Best Shot modes, with 2001's QV-4000 including one hundred of them on an included CD-ROM. Some personal favorites include 'photo at hotel', 'photo of a toadstool', and 'photo of a fishing catch'.

Step 2 in the Coupling Shot feature: We've already taken the photo of the first person, so now you can line up the second in the right spot. And we're done.

One feature from that era that did not catch on was 'coupling shot'. Essentially a multiple exposure mode for taking photos of yourself and another person without giving the camera to a stranger to take the photo for you, you took a photo of one person, whose 'ghost' was shown on the LCD. You then put the other person in the frame, making sure they were in the right spot, and took the 'second half' of the photo.

A few years later, the Exilim EX-ZR400 offered a green screen feature that let you paste a subject you've photographed onto a different background.

Something more helpful than self-portraits and green screens that Casio pioneered were guide modes (Casio called this Manual Assist), which are on some – but not nearly enough – modern cameras. As shown above, visual aids showed the effect of changing aperture and shutter speed.

The Exilim EX-F1 Pro could shoot at 60 fps and also had in-body image stabilization and 1080/60p video capture.

One final way in which Casio really separated itself from the pack was the sheer speed of its cameras. The company's cameras were lightning fast, whether when shooting bursts, navigating menus or reviewing photos. One standout was 2008's Exilim Pro EX-F1, which could take full resolution (6MP) images at 60 fps (for one second) and 1200 fps if you dropped the resolution (way) down.

After setting up the three lines, the camera will capture video of your swing, which you can view later in slow motion.

Casio used that speed for a unique use case on its EX-FC500S: analyzing golf swings. The camera could capture your swing from the front, back and side (and yes, it asked if you were a lefty or a righty). By lining yourself up with a virtual golfer on the display, the FC500S would automatically start and stop recording during your swing. All of this was captured at up to 240 fps and could be started by pressing a button, using a smartphone or waving your hand at the camera. The FC500S was never sold in the U.S., but you can find it on eBay once in a while.

Once 2010 or so arrived, other companies had surpassed Casio in most respects. Maybe not in terms of innovative features and speed, but certainly technology and image quality. The company made unremarkable compacts for a few more years (including the very awkward TRYX), until finally fading away. I do miss Casio cameras, not because they took amazing photos, but because they broke the mold and were fun to use. RIP, Casio: gone, but not forgotten.