Just How Far Digital Photography Has Come

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Just How Far Digital Photography Has Come

The Ur-Leica, introduced in 1913, was the first "true" 35mm camera. It used the same 24 x 36mm frame format as today's 35mm cameras. While there were many advances, it would be about 90 years before digital photography finally toppled the format king from its pedestal.

Digital photography, however has developed - pardon the pun - at a much faster rate. For the sake of those of you unfamiliar with Brownie Hawkeyes, Kodak Disc cameras and Instamatics, I thought we'd take a little stroll down digital photography's memory lane. Way back to 1992, and the Kodak DCS 200.

Love your camera's "plug and play" USB connection? Well, 1992 was long before USB was the standard. The DCS 200 featured a SCSI connection. (Okay, all together now: What's a SCSI - pronounced "scuzzy" - connection?) You plugged the 50-pin end into your computer and the 25-pin end into the camera. How convenient.

But before you could acquire pictures from your camera, you had to install the Aldus (What do you mean you've never heard of Aldus?) PhotoStyler software... plus the camera driver from the provided 3.5" or 5.25" floppy disks. Yes - there was once such a thing as a 5.25" floppy disk. And they were truly floppy.

The DCS 200 featured a 1,524 x 1,012 CCD sensor. That's 1.5 megapixels - a toy by today's standards. Each frame was saved as a 4.5 MB file and could be transferred to an optional hard drive for storage. Without a hard drive (internal or external) the camera's capacity was one image. The optional internal hard disk held up to 50 images.

The camera numbered images consecutively from 1 - 399, then started over. Deleted images were included in the count. This could result in multiple images with the same frame number.

Two backs were available for the DCS 200 - a color back and a monochrome back. That's right: If you wanted to shoot black and white, you had to switch to a different camera back (purchased separately). But they were both quite speedy for the day: 1 shot every 3 seconds.

The DCS 200 was built on a Nikon N8008 35mm camera body, but was considerably larger than the Nikon itself. The Kodak digital back was nearly as large as the camera body itself. And it was a real lightweight. The whole unit was a mere 3.75 pounds.

Yes, you read that right: 3.75 pounds!

And speaking of pounds, the DCS 200 was no lightweight in the price department, either. This state-of-the-art "high-res" digital camera reportedly sold for half the price of it's predecessor, the DCS 100. That's quite a price drop. Except the DCS 100 sold for about $30,000!

Compare all that with today's Kodak C913 digital camera. It offers 9.3 MP resolution, a 3x optical zoom, 640 x 480 video with sound, multiple scene modes, 16 MB of internal memory, half a second between shots, USB connectivity, and weighs in at a whopping 4.8 ounces (without battery). And it's yours for around $80.

That's how far digital photography has come.



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Sheri Ann Richerson