First Use of Digital Cameras

Wire service photographers who worked for such agencies as the Associated Press, United Press International, and Reuters and a few larger newspapers were the first main users of digital cameras, starting in the early 1990s. These first digital cameras were bulky, had a slight delay on the shutter release button, and were slow in terms of consecutive bursts, or frames per second. They also suffered by comparison to today's cameras from poor image quality, minimal storage capacity, and poor battery life. They were mostly hybrid cameras that were the result of marrying electronic film bodies to digital backs and self-contained battery packs. Kodak was the leader in producing these cameras and developing the early digital camera technology. These first digital cameras were expensive, with costs almost three to seven times those of current cameras. Of course, at the time, they were the latest technology available, and the industry welcomed them.

Another limiting factor in the daily use of these early cameras was the poor browsing and imaging software and computers that had limited storage capacity and processing speeds. The original image viewing software was proprietary to the camera manufacturers, and Adobe Photoshop wasn't particularly easy to use until version 4.0 was introduced. Also, the Internet was just developing, and transmission of digital files was done mainly on analog phone lines using early laptop computers and self-contained scanner/transmitters made by AP/Leaf Systems. Today's more elegant software, high-speed, large-capacity computers, and high-speed data lines have made this work quick and effective for deadline-oriented agencies and publications. The digital photography world has seen a level of progress since the early 1990s that equals the rapid advance in computer technology during this same time.

The biggest advancement in digital photography arrived in 1999 when Nikon introduced the D1 digital camera body. It sold for less than $4,000, used removable compact flash cards for image storage, and had all of the functions of a traditional film camera. The batteries were removable and rechargeable so that the photographer could carry as many as needed, and the auto focus and light metering worked well. The camera was not particularly fast in terms of motor drive speed, but it was a huge improvement on previous cameras. It produced a high-quality image file size of 7.5 MB and allowed for automatic and preset custom white balancing for good color quality. This file size equaled a full-frame 35-mm film image scanned to 6.6" x10" at 200 dpi, which was quite adequate for newspaper use. The camera had a dedicated flash system that worked extremely well as opposed to the previous hybrid cameras, in which you often had to dial down the flash by three or four f-stops to get a remotely decent exposure. Also, the camera was made entirely by Nikon and did not share parts with other companies. At half the price of the Kodak NC2000 with almost none of the drawbacks, this camera became the platform for the current cameras that Nikon and Canon have been refining to this date. The modern age of digital photography had arrived, as had comparable advances in software and computing hardware.

Digital Cameras For Beginners

Digital Cameras For Beginners

Although we usually tend to think of the digital camera as the best thing since sliced bread, there are both pros and cons with its use. Nothing is available on the market that does not have both a good and a bad side, but the key is to weigh the good against the bad in order to come up with the best of both worlds.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment