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An Illustrated History of Digital Cameras
April 25, 2008 12:24 PM   Subscribe

An Illustrated History of Digital Cameras until 1998.

Mainly looks at consumer digicams, but includes a host of ancestors - obscuras, pinholes, consumer film and SLRs, electronic video cameras, etc.
posted by carter (26 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Show me the good parts, please.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:28 PM on April 25, 2008


Depends what you mean by good, but you could start in the mid 1980s with early PCs and Electronic Newsgathering. Or jump forward to the Apple Quick Take, which came out in 1994.
posted by carter at 12:40 PM on April 25, 2008


That was pretty neat. I fund the old Fujifilm point-and-click that I used to teach my students basic photography back in 1999. The old Sony FD Mavica is there, too. It seemed so cutting-edge at the time.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:46 PM on April 25, 2008


I don't think digital means what this person thinks it means.
posted by aspo at 12:48 PM on April 25, 2008


This is awesome! The flash was invented for taking photos in those old timey diving suits!

And everyone had facial hair!

!
posted by cowbellemoo at 12:49 PM on April 25, 2008


93% say redesign.
posted by pineapple at 12:50 PM on April 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


My first digital camera is here.

Well, almost. I had the Ricoh RDC-300Z, which is just like the 300, except with a 3x optical zoom. 640x480 maximum resolution. What is that, less than half a megapixel?

That camera was so awesome. It would macro focus to less than 0.5 cm, which was effectively right up inside the little lens shroud. Here's a picture I took demonstrating the Macro function. I still can't take true macro shots like that with any of my other digitals. (Yeah, I followed that fly around for about an hour or two just to get that one shot.)

Wow, has it really been 10 years since I bought it? 11? Holy crap. It finally died not too long ago on a trip to Seattle, thanks to the stupidity of beer and going down a slide the wrong way - IE, climbing the slide and sliding down the stairs. The camera got hung up in the belt pouch I kept it in, smashing it to bits. I still have the carcass and "will get around to reassembling it, eventually".
posted by loquacious at 1:07 PM on April 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


So, digital cameras include film and video now? Based on that I was shooting digital way back in 1972.
posted by JJ86 at 1:16 PM on April 25, 2008


Also, I now seem to be collecting older Nikon digital cameras, particularly the CoolPix series.

Do you have an old CoolPix sitting around collecting dust? Any CoolPix - the older the better. I can give it a good home.
posted by loquacious at 1:24 PM on April 25, 2008


Related and also enjoyable: A look back at the NC2000. (previously)
posted by (parenthetic me) at 1:25 PM on April 25, 2008


The CoolPix swiveling body is a neat design. I have a swiveler, a Contax SL 300R T* it's very functional.

It looks like the CoolPix have changed a lot from the really early ones; it would be nice to have a display case of them.
posted by carter at 1:34 PM on April 25, 2008


Mine's on there, too, though, oddly, with a different name brand and a different case color. Mine's called the Magicimage 420. Really. It was quite small, which was a huge bonus, but it had no display, no zoom, and that 640x480 resolution. I still use the case with my newer camera.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:37 PM on April 25, 2008


It doesn't include the Game Boy Camera.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:42 PM on April 25, 2008


I remember when the QuickTake launched. Big clunky plastic housing and serial cable connectivity. The newspaper I was working for at the time bought one in hopes of shooting car photos for use in CMYK advertisements, just wasn't to be. How far we've come.
posted by porn in the woods at 1:52 PM on April 25, 2008


It doesn't include the Game Boy Camera.

Yes it does (scroll down)
posted by mattbucher at 1:56 PM on April 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Silly me, I didn't look under "N."
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:57 PM on April 25, 2008


Faint of Butt, the Game Boy Camera is right below the link carter just posted.

It looks like the CoolPix have changed a lot from the really early ones; it would be nice to have a display case of them.

Yeah, they've sort of settled on a workable "point and shoot" design for the CoolPix series. Right-hand grip, five-way control pad on the back, under the thumb. Trigger with mode selector ring up top, zoom and image controls on the back above the control pad.

This design has evolved a bit with the newer, thinner, and more square-shaped CoolPix cameras, but for a long time that "battery" grip with control arrangement was what made a CoolPix a CoolPix.

They're solid cameras. I still use my CoolPix 700 when I want the colors just right, and I can sacrifice a bit of resolution. Like all Nikons film and digital, the metering and controls are "funky" - often too smart for their own good, but Nikon always makes up for it with quality optics, great sensors and extreme durability.

Eventually I'm hoping someone in my friends and family will hand-me-down one of their awesome Nikon dSLR bodies and I'll have a decent collection of Nikon history. (I currently have a Nikon FE-2 35mm SLR (rare black-body model), and the CoolPix 700, an 800 and an 885.)
posted by loquacious at 2:07 PM on April 25, 2008


Cool link! Sad to think that 5-10 years from now, my Nikon D50 will be gathering dust in a closet somewhere.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:13 PM on April 25, 2008


I have one of those swivel body CoolPix, carter. They really are great cameras. It doesn't get nearly as much use since we upgraded to a DSLR, but even after all these years, it still is able to show off it's chops if needed.

But yeah, I do have to take some issues with Camera Obscura from 1490 being on a digital photography page. Just call it 'photography'; we'll still understand.
posted by quin at 2:15 PM on April 25, 2008


Cool link! Sad to think that 5-10 years from now, my Nikon D50 will be gathering dust in a closet somewhere.

Y'know, whenever you're done with it I have a handy tutorial on sensor-cleaning and some lenses that'll fit it. ;)
posted by loquacious at 2:22 PM on April 25, 2008


I love the internet. (parenthetic me) has offered to send me a CoolPix 990 to add to my home for wayward Nikons. Thanks!
posted by loquacious at 3:18 PM on April 25, 2008


I liked the part with the cameras.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:53 PM on April 25, 2008


I still have photo files in the .pxn format from an old Logitech Pictureman. The software never made the transition from 16-bit Windows 3.1 to Win95. Anybody have any ideas to open those pictures?
posted by wiinga at 10:19 PM on April 25, 2008


Did anyone ever use a digital camera with a floppy disk as storage? They were easy to use and their shapes resembled an old polaroid camera. Also, what about those "sticker" polaroid cameras that were introduced in the early 2000's? They were awful! The stickers were very $$$$ and they didn't adhere very well.
posted by pixxie at 10:28 PM on April 25, 2008


Woo, my Kodak DC20 is on there! I think it held eight 640x480 images on its on-board memory.

I still have the receipt, too, and every once in a while, I pull it out of a drawer and say to whoever is around, "god DAMN, this receipt is 12 years old!"
posted by nitsuj at 3:29 PM on April 26, 2008


I have a Coolpix SQ that's dented in one spot and says SYSTEM ERROR as soon as it turns on. Want?
posted by jinjo at 6:57 PM on April 26, 2008


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