Long before there was an app for that, your camera had a scene mode for that.

Cameras and smartphones have gotten pretty good at detecting what kind of scene you're trying to photograph and optimizing your settings for the best shot, and they're only getting smarter. But fifteen years ago when we reviewed the Casio QV-4000 such technologies didn't exist.

Instead, you got 'Best Shot Modes,' a collection of exposure modes designed to help you match the right camera settings to the scene you were shooting. There were 5 pre-installed on the QV-4000, but you could install a hundred more by simply loading them from the CD-ROM that came with the camera onto your Compact Flash card.

So with more than a hundred modes to choose from, you can imagine how specific they get. In no particular order, here are some of my favorites:

  • Photo of a toadstool 
  • Portrait in a field of flowers
  • Photo at a hotel
  • Photo of a mossy wood

You can see them all here. And even though they seem a little funny now, Casio was only trying to answer a question we still haven't quite cracked: how do you help the average consumer take better photos? Automatic scene detection and technology like Google's HDR+ solve some problems, but I know I still see plenty of backlit portraits and blurry 'night at the bar' photos in my Facebook feed.

The answer is starting to look different than a hundred different user-selectable scene modes, but the problem is sure the same.