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Learning from the past – Hobbies Part 1. The origins of the digital camera

Learning from the past – Hobbies Part 1. The origins of the digital camera

Digicam beginnings
The digital camera, or “digicam” as it is known as in Japan, has rapidly evolved – to such an extent that to look back at its origins is quite interesting. It began with the “electronic still camera” which used floppy discs instead of film to store photos, and connected to a TV for viewing and a PC for printing. In 1981 Sony unveiled the “Mavica” (Magnetic Video Camera), and in 1986 Canon released the RC701, which was the first to go on the market.

They were 10 years too early! The disappearing electronic still cameras

When the electronic still cameras first hit the scene, they gained attention due to the fact that they didn’t need film and you could watch it on TV. Camera makers ventured into the market and developed a number of products. There were many novel designs that turned conventional cameras on their head. However, the electronic still camera didn’t catch on with many complaining that the picture quality was poor, the cameras were heavy and above all, they were too expensive. By the end of the eighties they had all but disappeared.

The digicam began to filter back in the mid-nineties. This coincided with the growth of household PC demand. Every year they got smaller, picture quality improved and functionality increased. But just think, if it wasn’t for the electronic still camera appearing 10 years ago, we would not be where we are today with digicam. I think you can say that the digicam of today carry the DNA of the electronic still cameras. Either way, the challenges taken on by Japanese camera makers in developing their products have made life much more fun for us today.

Digicam makers battle it out in for 2008 the hearts of year end shoppers

The ever-evolving Japanese digicam. This year the single lens reflex camera made big inroads. Advertising campaigns were successful in changing the image of them being difficult to use and championed the improved functionality.
Among single lens reflex cameras, the most popular line is those which have a video recording function. Makers such as Canon and Nikon have released models with this function. The high resolution images and multi-functionality have made giant leaps.
One of the more unusual cameras on the market is the Takara Tomy “Xiao”, a compact digicam with its own internal printer. It is a digicam carrying on from the hit Polaroid camera released in 1998. Should be in demand for the festive season parties where you can take a photo, print it out and hand it over on the spot.

>>>> Digital still camera ----------------------------------

Nikon QV-1000C
Released 1988
A monochrome electronic still camera sold only to the media.
Photo courtesy of Nikon Corp.

cameraSony MVC-C1
Released 1988
Was promoted as an electronic still camera for the TV age. Needed an adaptor to watch photos on TV.
Photo courtesy of Sony Corp.

Fujix DS-XI
Released 1989
Price at time of release \1.3 million
World’s first digital camera. 0.4 mega pixels. Media was the “easy memory card” developed jointly by Fuji Film and Toshiba.
Photo courtesy of Fuji Film Corp.

Konica KC-300
Released 1988
Popup viewfinder. Good for taking close-ups.
Photo courtesy of Konica Minolta Holdings.

Canon RC-701
Released 1986
Price at time of release \390,000
World’s first electronic still camera for retail. Similar shape to today’s single lens reflex cameras.
Photo courtesy of Canon Corp.

Canon RC-250 Q-PIC
Released 1988
Price at time of release \98,000
Miniature, lightweight and reasonably priced electronic still camera which had rectified previous shortcomings. One step away from the digicam.
Photo courtesy of Canon Corp.

>>>>> Latest models ----------------------------------

Fujix Fine Pix Z 250fd Latest digicam)
Released 15 November 2008

Canon EOS5D Mark 2 (Latest Single lens)
Released late November 2008

Takara Tomy Xiao (Digicam with printer)
Released 28 November 2008
Price \34,800 (including tax)
Inkless. A camera that instantly prints photos. Photo paper backing can be used as a sticker for instant fun. Has infra-red interface so can print photos taken from mobile phone.
Photo courtesy of Takara Tomy.

<Chance to Win!>
Takara Tomy’s new digicam with printer
Xiao camera for one lucky Asianbeat reader!

□How to enter
Send your name, age, email, and comments on the asianbeat website to the email address below.
Please put “asianbeat xiao Present” in the subject field.

Email address:asianbeat-present@aycc.jp

□Entries Close December 23
※Winners will be informed by email



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