Ten unique cameras from the dawn of consumer digital photography
1 10 unique cameras from the dawn of consumer digital ...
When we're using our 36 Megapixel digital SLRs with large LCDs, fast burst modes, and full HD video recording, we often forget how far things have come. Back in the early days of consumer digital cameras, it was a treat to have an LCD or movie recording capability. There were also cameras that have features that, well, seem a bit odd when you look back at them.
As some of you may know, I ran the Digital Camera Resource Page for fifteen years before joining the DPReview team in February 2013. Over all those years, I've seen virtually every camera introduced, and some have remained in my memory for one reason or another.
Let's journey back in time to revisit some cameras that stood out from the crowd, starting at the beginning of the digital camera revolution. I apologize in advance for the quality of most of the product shots. Don't forget that the cameras taking the product shots weren't great, either!
Casio QV-10 (1995)
The QV-10 was one of the first consumer digital cameras, following in the footsteps of the Apple QuickTake 100 and 150. It was introduced in 1995, which is three years before Phil Askey created this website, and has features still found on cameras in 2013. It had a fixed focus, rotating F2.0 lens, which was equivalent to 60mm. The rotating lens design would later be copied by virtually every other camera manufacturer over the next ten years. Any why not? It was a great idea. The price in 1995 was around $750, which was considered a bargain at that time.
|The QV-10 was the first consumer digital camera, and introduced features still found on cameras today.|
Photos were captured by a 1/5" CCD, which produced photos at a gigantic resolution of 320 x 240. The QV-10 had no memory card, instead saving photos (which Casio called 'pages') to its 16Mbit (2MB) of built-in memory. Cameras of this era didn't capture movies.
|Photos were composed on a 1.8-inch TFT display with 61,380 dots. A dial on the bottom of the camera could be used to adjust the screen brightness. My, how times have changed. [Photo credit: The Verge]|
The QV-10's main exposure mode was aperture priority. If you didn't want to shoot at F2, you could flip a switch and you were at F8. It also offered 'exposure adjustment', which manipulated the shutter speed. The camera had a fixed focus distance, but a switch allowed you to enter macro mode.
If you wanted to take a flash photo, you were out of luck. That feature wouldn't arrive for another three years, on the QV-770.
When it came time to get your photos off of the camera, you had to use a proprietary cable that connected to your computer's RS-232 port. You can tell how old the QV-10 is by seeing references to 'video printers' in the manual.
If you want a QV-10 for yourself, good luck - I couldn't find any for sale on eBay. If you want to read a review of the camera from that time, head over to Phil Wherry's website.
Ricoh RDC-1 (1996)
The Ricoh RDC-1 has the distinction of being the first digital camera to have a movie mode. Its video recording capabilities are almost laughable in 2013 terms, but back then this was high-end. The RDC-1 could record five second clips at 768 x 480 (30 fps), with sound no less. The 24MB of memory built into the camera would fill up after just four videos. This technology came at a cost: the RDC-1 was priced in the neighborhood of $1500.
|The RDC-1 looked somewhat like a 110 film camera. [Photo credit: Mr. Martin]||A 2.5" LCD was optional, and attached to the side of the body. [Photo credit: Mr. Martin]|
Other details are a little sketchy. The RDC-1 had a 0.38 megapixel CCD and a 3X optical zoom lens, though we were unable to find the focal range (if you know, please leave a comment below). Like most cameras at this time, the RDC-1 used PCMCIA cards for storage. It also supported a wireless remote control, which was less common.
Ricoh would use this design for several years, culminating with the RDC-i700, which let you operate the camera with a stylus. It even supported a modem or 'wireless phone card' for sharing images. You could even adjust the i700's settings from your web browser.
Sony Mavica (1997-2003)
The Sony Mavica line began in 1997 with the release of the MVC-FD5 and FD7, which were priced at (roughly) $500 and $700, respectively. Both cameras recorded onto 1.44MB, 3.5" floppy disks, which were found in every computer in that day. Getting your photos onto your Mac or PC couldn't be easier, with no cable required. Each disk held between 15 and 40 VGA-size pictures.
|The MVC-FD5 was the first digital camera to use floppy disks as storage. [Photo credit: PC Watch]|
The FD5 was the basic model, with a fixed F2.0 lens, equivalent to 47mm. The FD7, on the other hand, had an F1.8-2.9, 10X zoom lens equivalent to 40 - 400mm. While the FD5 required you to flip a switch to shoot close-ups, the FD7 had an auto macro mode, which is common on modern digital cameras. Photos were composed on a 2.5" LCD which had 61,380 dots. Both cameras had built-in flashes.
|The MVC-FD5/FD7 used 3.5", 1.44MB floppy disks as storage. [Photo credit: PC Watch]||The two cameras had 2.5" LCDs and even a four-way controller. [Photo credit: PC Watch]|
Believe it or not, these two old cameras had both scene modes and picture effects. Yep, in 1997 you could turn on 'sports lesson' mode, or create a 'pastel' image.
As camera resolution increased, Sony realized that a floppy drive just wasn't going to cut it. The MVC-FD92 had a 1.3 megapixel sensor, and you could only fit five or six photos on the disk. Sony's solution was to add a Memory Stick slot to its floppy-based cameras. A 16MB Memory Stick could store a whopping 24 photos. You could get photos off of the camera using USB or, if you really love floppy disks, use Sony's MSAC-FD2MA Memory Stick adapter.
|The massive MVC-CD1000 was the first Mavica to use 3-inch CD-R discs. You'll also notice that it sports an electronic viewfinder. The CD1000 retailed for a whopping $1300. [Photo credit: Digital Camera Resource Page]|
Sony's next move was to switch from floppy disks to CDs. Not just any CDs, though. These were 156MB. 3-inch CD-R discs which, of course, weren't compatible with most CD-ROM drives of that era. Sony didn't forget about that issue, and included a 3-inch to 5-inch adapter. Not only did these CDs hold a lot of data, they were also very inexpensive. Back in the year 2000, a 160MB CompactFlash card was over $350, while Sony sold the CD-R discs for about $4 a pop.
Astute readers may have already picked up on what the problem was with using CD-R discs. That is, they were write-once, just like film. Thankfully, CD-RW discs soon arrived, allowing you to 'erase' photos from the disc. The most frustrating part was the confusing 'finalization' process, which was so complex that Sony included a flow chart in the camera manual.
There were many reasons why the various Sony Mavicas were revolutionary, but the relative ease of getting photos off the camera and onto your computer is the one I remember the most.
It's been twenty years since Jeff Keller founded the Digital Camera Resource Page, one of the first websites dedicated to digital photography. Jeff, who has been at DPReview for nearly five years, looks back at the rise and fall of consumer digital cameras and his website.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At #2 we have another staff favorite – the Sony Alpha a9.
Rotolight has released the Anova Pro 2 circular LED for stills and video, boasting a 70% increase in brightness and what the company describes as "unrivaled battery performance."
Designer Vinicius Araújo has imagined what he believes the perfect Adobe software keyboard might look like. From customizable touch pads, to a scroll wheel, to a little display that shows the tool in use, his design is pretty compelling.
Peak Design has teamed up with Leica to release a limited-edition backpack made special for fans of the Red Dot.
A portrait of an android woman has beaten over 5,700 pictures of humans to take third place in this year’s prestigious Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. The judges were not told the subject was an 'android' until after the winning images were chosen.
Hauling around C-Stands just got a whole lot less annoying thanks to these new Matthews shoulder and roller bags, which can hold two or three C-stand (respectively) plus accessories.
Neal Preston has shot timeless photos of everyone from Led Zeppelin, to Whitney Houston, to Michael Jackson. In this interview, he offers insights into his craft to up-and-comer Elijah Dominique.
Future prosumer Canon DSLRs might feature light-up buttons, if this newly published patent is any indication of the camera company's plans.
Sony's a7R Mark III shoots 42.4MP files at 10fps and incorporates a robust video feature set, large battery, refined ergonomics and more. It certainly looks impressive, but what is it like to use, and how does it stack up against the rest of the market? Find out in our full review.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017 – the Fujifilm X100F takes the bronze and the #3 spot.
There's never been a better time to shop for a new camera, but the number of options available can be overwhelming. In this series of buying guides we've provided customized recommendations for several use cases, from shooting landscapes to buying a first camera for a student photographer.
Shopping for a camera with a set budget? No problem! We've rounded up our favorite cameras, broken them into price brackets and picked the best of the bunch.
Looking for a lightweight compact camera that's easy to bring with you anywhere? Or maybe you're smartphone-shopping and want the one that takes the best picture. And what if you want to shoot from above? In these buyers guides we have recommendations for the best compact cameras, smartphones and drones.
Despite reports to the contrary, analysis of DPReview images by our friend Jim Kasson confirms a disappointing fact: Sony a7R III is still a Star Eater. But there may be some improvements.
As the saying goes: A photo is worth a thousand words. And if you're sending that photo through Facebook Messenger, your thousand words now look twice as nice after today's update to 4K resolution.
Get to know the new Leica CL in short order by giving our 90 second 'First look' video a watch.
Leica has just released the CL, the forth in its series of APS-C L-mount cameras. Despite sharing a name with a camera released in the mid-70s, the new CL is a thoroughly modern ILC, with a 24MP sensor and built-in electronic viewfinder.
The Leica CL is a 24MP rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, which sits alongside the TL2 in the company's APS-C lineup. We've been using one for a few days – check out our gallery of images.
While it shares a name with one of Leica's most popular and affordable cameras of the 1970s, the new CL is separated from its namesake by more than just years. We've been using one for a few days - click through for a detailed first-impressions report.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and the #4 ranking goes to the Leica M10.
Sigma is discounting 13 different high-performance 'Art' series lenses from today until November 30th. The company is calling it an 'unprecedented' sale.
See DJI's 'AeroScope' drone-tracking technology in action. This is the system that DJI says can help law enforcement and airport (among others) track and identify rogue drones.
iPhone X owners can already accessorize their new phone with high-quality smartphone photography lenses courtesy of Moment's new lineup.
Considering buying Sigma's exciting new 16mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens for crop-sensor E-Mount and M43? Check out these official full-res samples first!
Vimeo has just added support for 8K HDR 10-bit content, making it possible to show up to 75% of the colors the human eye can perceive vs the usual 35%. Take THAT YouTube.
The holidays are coming, but your gear isn't cutting it? It's time to treat yourself!
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and sitting pretty at #5 is the Fujifilm X-T20.
See some of the most iconic black-and-white photographs throughout history brought to life by a community of colorization enthusiasts and professional retouchers in the new book Retrographic.
Shopping for a photographer? Whether you are one yourself or not, chances are you could use some ideas. From stocking stuffers on up, we've got some photography gift suggestions for every budget.